NAPLAN knows…

I started off all indignant when I ripped Miranda Devine’s latest piece of folksy wisdom out of the Herald-Sun on Thursday but in the end you just have to laugh at the dross that comes out of the conservative media’s best and brightest day after day as if someone is paying them to do it!

Devine’s latest take on the NAPLAN tests is as fine a piece of persuasive writing as you’ll find, resonating with power. Here’s a bit from the opening:

It is accountability time.

After failing the 20 per cent of children who leave school functionally illiterate, we finally see the truth.

Which students have sat through two years of boring lessons without learning to read and write? NAPLAN knows.

Which teachers are adding little value year on year to the students in their classroom? NAPLAN knows.

Which schools are failing to improve their students’ test results? NAPLAN knows.

NAPLAN knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. Just like the shadow did! How do they think of this stuff. Has Devine been channeling 1930s pulp fiction? You be the judge!


Teenage violence and male role models (Proof!)

Most Year 10 students could spot the flaw in the Herald-Sun’s “logic” this morning:

Just 28 per cent of state schoolteachers are men, down from 32 per cent 10 years ago.

Youth crime has soared in that time

The full article, arguing that the the decline in male teachers in schools has contributed to rising youth violence, is HERE.

Rank schools, says the Herald-Sun

The Herald-Sun hasn’t waited long to get its teeth into the eduction debate about school achievement. The new MySchool website (which I blogged about late last year) was launched today, but it already doesn’t go far enough for the high standards of the Melbourne tabloid. I hope to talk more about this later, particularly Ms Gillard’s remarks that parents should ‘badger’ schools and teachers until they improve. Meanwhile,  I reprint today’s editorial in full below.

Rank schools to get results
THIS morning, subject to the vagaries of technology, parents will be given information to help them make one of the most important decisions in their lives: where to send their children to school.
Needless to say, it will also be one of the most important decisions in their children’s lives.
It comes as fees at private schools are increasing and more parents are considering whether to send their children to a public school.
But, cost aside, which school parents choose should be based on a range of priorities, which includes where a school ranks in academic performance.
The My School website will allow parents to make some comparisons between schools within their immediate area.
But it doesn’t go far enough. Many teachers and principals, as well as Education Minister Julia Gillard, think ranking schools will hurt underperforming schools.
The opposite is the case. Government and teachers must ensure these schools improve, not hide their inadequacies.
The argument that publishing so-called league tables will only stigmatise the poorer performing schools is a false one.
Comparing the nation’s schools would make the Government and education authorities accountable.
Parents themselves face an impossible task in forcing change at mediocre schools. They need to be able to point to the information provided by full disclosure of every school’s performance to demand improvement.
The information on the My School website today is a significant move in the right direction, but falls short of clearly ranking the nation’s 10,000 schools.

Rupert Murdoch vs my Iphone App

I’ve been following the recent bluff and bluster from Rupert Murdoch with interest: ‘Google are ripping off my content’, ‘You can’t do this to me!’, ‘I’m taking my newspaper off the internet’, ‘Pay for view for news is the future’, stuff like that (I’m paraphrasing but you can do a Google News Search and get the exact quotes yourself; what am I, a journalist?) Here’s a snapshot:

Some see it as a bluff, or an attempt to cut a deal with Bing or some other search engine, others see it as the last gasps of a media mogul who just doesn’t get it and/or the desperate last throes of old media.  I heard that a year ago Rupert Murdoch had never done a Google search himself. That figures.

I love newspapers but some of them aren’t doing a great job of convincing me that I care. I loved reading the NY Times when I was there recently and bought it every morning and I’ve got a lot of time for the AGE but then I go there this week and find vitriolic opinion columns from sensationalists like Catherine Deveny or across town the same stuff from Andrew Bolt in the Herald-Sun.  It’s fun for language analysis practice for Year 12s, but you dont’ go there for insight, or even particularly good writing. Can a newspaper that has to be one thing to all people really work any more?

Truth is, when I wake up each morning I check my email and my Google Reader feeds before I check the newspaper online.  I follow 101 blog feeds daily, from people who are expert in their fields, who I respect, many of whom also write better than Bolt, Deveny and the rest. Try Scott McLeod, Derek Wenmoth, Don Tapscott or David Warlick on education, for a start. I could go on!

And I’m hopeful that a new era of open-ness has begun and that the genie is already out of the bottle in a democratisation of the media. We want access to the information that matters to us in exactly the format that works for us and I hope that Murdoch’s view of the world is fading.

I’m teaching the classic text Frankenstein to my literature class next year and have been trawling around for resources. One that struck me was a study guide on the text available as a web site you could visit, a PDF you could download or an Iphone App you could buy for $1.19. You can find it on Itunes.  It’s not anything particularly intuitive except that it understands the ubiquity around content now, and that we want choice in how we receive it.  The ABC seems to understand, they’ve been working hard at delivering their content in increasingly diverse ways, including on hand held devices.

I met with my publisher recently in planning a new text book for next year, maybe. We were talking about models of publishing and they’ve begun to move (slowly) toward a sort of print on demand model where you order a customised version of the book depending on the texts and contexts you’ve chosen to study. But what about making that same content available online? We’ve had a web site resource add-on for a while now, but I’m arguing for the book to be available in other ways too: to be read on the Kindle, downloaded and purchased in bits, even as an iphone app. It’s going to be interesting to see who catches us on quickest in all this; the slow ones aren’t likely to last.

I’ve been following the recent bluff and bluster from Rupert Murdoch with interest: ‘Google are ripping off my content’, ‘You can’t do this to me!’, ‘I’m taking my newspaper off the internet’, ‘Pay for view for news is the future’, stuff like that (I’m paraphrasing but you can do a Google News Search and get the exact quotes yourself; what am I, a journalist?)