Valerie Yules Letters

June 30, 2015

Policy of more children and fewer schools – Is that our future?

Policy of more children and fewer schools – Is that our future?

We are selling off our schools to developers to build apartments and town-houses, in which will live more children.
In Victoria, Oakleigh South Primary School land will become 56 townhouses and up to 65 apartments.
Clayton West Primary School land will become almost twice the number of townhouses.
Monash Special Development School is planned to become 122 apartments in a 4-storey apartment building and 28 townhouses.
Five former school lots in Monash were sold by the State Government for $97 million last year.
The Monash Council is challenging the prevention of residents appealing to VCAT.

This is on top of former primary schools already sold.

This results in:
Children must travel to schools by car or public transport, making more traffic, more cost to families, less exercise for children, more carbon emissions, and bigger remaining primary schools which are less friendly for young children. Local communities cannot build up and so less safe neighborhoods.

April 11, 2015

Waste of exercise – do housework instead!

Climate change and Housework Exercise

Recently a radio station ran a campaign for more exercise. People rang in about how they exercised with gyms, bikes and so on. None of it was useful, apart from transport.

In the past until about 1950. and in many countries still, exercise by almost everybody was useful. Only the wealthy took on useless exercise – or huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’, which had something at the end of it, or in ancient Greece, they went to the Gymnasium.

Most of the people rested as their recreation; Their work was their exercise – outside, growing their food, or inside, cooking, cleaning and making their clothes.

Today in our cities almost everybody uses electricity instead of exercise in the home.

Yet we can reduce carbon emissions by reducing unnecessary use of electricity and exercising instead.

People could save electricity by bending their knees, stretching their arms, strengthening their arm muscles, tuning up their wrists, and reducing their waistline. Thus with minimum electricity and carbon emissions, they would  sweep and garden, clean the floor, polish, and sweep cobwebs off the ceiling.

It would improve their circulation, tone up pelvic-floor muscles, keep the heart fit, strengthen the legs and prevent osteoporosis, by doing housework like it was done up to 1950, without unnecessary electricity.

Carbon-emissions are saved by not driving.

Walking to go shopping used to require for light shopping, a basket, soft-handled string-bag, dilly-bag or backpack, and for heavy shopping, a shopping jeep or pram. This is exercise especially good when the back was kept straight and elegant and pulling or pushing with your arms so that the back was not bent.  Shopping was not weighed down with wasteful packaging

A good hand-mower for level or ‘drought’ lawns.  Push from the waist, not hunched, for figure-improving exercise for the stomach.  Save $$$ and £££.  A hand-mower saves carbon emissions and does not annoy neigbours.  There is at least one excellent mower on the market so light it almost flies.

Do repetitive jobs with rhythm for more speed, pleasure and exercise   – eg dishwash by hand, hang up washing, make beds, use a carpet-sweeper for quick jobs rather than vacuum.  Move your feet rather than stand still at kitchen jobs, or use a high stool or chair when convenient, to avoid varicose veins.  Carbon-emissions saved by not using electricity.

Exercise while you wait.  Walk and turn while waiting for a bus or train or person, turn and stretch when sitting at a phone. These are times to exercise the neck, feet, leg and arm raising, pelvic-floor contracting, posture correction, correct breathing.

Sing or hum around the house or in the bathroom for morale and good breathing.  Children love to hear you singing, until they are old enough to discriminate.  Dont disturb adults though.

Dance down the passage sometimes.

Creative hobbies for healthy exercise – play music, paint, carpentry, home renovating.

Play with children. Even catching children for bedtime or washing them can be good exercise.

Sleeplessness.   A good time for breathing exercises . . . .  by the time you have breathed deeply to a hundred or so . . .

Don’t use electrical goods that do the job no better than you could get exercise.  Buy the goods you really need to make life easier with the money you save.

Exercise inventions. Here’s an opening for the local bicycle industry. An exercise bike could generate TV power for your home – pedal as you watch, or run a mulch-maker, or . .

One Englishman powers his television with an exercise bike – the children can watch as long as they keep pedalling.

