28 April 2010

My Favourite TED Talks

Quite some time ago a friend of mine blogged about his favourite TED Talks and I have been watching them ever since. I figure enough time now has passed that I can do my own.
Seeing that I am trying to become a primary school teacher there is a general theme of learning, thinking and motivation but there are some others. They aren't in any particular order.

Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

Dave Eggers' wish: Once Upon a School

Scott McCloud on Comics

Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions

Arthur Benjamin does "Mathemagic"

27 April 2010

A Recount of What Happened in a SRE Lesson at a Primary School in NSW

When you read this just remember that this happened roughly a year ago on my third year prac. It was in a kindergarten class and material as aimed for a kindergarten student. I'm not sure which church runs the scripture classes at the public schools in town but I know it isn't the Catholic Church as they have a pretty strong presence in the region (4 primary schools and a high school). I think it might be the Anglican judging by the version of the Lord's Prayer used.

The lady running this class used to be a primary school teacher so she knew what she was about and kept the class focused or would switch to a new activity when she knew when the current activity wasn't maintaining the students' attention.

It started much like any kindergarten lesson, with a story from a picture book. It was based on the Cast Your Net on the Other Side sermon (John 21:1-21:9). The fishermen can't seem to catch a thing and the bearded guy in a loin cloth tells them to try fishing on the other side. Lo and behold they are up to their eyeballs in fish and ye it was all good.

Each of the students had a scripture work book that has activities based upon the various sermons and for the next twenty minutes the kids worked on the Cast Your Nets pages.
She also had this song she would occasionally sing that was based on "The Farmer in the Dell". I really wish I could remember the words. She had at least a dozen different versions based on main points of the sermons but each ended with "Like only Jesus can" or "Like only God could do".
The lesson wrapped up with a small Q & A on the meaning of the lesson and the Lord's Prayer.

As I said at the beginning this is based on memories from a year ago and so there are a few holes but that is the general gist.

About six of the students went to another classroom during the lesson due to notes from their parents. According to the teachers the number of notes coming in was increasing and there was concern on what was going to happen to the scripture lessons.

Now I am all for students' learning about religion in primary school. It easily fits into the HSIE syallabus. Not many teachers get around to teaching the various cultures of the world but that is due to the increasing requirement to teach Australian history.

Obviously it should be noted that church groups feel different. That only Christianity is to be taught in NSW schools. Again I wouldn't be against this if they only taught about the history and facts of the Christian church. However they feel they need to have this weekly half an hour in state schools so they can pass on their morality so that the kids will grow up being well adjusted.

Just to show that the debate on should religion in schools has been around for quite some time here is an excerpt from The NSW Public Instruction Act of 1880.

Essential Features of the Act of 1880. The most important provisions of the Public Instruction Act are:

(1) Primary school education is placed under the sole direction and control of a responsible Minister;

(2) Teachers are made civil servants, and are paid exclusively from the public funds;

(3) The system is wholly non-denominational: all aid to denominational schools ceased on 31st December, 1882; 

(4) Attendance at school is made obligatory upon children between the ages of six and fourteen years, who reside within two miles of the school, for seventy days in each half-year, unless just cause of exemption can be shown;

(5) The teaching is strictly secular, but the words "secular instruction" are held to include general religious teaching as distinguished from dogmatic and polemical theology: the History of England and Australia must form part of the course of secular instruction;

(6) High schools for boys and girls maybe established, in which the instruction shall be of such a character as to complete the public school curriculum and prepare the pupils for the University;
(7) Provision is made for constituting Public School Districts and for the appointment of School Boards with defined powers and duties;

(8) School children are allowed to travel free by rail to the nearest public school;

(9) Four hours during each day must be devoted to secular instruction, and one hour set apart for special religious instruction to be given in a separate class-room, if procurable, or in a separate part of the school-room, by a clergyman or religious teacher of any denomination to children of the same denomination whose parents have no objection to their receiving such religious instruction; if no religious teacher attends the full five hours must be devoted to the ordinary secular instruction.

