Archive for category random

Good News Day

This front page made me smile so much yesterday I broke my usual rule and bought The Australian:


Turns out the poor buggers have found some inaccuracies in the way their finances are reported.  It makes it look like they are getting paid WAY too much money for the services they provide, or something totally unbelievable like that.

I say: suck it.  Where were you last year when NSW public school teachers and unions were the only ones out there willing to put their neck on the line to criticise the MySchool website?  Sitting quietly on their hands and calling us whingers, that’s where.


Which state you ask?  Oh, that’d be NSW.  Again.  As far as I can see, the only state with the balls to take a stand against ACARA.  Again.

Now, I realise full well that teachers in every state and territory think that their curriculum is ‘the best’.  But that’s not what this is actually about.  This is not just about some east-coast superiority complex.  This is about (in the case of English, at least) the inadequacy of the curriculum on offer.

I love my new home in Queensland, but for sheer determination to kick against the pricks, I am proud to say ‘go the Blues!’  On National Curriculum issues, NSW is proving well and truly to be the big sister of Australia – she might not always be right, but at least she’s brave enough to fight for what she thinks is right (inaccurate newspaper reporting be damned).


OK, so any real Australian knows that this was the only real story of the day.

If you don’t know what a hattrick in cricket is, it’s when a bowler gets three batsmen out in a row.  It’s very hard to do.  Since the start of the Ashes in 1877 there have only been eight other hattricks, making Siddle’s the ninth. And it was his birthday!

What a good news day!

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Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling

I just loved every minute of watching this Valedictory speech by Erica Goldson:

The full transcript can be read at her blog.

One of my favourite section from the speech is this:

School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

‘I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme.’

Powerful stuff Erica.   Definitely worth a watch!


Writers on writing

I’m just choosing some quotes about the writing process to put into an English course book chapter on identity and storytelling.  Some corkers out there!  Here are a few that struck a chord with me, but which I suspect are a bit too terrifying to introduce to 7th graders 😉

  • Writing is turning one’s worst moments into money. (J. P. Donleavy)
  • As for me, this is my story: I worked and was tortured. You know what it means to compose? No, thank God, you do not! I believe you have never written to order, by the yard, and have never experienced that hellish torture. (Fyodor Dostoevsky)
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. (Douglas Adams)
  • Remarks are not literature. (Gertrude Stein)
  • The misuse of language induces evil in the soul. (Socrates)
  • There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write. (Terry Pratchett)
  • Any magazine-cover hack can splash paint around wildly and call it a nightmare, or a witches sabbath or a portrait of the devil; but only a great painter can make such a thing really scare or ring true. That’s because only a real artist knows the anatomy of the terrible, or the physiology of fear. (H. P. Lovecraft)
  • You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair – the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart.  You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names.  You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world.  Come to it any way but lightly.  Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page. (Stephen King)
  • Poetry is not a career, but a mug’s game.  No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written, he may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing. (T.S. Eliot)

So: ‘torture’, ‘evil’, ‘hack’, ‘nervousness’…’a mug’s game’.  Yep, that seems about right!



Interesting sites: Film and screen culture

Recently I stumbled across two sites that I found really interesting, both associated with people working with AFTRS (Australian Film Television and Radio School).  I thought I would share them here.

The first is Screen Culture:

Welcome to, a site for anyone interested in ideas and how they impact on our screen stories, screen production and screen industry.

Here you will find regular posts from Dr Karen Pearlman, Dr Matthew Campora and Mike Jones, the Screen Studies Department of AFTRS, Australia’s national screen school. You will also be able to access information about some of the research projects going on at AFTRS in our Graduate Certificate in Screen Culture, our Masters by Research, and from 2011, our new Graduate Certificate in Webisodes. The students in these courses blog, too, and we are collecting a blog roll of other interesting sites – let us know if you would like to link. There are four key objectives of this site:

  • expanding and influencing discussion of screen culture
  • representing the thinking going on in and around the AFTRS Screen Studies department
  • making provocations to catalyse action
  • distributing new knowledge to industry

and we welcome you to engage with all of them!

The blog post I read on was by Mike Jones, about Genre and Computer Games.

