05 August, 2016

I received an email today (I actually received hundreds, but that is another issue), this one was on the census and I include it here for context when you read my ensuing rant.

Subject: Be careful how you answer the Census next Tuesday night

Dear Friends, Next Tuesday night (9 August) is 2016 Census night – where we are required by law to answer all sorts of questions to help governments make decisions about such things as public transport, housing, education and hospitals. There has been little controversy – until now.
 This year, the religion question – and its implications for the funding of school chaplains and faith-based charities, as well as tax-exempt status for churches – is all important. The religion question is the only one that is not compulsory. It lists six Christian denominations and three non-Christian religions, with a space for “other” – but this year for the first time, “No religion” is the first option. That was the result of a quiet campaign by the Atheist Foundation of Australia three years ago. They hope that putting “No religion” at the top before any other option, they would win the “donkey vote” – and ultimately force governments to end any subsidy or recognition for the huge amount of public good done by faith-based community organisations. 
They have also mounted an advertising campaign in supermarket car parks and elsewhere, urging people to mark the “No religion” box. The problem is compounded by the fact that many non-denominational Christians mark “No religion” because they have faith in Christ, but don’t belong to a particular denomination. To them, “religion” means “denomination”.
What can we do? We can:
  • Make sure we answer the religion question – by marking one of the six boxes for Christian denominations, or writing “Christian” or something similar in the space provided for “other” religion.
  • Send this email to other friends and family, encouraging them to do the same.
  • Pray – that the atheist campaign will fail. May the Lord bless and guide you!
FamilyVoice Australia: a Christian voice for family, faith and freedom

To which I reply...
There are some interesting assumptions here. Amongst them: that no religion is on top of the list for nefarious reasons; that the tax status of churches & funding of chaplains is tied to census figures; and that atheists automatically oppose good work done by faith based charities.

I would like to point out that (while this email isn't) there are also some doing the rounds proposing people mark Christian in order that 'Islam can't take over'.

I would like to propose that if any of you are taking part in a conversation about the census, the correct position for a Christian to take is that we want people to answer the question honestly. It doesn't serve the church to promote a dishonest answer regardless of whether our fear is of atheists, Muslims or our own declining influence on policy makers. I say "our fear" because I think that the driver for this (and emails like it) is fear, rather than reality and I don't believe that we (as Christians) should be operating out of a place of fear. This is especially true when the fear is a fear of waning political influence. Our call as The Church is not to legislate morality, nor to take over the government, it is to love the stranger among us and we don't do that through building upon the fear campaigns which are taking over western political discourse.

The last Census showed us that 13,150,673 people identified as Christian and a mere 476,291 identified as Islamic. Likewise 14,871,285 people identified as having a religion while only 4,796,785 gave the answer of no-religion. Neither Atheists nor Muslims look likely to be ousting Christianity from its place of significance in Australia. Not that I would be advocating a campaign to lie on the census, even if Christianity, Atheism and Islam were locked in a three way tie with political influence to the victor.

In a similar vein, the campaign to get people to mark 'no religion' is not about convincing me (or you) to mark that option, rather it is about people who were nominally 'born' to a religion but are not adherents. It is about accuracy of information. Information which we in the church can then use to find out who our community really are and how we can serve them & reach them.

The funding of school chaplains is a political matter, for the government of the day. Likewise the tax status of churches. Decisions will be made based on our votes, not our demographics. (And perhaps on the perception people have about those denominations which are making their preachers wealthy while providing little or nothing for their communities. Or on the quality of the work done by the chaplains).

The good work of faith based charities & their funding, is likewise unrelated to census figures. Rather, as long as they continue in their good work, they will be supported by the public. One only has to look at the public support for the salvos or, conversely, the public distaste for recent foreign-aid campaigns where the money was eaten up by 'admin costs'.

If you look at the old census question you may note that the option of 'no religion' is not obvious. In gathering data, this is likely to skew the results. This is the reason that the format of the question has been changed and while a campaign by an atheist organisation may have brought this to the attention of the Census, the decision was (as it always is in the Census) based on ensuring the accuracy of data collected.

As a librarian, historian & teacher I rely on accuracy of information and, as far as I see it, the census has tweaked this question in an attempt to get the most accurate data (which includes hoping the changes mean less people put Jedi as their religion).  
Image of question 19 from the 2011 Census
The real controversy in the current census, is actually about data retention and privacy, but that is a topic for another manifesto.