Here are some reactions from the Catholic Church (the largest provider of education in the colony at the time). They are taken from Government Schools of New South Wales 1848 to 1993 by Jim Fletcher.

They accused the government schools of being "seed plots of future immorality, infidelity, and lawlessness". It was also a subtle means of "squeezing ... the Catholic faith out of Catholic People". The Catholic Church wanted to encourage their people to support the denominational schools. They were successful but at the same time their criticism created a bitter reaction against the continuation of State aid for denominational schools. Subsequently the bill was passed.

So you see none of this is new. Hopefully the current groundswell will force them out.

21 April 2010

No Bad Movies

Scott Drummond posts a famous actor and it is up to his followers to discuss if any of their films are bad.

So far not a single actor has been able to stand up.
in reference to: no bad movies (view on Google Sidewiki)

Green and Gold Rugby

This website is the best officially unofficial rugby union website around.
Using a blog as the front page, the contributors post match previews and reviews, discussions and opinions about the game the play in heaven.
Mainly focusing on Australian matches, players, administration and issues, they take a light hearted approach to what many find a serious topic.
A live web chat occurs for every Wallabies and Australian Super 14 games.
If you are keen to keep the discussions going or have something you wish to talk about head into the forum and post away.
in reference to: THE Aussie Rugby Blog and Forum for Australia and Wallabies fans – Green and Gold Rugby (view on Google Sidewiki)

18 April 2010

Things I Would Love to See Happen but Probably Wont

The following are in no particular order. They are generally silly and don't reach the lofty heights of worlds peace. So enjoy.

Pete Smith releases a tell all book

Think about it. He was around when all the great show biz stories happened in the early years of Australian television. It would be such an amazing read. Sadly though Pete has been asked about this by Tony Martin a few times and his response has always been "Not enough people dead yet."

The Release of Boy Town Confidential
You may remember the movie about an aged boy band who get back together and reclaim their popularity. Written by Mick Molloy and his brother Richard it was not up to their previous work on Crackerjack. Tony Martin had a small role as the documenter of Boy Town's renewed fame. The title of the documentary was Boy Town Confidential and it was to be released as a special feature on the DVD.

From all reports it was a work of genius. Tony even called it his best work to date. Which brings it to the crux of the problem. BTC was cut from the DVD release. The Molloy boys' gave the reason of funds. Tony offered to pay for it but still the boys said no. So we now only speculate on the reason for it exclusion. Supposedly Tony and Mick don't talk much any more.

Bring Back Firefly
Joss Whedon's sci fi tv series was cut after 14 episodes. It was well made. Incredibly hard to fault. Joss Whedon at his finest. Fox however didn't like the ratings and cut it short. DVD sales were off the charts. Large enough to get funding for a movie.
The cast have moved on to other things now and even though a lot of people want to see it come back it probably wont.

The Wallabies to win the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand
Out of the list so far this is the most possible and technically I'd be happy for anyone but the All Blacks to win. I really don't want to see any Northern Hemisphere side to win either. I'd allow Ireland. All that leaves is South Africa or Australia and the Springboks won it last time and we don't them to be the first to go back to back or the first to win it three times. So all that leaves is Australia. And we will have a genuine chance too.

Hockey to get regular TV air time in Australia
Just to clarify I am talking about hockey. Not ice hockey. Hockey was played on land before it was on ice. 
Hockey is quite a popular sport in Australia. We are dominant in world competitions but sadly within our own country it receives hardly any press unless we win something big. Obviously it doesn't help when the biggest tournament that is played is a part of the Olympics however the World Cup is growing in strength. 
In Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands hockey matches are large events and the players in their national competitions are professional. 
Hockey Australia have taken the first step by setting up the Australian Hockey League and they are now making it a longer style competition between the states. Hopefully it catches on but I can't see it happening. 

My Favourite Children's Cartoons as an Adult

Samurai Jack
A samurai warrior (Jack) is sent to the future by an ancient, powerful and evil entity (Aku), where Aku rules the world and other planets as well. Jack battles his way around the planet as he seeks a way to return to the past to undo the evil that Aku has afflicted on the planet.

