Valerie Yules Letters

April 11, 2015

Loneliness

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 26, 2015

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?

BOOK ON INSIDE CHILDREN’S MINDS

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

March 7, 2015

School exchanges to get to know each other

School interchanges

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 full-day exchanges with other types of schools , taking part in their lessons.  They can have  visits to other forms of religious services when they are taking place. 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?

.  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

I saw Australia when we only had Catholic schooling as a distinctive schooling – apart from schooling for the rich. Australia has had our own experiences of how Catholic-Protestant hostility and mutual ignorance has been promoted by separate schooling for the frogs and dogs of Micks and Prods.  In Collingwood, then a slum suburb of Melbourne, we had children’s religious wars around our home.  “Yah! Yah! You don’t believe in God!” “Yah, yah, Catholic dogs jump like frogs!”  “Sister says you’ll go to hell!”

This situation changed with all the immigration in the 1950s, and Catholic schools were open to all. Turkish parents brought their children. “We all believe in the same God, Allah,” although they really meant they thought the Catholic schools had better discipline than the state schools.

Catholic schools often had more non-Catholics than Catholic.

The fear and hatred dissipated. The migrants did not have the old Catholic-Protestant fighting traditions.

The situation now is more dangerous.  Catholic schools are reverting to being almost entirely for children of Catholics. Other faiths are setting up their own schools. Jewish children used to go to Protestant schools, and when they grew up, they had links with non-Jewish schoolmates. Now they have their own. All sorts of fringe Christians and every other religion are setting up their own schools.’

Within those schools, however much harmony they claim, there is ‘religious’ teaching that they are the only truth, and the outside is heretics.

The children get this teaching at home, at their places of worship, and at their schools. Seven days a week.  They do not learn about other people and other ways of life within their society,

This is dangerous.  Here are the possibilities of fanaticism and fear of others.

We see what happens overseas.  In Britain, some religions are like a state within a state, with their own laws competing with the national laws, and the people only interacting with each other.  ‘UnBritish’ practices like shariah and oppression of women flourish in them. The religionists learn nothing to make them British, except insofar they watch TV – which can put them off.

And the terrible thing about it is that the government facilitates this segregation with financial support for establishing and maintaining these schools, in order to curry favour with parents and the religious leaders.

And among other things, this means that State and Federal governments in Australia have less money to spend on public schools, to make them more attractive and diverse.

Parents must realize what this segregation will mean for their children in the future.

December 6, 2014

Which way should a pram face?

Filed under: children, Education, Pleasures, social problems — Tags: , , — valerieyulesletters @ 11:23 pm

Sometimes a psychological problem of childhood can be prevented by simple parental actions early rather than therapy later.

Which way should a pram face?

Early developmental delays and psychological abnormalities cost a great deal in therapies today. How many are exacerbated by the way that a pram faces and could be prevented by having a pram that faced the pusher?

Prams usually faced the human who pushed them. The human talked to the baby, telling it about what they could see, and responding to the baby’s needs and chatter. The time spent on an outing was time spent with someone interested in the baby. They learned to talk.

Then prams started to face outward, so that the baby could see where it was going, and what was ahead of it – but with no help in understanding this, or ways of making its needs known except by crying loudly.

Mothers or others pushed the laden pram like they pushed luggage.
The baby did not see them, or see when it was about to be removed.

The mothers or others pushed the pram down the street. They sat with their mates at outside cafes and talked with them, but the baby still faced outward, and was given edibles such as chips of bottles from hands that came round to hand them to them. They ate and drank and looked at what they could not understand.

Sometimes it is even worse. The baby looks at meaningless mobiles that interrupt the sight of where they are going. Or a black veil over the pram gives the baby nothing to do except go to sleep. Go to sleep on an outing when there is so much to see!

The mothers who push this human luggage look like luggage-pushers, not like caring mothers.

