Of course the idea it should be is an inappropriate legacy from the Northern Hemisphere, though the changing weather pattern we appear to have experienced – in retrospect in twenty years or so we will know for sure that it was indeed part of climate change – has been confusing our flowers into thinking autumn is spring, or it is still summer, or something. “Sydney’s remarkable spell of warm weather has been so prolonged that any reversion to long-term averages will feel almost chilly.”
Yes, it is the month that saw the passing of my last surviving uncle, though that was balanced by it occasioning a meeting with some of the generation now in their 20s – and that I found encouraging. Took me back to Sutherland too, and that I did rather enjoy in itself.
M, whom I have visited several times in Surry Hills of late, is off to the Northern Hemisphere next week – very far north, in due course. And speaking of M – those who know us will get the connection – do watch Foreign Correspondent in the coming week.
They had front row seats to one of the most shocking, violent and oppressive dramas to unfold in modern China. The Tiananmen Square massacre. They were the men and women stationed at Australia’s embassy in Beijing. Over the space of weeks then days, they saw the very best and the very worst of human behaviour. Now, 25 years on and for the first time, Australia’s eye-witnesses to that dark chapter tell how they hid from gunfire, harboured and helped key targets and focussed wider attention on the outrage by smuggling defining image out and into the global spotlight. A Foreign Correspondent exclusive.
Nicholas Jose features in that.
Last week’s episode, Pakistan – The Polio Emergency, was sad and brilliant. It also reminded me of how short-sighted it is for the current crackpots in Canberra to be divesting themselves of our international television presence in the region, more than likely in deference to the pockets of Rupert Murdoch. Programs such as this are much more likely to be made by the ABC or SBS, and that they should be made available in South, South-East and East Asia through the Australia Network is absolutely brilliant. But not to be for much longer, it appears.
Then we have The Pyne’s latest curious lack of conservatism: I say that because I would have thought conservatism involved the preservation of all that has painfully evolved in society and proven of worth, rather than taking the axe or the bulldozer to everything in sight. Well, having it appears been rebuked on the question of pursuing student loans beyond the grave, he has stuck his little cockscomb up again:
Education Minister Christopher Pyne has told Christian school leaders that his government has an ”emotional commitment” to private schools, prompting fears the Abbott government will abandon public schools.
Speaking at a Christian Schools Australia national policy dinner in Canberra this week, Mr Pyne assured the school leaders he did not want to sever long-held ties with Christian and independent schools.
”I want to have a direct relationship with the non-government sector, as I believe we have had since 1963,” Mr Pyne said. ”Having talked to the Prime Minister about this matter many times, it is his view that we have a particular responsibility for non-government schooling that we don’t have for [state] government schooling.”
Mr Pyne assured the Christian schools he could not ”see those circumstances changing”…
The president of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, Lila Mularczyk, warned that Mr Pyne’s comments signalled a commitment to directly fund non-government schools at the expense of public schools.
”Students most in need of additional learning support have seen Minister Pyne turn his back on them again,” Ms Mularczyk said.
”We cannot rest easy when the educational gaps between schools, and often schooling systems, are entrenched and will grow because of a dismissive, dangerous budget and an Education Minister who openly claims to be emotionally driven in maintaining a relationship with the non-government sector.”
The Australian Education Union deputy federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said Mr Pyne’s ”divisive view of schools” was contrary to the needs-based principles of the Gonski funding model. Ms Haythorpe said federal funding of government schools was crucial to the quality and equity of the schools system…”
Yes, since 1963 federal aid, at first quite modest, was given to nongovernment schools and has continued ever since, but unfortunately what Mr P has said is of a piece with much else he and his pet advisers have said: commitment to the principle of “free, compulsory and secular” as the central part of schooling, as enunciated by the various states from the 1880s on, seems to be withering on the vine. A shame, because that principle undoubtedly underpins Australia as a place where freedom from religion, or freedom not to believe, are just as precious as the freedom of religion, or to believe whatever you like, so long as you desist from stoning family members to death or burning down rival houses of worship.
During the week I had an email from a student I taught at Wollongong High in 1975, now a mathematician at the University of Oxford. I was pleased to note his contempt for C Pyne and all his works: “How is it possible that this irrational, babbling idiot is the Federal Minister for Education?” 🙂 He has followed up recently:
Your classes, however long ago, are difficult to forget.
I am unsure why, except 1975 was a productive year, marked among other things by that quite wonderful residential conference at Katoomba. In 2007 I wrote:
Thirty-two years ago The Poet and I both attended not a Summer School but an Easter School, residential, at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba, and it was intense, brilliant, and also fun. We had local and UK leaders in our field running the thing, and it was government funded. Teachers from state and private schools were there, notably Paul Brock, then a Marist Brother. No $5000 carrot was dangled in front of us. We were there because we cared about English teaching.
Well, Jeff of 4E4 1975, it turns out I still have a book in which I pasted now fading photocopies of student work from that time, including from your class!
Looking every bit of their almost forty years old!
May on this blog
The top posts have been:
- Home page / Archives 814 views in May 2014
- Ian and I have just run out of uncles 27
- Autumn arrives at last – and my ongoing scepticism 21
- Another gathering of the clan – and Sutherland draws me back… 2 18
- About 16
- Another gathering of the clan – and Sutherland draws me back… 1 12
- Family history–some news on the Whitfield front 12
- My former workplace in the news today 12
- From Wollongong Library 11
- My doctor was ill… 9
- Monday 5 May’s Surry Hills excursion: 3 8
- Mail me 7
- All my posts 7
- Pause to remember 7
- The glorious revival of piffle in the schools policies of Christopher Pyne 7