The second site is Cracking Yarns:

Cracking Yarns is dedicated to making moving pictures – films that make us laugh and make us cry. We strive to create – and help others create – films with broad appeal that don’t insult the intelligence. Films like Dead Poets SocietyLittle Miss Sunshineand Groundhog Day. That’s why the focus here, as the name suggests, is on story. The key to taking a movie audience on an emotionally satisfying journey is structure – yet it’s where 99% of screenplays falter. We’re passionate about story and we’re committed to sharing our knowledge so you get to fulfil your film-making ambitions – and the world gets to see more cracking good yarns.

The article I found interesting here, Why screenwriters should take the oral before the written, was about the importance of oral storytelling, and sharing stories e.g. screenplays aloud before writing them down.

Finally, in writing up this post and going back to Mike Jones’ blog, I have found a third site to point you to (his) and I recommend this article on Video Game Taxonomies.

Happy surfing!


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Tee hehe…had a giggle at this, especially after having explained this very concept to a class yesterday 😉

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Leadership and the lone nut

Darcy posted this video to his blog on the weekend, and it is just too good not to re-post!

I agree: it is the best three minute video about leadership you will ever see 😀

“Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership.” (full transcript)


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The road ahead

Is it just me, or does everyone else have that fresh, squeaky ‘new decade’ feeling?

I’ve been pondering what to put into my first blog post of the year.  While some are blogging about the ongoing challenge of maintaining and sustaining positive change, others are reflecting on the work and thoughts of the past year, or setting goals for 2010.

Some colleagues have used that holiday energy to create new sites – in particular I am thrilled to watch my boss walking the talk and blogging about leadership and learning, and that one of my favourite tech-teacher buddies has found time to share her thoughts on a new Ning.

As for me…I just don’t know.  Leading the digital revolution can leave one feeling somewhat bruised and battered.  We all know too well that feeling of hitting your head against the brick wall of fear and stagnation.  And with my shiny new year feeling still firmly in my pocket, I’m loathe to set a “direction” just yet.

One thing I do know is that I have to finish my PhD thesis.  And to be honest that is probably the only direction I should be setting!

Certainly another big focus of mine this year is going to be the development of the National Curriculum.  The draft Australian curriculum for English, mathematics, science and history will be available for consultation from mid February to May 2010, and with much of the consultation occurring online, it is vital that the education community makes itself heard during this time.

But…as for ‘the spirit’ of my 2010…

If you really want me to pin it down, then my early pick is: avoid burn out and nurture creativity.  OK, it might sound a bit trite.  But seriously – if we can’t start converting all of this amazing progress in the fields of technology, pedagogy and currirulum into some more rewarding and enriching experiences, then what is it all for?  We’ve cast the net wide, now it’s time to go deep.  Technology has made our lives more interesting, but this year I’d also like to see it make us happier.

I’m hoping the early adopters have generated enough momentum and goodwill in schools to allow us to spend more time nurturing creativity; our students’ and our own.  Time will tell.  The realities of poor school wireless networks, restrictive department web filters and Clayton’s league tables masquerading as legitimate government websites may drag us down yet.

Until then, the road ahead is paved with the promise of better times, thanks to the hard work and determination of leaders of change that have cleared the path for others.  Fear of ‘the new’ is now sooo last decade 😉  And that, at least, is a happy thought to start 2010 with.


The power of time off #TED

The word of the day…sabbatical!

My new dream retirement plan, and some fascinating insights into design, in a TED Talk by Stefan Sagmeister:

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…today in an undisclosed faculty room.

Teacher 1: (cleaning kitechette)  There really was a lot of washing up in there.

Teacher 2: (at desk)  Well, yeah – but did you see we started putting the dirty cutlery in that bowl of water?  That was helpful, right??

Teacher 1: Umm, kind of, yes, except that the bowl was half full of left over jelly…

Oh dear 🙂


Third 12 Word Story

I was so excited to catch my third 12 word story displayed on the 12Words homepage!  All stories appear there briefly, I think, but I never saw my first two go up.  Thought this one would be especially good to share, as I think it’s something with which many teacher-types will identify with – if not the smoking or coffee, at least the sentiment!

12words3Let me know if you are using this with your students, or if you are writing for this project too.  I made a handout for students in my class (click to download), using information lifted straight from the 12Words website – why don’t you make a few copies and hand them out in class?  Or in a Faculty meeting 🙂