Other people’s ideas – from today’s Google Reader crop

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.

New York state is one of the recipients of Race to the Top funds. It has been awarded $700 million from the federal government in exchange for a promise to undermine public education. In New York and other states long term incumbent state legislators are now facing unknown but suddenly well funded newcomers whose campaigns have been bankrolled entirely by hedge fund investors who are making a fast buck from the charter school industry.

There is nothing wrong with incumbents facing challenges to prove their political value to their constituents. There is something very wrong when those challenges come about because elected officials represent their constituents by choosing to fight the wave of charter schools and then risk electoral defeat for doing the right thing.

As one challenger of a New York City state senator put it, “The checks started rolling in“ after wealthy charter school backers began supporting his and other’s campaigns for office. This sudden largesse and alleged concern for public education proves beyond any doubt that the charter school movement is a gigantic fraud, a mirage created for the sole purpose of enriching one class of people at the expense of millions of children whose right to an education will be jeopardized.

Regard this as a warning, Julia Gillard, as you have, in my opinion, been too drawn to the New York model.

On the "burqa" issue (or, alternatively, the jilbab + niqab, or abaya issue) and mosques

Both the following are from the excellent US source Foreign Policy.

1. The burqa ban: it’s complicated.

Having said all that, I don’t like the notion of French gendarmes arresting or fining people on the street for what they wear. If the French government wants to prohibit state employees from veiling, or require people to uncover their faces when they drive or enter government buildings, fine. Private businesses, like banks, should be allowed to do the same. But we shouldn’t pretend there are easy answers.

2. British soccer hooligans took part in "Ground Zero Mosque" protest.

Sept. 11 protests over an Islamic community center a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site drew an unlikely ally: British soccer hooligans.

This isn’t particularly shocking, given that many hooligans have long been tied into European right-wing political organizations. The most infamous among them were militant followers of Red Star Belgrade in the early 1990s. Headed by future-Serbian war criminal Arkan, the Delije were notoriously violent fanatics, and later became a backbone of Serbian paramilitary units in the Balkan Wars.

The small protest contingent were members of the English Defense League, an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim organization. (They style themselves as a "Counter Jihad" movement.)…

On climate science

Should The Earth Be Cooling?  Good source.

Examining the model outputs, as the world enters the industrial age, the models begin to show a split between the results from purely natural influences and those from natural+human factors. However, while the overall trends begin to diverge, the shorter term fluctuations remain in agreement. As the natural result warms, the natural+human result warms. As the natural result cools, the natural+human result cools.

Then things change.

Over the section of the model runs depicting the last 30 years or so, the two model run types diverge completely. While the natural results show a distinct cooling trend in line with the actual observations of solar irradiance, ENSO, and PDO, the results from the natural+human runs show a marked warming trend. This divergence is highlighted in the figure.

Looking at both the actual observations of historically significant climate forcings including solar irradiance, ENSO and PDO and the results from model runs depicting solely natural climate influences, we would expect our planet to be notably cooling.

However, examining climate models including both natural and human influences, we would expect a continued warming trend over the last 30 years.

Which is exactly what’s been happening.

On media and the riots in the Northern Territory

Read Bob Gosford: “I live in the small township of Yuendumu, 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs on the southern fringes of the Tanami Desert on land owned by people of the Warlpiri and Anmatyerre language groups.” Today he offers a guest post from my friend Frank Baarda. Frank has lived in Yuendumu … for 35 or so years.

Today’s quote:

The report of my death was an exaggeration” Mark Twain, 1897

Yuendumu is in the news. Not because of its star footballer, not because of the gradual destruction of its social fabric, not because of anything positive such as its arts achievements. No, because of “travel warnings”, “rioting”, “lock-down” and the flying in of a tactical response team.

To all those friends and relatives that anxiously rang us to ask if we’re safe, thank you. Yes we are.

I can’t think of a single incident in the past in which the Warlpiri residents of Yuendumu have not respected non-Warlpiri residents’ neutrality in such matters.

They respect our right to be kept out of it. This respect is not reciprocated by “mainstream” society, that has the arrogant belief that it is entitled to interfere and dictate to remote Aboriginals how they should live their lives. The Intervention epitomises this arrogance…