Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Schools are doing away with awards

School children on running track
Image: iStock

According to the ABC, some primary schools have abolished or are phasing out merit awards, presentation night awards and sports ribbons.

St. James Parish School near Ballarat, Victoria is one of them. At sports carnivals, students focus on their own performance and improve their personal best.

While sceptical at first, Co – principal, Peter Fahey told the ABC that the response has been positive. He said it was a “relief” that students didn’t have to worry about coming last or be stressed out over academic achievement.

 

Westmead Public School, Sydney is also on the way to abolishing ribbons and awards. Currently, awards are not handed out during assemblies. End of year achievement awards are currently awarded for students in Years Three to Six. Students in Kindergarten to Year Two are presented with a ‘celebration of learning’ event.

 

 

Approach gets mixed response

This non – traditional approach to education has had mixed reviews. Well – being advocate and author, Helen Street has been critical of the school merit system for years and has been encouraging schools to abandon it.

She argues that “bribing” children to act a certain way or achieve may work in the short trem, but will not enhance self motivation in the long run.

However, some education experts finds the no awards approach concerning. Senior lecturer of education policy at the University of Western Australia, Dr. Glenn Savage argues that, while the lack oof awards in schools may work for some students, it wasn’t realistic. He argued that some children thrive with competition and that competition was a part of life that children should not be sheltered from.

 

My take

When I was at school, it was very awards -oriented. Awards were given in class, at assemblies and at end – of – year presentation nights. Ribbons, trophies and medals were also frequent in sports events. Was it hard not getting one? When I was little, sure. But I survived.

I can see the merit (no pun intended), in holding off achievement awards until after Kindergarten/ Prep. I remember when I was in that year, all Kinder students were presented with a picture book.

Beyond that, I don’t see the inherenr harm in competition at school. Students will eventually be able to go with it.

All children need to be able to recieve success with humility and deal with disappointment. That’s a part of life. In fact, I don’t think there is enough emphasis on disappointment and setbacks. There wasn’t when I was in school, anyway.

I think students should be acknowledged for their achievements. However, I think it’s equally important that students are commended for dilligence and hard work, regardless of where they rank in the class.

 

Lastly, while they are important, I don’t think schools, either primary or high schools, should solely focus on academics and sports. Music, Drama and art offer valuable skills in creativity, team work and discipline. These skills will be valuable beyond school and should be acknowledged.

 

What do you think about schools abolishing sport and academic awards? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below (or the Twitter poll @GQueenMedia).

 

Categories
Life

New decade has begun

‘Turning 30 ve birthday cupcake with. celeratory balloons
Image: iStock

 

Today, I turned thirty.

Yep, the big 3 – 0.

This day, I feared for years. I haven’t gone to Uni! My biological clock is ticking. Do I want children anyway?

Now I’m here, it’s actually… well… nothing major. Another day.

I’m at peace with where I’m at (for the most part anyway). I like the unit I live in (I moved into it late last year). I love the people I have around me. This blog’s been going OK (I reached my goal of a total of 100 followers before today, which was my goal).

Next, I want to start another project soon. i don’t want to say too much now, but I’ll let you know when I start.

I’m happy, that’s the main thing.

 

How was turning thirty for you? Let me know in the comments below.

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

New Zealand mosque shooting: the focus is all wrong

Image: iStock

 

The massacre of at least fifty people at the two mosques in Christchurch last Friday left many in horror and shock.

Less than a week later, the focus has been less on the victims and of who’s right and who’s wrong. Pot shots have started thrown and now it’s become left vs conservative and media outlet vs media outlet. And Prime Minister vs. commentator.

 

Now, I actually thought some of the initial reporting and commentary was good. I liked the universal condemnation of the gunman (who I won’t ever name on here). I liked how Andrew Bolt condemned the mastermind as a “sick bastard” and the massacre as “ghastly”. He also criticised Independent Senator Fraser Anning’s response to it.

Everyone in their right mind was saddened and repulsed over what happened. But now, the victims, their families and the rescuers are in the back of the minds of commentators. Less than a week later, culture wars and partisan politics have taken centre stage.