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Ang is the latest in a long line of Avatars that maintain peace amongst the four nations. There is the Fire Nation, the Earth Kingdom, the Water Tribes and the Air Nomads. Each nation contains people who can bend the element that gives their nation its name. Each generation has an Avatar and the succession follows the Avatar Cycle (Water, Earth, Fire, Air).
Upon finding out that he is the next Avatar, Ang runs away only to be caught in a storm and is frozen in suspended animation. During this time the Fire Nation as conquered many lands from the other nations and killed off all the remaining Air Nomads. 100 years later a sister and brother from the Southern Water Tribe (Katara and Sokka) find Ang and they join him on his quest to master the remaining three elements so he can defeat the Fire Lord.

The Batman
Bruce Wayne has been The Batman for only a year. Gotham is in relative safety for now. Soon an increasing number of super criminals are appearing on the streets. We are introduced to revamped villains, characters and themes.
Now it isn't quite as good as Batman: The Animated Series from the 1990's however it really highlights the issues Bruce Wayne struggles with as being The Batman and is his presence alone the reason for the increased "super" villainy.

Invader Zim
Zim is the least competent invader of the Irken Empire, an alien race that prides itself in its ability to invade other planets. Zim single-handedly halted Operation Impending Doom. The Tallest (Irken's assign the role of leadership to the tallest of their species) have now declared the commencement of Operation Impending Doom II and to avoid the catastrophe of the previous operation they send Zim and his information retrieval unit GIR to Earth, a planet so far away and so backwards that it is very low down on the invading priority list.
On Earth Zim meets Dib, a paranormal investigator and son of the famed scientist and saviour of the planet, Professor Membrane. Dib is only the only human who knows what Zim is, despite his poor disguise and Dib vows to stop Zim form taking over the planet.

The Spectacular Spider-man
Peter Parker has just commenced junior high. He was bitten by the radioactive spider at the beginning of summer. He spends his time with his best friends Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn,  keeping clear of Flash Thompson and helping Dr. Curt Connors in his science lab. Initially Peter is only thwarting petty crime but New York's crime boss creates super powered villains to defeat Spider-man.
Peter has to cope with school life, his fame as Spider-man and home life.

Iron Man: Armoured Adventures
A young Tony Stark lives his life inside his father's company, Stark International. He and his father are constantly competing to see who can out invent each other. Tony's latest is the Iron Man armour. they are on their way to the testing grounds when a strange light appears inside the jet. Tony wakes up in bed with 

11 April 2010

Was Kurtley Beale Offside?

The setting was last nights' Super 14 game between the Waratahs and the Crusaders at Christchurch.
The moment was during the 68th minute.
The Crusaders had a ruck on half way after some scrappy play which saw possession switch a couple of times.
The Crusaders' half back, Fotuali'i picks up the ball, takes three steps and throws a long pass to the right, Kurtley Beale manages to intercept the ball and would have score a try. 
However, Joubert, the referee considered Beale to be in an offside position and awarded a penalty.
From what I can tell there was no signal from the assistant referee. Sean Fitzpatrik, All Black legend, during the summation of the game, said there was a nod to Joubert from the side line but I couldn't see it. 

Have a look for yourself.

Here is that picture a little bigger

After some quite correct comments on Youtube. (I have the line in the wrong spot)  I'm putting up another picture. This one is of when Fotuali'i has just pulled the ball from the ruck. I haven't drawn any lines this time just to let you decide for yourself.

Now in this one the ball has just been pulled from the ruck. Beale has stepped in line with his other players. Who are standing on the line that can be made from TPN's foot.

05 April 2010

The Better Easter Tradition

The best two things the the Christian faith has provided to the world is Christmas and Easter.
Christmas my favourite, not for Jesus being born, not for the present giving but because each year I get to spend a solid few days with my extended family at the beach eating, drinking, talking bullshit and surfing. It is a great time and I look forward to it each year.

Easter is the runner up. It isn't because of Jesus and his whole zombie thing and it is not the weird giving of chocolate eggs from that completely unrelated to the whole purpose of Easter icon the Easter Bunny. It is because on Monday you can head to your local super market and get half price Easter Eggs.

