The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Culture wars and why we have to have them

Over at The Orstrahyun, Daryl wrote about Julia Gillard’s call to make Culture Renaisance, not Culture War. I particularly enjoyed this.

The Howard-era media and politicians don’t want to know what Australia will become, or is already becoming. They want it to stay the way it was, when they were young. They are still fighting to reshape the nation into what they wanted it to be when they were 23 years old. The ‘Culture Wars’ are locked in an almost forgotten era of Australian history, because that’s the only era these ‘warriors’ really understand.

Whoever wants to declare victory in the ‘Culture Wars’ may as well go ahead and do it now. Nobody, but the tiniest percentile, will care, and it will be a hollow victory. The rest of Australia has already moved on.

We want to know what’s coming. Who will be be in 20 years? Where will be? Who’s going to give us the future we’re dreaming of now?

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Australian values, Big Picture, Ideology, Media, Politics

Of Pell and Popes and the Primacy of Conscience

What is primacy of conscience and its role in Catholic theology and why does Cardinal George Pell want the so-called doctrine abandoned by the Catholic Church? The principle of the primacy of conscience is deeply embedded in our western moral tradition. According to this principle, one must follow the sure judgment of conscience even when through no fault of one’s own it is mistaken.

Recent discussion of primacy of conscience arising from his threats to Catholic politicians who support therapeutic embryonic stem cell research inspired me to explore the issue some more to better understand why Pell’s forays into politics continue to highlight his attacks on the primacy of conscience. In a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald his stance is unequivocal. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Philosophy, Religion

Teachers pained, strained and performance paid

Melbourne teacher, Peter Hodge paints a picture in The Age today of what the staffroom/classroom of 2012 might look like under Julie Bishop’s vision for education – and it ain’t pretty.

The new system, that has sown mistrust from the outset, has gradually eroded collegiality within faculties. Where sharing of resources was once routine, teachers now prefer to hoard their intellectual property for their own use and students are the losers.

Rather than leading to improved standards, analysts discover that standards have actually fallen. There is no longer any incentive for teachers to challenge students.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Education, Ideology, Politics

Logical Fallacy – spot the comment button!

Five Public Opinions continues to raise interesting philosophical conundra such as Spot the Logical Fallacy, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to leave a comment. I’m assuming they’re disabled, which is a pity, as I’m often inspired to reply. So if you’re out there Arthur, please let me know how I can comment!

My comment for Spot the Logical Fallacy:

Short version: If the existence or non-existence of God could be proven decisively by application of logic, the issue would be long done and dusted.

Long Version: The Vedantic conclusion is that God is eternal and without cause. In this context, eternal doesn’t mean a very long time and them some, it means without beginning or end. And as I’ve mentioned, without cause. This simple conclusion is at once frustrating and infuriating, for it defies logic and empiricism. Vedantists call it ‘inconceivable’. It is beyond logic and intellectual analysis. We can debate the existence of God until the cows come home and we’ll never reach a definitive conclusion. The extent that we can ‘know’ or ‘deny’ is derived from experience and emotion. For believers it is through mysticism, whatever that is! Perhaps for free-market globalists it is economics. Either way, no belief system has the right to impose its rules on others, especially in violent and oppressive ways.

Filed under: Big Picture, Ideology, Philosophy, Religion, Science

Leadership more cost effective than merit pay for teachers

I was startled out of my radio alarm reverie this morning by Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop announcing that performance pay makes teachers better and our kids get a better education, and it’s time we treated them like professionals, or something equally vacuous in that head girl, teacher’s pet kind of way she has. {insert preferred deity/ism} help us if HowardCo are re-elected. Hopefully she’d be replaced by someone with a less ‘faith-based’ sound-bite vision of education – like with someone who has a clue.

The Legal Soapbox has an interesting post about the difficulty of performance appraisals in the corporate workplace and how they actually undermine the effectiveness of an organisation if done poorly without clear criteria and processes. Whether or not it is inspired by the current MSM flurry on merit pay for teachers is hard to say as schools are not mentioned. But, if it’s hard to make it work in a corporation, with clear goals, objectives, processes and chain of command, how in the hell is it likely to be successful in schools? If it goes wrong the outcome will be a further degraded public education system, but isn’t that the goal anyway?

My favorite quote:

It has always seemed to me that if your manager is competent, you don’t need to have a performance review. You have an idea of how you are performing and what your duties are. You know whether you are likely to progress and that your work is appreciated.

My sentiments exactly. A school without effective leadership cannot be successful. Great schools invariably have great leadership which inspires everyone to do their best. Good leadership is a hundred times more effective than ineffectual, demoralising half-baked merit pay schemes, and a darn sight cheaper. There must be economists out there who appreciate the value of more return for less investment. Invest in improving the principal class and the rest will follow.

