Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Archive for January, 2009

Lemon Tree Passage ~ a gem on Port Stephens
January 29th, 2009

Travelers to Port Stephens often rave on about Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay. Sure, each of these towns have their beauty however after a recent stay in the region I cannot help but feel that if you desire a real, relaxing break with a beauty that is unassuming and, for that matter, real, then you should consider escaping to Lemon Tree Passage on the tip of the Tilligerry Peninsula.

It is a nice spot where one can enjoy the water without the crowds. A little bit of fishing, bush walks, sun-baking, peaceful cups of coffee, a quiet beer by the water’s edge. I must sound like a travel agent yet Lemon Tree Passage was relaxing, uncomplicated and stress free. Just the place for a holiday.

Jingoism and racism rears its ugly head again…
January 29th, 2009

Let me begin this post with with a little of something I wrote back in 2005…

20 years from now history text books will set out Pauline Hanson, Howard, Ruddock, Vanstone and Downer together with their US inspired politics of fear and a jingoistic approach to foreign policy as the background causes for the riots at Cronulla and Maroubra. Ten years of conservative Liberal Party government, the shame that is Pauline Hanson, jingoistic foreign policies, inhumane immigration detention centres, the baby overboard debacle, illegal deportations, and the jewel in the crown… the Cronulla Race Riots.

Historical personalities like Howard, Downer, Vanstone and Ruddock espousing right-wing, nationalistic, pro-individual, selfish policies to the detriment of community and collaborative social values have their parallels in Nazi Germany as well.

Welcome to Australia… only if you are fair-skinned, sandy-haired and blue-eyed of course. You must promise to vote for the Liberal Party as well, just like the majority of Cronulla’s residents. Australians of a caucasian background no longer seem to make immigrants and visitors of other racial backgrounds welcome. I first started observing this in 1996 or thereabouts.

It is so shameful to be an Australian now. This episode and the malaise that seems to be infecting Australia and its people makes me feel angry, frsutrated and sad. It seems to be vote ‘1′ for individualism and selfishness in this country.”

Well, it is January 2008 and things have not improved all that much. Imbeciles not unlike those that run amok in Cronulla in December 2005 have rioted and fought at a variety of towns along the NSW coast this week. It was Australia Day ~ our national day. There was shameful behaviour at Manly, Shellharbour, Kiama, Wollongong and Thirroul. A number of the imbeciles were draped in Australian flags. They were engaged in drunken, riotous behaviour. Asian eating outlets in Manly were targeted by these racists. These racist idiots should be locked up and the key thrown away. As one observer wrote they are all morons.

I was hoping that with the demise of John Howard and the Liberal Party 15 months back that the situation in Australia would improve. It has not.

The Australian flag has become a symbol of racism. Those drunken, pathetic, ignorant and shallow individuals that drape themselves in the flag or paint it on the back of their utes are racists. It has become a symbol of exclusion. It has become a symbol of the bully. They may as well be holding a banner proclaiming “If you are not white and of an anglo-centric background then you are not welcome!” The term “Aussie pride” is a catch-cry for all intolerant individuals in this country. Shame.

Even if these racists represent less than 0.10% of the population of this country then that is 0.10% too many. Morons, imbeciles and idiots. All of them.

Related links:

Brawls mar Australia Day
Manly mob rampages through Corso
Manly ‘morons’ rampage was racist: academic
Riot police called to ugly Oz Day celebrations
Oz Day marred by brawls and booze

Teaching World War One?
January 27th, 2009

Gateway to Tanilba Bay

During a recent holiday on the north coast of NSW my wife Shao Ping and I stumbled across Tanilba Bay. This small town is located on the Tilligerry Peninsula  and is part of the Port Stephens region. We explored the town and discovered that a significant number of the streets had been named after individuals and facets of World War One.

View Larger Map

Street names include Lloyd George Grove, Clemenceau Crescent, Diggers Drive, Avenue of the Allies, Conquest Crescent, Navy Nook and Pershing Place.

Development Plan

The town plan consists of concentric circles. I believe that there were hopes that the town would become a significant centre on the eastern seaboard of Australia. There was a historical display near Tanilba House that included images of the original development plan from the early 1930s.

Tanilba House

This interesting and attractive little town could form the basis of a research assignment for a history class studying World War One. Who planned the town? Why did they choose those particular street names? Who was Pershing? What was a Pershing boot? Who was Clemenceau? Whey do we remember them? How is the Great War remembered in your town?

Okay fellow history teachers…. here is my challenge for this week. How would you use this knowledge of Tanilba Bay in your teaching of history? I am thinking of asking my students to design a town that utilises a different historical event as the basis for the nomenclature within the new town.

Work sounds ~ the sounds of working
January 23rd, 2009

Stills from “How Quiet Helps At School” Coronet Films [Prelinger Archives]

Is your class characterised by the presence of “work sounds”? Not sure? In that event I recommend that you watch this informative film “How Quiet Helps At School“. This instructional film was produced by Coronet Films with advice from Dr. Henry Bonner McDaniel, a professor at Stanford University and the first director of guidance and counseling for the California Department of Education.

The films compares and contrasts two different classrooms. During the investigation of the second classroom a number of classroom management strategies are shared with the audience.

Some of the baby boomers that occasionally read this blog should look closely. Perhaps you are in either or both of these two classrooms.

Two historic gems from the past…
January 19th, 2009

The Internet Archive has an abundance of resources useful for history teachers, students of pop culture and media studies researchers. The resources are diverse in terms of media type and content. On and off during the last few days I have explored films relating to the assassination of JFK, Cold War propaganda, the dawn of the atomic era and instructional films from the 1940s and 1950s.

The archived films, for example, are particularly useful. It is possible to watch the films from within the browser yet links are provided that enable the researcher to download the films in a variety of formats including Cinepak, Ogg Video, MP4, Real Media, MPEG2. Embed code is also provided for the researcher. The embed code did not, however, work with this blog. Not to worry, as I downloaded the films to share with my students anyway.

The short films could be utilised to introduce a topic, generate argument, raise questions and act as the focus for a project. Students could download a sequence of short films on a particular topic, Cold War propaganda for example, and remix their own mash-up or documentary based on the material.

Stills from The Eleventh Hour [Film Chest Vintage Cartoons]

Two favourites of mine from the archives include a Superman cartoon from 1942 as well as the famous instructional film, Duck and Cover. In The Eleventh Hour Superman is busy destroying ships and military installations in and around Yokohama. He commences his acts of sabotage at 11.00PM each night. He also rescues Lois Lane who is also present in the city. Why she and Clark Kent are present in Yokohama at that particular time is not so clear.

The Japanese foe is depicted in a racially loaded and demeaning manner. As one commentator on the site pointed out it is interesting to see Superman wreaking destruction as opposed to saving the planet. I saved a copy of the film in MP4 format. One can also stop the film at specific moments, right mouse click on that frame, select ‘Copy” and save the individual frame for later embedding in a support document or web site for the students.

Stills from Duck and Cover [The Prelinger Archives]

The other, Duck and Cover, is a well known civil defense short film from 1951. Burt the Turtle gives advice on how you and I can survive an atomic attack. Sure, you can survive an atomic blast! Watch it and be amazed at what the general public and students were taught regarding atomic warfare. I usually show the students this film in conjunction with clips illustrating the destruction at Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the impact of the underwater atomic test at Bikini Atoll during Operation Crossroads.

These are just two of the thousands of films in the Internet Archive. Some are shocking, others simply amusing yet all are informative.