Human energy could generate power for many household tasks, and charge batteries.  Treadmills and all those machines to make you strong or powerful or fast, could all do something useful – turning a compost-cutter, helping to make waste-paper into recycled paper, grinding up stuff, charging batteries.

Loneliness is a major reason why people do not like doing housework.  Have a child or adult friend around, or listen to interesting talks on the radio to ,or even sometimes enjoy the quiet, to think and daydream.

Do men and women need the same sort of exercise?

For hundreds of thousands of years, men have been the exercise freaks, out hunting and fighting and digging and building, muscling their way around, puffing and panting and sprinting away.  Today if modern man does not have regular vigorous exercise, his health deteriorates.

For hundreds of thousands of years, women have worked very hard but at a more regular pace.  They have not needed large-muscle speed and power.  And if they survived child-bearing and resulting disorders, they lived longer.  Today perhaps modern women are still evolved to need that sort of exercise, which most women have had in housework and in the fields.   Perhaps puffing and panting exercises are for male physiology, and  may wear women out sooner.  As, conceivably, the men’s harder, faster life, may actually wear out the healthy male for a shorter life than the conservationist female.   Like that famous jogger, they  may ‘die healthy’.

Formal exercise is unnatural.  That is, understood as formal exercise not contaminated by being useful in any way. I never do any formal exercises. (I’m heading for eighty-six, and last tested bone density was better than my age.)    Instead, I do gardening, walk to the shops with a shopping jeep, do housework – including twin-tub washing machine and outdoor drying, and carpet-sweep the floors

Formal exercise can be a waste of fossil fuels as well as waste of time when people substitute it for doing things for themselves.

Snobbery and exercise

Throughout history, slaves and peasants did the hard work. Useful work was thought undignified.  Indeed, most of it was dreadful toil. The upper classes got their exercises at sports, hunting and gymnasiums.

Chinese mandarins even grew their fingernails about a foot long to prove they did no manual work.

Today machines can do the dreadful toil. Thank goodness.  But should we still be snobs about useful work that is healthy exercise for us?  As well as saving emissions, electricity, oil and money.


Children like to choose whether they will be alone. In hospitals I saw them forced to be alone and forced to be with others.

In the 1930s the Royal Children’s Hospital kept children in long wards, preferably on open-air balconies. My cousin John had a terrific time with all his pals in hospital, and kept up with some of them for a long time afterwards. We visited him and saw the fun he had.

My grandson Patrick was in a Scottish ward of about fourteen children, and while he was really sick, took no notice of them, but when he was convalescing he had such fun with them he did not want to go home. It was a noisy ward because parents were welcome to visit for long periods. (Named the Royal Children’s Hospital but called The Sick Kids.)

When I was at the Royal Children’s Hospital in the 1970s children were usually in wards of about six children, well spaced, with curtains to draw when needed. They had less to do with each other, it seemed, than in earlier years.

Now in hospitals there is the bugbear of infections and sometimes children are in single rooms. This may not matter when hospital stays are so much shorter, but I wonder at the loneliness and desperation some children may feel when alone in their rooms – more visiting and lots of TV may not make up for it.

It must cost a lot more in cleaning – sometimes a crucial matter.

When I was in hospital as a mother or because of accidents, 1943-1981, I always liked best a ward of 4 beds. You could always choose whether to talk or to keep to yourself, and the chatter helped you to think of happy things.

When I read today of mental health wards in which women are menaced by men in the same ward, that seems to me a retrograde step from the old system of single-gender wards. Apparently it is because of cost – no bed is allowed to be vacant.

But the cost in extra distress to the women means more time in hospital.

In other hospitals, there may be single-bed rooms that are accompanied by their own bathrooms. I would not like that

March 27, 2015

The cost of art – a waste of money?

Filed under: alternatives, art, taxpayers — Tags: , , — valerieyulesletters @ 4:05 am

Art and money

Public art galleries pay millions of dollars for pieces of art. Why?

We can now make copies of almost anything exactly like the original. Why can’t the taxpayer be charged just a little and the gallery get one of these copies? Is there anything that cannot be replicated exactly? The Mona Lisa’s smile?