26 March, 2016

A letter to a brick, with eyes

The following is the text of a message I sent to Senator Glenn Lazurus. It is in relation to a wonderfully bogan discussion that was occurring on his facebook page, in relation to the lack of the word Easter on eggs. I was aware of the moral panic and hand-wringing of the faux 'war on Christmas' but was unaware that those who are paranoid that Halal will cause them to 'catch the Muslim' are also worried about the Muslim population's seditious plan to get hold of our Easter treats.
(we stole Easter from the Pagans fair and square and we're not going to let brown people steal it off us!)

Senator Lazarus,

I know that you do not share my (lefty libertarian) political bent, and I suspect you do not share my brand of progressive Christianity. However, I have an Easter request for you. You are offended you tell us, about the lack of the word Easter on Cadbury rabbits.
Now, as a Christian, I don't feel that the word Easter (or lack thereof) on a purple box is really deleterious to the practice of my chosen faith.
As an Australian I know we don't have a state religion, nor do I believe we should.
As a lefty, I don't believe that comments about Muslims "taking over" and "breading like rabbits" should be let go without remark. And, that remark would be to point out that I remember the same fears existed over "wogs and slopes". Yet now, few of us would wish to go back and undo the multicultural Gordian Knot which has resulted in a richer culture for my children (and better coffee for me).
As someone with a libertarian bent, I don't believe the comments of those who fear 'Muslim cultural creep' should be censored. Rather that they should be debated honestly in the public sphere. So, I find it upsetting that I am now unable to comment on your facebook page because (it would appear) my stance is more offensive than some of the vile racism and juvenile name calling in that discussion?
I am aware that it is unlikely that you administer your own social media, so would like you to be aware that this debate exists and that whomever holds the password to this aspect of your public face appears to be censoring the debate in one particular direction.


[edit, shortly after sending this message my ability to post reappeared. I am not sure if I was reinstated or if I had initially been caught by some sort of SPAM filter? However, it seems my comments have not reappeared and I am not militant enough to go through the 2000 posts in order to find the ones I commented on and rewrite my comments. Suffice it to say, dear reader, they were droll, but while demonstrating breathtaking political, spiritual and ideological genius].
(second edit, no it seems that while the comment button momentarily reappeared as I read the comments, I am unable to click on it).

14 October, 2014

'straya knuts

If you don't love it, LEAVE Australia, if you don't love it leave! Simple enough statement and one which (it seems) a lot of people think is perfectly innocent when worn on a t-shirt. "Political correctness gone mad" I hear people say, when it is suggested a major chain might like to rethink selling said shirt.
I have read "If you don't love your job leave, if you don't love your relationship leave" Not awful advice, but perhaps not your only option. If you don't love your job, quit and go on the dole? Or is their benefit in working a job you don't like because you are working towards a better one?
Don't like your relationship? Sure give up, but there might also be a benefit in working to make it better. You know, a bit of counselling and that sort of thing. Might not work, but perhaps you won't take your same flaws to the next relationship without some awareness.

So, I could leave this post with the final thought "Australia, love it or work within the system to improve it" (and then co to cafe-press and start selling a t-shirt with that slogan on it).
But that is not the whole story, because like it or not there is underlying racism in the idea. What?
Noooo, not racism in Australia, I hear you say.
Sorry, but yep. Because more often than not the " 'staya, love it of fuck off" is tied to the "go back where you came from" sentiment. Now, I know that YOU reading this are not like that, but stay with me here...

There are plenty of people with legitimate complaints about Australian society. If (like me) you are lucky enough to be pale of complexion and capable of speaking strine, then no one questions your love of the country. If I decide I am going to start a fast food franchise and I will replace the meat with tofu, people might call me a wanker. But, if I am opening my store in an area where the customers are all ironic vegan hipsters it might be a good business decision. But if I were brown and my store was to be in Lakemba and I decided that rather than tofu I was going to use halal meat... Then I might hear "if you don't like it, leave" (although, given what I have been reading I think I would hear a lot worse than that).

To this debate, let me add to your thinking that there are many in our indigenous community who have things to say about our society which might indicate they do not always love this nation the way blokes with flag capes and southern-cross tattoos might demand.

