Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ethics legislation

Hello again everyone,
Through the magical world of twitter I have just been informed of "The right to teach Ethics in our public schools passes the lower house. Opposed by Libs & Nats." @KKeneally. This essentially means that no matter the election result, ethics classes are to go ahead.. at least for the immediate future.I have a feeling that the Liberals realised there was very little they could do to stop the legislation from passing, labour certainly has the numbers in the lower house. 

I also mentioned that I would keep you all up-to-date with my correspondence with Andrew Constance and with the St James ethics centre. I realise that Andrew is the shadow minister for Ageing and Disability Service, however he is also the representative of my electorate, Bega. I find it most useful to contact my own members when curious about political issues, because they're the ones who take the time to get back to me. I've spoken to Andrew a couple of times in the last couple of days and here's what he has to say in a recent email:

There are mixed views on ethics across the community and there has been robust debate in Parliament on ethic classes.

It is disappointing that the government has seen fit to pit ethics courses against religion courses in an attempt to wedge the opposition. This is to the detriment of the education of the state's school children and politicises education unnecessarily. The Liberals & Nationals continue to support SRE in our schools.

At this time the Keneally Labor Government is refusing to confirm who will be conducting the ethics courses at Far South Coast schools, what funds will be made available to run the courses and whether the introduction of the ethics classes will actually address the issue of some kids with nothing to do. These are serious concerns.

The report on the trial that was conducted did raise a number of concerns regarding course content, including content involving designer babies and terrorism.

For these reasons we are opposing the legislation
On the other hand, the St James Ethics centre, has so far only sent me an automated style 
e-mail stating that they'd get back to me in more detail when they have the time. Obviously they 
are very busy. I can understand how one citizen journalist, with a blogging audience she can 
count on one hand, isn't their first priority.
Despite this rather lame scope of influence, I will keep the up dates coming!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You're a good guy, but ethics classes could be a deal breaker....

Heidi (last name)
(my address and email)

24th November 2010

Andrew Constance
Member for Bega

Dear Mr Constance,

I am deeply concerned about your Party's recent decision to scrap ethics classes if you are voted in. I have spoken about this with you as a journalism student back in July. At that time your party’s stance was firmly that you did not oppose the trial ethics classes. In fact the Liberals thought they were such a good idea they should be available to all students, not just those who choose not to join in with SRE. Since then the independent analysis of the program has come back positive. It is my understanding that St James Ethics centre has taken on board a number of the recommendations in the report. The program is now ready to be rolled out to more schools, in the new year. What’s more, the program seems to have strong support from the public.

All of this seems positive to me, so, why the strong opposition to the classes now? I simply don’t understand the motives behind it. If the true issue was the, so called, competition for the time slot then why not simply move the classes when/if you get elected? Or make them a compulsory part of the primary curriculum? What is the reason for the turn around, and for treats of abandoning the classes?

Unfortunately, whether moving or ditching the classes, the Liberals have not presented any solution for the original issue. The problem of children sitting idle for ½ hour if parents opt them out of SRE. These children were not allowed to participate in any learning activities during the SRE time slot every week. The news papers were full of anecdotes about children being left alone on the school verandah, or being discriminated against for there different worldviews.

Please can you provide me with some answers, or at the very least some comforting words to ease my deep concern that your Party is disregarding the importance of choice for parents. I sincerely believe that you have nothing but your constituents’ best interests at heart. You are always out and about in the electorate and you have done a fine job representing us in state parliament. For me personally, you made time for a political news interview with a first year journalism student, which is far more than most other MPs committed to. Frankly, I think you are a ‘top bloke’. That being said, this anti-choice choice attitude of the Liberal Leader may be a deal-breaker for me. Be assured, I’ll be contacting every state liberal member with an e-mail address in my quest to understand.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


As you may or may not know, today Verity Firth confirmed that the State of New South Wales has approved the introduction ethics classes into primary schools. Verity Firth is the NSW minister for education and training and this is a link to her blog:

(those of you who already know all about it, jump to "complete findings here", I've added stars to help you find it. You're welcome)
Earlier this year a trial was run in a number of schools across the state. As you can imagine, there was plenty on controversy surrounding the trials. The churches and religious lobby groups didn't like the idea of secular ethics very much, and kicked up a bit of a stink.

The St. James Ethics centre formulated the curriculum. After the trial there was a complete analysis of the classes by the University of South Australia. The investigation was far more invasive than anything the SRE(special religious education) classes have ever had to face. And, credit to St James ethics centre, the findings were very positive.

The complete findings are here:

What I really wanted to point out was recommendation number 6 on page 83:

"Recommendation 6:
That information about SRE curricula and other such courses at individual schools be made available to parents / carers in the form of fact sheets to mirror that DET fact sheets for parents on Gender or Drug education. The fact sheets should provide no more than a summary of the aims and processes of the different SRE offerings, and each summary should be no more than two paragraphs in length. It might be useful for the DET to design a template for this purpose"

I just thought it was interesting that non-Christians have to jump through hoops and undergo intense scrutiny to teach about ethics. When, on the other hand, parents are not privy to the goings on in SRE. @NathanLee on twitter thinks that it might pay NOT to know what SRE is teaching (twitter hashtag is #NSWethics check it out for more info over the next little while).

What could possibly be so bad that SRE has to hide its curriculum?