It has become a bit of a tradition with my brothers and I. We only ever get one product be that a bag of small eggs, one big one or whatever. We never go overboard but for only a couple of dollars you can get pretty good value.

I know it sounds a little silly but for some strange and unexplainable reason they seem to taste better. It even tastes better than a block of chocolate from the same company at cheaper price. It probably comes down to the consuming. It makes whatever activity that is undertaken for the rest of the day that little bit more enjoyable.

01 April 2010

Capril: Swirl on a cape during the month of April

The year was 2007 and the month was April. Tony Martin, Ed Kavalee and Richard Marsland on their highly popular radio show Get This, discussed novelty month names such as Rocktober (Rock + October), Schweptember (Schweppes + September) and Movember (Moustaches + November) and made a few suggestions of their own. The most popular was Capril where participants would swirl on a cape for the entire month of April. Now what started as a silly idea slowly built momentum and soon the boys were asking for listeners to send in photos of themselves wearing a cape in everyday situations. The less interesting the better. Prizes included a special Capril t-shirt and the overall winner received an iMac.

At the end of the year the show was cancelled so Capril didn't get a repeat.

So lets skip forward to December in 2008.

Ed was working on Nova and Thank God Your Here, Tony was apparently working on a new book and Richard was hosting/panelling Triple M Melbourne's Breakfast show.

I know where I was Saturday morning on the 6th of December. I was sitting at my parents computer catching up on the overnight news. It was there that I stumbled across this article Melbourne breakfast radio host found dead on a Fairfax news website.

My immediate reaction was anger. What had happened? Who has done this? How could something like this happen to such a great guy?

Followed by confusion and denial. No this can't be right. I went to Champagne Comedy and the Get This Wiki to see if it was true and it was.

It was about now that the line "Police said the 32-year-old Caulfield man's death is not thought to be suspicious." started to sink in. I went and asked to my mum about it and she confirmed my suspicion. My immediate reaction was to swear. I couldn't believe it. Not Richard. Why would he do this? I felt let down, betrayed even. Richard was just so positive. A genuinely nice guy. In the years that I had known of him I had never heard of anyone saying thing bad about him.

As far as his fans new Richard had just completed quite a successful year as the operator of Triple M's Melbourne breakfast show. Sure ratings were down but Richard was turning in comedy gold day after day with Myf Warhurst and Pete Hellier. Privately, Richard was struggling. His relationship had broken up, the low ratings were affecting him and he was apparently been told that his role in next year's show was to be cut back.

Ten years ago Richard had recovered, after much counselling, from a severe case of depression. His mother has been quite open about it all since his passing and it was enlightening to hear that this amazing man had been down such a dark path.

So here is the part where I explain why I felt betrayed by Richard.
Known only to my family, my girlfriend and a few others I had been down a similar path. I was dealing with my own depression at the time and my immediate thought was "Well if someone like him can't make it what chances do I have."

Now I am not going to go into any more details about this but I'll just let you all know that I am back on track and I'm heading in the right direction.

One of the best events that occurred after his death was Tony, Ed and Matty D on pots and pans released a special podcast called "Richard Marsland Lives" on iTunes (It is still there go have a listen). It was a compilation of Richard's most memorable bits from Get This. The guys will probably never know how much it helped.

So in 2009 April rolled around again and it was amazing. Within the small world of Get This fans Capril took off quite similarly to how Get This gained its' popularity. Slow and steady. Some money was raised for both Beyond Blue and The Black Dog Institute. But the biggest part of the month was the ground swell of Richard Marsland quotes. Twitter was abuzz with #ImRichard tags followed by some of his best quotes.

It is now Capril 2010 and it is beginning again. I currently have a beach towel, a couple of bull clips and string around my neck. Later I am going to hit the remnant bin at Spotlight to find something better. I will also be re-subscribing to the Richard Marsland Lives podcast to boost its numbers. There will be some #ImRichard twittering but I will also be donating to Beyond Blue in Richard's honour. So click on the link below and support the cause.
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