Catching up with some old faves

Down the sidebar of Neil’s final decade, my previous blog, is a set of feeds, most of which still work. Here are a few:

Robert Scheer, Fools, Fascists and Cold Warriors: Take Your Pick from Common Dreams – on those strange Republican debates.

Are they fools or fascists? Probably the former, but there was a disturbing cast to the second GOP debate, a vituperative jingoism reminiscent of the xenophobia that periodically scars western capitalist societies in moments of disarray.

While the entire world is riveted by the sight of millions of refugees in terrifying exodus attempting to save drowning and starving children, we were treated to the darkly peculiar spectacle of scorn for the children of undocumented immigrants and celebration of the sanctity of the unborn fetus.

Marching to the beat of that mad drummer Donald Trump, the GOP candidates have taken to scapegoating undocumented immigrants, particular the young, blaming them for all that ails us. Most of the GOP contenders appeared as a shrill echo of the neo-fascist European movements of late, adopting the traditional tactic of blaming the most vulnerable for economic problems the most powerful have caused…

Mussolini, you know, got much support by vowing to make Italy great again. Remind you of anyone?

Vulpes Libris is offering  Michael Rosen’s Sad Book – by Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake.

In 1999 Rosen’s 18 year old son Eddie died in his sleep, a victim of meningococcal septicaemia.

As the then Children’s Laureate, Rosen was a frequent visitor to schools, reading his work to the children and introducing them to literature and poetry as exciting and vibrant concepts rather than the dull stuff of school textbooks.

Many of his poems feature the young Eddie, and the children inevitably asked about him – how old he was now, what he was doing – to which Rosen simply replied, ‘He died.’

Whereas adults would inevitably have responded with the usual platitude of ‘Oh I’m so sorry,’ Rosen noticed that the children were much more matter of fact about it, more along the lines of, ‘Oh. Right. Okay.’ That in turn lead him to the realization that young children, who are pretty pragmatic and  blunt creatures until we teach them to be otherwise, were probably much more capable of dealing with the truth about death than many adults believed them to be.

He wrote down a few hundred honest and simple words about Eddie’s death and his own reaction to it, and sent them to a publisher with a covering note that said, ‘Is this a book?’

Benjamin Solah’s latest entry is August’s Major Project Update. It does sound promising.

I’m into week four of about twelve in my final semester, working on this major creative writing project, which is code-named ‘Til I Die,’ a kind of autobiographical spoken word show about growing up a fan of the Rugby League team, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, and through that, my relationship with my father, working-class culture and class identification and why barracking for your team isn’t just about a game of football.

It’s a little terrifying being four weeks in and only basically written two of the pieces, one I probably need to completely rewrite. Sometimes talking it out has helped, just discussing the memories, and the narrative helps to put it into my head a bit clearer even though I’m really struggling to find the voice.

Finally Davoh:

WOW. This week has been interesting, politically. We have a new “Prime Minister”.
Malcolm Turnbull has replaced Anthony John Abbott as leader of the current majority members in the current Parliament.

What will it mean? Dunno yet. Wait and see – but there are ‘polls’ (surveys?) around that the general mood is “relief”. Yep, me too – though can only hold cautious optimism.

I was inspired to do this by my post of 17 September 2010. Remember my Google Reader?

On schools and teaching

Rob Baiton mostly blogs about Indonesia, about which he knows a great deal from experience. Today he focuses instead on teaching.

What makes teaching really rewarding for me is that “lights on” moment where someone that you have taught finally sees all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and the light goes on. This is almost always followed by a smile and an exclamation of surprise, “I can do it!” I had three of those moments in one day today; a young bloke in Year 6, a young girl in Year 8, and a soon to be doing the HSC lad. Each are studying different subjects, which is a challenge for me, but this is not about me.

It might have just been a fluke of coincidence, but each of them today had a “lights on” moment where they realised that they can actually do the work, and do it well. In most respects, all I do is help them visualise the pieces of the puzzle and facilitate in getting the pieces into the right spots. It is nice, and it feels good, to watch children understand that they can be successful and grow into that new-found confidence.

I know exactly what he means. 🙂

More political is Hedge Fund-Funded Charter School Lobby Buys Elections, Destroys Education from the USA…

View from Bulli Lookout

See So, Mount Keira is of significance to the Dharawal…