The sale of art is a profitable source of income for the dealers. When the price of a piece of art goes up and up, they make a pretty penny – or a pretty million.

People who detect forgeries have a very scientific occupation. I don’t know that it is worthwhile. Sometimes the forgeries deceive everyone for a while. So you have people who have jobs in detecting forgeries – often a tedious job.

After the world wars, cities that were obliterated like Warsaw and Dresden were rebuilt like they were before. The residents and the tourists liked the new buildings that were almost exactly like the old, except for having modern conveniences.

ISIS, the fanatic Muslim war party,  is now blasting whatever it can of our archaeological treasures that record our earliest history. Some but not all we have as copies – we can have all these treasures as copies today.

Most art of very high prices is not as profitable for the artist. It is the middlemen who make the profit.

If the public galleries did not pay millions of dollars for pieces of art, which sometimes are later shown to be forgeries, then the price of these pieces would be far less then they are.

We could have lots of copies of many masterpieces in our public galleries, instead of just one original masterpiece in one gallery – which may not be original after all.

March 26, 2015

An economic paradox of jobs and population

Filed under: Aged, economic, future problems, jobs, political — Tags: , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 4:11 am

An economic paradox of jobs and population


We need more young people so that there will be enough to fill all the jobs to keep our aged population surviving. So it is said. We have a problem with more aged people all the time, needing more younger people to support them. So it is said.

We need more jobs, so that there will be enough to give employment to all our unemployed young people. So it is said.

When both are said at the same time, more people needed to fill all the jobs,, and more jobs needed for all the unemployed, they must surely contradict each other. Is it just that the unemployed are not fit to fill all the empty jobs? What can be done?

Cam we look at the jobs that are at present held – are all of them necessary, or is their function just to be jobs, whether useful or not? Where does the money come from, to pay for all the useless jobs?

Can we look at the jobs which are needed – how many of them are not filled, because there is not the money to pay for them?

State Aid for Religious Education and Segregation

State Aid for Religious Education and Segregation

We have many more varieties of religion running different schools than we have ever had – about twenty-five sects and denominations among the different religions we now hold. What is serious, some of these are hard-liners, preaching exclusivity of salvation to their pupils, and their religious teachers even telling them of doom to those not of their faith.  And what is serious too, the government spends taxpayers’ money on upholding these schools.

Segregated schools can probably not be prevented – indeed, the trend is to multiply them, and some governments fund this trend. However, schooling itself must not be segregated. All young people – and adults – must have open access to how other people live and what other people think.

The schools must know each other and their curricula.

They can share school exchanges and open days. Small groups of pupils and teachers can have day exchanges with other types of schools and visits to other forms of religious services. Children should visit every variety of religious establishment. I organized exchanges like this in the 1970s, as a multi-school psychologist, and they were most successful and popular – but it needs someone outside the schools to organize them.

Public examinations in religious knowledge are run by the State as part of the final year schools certificate. But instead of allowing public examinations in one’s own religion and ethnic culture, the studies examinable must be about other religions and cultures, Every student who participates in such exams must study a religion or religions that are not that of their school. To gain credit for knowing one’s own school’s religion is aiding ignorant segregation. Students must have knowledge of what other people think..

At present foreign languages exams may be taken by those who must learn them in competition with those who know them through their family, who have experience of a language from infancy. Australia needs these naturally bilingual with their extra familiarity with a foreign language, and can set examinations for them – but we also need new learners, who start from scratch, born into Australian-speaking families, and there can be set two different categories of examinations for them.

All students need to take cultural studies of the world today and how it came to be. They must also know about the laws and their history of this country, knowledge of the origins of the benefits of the society they live in, and the constant challenges to reduce its disadvantages; knowledge of history as the struggle for peace and fairness against disorder, destruction and greed.