Filed under: Economics, Education, Politics

Happy ‘It’s The Economy Day’

Peter van Vliet writes in a Queen’s Birthday op-ed in The Age: “We changed our national anthem from God Save the Queen to Advance Australia Fair several decades ago but despite our growing republican leanings we have stalled at renaming today’s holiday. Our nation seems stuck in an imperial time warp following the 1999 republican referendum with all its unresolved issues. A new name for today might be a good first step in beginning to unstick ourselves from this unfortunate scenario.”

The great thing about a republic is it can lift us above our inevitable cultural and religious (and even sporting) differences that are common to any large nation. It can unite Australians in all their diversity around a core citizenship that is based unequivocally on the universal values of democracy, equality and inclusion.

Well that’s your basic problem right there – the universal values of democracy, equality and inclusion?? Beyond some perfunctory lip-service, I’d argue that Australian power elites are not all that keen on democracy, and as for equality and inclusion – that’s just so much discredited loony leftist coercive ideology. We now know that promoting equality and inclusiveness actually cause inequality and exclusion. Only globalised free-market economics can fix the things that ail society.

I suggest that in honour of this universal truth and the endless bounty it provides we abandon all notions of monarchy and republicanism and rename today’s public holiday “The Economy Day”, or in the interests of economy, the thirty percent more efficient “Economy Day”.

Betty Windsor’s Birthday doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Filed under: Australian values, Economics, History, Ideology, Politics on why merit pay for teachers lacks merit

“The overwhelming evidence in both England and the USA suggests that a more effective way [than merit pay for teachers] for teaching standards to improve is through improving professional development, accreditation and qualifications, measures that are not necessarily encapsulated in New Public Management systems.”

So concludes Alex White in a comprehensive analysis of Performance Related Pay systems and New Public Management theory as applied to teaching and schools – Merit pay for teachers has no merit.

The regular reader of The Dog’s Bollocks will know that I have posted many times on this particular issue. I post the link to Alex’s article here in the interests of furthering the debate.

Filed under: Economics, Education, Politics

Australian Technical Colleges a ‘catastrophic waste’

State and territory education ministers have launched an attack on the Federal Government’s Australian Technical Colleges (ATC) system. New South Wales Education Minister John Della Bosca says “The Australian Technical Colleges are a catastrophic waste of money and they’re a policy failure, an unnecessary duplication of bureaucracy, a mass of red tape and an ideologically driven stunt.” Western Australia Education and Training Minister Mark McGowan says “the Federal Government is being secretive about the colleges’ attrition rates and costs per student because the program has been an embarrassing failure”.

Anyone with even half an idea of how technical education works in Australia could have seen that one coming. Oh wait…I did already. From my Howard’s ‘vision’ for Technical Training post last year. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Economics, Education, Politics, Technology

Primacy of conscience – Pell vs The Popes

Archbishop George Pell continues to hand down ecclesiastical edicts at odds with his Papal superiors: “To be a disciple of Christ means accepting discipline because the Catholic church has never followed today’s fashionable notion of the primacy of conscience, which is, of course secular relativism with a religious face.” Perhaps he’s still pissed off at not being appointed Australia’s first Pope?

In response to using his Easter sermon to urge his flock to stop moralising about things like the Iraq War and climate change, I came across some background material on the debate on primacy of conscience in the Catholic Church. This is something of a hobby horse for Pell. He’s been railing against it for years, and continues to do so. However, it seems that both Pope John Paul and the current Pope Benedict XVI support the ‘fashionable notion’ of the primacy of conscience. I’m happy to be corrected, but as far as I can tell it is Pell who is out of line here. Maybe he should be excommunicated – although to be fair, under primacy of conscience doctrine, Pell is entitled to follow his own conscience in not supporting it. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Big Picture, Philosophy, Politics, Religion

McEducation – Bishop’s vision for the future

So Julie Bishop reckons we can’t afford to fund public education as much as we should, so we’ll get some corporate sponsors in through private public partnerships. Great idea! Do these guys know how to get re-elected or what? If the outsourcing of Centrelink is anything to go by, it will be a cash cow for business – think Therese Rein – as public and private funds intermingle in shadowy ways.

Great efficiency booster – managing public service with profitable private investors. Balance of funds shifts from service provision to share holder profit – think ABC Learning who would love to build a chain of McPrivateForThe Aspirational schools near all the McMansion gated suburbs. Old Money Private Schools will continue to discretely cream public money and the nouveau riche to take care of their own to provide society’s natural-born leaders, doctors and lawyers. Let the public schools be training factories for churning out fodder for the McFranchise Corporations! Social engineering free-market style.

Who says the class war is dead? Remind me again, how many $10 billions are we spending on military support for the US alliance? We’re dumber than a bag of hammers if we buy Bishop’s narrow and limiting vision of a utopian freemarket future.

The fear campaign is working. Every policy pronouncement made by HowardCo makes me fearful for the future peace and prosperity of Australian culture. Fair go, mate.

Filed under: Australian values, Education, Politics

The Dog’s Bollocks

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The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

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