P.S. I neglected to mention Penny Sharpe MLC, and her hard work pushing the ethics classes. Penny gave this little blogger her first polictical interview for her journalism subjects and she's a dragonboater.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

party like it's 1980-something

For Halloween this year Miss 2 and I got out my mum's shoulder pads and hoop earrings and cranked up the beats. It was our inaugural "assault the neighbours with 80's music" evening. Miss 2 has taken a liking to Roxette. It was a real hoot! I don't think we'll wait until next Halloween to do this again.

Here's our playlist. Let me know any important people I missed, so i can make sure they're included next time.

Wham- Club Tropicana,& wake me up before you go-go
MJ- Billie Jean,& Beat it
ABC- The look of love
Marvin Gaye- heard it on the grape vine
Alice Cooper- Poison
Culture Club- Karma chameleon
Roxette- dangerous,& It must have been love,& Dressed for success
Billy Joel- uptown girl, & It's still rock and roll to me
The Police- every breath you take,& message in a bottle
Bonnie Tyler- total eclipse of the heart
Run-DMC- It's tricky
Whitney- i wanna dance with somebody
Rick Astley- Never going to give you up
Eurythmics- who's that girl,& sweet dreams
George Micheal- faith
Frankie Goes to Hollywood- relax
Duran Duran- Hungry like the wolf

Finally, because it isn't an 80's night without band aid

Sir Bob Geldof (et. al)- Do They know It's christmas

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Total destruction of my family

I'm not one to hide my feelings and opinions. Sure, I realise there is a time and place to get up on my soap box. I also accept that there is a tactful and respectful approach to pointing out another's fallacious arguments. Catching more bees with honey, so to speak.

Perhaps my patience for believers, misinformed, and non-critical thinkers stems from the fact that not long ago I belonged to that group. In fact, I'm still very much a student of reasonable thinking. Perhaps my compassion for believers, misinformed, and non-critical thinkers is because I'm a fairly sensitive person who knows all too well how it can feel to be brutally shut-down. Perhaps my persistence with the education of believers, misinformed and non-critical thinkers is because I realise that people aren't stupid. It is simply that there are in fact misinformed and non-critically thinking about a topic that they are uneducated about.

However, no amount of patience, compassion or persistence could prepare me for how I felt reading a facebook post on Saturday, and continued to feel ever since. A member of a group of opposing thinkers wished for the 'total destruction' of my family (in fact all members of my group and their families). I was horrified.

Obviously I realise that there is no real threat to my family. What bothers me is the amount of personally directed hatred this man felt. The violence. He hoped to throw household items at us and burn us with acid, among other things. My beautiful little girl. My happy, kind, generous, confident, often demanding little girl? Just because her mother belongs to a group who intellectually disagrees with him?

There may be a layer of pity there too, but mostly it is horror.

History is a broken record of violence stemmed from hatred. All I can hope is that this man is never in the position to act upon these emotions, or to influence others into acting. In fact, I'd like to see him get some serious help. One small mercy is that another member of HIS group had the good conscience to flag his comments, and there have now been removed. Due to the integrity of his peer, my faith in the human-race has been restored.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Those beautiful people

Since I don’t think anyone reads this anyway, I’ll going to use my blog as a tool to let of some steam. Today it’s my overwhelming envy of beautiful people. Why is it that the ‘cool’ girl in school could pull her blond hair up in a pony tail and look like a goddess, even when the ‘fly-aways’ start to fall out. I spend at least 10 mins in front of the mirror and I look like I just fell out of an airplane! Maybe 10 minutes just isn’t enough for a plain Jane like me. *sigh* Like I said, jealousy. That is all.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Taking the plunge

It was brought to my attention that conducting a long-winded conversation over twitter is probably not particularly good netiquette. As a result I have started this blog for those times when 140 characters just won't cut it. I have no intention of providing educational, entertaining or informative posts. Having said that, I have come across numerous blogs about people's pet cats, herb gardens and housekeeping tips. So perhaps I'll get the hang of this and surprise myself.

I think at this point it might be polite to properly introduce myself. My twitter bio says:
Skeptic, Mother & Arts student. An advocator for critical thinking & focused on raising my daughter to be a tolerant, reasonable and logical human being
But like I pointed out earlier, 140 characters just isn't enough. So let's expand this a little.  I'm Studying a Bachelor of Arts through Griffith University in Brisbane. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I study on-line from the rural  New South Wales town of Batemans Bay. I'm hoping that my education will lead to a career in primary school teaching. I hope that I can instill a love of science, literature, arts and a desire for knowledge in the children I have the privilege of teaching. (Though, I'm not completely delusional, I realise there will be those who simply do not listen.)

Madeline, my two year old, is my inspiration.  Like any good parent I want to help her in anyway that I can. I want to teach her to be a productive, well adjusted, rational member of society. To succeed in this I think it's important that I set her a good example. In this way Maddie has made me a better person. I could go on about her for hours, but there will be plenty of opportunities to do that in future posts.

Last but not lest, I am a skeptic. I am still a skeptical rookie. I still get my logical fallacies muddled and I often miss SGU podcasts. But it's a far cry from the barefooted, folk festival, vegetarian who only three year ago was enrolled in a Bachelor of Chiropractic Science... so, you hardcore Skeptics, be nice- "Don't be a Dick".

I think I've done it, I might actually have 'blogged'. However, It's now two in the morning, so I guess I should sign off.
Warm Regards to you all. (And exceptionally toasty regards to @bastardsheep , our music related discussions will never be detrimental to your twitter followship again)

Link to Skeptics' Guide to the Universe (SGU podcast)
Link to Phil Plait - Don't be a Dick. (Speech @ TAM8)