Students must also have knowledge of their own countries of origin and that of their schoolmates.  Much that is most worth while in the cultures of the newcomers is lost as the children fail to inherit it, and born Australians do not know of it. Children can have pride in their Australian culture and pride in their origins too. The melting pot achieves a lowest common denominator, when parents are unable to pass on their cultural lore and wisdom, and even schools’ sharing of cultures can be restricted to dress, food and, in religious education, descriptions of each other’s exotic rites and dress without their rationales. Much in our education system at present is less important than these two strands of culture that are woven into our present tapestry.

We can see the bases of conflict in other countries to avoid them ourselves. In Ireland and in the Middle East the conflicts have been in the name of religion. The leaders argue about theology and religious practices., aiming to reach unity of a religion or to emphasise their own singularity. However, the basic difference between their adherents is not discussed.That is, people on the whole believe what their family believes, and their arguments are really only to support what they have been taught. In discussing religion they forget this, but it would be a great advance in thinking and towards a truly multicultural society if we constantly recollected it.

It would make very clear the bases of religious conflicts if those who held the religion of their families were labelled accordingly, and converts differently. So someone would be called family-Christian, family-Muslim, family-Buddhist, family-Agnostic, family-Atheist, including those who converted on marriage. Children at school would be called family-(whatever). Those who joined a religious group through their own thinking would be called convert-Protestant convert-Catholic, convert-Humanist, oonvert-Muslim, and so on.  And it is basic to religious freedom that a person should be free to change their religion without penalty or ostracism.

And so Australia would have every reason to show the world what a truly multicultural society could be.

In our schools and educational systems we have become increasingly segregated. This is serious. In the late 20th century, it was common to have twenty-one nationalities in one class in public education and inner-urban catholic schools. Now it is rarer, and the public education sector is becoming smaller. The private schools emphasise the differences between us – the rich and the poor, as well as the different religions and nationalities.  The Turks and Greek who came in the 1950s to the Catholic schools with their parents protesting, “We all worship the same God,” but really wanting the discipline they saw missing in the public schools, now have their own schools. The Catholic schools themselves are no longer catholic, in the primary meaning of the word as “including a wide variety of things; all-embracing” and reverting exclusively to the original meaning for the schools “of the Roman Catholic faith” <Wikipedia>.

We have many more varieties of religion running different schools than we have ever had – about twenty-five sects and denominations among the different religions we now hold. What is serious, some of these are hard-liners, preaching exclusivity of salvation to their pupils, and even telling them of doom to those not of their faith.  And what is serious too, the government spends taxpayers’ money on upholding these schools.

Segregated schools can probably not be prevented – indeed, the trend is to multiply them, and some governments fund this trend. However, schooling itself must not be segregated. All young people – and adults – must have open access to how other people live and what other people think.

Some things that people object to in other groups in their society, such as dress and worship, do not really matter for the state’s survival as a unity despite diversity, but other things do matter, and we need to be aware of them.

One way of becoming aware is to look back at history. In British and Australian history, the story of Catholic-Protestant can teach us much about today’s Muslim-Secular division.

At certain times, to be Catholic was to be considered subversive and traitorous, and Guy Fawkes Day continued to remind us of this.

In Northern Ireland, divisions have continued for hundreds of years, fostered by segregated schools and Catholic larger families. In Australia until the 1950s, with immigration of all children of all religions allowed into Catholic schools, segregated schools were the main reason for continual hostility.

The loyalty to a group beyond the nation, the larger families of Catholics, and the refusal to let people choose their own religion were reasons to dislike Catholics which are the same as reasons to distrust Muslims today.

Today the values of multiculturalism are subverted by outbreeding by some groups, segregated schools, refusal to admit personal changes of religion, and differences in values from the state’s laws – such as lower status of women, plural marriages, harsher punishments, and violence towards other groups or to the state itself.

Worship, places of worship and dress can be different without risking society.

We have had many races and cultures that can survive happily in our multicultural sociey – Jewish, German, Greek, Turkish. Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian and so on – but loyalty beyond the state, out-breeding, school segregation, and non-submission to the laws of the state are the four things that can destroy the ideal.