It costs nothing to have a pram where the baby can see and hear what is happening to it, described by the pram-pusher, and it may save a lot of therapy in language, relating to others, and the meaning of the life it sees.
What does the research say?
The only research I have found on the subject was by Dr. M. Suzanne Zeedyk, of the University of Dundee , ‘What’s life in a baby buggy like?: The impact of buggy orientation on parent-infant interaction and infant stress’ 21 November 2008. (http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/assets/0000/2531/Buggy_research.pdf.) She wrote up two studies. The first was a ‘national observational survey, conducted on High Streets in 54 locations throughout the UK and eventually comprising 2722 observations of parent-child pairs, which systematically documented the social interactions of families occurring during buggy use. The second was a small-scale experimental study with 20 mother-infant pairs, which built on the findings of Study I by monitoring both mother-infant interactions and indicators of infant stress, during journeys in the two buggy orientations.’
The average baby spent two hours per day in a pram, so the question is quite important. (Survey of the National Literacy Trust, 2005)
Two studies found that mums were more likely to speak and laugh with their babies in a parent-facing pushchair than in a forward-facing one. This means that taking your baby for a stroll may give you a great opportunity to make lots of eye contact and to bond with your baby
The research also claimed that sitting in a forward-facing pushchair increased a baby’s stress levels. Researchers concluded that travelling in a forward-facing pushchair can therefore leave your baby feeling isolated.
Zeedyk concluded that a cultural belief appeared to exist in the UK (and amongst manufacturers) that, once they can sit up, babies benefit from looking out onto the world around them. However, she claimed that research repeatedly shows that in order for babies to make effective use of that experience of the wider world, they need parents to help mediate and make sense of it for them.
This finding was not accepted by everyone. Baby Love author Robin Barker said that as long as babies are loved and fed, the direction they face when in a pram is irrelevant, but her evidence is anecdotal. Ms Barker said parents had enough to worry and feel guilty about without considering which way they push their child in a stroller.
“This is just another thing that can worry mothers,” she said.
Nevertheless, she does make a point – what a particular baby may want. Associate Professor Hannah Dahlen of the Australian College of Midwives said many children get bored facing inwards after three months.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with children looking forward and watching stimulus around them,” she said.
“He doesn’t seem interested in turning around,” one mother said of her nine-month-old son. Another said her nine-month-old baby was trying to turn around as soon as she could. “She got bored looking at me,” she said.
Perhaps such mothers were not using the pram-time for interacting with their child, being bored themselves.

One solution of course is having a pram that can be fixed to look the way that the baby wanted, and these prams can be bought.

September 21, 2014

Experiment in teaching literacy

Filed under: children, Education, spelling — Tags: , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 11:40 pm

Teachers teach what they have been taught to teach. It does not occur to most of them to query what they have been taught. Some children will always fail to learn to read; the reasons are assumed to be intrapersonal, their own defects, if they are middle class, and their lack of educational background, if they are disadvantaged. Who dares think that the task may be at fault? Who dares think that the task could be easily amended so that more children and adults could read it?
Thousand of books and articles are published every year, and thousands of research articles are devoted to this terrible failure to learn to read in English. Yet the failure to learn in English is greater than in any other language that has half the resources dedicated to its teaching.
In Victorian times hundreds of the eminent and well-meaning sought to reform everything they thought needed reforming, and this Age of Reform achieved most of its aims, from abolition of slavery to the Industrial Revolution. But they did not manage to improve English spelling or its teaching. So the working classes spent a third of their primary education on learning spelling. The ‘dyslexic’ among the middle classes received remedial education once they had failed.
Today we realize that the spelling reformers went too far. They tried to reform English spelling root and branch – it was too much, changing the alphabet or changing the spelling so much it would need to be learnt all over again.
But now Anglo countries are running out of innovation. Are we afraid? The costs of our illiteracy and child difficulties are more than in other modern languages which have updated the ways that they teach beginners, making it esier for them – in alphabetic spellings updating them, and in languages like Chinese and Japanese making the beginning of learning to be easy, e.g.with hiragana, and leaving the hard way for later, when learners were more confident and readier to spend the time on repetition to remember their characters in hanzi and kanji.
In English the educators and dictionary-makers stick to the old spellings, and a vast literature exists to keep them as they are, for the sake of tradition.
Yet it would be easy to make life easier for the down-trodden in English spelling. The Left would be able to reach them, which it cannot now.
– http:// http://www.valerieyule.com.au/~ozideas/paraleltexts.htm

Innovation in publishing and education in English
.
http://www.valerieyule.com.au/litreadingcribs.html

January 11, 2014

Truth, Lies and Pretends

Filed under: children, Education, Fantasy, social problems — Tags: , , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 6:46 am

It is almost always possible to tell the truth to children – and to others.
And it is necessary for the sake of our society.