What is that? Free speech, I hear you cry! Sure, free speech it is. But doesn't free speech include the freedom to point out the things which are wrong? Doesn't free speech include to right of people to say "dear Woolies, your shirts suck, you suck and if you keep sucking so hard I might forgive coles for their stupid down down ads"?
Likewise, the same free speech which lets you wear that shirt, includes the freedom for me to express the belief that, if you do you are a racist bogan.

Australia, you were either lucky enough to be born here or lucky enough to have come here. Either way, you didn't create this society, so if you want to be proud of something...
be proud of the fact that you are not unquestioningly jingoistic
be proud of the fact that you have worked to change things which you think are wrong
be proud of the fact that you are working to maintain a society which allows those "who come across the seas" to put their stamp on our society (sure, if you want you are free to continue with meat and three veg while drinking international roast, but you are missing out).

26 March, 2014

Christianity is a poor excuse for homophobia

My FB feed has been going 'ping' a bit recently on the subject of homosexuality in the Christian Church. Things like the recent decision by World Vision in the US to accept Gay Marriage, when hiring people in US states where Gay Marriage is recognised (and the resulting evangelical backlash of "if you employ the gays, then we won't feed the world's poor because we think that is what Jesus wants") and the recent death of Fred Phelps have got all sorts of Church, non-Church, ex-church and un-church folk musing on the topic. The trouble I am having is that there is a lack of rational thinking in the debate. Well, no thinking nor love or compassion from so many of my fellow pew dwellers (like the evangelicals who think Jesus would rather poor kids starve than a Christian have to work with a homosexual). So, I thought I would add my own views on the topic to my own little corner of the web as my own attempt to shout into the void that not everyone who still gets up on a Sunday morning is so completely homophobic, nor so completely literal that we believe the bible can be understood by reading it once in English (or, by having it read to you by some guy in a white suit on the telly box).

The words I am about to paste into this post are the words I was invited to say from the pulpit of my local Anglican Church for a conversation on the Church's response to Gay Marriage...

The question for Christians has to come down to the simplest command of Jesus. Love one another as I have loved you. And to me, the simple denial of equality on the basis of sexuality is failing to show love. Some people may say that 'we love the sinner but hate the sin'. Quite a popular phrase in this discussion. I don’t believe we can do that very well and certainly I can see that a lot of what Christians think of as hating the sin is seen just as hate. If we are seen as hateful, how do we show Jesus to the world?

But, I want to look at the verses some Christians use to condemn homosexuality.
Firstly the story of Sodom (Genisis 19:1-3). There is nothing in this story which comes close to being about gay marriage. It is a story of the breaking of hospitality laws and the use of rape as a tool of dominance. The same is true of the story in Judges 19, the point of the story is not that the house-guest was wanting to get out and enjoy the night life of the city.
Plus, on a personal note, I would ask. Are you going to take your moral bearings from a story where the ‘correct’ thing to do was to send out your virgin daughters to be raped by a mob? Why is this verse being used as evidence of homosexuality? If the mob were homosexual the daughters and concubines would have been perfectly safe, no this is a morality tale about power and dominance.

The (possibly, but not really) clearer verses are Leviticus 18:21-22, Leviticus 20:13. However, the first refers to child sacrifices to Molech and the homosexuality mentioned may be part of the same idolatrous pagan worship. The section in verse 20 also begins as a discussion of idolatrous behaviour. Plus, it is part of a long list and if we want to keep this part of the old testament law, can we choose just this verse or do we need to keep the whole chapter (or the whole book). Because we allow people who curse their parents to marry, but it is on the same list. We do not, as a church, condemn sexual activity during menses, yet there it is on the same list.

Remember, our bible is not the Old testament list of rules, the law has been set aside for it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God (Hebrews 7). It is the much, much harder call to fulfil the whole law by loving your neighbour as yourself. It is a call to love and relationship with God and we do not bring anyone into a relationship with God by imposing our favourite of the Old Testament laws on them and claiming it is love. 

So, onto the new testament...
Romans 1:26 Is not a prohibition against homosexuality but a warning about what will happen to you if you exchange God for idolatry (verse23-24). It may well refer to sexual acts as a part of worship in some pagan temples.
The word that is presently translated as homosexual in the new testament (in 1 Corinthians 6 & 1 Timothy 1) is arsenokoites. But this is a very recent (1946) translation of the word and is by no means a clear one. Paul’s use of the word arsenokoites is the first recorded use and he does not define it. In fact, in all of classical literature there are fewer than 80 uses of the word. The word literally means ‘Man Bed’ and during the reformation because the word was man and not men, scholars translated it as masturbators. While to our modern ears, man bed may seem obvious, the Greeks already had a word for two men having intercourse (androkoites) so one must wonder why Paul felt the need to coin a new word if that was what he wanted to say.