People have a right to places of worship. Everyone can go to them. What we have not realized yet is that we should not allow children to be taught in segregated private schools. The dangers are shown throughout history and across the world. In our multicultural society children must learn together.   The schools must be open for other children to see what happens in each others’ schools.

So the State is planning to finance the theological education of Catholics and mainstream Protestant teachers.(Front page of the AGE)

It must therefore  also finance the theological education of Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and far-flung sectarian religious teachers.

It must give them all the same religious education, so that they will be able to teach all the children the same theology.

The various State-aided faith schools must all be taught the same thing in Religious Education paid for by our taxes.


We must begin to think of what this course for all these theological teachers will be like.

Will the Humanists be counted as a religion too, and given the same education for its humanist educators?

The only safe way if we don’t like this idea is to keep the division between Church and State.

What else do we want to spend our taxes on, anyway?

Big cars with single people in each – a solution, a second small car

I still think the solution to big cars with one person in each deserves wider publicity. Everyone can make some action against climate change.

There is a market for small cars if the matter was publicised.  If all  two-car homes had one of the cars as a small car for single-driver trips, many problems would be solved – such as use of petrol, carbon emissions, traffic congestion and parking. Australia could well make such cars.  The one question to solve is feelings of safety – Sixty percent of owners (my guess) have big cars probably thinking they are safer in our traffic, and so make the problem worse. The cars would be No frills, cheap and simple.

Our Waverley Leader has a real estate supplement. The latest gives details of 79 homes for sale. Three quarters of the homes have garages for at least two cars – 57 out of 79.  The range was up to six cars per garage, with most of the 15 single-car garages being for houses marked as ripe for ‘development’, i.e. destruction

If all two-car households have one of their two cars as a small city-car, mainly for single drivers going on short trips, we would save on petrol, emissions, traffic jams, and  parking. We could even make them instead of big cars, and keep an Australian automotive industry.

I count passing cars in our busy street, and 85% have single-person occupancy – and most are big cars. And I think most are going shopping or taking children to school.

CONTINENCE of the Aged – a major problem

Filed under: Aged, ageing and dying, future problems, research needed — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 3:01 am

CONTINENCE  of the Aged – a major problem

One of the ten most important problems in the world for research to solve is continence of the elderly. People dont recognise this until they are old or involved with the old. The old are getting more numerous, so the matter is getting urgent

When there are more old people, there is more employment but it is mainly in looking after them – and what does looking after them mean?

In the past when there were fewer elderly, the term ‘continence’ was related to chastity. Now it refers to the capacity to be toilet-trained.

Most of the employment of the young in care for the old is caused by incontinence. This is primarily work in toileting the elderly. This is not something that the young would particularly relish as a form of employment, and it is consequently relegated as much as possible to untrained immigrants. The elderly don’t like this either.

As well as providing direct employment in keeping the aged clean and dry, incontinence in the aged is a source of other employment younger people may care to consider.

There is the design, making and marketing of nappies for old people, and the measures taken to dispose of them in landfill – because they are not recyclable at all. They take up an inordinate amount of space, together with the disposal of their mattresses that once wet or soiled are quickly not re-usable. Carpets may require a future in landfill.

There is the problem that many old people could look after themselves if it were not for their incontinence. It causes them to cease being independent, and it is also hard for relatives to care for them. Their homes become smelly. The various stages of nursing home are often calibrated by the degree of incontinence.

Incontinent people lose the will to make themselves independent, and so more of them are relegated to nursing homes.

They are able to get about less, and they stop going to previous social and political occasions because of anxiety and embarrassment.

Up to the 1950s old people in government ‘homes’ for the elderly, such as Willsmere, were often lined up on concrete floors, to be hosed down. What happened to old people cared for at home is hard to find – women did the looking after and did not have the means to record what they did.

When my daughter as a holiday job looked after the elderly at Willsmere in the 1960s, they were no longer hosed down, but changing the sheets was a random occurrence, so that old people often lay in their own filth for considerable periods. It depended on the carers what happened.