The general agreement on a recemt Life Matters program that lies were inevitable to children is a change from the past, when theology not psychology would have provided the standard – however much people might have in practice fallen away from that standard.

When the children ask, tell them Santa and the Tooth Fairy are Pretends. Do you want to join in this Pretend? (Oh YES)

“There’s a bear under my bed.” “Mummy can shut that sort of bear in the cupboard.” (She leans under the bed and then shuts the cupboard door, and for as long as necessary at bedtime she shuts the ‘Imaginary Bears’ in the cupboard.) If a scent is used, it can be called a This-Can-Work,-We’ll-Try -This, without specific details or promises.
Promises. “We might be able to go to the beach tomorrow but I can’t promise.”

(Do I look nice in this? ) I like the blue dress better. (It is not fair to someone to let them think they look good in something that makes them look dreadful.)
(How are you?) All the better for seeing you, or Better than yesterday, or Battling on.
A dreadful dinner party. Choose the least worst thing to praise. “I particularly liked the – “

I believe that . . . but I may be wrong.

Dreadful questions – “Where is your father?” demand the baddies. “I don’t know where he is just now” or whatever can be told truthfully. Let’s hope we never are asked that sort of question. It’s not the sort that we usually are tempted to lie about.

If individuals have a reputation for truthfulness, we then know we can trust them. Nobody – neither me nor you – has never told a lie, but we can do our best.
A country with a reputation for dealing in truth has a great commercial advantage in the world as long as bad apples can be prevented from taking advantage of that reputation. We must keep our land incorrupt.
Victorian England and Scotland had a great advantage in an incorrupt civil service. The Quakers became wealthy because people knew they could trust them in business.

There are ‘pretends’, stories and fiction that can be shared around, as well as lies intended to deceive, not to amuse.

Suppose Truth became an ideal stronger than power or wealth or sensual pleasure. All of these goals are finally inaccessible in any ultimate form – but all of them direct our lives. What could happen with a goal for Truth?

A country with a reputation for dealing in truth would have a great commercial advantage in the world as long as bad apples could be prevented from taking advantage of that reputation. Currently the shift in business theory is to be quite open about deceit as a legitimate business manoeuvre, with best-seller adaptations of Chinese treatises on the art of war, such as Chu Chin Chang’s ‘Thick Face Black Heart’ so admired by the chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, which through a merger became the biggest banker in USA.
A great deal of time and money would be saved in politics with open government and even in diplomacy. ‘I am sorry we cannot support East Timor in this as we want the oil from the Timor Straits’. ‘We are backing X because we fear future invasion from Y.’ ‘We can’t ban landmines because we would need them if we were invaded ourselves.’ Such naivety would be so incredible that other countries would be stymied and incredulous.

No incoming government could be surprised by the financial situation it met – it would be open knowledge. No voters could be surprised by what a newly elected government would do – it would have told them. ‘We will do this, unless that happens, when we will do such and such.’ We could even have voting for major policies as well as persons on the ballot ticket – plus regular electronic voting.
Statistics would always be presented to the public with figures, not just percentages. For example, it could be made quite clear in an opinion poll on satisfaction with education that only 100 parents of primary children had been asked their opinion, so that the comment in a newspaper editorial two days later would read ‘as shown by the opinions of 68 of the 100 parents of primary children polled recently, the great majority of Victorian parents are very satisfied with primary education today’.
If a mistake was accidentally made in any reporting in the media, the correction would be given as much prominence as the mistake. When letters were published containing information that a newspaper knew was incorrect, the correct information would appear in an editorial note below.
A regular feature in all media, electronic and print would be features for viewers, listeners and readers, ‘We want to know’ – not just about pets, gardens, health, finance and kitchen renovations, but about what was going on. What special rebates are being given to which group where? Why can’t this be done? Why was this done?
Budgets and government accounts would be given mass media circulation in comprehensible detail, including spending on publicity and consultants. Calls for tenders would have open details. Government contracts, once made, would have no shield of ‘commercial confidentiality’. After all, a Victorian newspaper in the 1880s printed the whole of of the Westminster Confession of Faith during some local theological controversy.
Advertising – now that is tricky. At present advertisers are the real modern equivalent of Renaissance patrons for art – and they are the patrons of the art that the public really likes. And to a large extent, when consumers buy products advertised on television, it is really the cleverness of the advertising agency not the value of the product that has attracted them. I think my vision would be of ‘sponsored commercials’, rather like the present sponsorship of whole programmes – the advertiser produces a segment of pure entertainment, followed by a clear and accurate statement of the advantages of the advertised product. The policy of public benefactions and sponsorships would also continue to create goodwill for businesses. However, the disadvantage for small and new businesses in lacking capital for expensive advertising would be overcome by special chances for them too to advertise in print and in all the electronic and broadcast media. Truth in business and advertising would apply to prevent individuals simply changing business names to abandon responsibilities and to resurrect to despoil others yet again.