Some people suggest that Paul was talking about shrine prostitution or about sexual relationships between a teacher and pupil (certainly, until recently pederast is how the 1 Corinthians verse was translated).  Others suggest that (like the old testament verses I mentioned earlier) it refers to the use of sexual domination as a way of showing superiority and power. Perhaps a master and his slave, or to update the verse somewhat in light of the current Royal Commission a priest and a congregant?

So, am I saying that Paul wasn’t talking about homosexuality? I doubt he was, but I can’t be sure. However what I am sure of is that Jesus' message can be condensed into whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12). So I feel no need to invent reasons to discriminate against people or deny them the same rights I have, nor do I feel the need to bring back the old testament strictures, otherwise I am guilty of crimes enough to see me stoned to death every few days for the rest of time.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

16 December, 2013

Fighting against reality is pointless

The article (which I won't link to, as it is not the point) was actually about gun deaths in the US, but it was the title which struck me "Parents Should Never Outlive Their Children. Can We All Agree On That, At Least?" It struck me, because it is reflective of the disconnect between our lives and the reality of being a fragile bag of skin full of squishy organs in a world full of: sharp, heavy, bitey, zappy, fast.... 'stuff' capable of rendering the 'me' part of me unfindable.
  • 2 days ago a friend's 5 year old decided to crash tackle a moving hilux. 
  • Another old friend's 30-something daughter is currently in an induced coma after a brain bleed. 
  • A month or so ago, I was standing alongside a lot of my senior students at the funeral of a former classmate, listening to his parents talk about his life. 
  • Earlier this year I failed to save the life of a co-worker who had a massive heart attack in a library full of students. 
  • A few weeks later a 15 year old student decided to have a heart attack too and we were told the chances of him surviving were slim. 
Yet, this isn't really much to deal with. I live in a country where death has been taken away. Not just away from the front room and into hospital, but away from the front of our thinking. For most people, in most of the world, throughout most of our history the idea that parents should never outlive their children would be patently absurd. Life is not something you can hold onto by arguing with it, there is no Pratchettesque grim reaper willing to listen to you as you rage against the injustice, like a 13 year old girl who has been told to stop talking in class and refuses to accept any sanction unless EVERY girl in the class who has EVER talked in this or any other class, but has not been caught, get an equal sanction...

Parents should never outlive their children? Why not? Tell that to the parents of Kandahar whose children have been collateral damage. How about the people of Iraq, whose mortality rates for the under 5s is two and a half times higher than it was before we brought them the gift of freedom. Yeah, it is OK, I'm not going all lefty today. It isn't just about the wars, it is about the deaths from famine and disease in so many countries.

Mmm, perhaps we will all

29 August, 2013

I plan, you plan, we all plan for NAPLAN part II

And, a closer inspection of my coursework tells me all my earlier fears have been realised. I am pointed towards the maths NAPLAN too…
Well, I did manage an advanced B in year 10 and then passed accountancy for my (as yet incomplete) Masters in Management. So year 7 should be a doddle, right?

Well, to a degree yes. Like my rant on the language test, my own way of approaching things is a bit off kilter. In the case of Maths, I am a whiz kid for special reasoning (what is the next shaded nonagon in the series, which side of the cube will be opposite side ‘c’) and I am more than capable of working out how to calculate most any equation short of the introduction of Greek letters, so the calculator section is fine. What kills me is a processing inability, I am incapable of holding numbers in my head for more than an instant and I am (genetically? physiologically?) incapable of learning my times tables. This leaves me in a very difficult place for the calculator free test, counting on your fingers may be frowned upon for a year 7 student. It is certainly frowned upon when you are standing in front of a year 10 geography class teaching them how to manage the statistics and graphing data they need for their fieldwork report.

Really, like my earlier post, this one is just going to suggest that it is important that I (and you, dear reader) ensure that we don’t assume that a lack of ability in one area (or several) points to a generic lack of ability or the presence of stupidity. Like the ‘Idiot Savant’ (an evocative, if somewhat inaccurate term) I would posit the existence of the ‘Savant Idiot’. Savant idiots are those of us who despite our obvious intellect across most fields of endeavour, manage to have an area (or two) where our failures are spectacular and no amount of effort seems able to displace our natural deficit.

