Aug. 16th, 2007

highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)

I can't be blamed for a sense of deja vu about the controversy created by Davidson High School's entry in the Rock Eisteddfod. The piece, Bad Knight II, parodies the US President, George Bush, and his role in the Iraq War, repeating the anti-war theme of the school's previous entry Bad Night in Baghdad, which won the same competition when I was principal of the school three years ago.

Many Rock Eisteddfod performances comment on issues facing students and society. They make strong statements against drugs, racism and violence.

Davidson High School's 2004 entry was unashamedly one-sided. The school made strenuous efforts to make sure parents were aware of the subject matter and happy for their offspring to take part. There was nothing but enthusiastic support in response. When the school held a meeting to decide whether to proceed from the heats to the final, parents were hostile to any suggestion of changing the performance.

None of this protected Davidson High from a broadside from a morning talkback host, then several days of intense media coverage. The then federal education minister, Brendan Nelson, weighed in with a barrage linking bias in public schools to the NSW Teachers Federation, something that vastly amused staff who knew that the teacher involved was not a unionist. It apparently did not matter that many private schools submit equally challenging Rock Eisteddfod entries.


We constantly underestimate our young people. The sad thing about these moral panics is that they portray the teacher-student relationship as a one-way, passive flow of information. The image of teacher ideologues pouring bias down the throats of students devalues our young people, as my experience with students, including those at Davidson High, attests.

One of the lasting lessons for students, parents and teachers involved in the 2004 episode was the extent to which the tabloid media got it so wrong. Seeing their school dragged through the swamp of talkback radio taught students more about bias and media than a score of lessons. Good teachers brought articles and reports about the controversy into their classrooms. Equipping young people to unpack the messages they receive from others is critical to their growth and, ultimately, to a healthy democracy.

-Chris Bonnor, SMH today

highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)

I often get asked to submit my favorite life motto to libraries or schools for them to display on bulletin boards for their students.

This is very stressful for me because my favorite life motto is actually “Quitters never win.” But what I mean by “favorite” is, it’s my favorite motto to rip off the bulletin board in a rage whenever I walk into a school or library and see it.

It IS true that you should never quit something because it’s hard. Not if you love it. If I had quit writing because it was hard to get published, I wouldn’t be here today.

But I honestly believe you SHOULD quit something if you hate it, or if it’s a stupid waste of your time. Because if you don’t, how will you ever have time to discover the things in life you love doing?

THAT is what I mean when I say that I hate the motto Quitters Never Win.

But whenever I submit THAT as my favorite motto—Actually, Quitters DO win—I notice no one ever puts it up on their bulletin boards...
-Meg Cabot

highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Jesus Called)
Today's Utter Crap Alert:

The continuing debate over the access of same-sex couples to social benefits and so-called entitlements is a distraction from the real issue. The real issue is not about infringement of rights. Rather, it is about what heterosexual marriage can offer society that other forms of relationships cannot. hmm... something new and different!

and here's a copy of the letter i just wrote to the eds:

"Married heterosexual unions are not simply a legal invention with an associated bunch of benefits," writes Chris Meney of the Catholic Archdiocese (SMH, Aug. 16). I agree with him on one count- marriage is not simply a legal invention. I read on, and I find that marriage is a financial union first and foremost. He proclaims that marriage provides "an intergenerational connectedness … to save and provide for their children and grandchildren." If we opened up the law to gay marriage, he argues, all kinds of people in financial relationships would want to be "married". Marriage and family, he tells us, are institutions which can't just be changed at whim. Financial institutions, of course. Legalise gay marriage, and "this would result in further clamour for financial benefits from couples or groups on the basis of some notional entitlement."
Much of Meney's logic is ridiculous, but I am appalled by his construction of family as all about money. What happened to love, emotional and spiritual commitment? Is "intergenerational connectedness" the capacity to work longer and longer hours to buy more gameboys? Can't gay people spend money too? Marriage is about more than money- life is about more than money.
The Catholic Archdiocese's concept of family is in fact contrary to the gospel they preach. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth" (Mat. 6:19), my Bible reminds me. I would encourage Meney to spend more time with his Bible, and less time worrying about the financial status of other people's family units.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (purple)
I wrote Kate a love poem for her birthday. Robyn wanted one too, but I said I only write them for my wife. So here, without further ado, is a spite poem for Robyn Goodwin on her birthday.

This is a poem of deepest spite-
unbridled hatred and bile-
specially written for you tonight,
it took me quite a while.

Robyn's thesis it is bland,
nutrional value aside-
the paper seems to taste like sand,
and that I can't abide!

Her companion of childhood, a fictional friend
grew with her every day:
Living on Facebook, the perfect boyfriend-
except that it turns out he's gay!

Incisive and witty and beautiful too,
or so she seems to think,
Robyn declared herself Miss CSU*-
Maybe she needs a shrink!

I really can't stand to write anymore,
so now this poem is through
and putting it frankly, the subject's a bore,
so Robyn:
                This poem's for you!

A. Brown & K. Calhau, 2007

*CSU- Christian Students Uniting.


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