 

Culture wars ramp up

Since I started writing this I have seen so many more examples of this. No more are commentators (on either the Left or conservative) focusing on the fifty victims who perished and the families and communities that have been shattered.

Just days after the massacre, I was reading an editorial from The Guardian attacking politicians and columnists including Andrew Bolt for their rhetoric that they accuse of fanning flames. I have seen editorial pieces, blog posts and TV clips of columnists, panellists and politicians sniping at each other and trying to pin blame.

 

Sunrise received backlash after heated exchange over the Christchurch attack

Seven’s Sunrise received backlash after One Nation’s Pauline Hanson was ambushed by host, David Koch and Justice Party Senator, Derryn Hinch. They accused her of flaming the hatred that led to the attack. A change.org petition has called for Koch’s sacking. It currently has over 116,000 signatures.

I’m not always a fan of Senator Pauline Hanson, but what happened to her on Sunrise was unfair. And, like all the other bickering and finger pointing, the victims are pushed aside. Fifty people were murdered. That means there are roughly fifty families that have lost mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, etc. People have lost their friends and colleagues. That was what was taken away that day. And also remember that one of the victims was Mucaad Ibrahim, who was only three.

Can we change the narrative around terrorist attacks?

Every terrorist attack in the West, regardless of victims or perpetrators have the same affect. The media reports and comments on the attacks ad nauseum, then the culture wars begin. The blame begins. No wonder why Janine Perett said on Paul Murray Live (I think) that some New Zealanders have expressed anger over how the Australian media has covered the massacre.

 

Every terrorist attack is evil. None can ever be justified. That’s the message we should get across. What the mosque shooters in New Zealand did was as equally apalling as any Islamist attack. Too many lives have been lost or changed forever because of them. Victims should get everyone’s condolescences and support and not have their tragedy used for political scores, by politicians or journalists.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Culture

Elizabeth Warren aims to break up tech giants to increase competition

 

U.S. Democrat presidential hopeful, Elizabeth Warren has vowed to break up the dominance of major tech companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook. To three hundred of her supporters, she said:

 

We have these giant tech companies that think that they rule the earth. I don’t want a govenment that is here to work for the giant tech companies. I want a government that’s here to work for the people.

This isn’t the first time that Amazon has faced fierce criticism from Democrats. Last year,  Bernie Sanders put pressure on Amazon to raise the wages of workers. Amazon CEO caved in, promising a US$15.00 wage for workers.

Severe lack of competition

There is a severe lack of market competition in the tech sector. While there are a numbe of different apps, they are mostly owned by single companies. For example, Facebook Inc owns Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Branding of products

Senator Warren is also critical of Amazon, Facebook and Google doing ‘in – house’ advertising; for example, Amazon preferring to advertise their own products above that of an outside company/ publisher. It makes sense that a company would prefer to market their own products, but a lack of competition gives Amazon an unfair advantage. Senator Warren wants to limit the number of places in – house products can be advertised and sold. For example, the proposed law would make Apple choose between selling apps on iOS or their App Store,  but not both.

Potential pitfalls of the proposal and solutions

While supporting the premise, Kevin Roose of New York Times has reservations about the move. Austin – based independent tech workers ferared that the legislation could backfire, given it’s lack of clarity.

Roose also offered ideas so the proposal doesn’t fall through: be specific in present problems and offer specific solutions that’d suit each platform, (Roose argues that a sweeping law targeting Amazon and Facebook wouldn’t work given the different nature of the businesses). He pointed out that for some reason Cloud technology was absent from the proposal. Companies like Apple and Google should also be forced to drop their 15 – 30% tax on new developers. Roose also warns Senator Warren to avoid the censorship debates.

 

I really applaud Senator Warren and other Democrats for trying to implement moves to make the online market more fair. I’m a huge critic of major companies killing the possibility for competition. In Australia, I’ve hated how Coles and Woolworths were able to knock off independent grocers and fuel market. Now, it’s too late. However, competition has come back with Gerrman Aldi and Us’s Costco entering the Australian retail market.

 

It boils down to consumers

Despite it’s flaws, Facebook still held the record for most monthly users, according to Dreamgrow. Instagram came in third after YouTube.