I plan, you plan, we all plan for NAPLAN

Have I mentioned I am doing a Dip Ed? (or a Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning as it is now more grandiosely known). Well, I am. Not because I have been brow beaten by those who 2 or 3 years ago were berating librarians for stealing the jobs of teacher librarians or because I have to. Well, the why is a whole other post so I will ignore it for now. The point today is that I was asked to "Go to the NAPLAN website and complete the year 7 Language Conventions test.  What did you learn about your level of literacy?  How did you feel doing this test? How might your awareness of this test affect how you teach and what you look for in students' work?"

What follows is my answer and I thought it rather 'blogworthy'

Year 7 language conventions? Ha! I’m sorted with this one. Now, if you’d been asking me to do a NAPLAN on year 7 maths I would have had to fire up a few neurons which haven’t been used as much of late (see post 2 ed.).
I’m going to make a few tangential remarks on this one.
Firstly if I was your student and you were given my special needs documentation you would see that I am an ADHD kid whose language scores are rock bottom and whose maths scores are sky high (at least as far as the aptitude testing reports it). Yet in the classroom (and the subsequent ‘real world’) you would see that maths bores me while literature excites me. You would also as a teacher come to realise that part of the reason for this is that, while I know the conventions of language, I do not always choose to use them. But, add to this the fact that I am manifestly incapable of spelling.
As a school student, this was the bane of my existence. Picture a poor, put upon, year 4 boy whose face falls when it is time for the school-wide reading programme. Hates reading? Mmm, he won’t be alone there. No, in fact he loves reading, but at the start of year 4 has progressed well beyond the reading programme which is still engaging every other student in the school. So the school-wide programme becomes ‘school -1’ and this boy is instead sent to sit out on the front step (where he won’t disturb others) and to work on a remedial spelling programme. A remedial programme which fails utterly, perhaps because it is as dull as dishwater, perhaps because the student doesn’t care to spell, perhaps because the programme doesn’t address why he can’t spell? 
Whatever the reason I (who will stop referring to myself in the 3rd person now, as that is the behaviour of egotistical sportstars in post-match interviews)…
I keep on progressing through school without any marked improvement on spelling. Content that I am able to make myself understood but caring more about the idea I am caught in, than about the niceties of making it pretty to the eyes of society. As luck would have it though, I was born at a point where this would not cause me any issues at all. At the same time I hit the job-market and the university, technology gives me the spellcheck. At first this just allows me to fix things at the end, but with the introduction of the wiggly red line something changes. This line, in my peripheral vision, somehow shortcuts its way into my subconscious and over the period of a few years I found myself repeating my errors less. Words, which were once a mystery to me (like those with a proliferation of Cs, Ss or double Ss followed by a single C…) suddenly work.
Am I making a point here?
I hope so.

Standardised testing is a very good form of data gathering, but not on the micro level. Mmm, perhaps not on the macro either. Umm, somewhere in the middle is a sweet spot where the data is good. But if you use these tests to tell a kid language is not his thing, you might not be looking at the totality of the kid.
How does this affect my teaching? I am liable to take an English class and say “you are writing poetry, don’t interrupt your flow of ideas in order to make sure you are spelling things right”. I might be tempted to tell a history student that I will NOT be marking spelling in her essay (how many marks did I lose over the years because my ability to spell did not match my knowledge of Greek Mythology?). Will I therefore ignore spelling? I don’t think so, my students need to know how to make themselves understood. But I will not let a student’s lack of spelling make them believe they are not good at writing or at history nor will I make them recalcitrant to use unaccustomed words because the mundane ones are safe. I will also work to find the right tool for the student. This will mean doing things like: turning off the autocorrect so they need to look at a word before the computer fixes it; making sure the language settings on their computers are set on British English not US English; showing them how GOOGLE will suggest ways to spell a word if their own computer is stumped; I will give them thesauruses so that they can find exciting alternatives whose spelling makes sense to them; and I will make sure they know that there is always a way to get around whatever the test tells them, that they decide their destination not some computer-read piece of A4 that they need to mark with a 2B pencil.

19 July, 2013

The death of compassion.

An awful day in Australian Political Life has lead me to re-pen our national anthem.

Australians all let us beware,
For we are girt by sea;
We've golden soil and wealth you’d spoil;
We are with-out sympathy;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
The K Rudd Labor 'Australian' flag for 2013
Of beauty we won’t share;
In history's page, let every stage
Australia Don’t Go There.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Australia Don’t Go There.