When my grandson as a holiday job twenty years later looked after the elderly in a commercial nursing home, the problem was time. He had to get so many people up and toileted and fed and dressed in a limited time. It was hard to do. The old people often screamed at being hustled to get everything done quickly. My grandson hated the job, and did not last long.

Training courses for carers became essential. A 2011 report by the Productivity Commission called Caring for older Australians found that many private training organizations (RTOs) were often inadequate, with the trainers themselves without practical experience, and the certificates meaning little. Still today poorly trained carers graduate with these nationally accredited qualifications which advertise that they take little time to qualify. Caring for the incontinent remains a doubtful vocation.

Immigrants are welcome because they will take this low-paid unpleasant job, but often they have not enough English or ways of personal contact with the old people they are prepping as if they were objects they had to look after.

People who attend clinics for the incontinent see doctors who take all their details, and nurses who give instructions that can help some but not all. Research needs to become a national priority.


INSIDE CHILDREN’S MINDS, edited by Valerie Yule, Queensland: Bookpal. 2014.    Illustrated with children’s drawings, 470  pages, $31.95.. Paperback  ISBN 13: 9781742844299 ISBN 10: 1742844294. Hardback .ISBN: 978174284537.Available from Bookpal, online booksellers and Australian bookshops like READINGS, Carlton

The book is a selection from thousands of stories told to me by children about their drawings when I was a clinical child psychologist and schools psychologist, taking their stories down in shorthand. It includes research on children’s language.

The stories in this book show the world as children see it, and how they can imagine things they cannot see – a world of work and play, fairy-tales and space adventures, success and failure, and ways of living, the effects of physical and mental disorders, delinquency, rejection and despair, their imagination about war in fantasy and experienced in reality. and their common symbols. The differences between the stories told by fortunate children and those who are disadvantaged reveal the impact on the imagination of a child of stresses, in economic circumstances, war, family breakdown, physical and mental disabilities, and learning difficulties.  Adults may see only the outward life and actions of a ‘problem child’, but it is the vivid imaginative life that can hold the key to the child’s future. Many stories seem to foreshadow their teller’s adult prospects, and a child of six may already be preparing to hope or give up. So many already seem destined to be the villains and victims of the next generation.

Are there differences between girls’ and boys’ imagination? What leads delinquents to their antisocial ends?  Why do later adults act against their own interests? What insights are there to Theodore Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom

Psychiatrist Russell Gardner observes, ‘We use stories about ourselves to guide our every action’

“These stories not only give the reader much delight but also a rare and special insight into how children think.”  Dr Dorothy Rowe.

“Your spirited treasury is full of delights and wisdom, as I’d expect,” Marina Warner.

“I’m immensely impressed by the range and detail of the material. This must surely be a work of value to educators and psychologists .” Dr June Factor.

 The book is the fruit of 40 years of research during the author’s work as a clinical child psychologist, schools psychologist and academic, in Australia, Scotland, England and Belfast. There are defects in formatting because I have left writing up too late, and am now 86, recovering from a stroke.

This book is for the general public, psychologists, educators, and literary specialists.

Valerie Yule

Reforming spelling but keeping 38 common irregular words – why?

Filed under: literacy, spelling, spelling reform — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 2:41 am

The spelling of frequently used words evolves at a much slower pace than less common words. These words often retain old spellings longer because they are used more often than less familiar words, and so the old forms are very familiar. The greater familiarity of their appearance causes people to be disturbed by any disruption of them in the name of ‘reform’.

This explains the failure of most English spelling reform attempts – because they try to change the most common words first. This is intuitive, but it is wrong.

Changing the less familiar words gets less opposition, because they are less familiar and so when their forms don’t fit the words’ pronunciation any more, we change them more readily.

That is why I recommend  keeping  the spelling of the 38 most common irregular words.  They are more familiar and they make 12% of what we read –  all almost always among as come some could should would half know of off one only once other pull push put they their two as was what want who word why, and word-endings -ion/-tion/-sion/zion. People learn them quickly because they are faced with them all the time, and research has shown that 40 words are within most people’s capacity to learn as word-signs by heart.

Then in time we will be ready to change them too.

((the list above may not actually be 38)

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