It seems that Facebook is still widely trusted. Unless people use it simply out of habit.

I’ve written before about some of the benefits of Amazon, especially when it comes to music and how other music stores often fail to offer the range of albums that Amazon does. So who can compete? Who can offer the same range of books, CDs, downloads that Amazon has done for years?

There are slightly more competition in the social media market with WeChat, Tumblr and TikTok, however, Facebook Inc is still the most powerful tech giant.

 

It’d be great to see more competition in the online retail and social media sectors. Along with legislation, companies need to somehow win over consumers tge way Facebook, and Amazon have for so long.

 

 

Categories
Uncategorized

100 followers reached

Wine glasses in Swag display. Words: 100 followers

 

I’ve reached a milestone I set for myself earlier than what I aimed for. My aim was to try and get 100 followers (that’s WP, email, Facebook page followers, Twitter and Pinterest combined) before my birthday (25 March).

I realised today that I have made it. Yay! Thank you so much for everyone’s support. Now, next aim: 200. My dream is 1,000+. 10% of the way there.

 

Thank you to all who are supporting this blog. 😘

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Violence towards principals shows an attitude overhaul is needed

Principal at desk with pen and paper
Image: iStock

Last Wednesday, the ABC reported a frightening spike of attacks on principals. Australian Catholic University revealed through their annual Australia Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing survey that 45% had experienced threats from parents and students. 37% claimed that they had been physically attacked. These figures from last year were higher than 2011 – 2017.

This is clearly unacceptable. No, that’s not strong enough. It’s appalling. And I don’t doubt that school teachers are receivers of abuse, too, probably at a similar rate. So, what is going on?

 

 

Discipline

Let me say from the outset that I don’t propose bringing back corporal punishment in schools. It was banned for a reason, probably the risk of teachers going overboard.  But principals have slowly begun to lose powers to expel or suspend disruptive or dangerous students.

Last year, the Victorian government introduced a process that allowed principals to plead their case on why a student should be expelled. This move was slammed as, yet more red tape.

 

Physical discipline is another issue. I’m not talking about corporal punishment, but rather, using physycality as a restraint. Earlier this year, principal of Manor Lakes P – 12 College, Steve Warner, was suspended after footage showed him dragging a nine – year student by the arm across the playground. To their credit, other staff defended Mr. Warner, arguing that he was trying to prevent the student from attacking a pregnant teacher. (The sister of the nine year – old deny that he hit or kicked anyone and said that he suffered anxiety and ADHD).

Will the fear of controversy prevent principals or teachers intervening in the future? Only time will tell. I could understand why they wouldn’t want to risk it.

Undermined at every turn

When I was growing up, I often heard how past generations were expected to respect authority, including teachers. Disrespect was not toledated.

It’s not only students that seem to have lost respect. As the ABC article pointed out, parents have, too. Also, the media has a lot to answer for. How many times have you heard commentators smearing teachers as ‘socialists’ and accusations of them ‘indoctrinating’ children as if they are some sort of sociopathic cult leaders?

 

Teachers are also expected to perform magic; keep on top of paper work and red tape, and make sure students in years Three, Five, Seven and Nine all top the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).

 

Anti – bullying is another losing battle. I get that bullying rates shouldn’t be exaggerated, but they shouldn’t be ignored, either. Teachers doing their best to address bullying should be applauded. Teachers should not have been painted as predators when Safe Schools was implemented across multiple schools. Could people offer a different perspective? Sure. But teachers who want to support LGBTQ+ youth should not be unjustly smeared.

 

I’m not saying teachers are perfect. I’m not saying that improvements can’t be made to the education system. But I can’t see how we can expect students get the best results when teachers and principals are abused and their efforts denigrated by societty. We, or rather the next generations, will reap the results.

 

 

Categories
Uncategorized

Update on Patreon tiers

Screenshot of Patreon home page

 

I’ve edited a tier on my Patreon. Here they are:

If you become a $1 patron, you’ll:

  • Be thanked in a future post

If you become a $5 you’ll:

  • Be thanked in a future post and;
  • Have access to locked posts. These willl be photos/ screenshots of drafting and editing process for this blog.

Like this? Why not support me on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/glycerinequeenmedia.