Beneath our tattooed Southern Cross
We'll toil with heads and hands;
To keep this Commonwealth of ours
Locked off from all the lands;
For those who'd come across the seas
We've boundless plains to keep;
With courage let us all combine
To make them just for sheep.
In joyful strains then let us see
you, piss off to PNG.

I guess it is only a matter of time before we change our flag. I have been quite fond of that idea for some time, so I present to you a new flag to go with our new Anthem and new policy on refugees.

05 December, 2012

Dundee cake - a Christmas post

In my first concession to the currant (yes, pun intended) festive season I baked a nice fruitcake on the weekend. It was a recipe I cobbled together from several which didn't strike me as quite right, so having been successful I thought I'd share it with you by way of a Festivus gift. Bake one and give it to your school's librarian.


175g butter
175g soft dark-brown sugar
4 tbsp orange (or lime) marmalade
3 or 4 eggs,
225g self-raising flour
40g almond meal (more if you like that marzipanesque flavour)
2 tsp ground mixed spice
200g currants
200g raisins
75g glacé cherries, halved
4 or 5 tbsp whisky (I used 50:50 of Glenfiddich and Jim Beam)
80g blanched almonds to decorate
1 tsp caster sugar, to sprinkle over the top

Preparation method:
  1. Soak currants and raisins in whisky for at least an hour.
    Have a nip yourself while you wait.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150C. Grease and line a 20cm loose-based deep cake tin with kitchen paper.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in a food processor for 3-4 minutes (until light and fluffy).
  4. Add the marmalade and the eggs, beating well after each egg.
  5. Add the flour, almonds and spices to the batter. Mix slowly until well combined, then stir in the dried fruits.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, smooth the surface and arrange the blanched almonds in some sort of fancy pattern on top.
  7. Bake for 2 hours*, or until well risen, firm and golden-brown. (use the skewer test to ensure it is cooked)
  8. Let it cool a little in the tin before turning onto a rack. Sprinkle with sugar and eat with gusto.

*cake took a little over 2 hours in our dodgy oven.

01 August, 2012

Teacher Librarians, Luddites in musty book museums

At the risk of being repetitive...

Teacher Librarian Advocacy is useless, there is no way anyone in government could possibly justify throwing good money after bad by propping up this outdated profession. Why would I say such a thing? Lets take as an example the members of our profession, not the best and brightest (every profession, trade and vocation has superb practitioners) for they are not examples of the whole. No, lets examine the general 'body behind the circ desk' if you will. This person is a moron, trapped behind outdated technology (bitching and moaning about the death of the roneo file) and wishing for the good old days when the library was quiet (wood panelled and probably lit by gas lamps).

Lets think back over the last few months about all the hard work people (many of them on this list) have been putting in. Telling the NSW state government that school principals should NOT be able to take TL money and use it to pay a mere tech specialist. Using the best practice examples of our members to demonstrate all that should (and could) be. How a library can lift a whole school and the TL can drive test scores up, participation up and so much more besides.

Now imagine that Barry O'Farrell (persuaded by this impassioned plea) decided that today was the day he would investigate further. Today he would visit our newsgroup and make sure he was fully up to speed on the issue.

He'd not only allow principals to fire their TLs he'd damn well make it compulsory. And he'd possibly bulldoze all the libraries and sow the ground with salt into the bargain. Then (if he had any sense) he would have us all neutered in order to ensure we didn't reproduce.

Now, I know I have moaned about this sort of thing on here before (and before that). But I can not believe what I have been reading here the last couple of days. How can anyone expect to convince people that our profession should be allowed to be responsible for teaching students to navigate the digital world when it would seem the average member of our profession thinks 'the cloud' is something to yell at. How can anyone tell me that teacher librarians have a role to play in digital citizenship and helping young people navigate the complexity of social media when we as a group are completely unable to deal with a WONDERFUL and SEAMLESS transfer of our discussion list to an updated platform?

Oh, and putting the snark aside for a moment. Thanks to all involved for the upgrade.

So, where was I? Oh yes, people getting their knickers in a bunch about the 'new'. The 'new' is what we do folks. We should not sound like a group of 13 year old girls who have just found out that Facebook has done a redesign. "I liked it better before" This is not the voice I expect from major stakeholders in the knowledge economy.

