Crikey‘s Win an iPad Competition September 2012

Congratulations to Andrew Williamson who is the lucky winner of last week’s iPad competition.

Our national curriculum is stuck in detention

David Edmunds writes: Re. “The history curriculum debate: back to the Howard future?” (yesterday). Dean Ashenden is probably correct about the difficulty in finding agreement between the states on a national curriculum. However, there is another approach.

The federal government could go it alone. That is, it could produce the curriculum, teaching materials, assessment and teacher training. Following the introduction of the NAPLAN testing, the federal government now has a great deal of expertise in rolling out assessment across the country.

Schools across Australia use a variety of curriculum options other than the one defined by their state government, perhaps the best known being the International Baccalaureate, and many more would choose this option if they could afford the extra resources required.

If the federal government is prepared to properly resource and administer a national curriculum, it would be widely adopted, particularly in view of the fact that the various state curriculum are not well resourced.

By choosing this option, it would be possible for ACARA to improve the quality of its curriculum, as it would not be hostage to the various idiosyncrasies foisted upon it by state interests.

A federal system would be particularly attractive initially to schools that cater for mobile student populations, and other schools would follow if they believed that they could improve on the education they offered.

While in the first instance this approach appears confrontational, it is more than likely that the states would prefer not to bet against a federal model and pay the additional cost of running their own system. There is also considerable pain to states if their schools are seen to desert the state systems.

The key to making such a system a success is to ensure that it is properly resourced, high standards are embedded in the system and the barriers to interested schools are kept low.

Jonesing around

Denise Marcos writes: Re. “Unsackable: why Alan Jones can say what he likes” (yesterday). People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Alan Jones’s unrelenting assertion that Prime Minister Julia Gillard is a liar underscores sublime irony with his recent remarks i.e. that Chatham House rules were decreed at the Young Liberals’ dinner and any journalists were asked to identify themselves.

Journalist Jonathan Marshall’s audio recording of the entire event provides rock-solid evidence to the contrary. As the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, would say, “Oops.”

Kim Lockwood writes: Am I missing something here? Alan Jones has 151,000 listeners at any one time. That’s 0.6% of Australia’s population. In other words, his reach is minuscule. What gives him oxygen is the media constantly feeding on his insane antics and comments. And that, of course, means a reach of 80-90% of the population. Don’t report on Jones and he disappears. Won’t happen, though, will it?

No love for submarines

Brian Wilson writes: Re. “Essential: opposition to carbon prices falls, Labor’s stock rise” (yesterday). It is not surprising that only 24% support the acquisition of submarines. Ditching them would go a long way in funding the much more worthy proposals such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

So who needs them. After all, what role did submarines play (or could have played if any of our subs were operational at the time!) in our involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor, response to natural disasters and so on.

It seems their only role is to protect us from some non-existent threat — and if a real threat did emerge, (and before they had become obsolete!) it must surely be doubtful that they could make a difference in any case. I have no doubt that future generations will view this decision to purchase a fleet of submarines as we now regard the decision of a past generation to build a fort in Port Phillip Bay to protect us from Russian invasion!

Get Fact

B Thomas writes: Re. “Get Fact: will Abbott’s formula deliver jobs and growth?” (Friday). Read the article on Abbott and thought a very strong case was made that what he uttered was mostly rubbish and was therefore surprised to see you rate him very low on a mostly rubbish score. A meter dial has the metric being measured (mostly rubbish in this case) and an analogue meter such as that shown rises (generally from zero) on the left-hand side to maximum (full-scale deflection) on the right-hand side, increasing clockwise. Abbott deserved much higher than you scored him.

A win over the Tories?

Mungo MacCallum writes: The story about the old politician (comments, yesterday) correcting the young politician about those facing him in parliament — “No, son, that’s the opposition; the enemy are the ones behind you” — has become something of a political chestnut but it certainly goes back a lot further than Margaret Thatcher and is more likely than not to have originated in Australia. I have heard it attributed variously to Fred Daly, Pat Kenneally and James Scullin, but there is a (probably apocryphal) account of a pre-Federation version by Frank Anstey. All, it will be noted, Labor politicians. Surely this is one for which we can claim credit over the Tory Poms.

Peter Fray

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