Don't like it? Don't want to be on the list any more? Then UNSUBSCRIBE YOURSELF! Stop asking the rest of us to do it for you.
Want to complain that there are too many emails? Complain to your spouse or psychiatrist because the reason there are too many emails is because you keep emailing the whole list to complain there are too many emails. I don't care! I can't do anything about it, I am just a member of the list myself. The wonderful free and informative list, which no one forced to to join and, no one is stopping you from leaving.
But please, for the love of all that is sane, shut up and let this list go back to discussing the things that allow me to do my job with a bit more flair than I would if not for this amazing brains trust. Discussions about Olympic copyright, the best picture books, readers advisory methodologies, new books for the national curriculum and even clickview requests (if you must).

Want to complain about the upgrade? Go right ahead. As I librarian I found the link for you http://oztlnet.com/contact-us/ (just like I found the unsubscribe link up above).

Is there some OZTL protocol that says I am not allowed to take the email addresses of the next 5 people who mindlessly ask to be unsubscribed and send them to all the Nigerian scammers whose messages reside in my SPAM folder?
I mean, I know it is unethical, but is it specifically banned? Because at this point in time that seems like perfectly rational behaviour.

02 June, 2012

Wait, how many days in June?

Did I suggest yesterday that I might try to blog EVERY day in June?
Here it is, 15 minutes of the 2nd left, I'm about to go to bed after getting home from the rugby club (yes, we won). I have some Uni work which is probably more vital than this and I am sleepy.
Anyone thinking about joining me in Blog every OTHER day in June?

01 June, 2012

Are we selling buggy whips?

I am not in NSW these days, and when I was I wasn't a school librarian, so this post has the caveat that I possibly don't know what the hell I am talking about. Still, when has that ever stopped me having an opinion?

At the moment when I read the emails that fly around the teacher-librarian world, there is a lot of chatter about the current setup in NSW where the government is moving towards letting school principals have the power to hire and fire. I believe it is being tagged "local schools, local decisions". I am listening to a lot of people who are very upset by this because they believe that this power is putting teacher-librarians and school libraries at risk.
So to that end we are seeing letters to the editor and interviews on the tabloid TV programmes.

My question is, is this advocacy the right tack for this situation? I am happily ensconced in the library of a Catholic school and as such there is no requirement for a librarian. In fact for a lot of time there wasn't one, however the previous principal decided that a neglected library was no good at all and the current one has continued to listen to my cries for more space and more money, so in the space of two an a half school years this library has been transformed.

Why do my NSW public school colleagues not feel that 'local decisions' are likely to free up funds to rebuild their libraries? Why is it an instant fear that the result will instead be giving them the boot and ploughing their stupid outdated old books into the ground as landfill and using the free space to buy a metric arseload of ipads?

There are all sorts of stats to be quoted, the decline in teacher librarian numbers in Victoria under the Kennett government. One paper I read mentions that only 8.6% of NT schools have a teacher librarian. But then, given that there are a lot of very small schools in the NT I am not sure this stat means much. Furthermore, given that in my experience in Darwin and Alice there are a lot of schools which would love a teacher librarian but have been unable to get one, this does not demonstrate any unwillingness on the part of principals. Additionally, there are some remote locations which have joint use libraries staffed and supported by the NT Library, so no teacher-librarians but still well resourced libraries. So, if the NT stats in these papers are representative of how useful the other figures are I would suggest that there is a bit of a problem with what the data is claimed to prove.

That leads me to my post title "Are we selling buggy whips". It is a tired old analogy online but I am now wondering why so many principals are just looking for an opening to toss teacher librarians into the dustbin. I have blogged earlier about the continued episodes on the teacher librarian e-list where members are unable to work out how to unsubscribe. If this is in any way indicative of a percentage of teacher-librarians I can imagine that a principal might be more than happy to give em the ol' heave ho and replace them with someone who is aware of which century this is.

My thought would be, that a better use of our time would be to make sure that all those who wear the badge of teacher librarian are capable of garnering the respect of their principals. Once that is the case, I suspect that principals will see the value in their continued employment. But until that is the case, I suspect no amount of lobbying is going to improve the perception that some of us are frantically hanging onto our buggy whips and demanding some sort of government mandated whip quota.

(this post was whipped of in too little time to think it through properly but because I just realised it was June and I am thinking I might try the blog every day of June thing so missing day 1 would be a bad start).