Mr Gradgrind of Charles Dickens’ Hard Times was suspicious of anything that was not a fact – and he backed teachers who would not allow that horses could be depicted on home furnishings because real horses could not prance up walls like that. Sometimes I sympathise with Gradgrind when I am fed up with too many whimsical picture-story books for preschoolers like ‘The elephant that wanted to be a geranium’ or ‘The best nest’ that get their laughs from depicting stupid and twee behaviour. Why shouldn’t reality be fascinating? Why shouldn’t a cabinet of crystals be delightful?
What would happen to schooling if truth was a priority?
In the first place, English and media courses could be radically different because they need not spend so much time and effort trying to warn the young against being duped by all the misinformation and misleading advertising they would face in the real world. They need not spend so much time teaching the young how to produce advertising copy that preached any side that was asked of them.
Historical novels such as The Hand that Signed the Papers would of course have disclaimers that fact and fiction were mixed; most would indicate the historical characters, and have a note about significant changes in interpretations and events – as many novelists already do.

History would contain many more connections and more context – it can never avoid interpretation, but readers would be given a note about interpretation. At present young students often study snippets of time without any overview, on the grounds that overviews are impossible – but they are necessary. The old memorising of dates was indefensible – but knowing about a time-line did give a setting for the present. Students need to know about how the past attempted to cope with its problems, and the results, and how it differed from the present, in order to stop repeating mistakes, and to have examples of ideals and heroes, with all their tragic flaws, and not just be fed models of the mean and mingy.

Drama is a special case – because here actors are deliberately trying to be other than themselves, in scenes that are not real events. I think that children, at least, are less likely to understand the characters if they act them than if they read about them or even watch great plays about them. This is because they cannot avoid injecting themselves and their own immaturity into what they play. After Socrates has died near the teachers’ desk or Captain Cook sailed on the playground or Antigone been shut in the cupboard or Jesus has had trouble adjusting his bath-towels, the triviality of the permanent impressions can make it unlikely that most members of the class will ever understand any of these above a childish level. Simply reading around the class divorces the present scene from the remembered language. That is what I liked about the way we ‘studied’ Hamlet and Macbeth at school, not the pundits who had written about them.

‘Honesty’ is often given the tag ‘brutal honesty’, in the same way that ‘reality’ is hard to dissociate from ‘harsh reality’. Here we face how much damage is done by people who think that if a cruel thought happens to come into their head, in order to be honest they have to say it and hurt people, often with barbs that never can be torn out. The matter is not as simple as that – the real truth is how to say what needs to be said in ways that will help not harm. If we have to say everything that comes to mind, we would all be the greatest bores, muttering all the time like so many Stephen Blooms.

If people felt bound in their inmost hearts to tell the truth, the law would be revolutionised, probably changing from the British adversarial to the Continental truth-seeking system. Pleading guilty or not guilty would solve most issues. However, I doubt if my vision can really assume a change in how easily human nature can deceive itself and in so many ways, when the personal costs can be so high. On the other hand, at present the law makes it often very difficult for the truth to come out. The only time I was called to be a witness, in a car accident case, it was possible to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, but to tell the whole truth was against all the rules of procedure – and yet the magistrate could not judge the case fairly without knowledge of significant facts that were necessary and relevant for the case. I managed to tell the whole truth but it was hard in the face of the legal procedures,

Religion is an interesting case about Truth. Faith has been defined as ‘belief in what cannot be proved, the experience of things unseen’ and certainly there are more things in heaven and earth than can be proved. Prophets and their followers can be sincerely convinced of their messages. However, today there is a good deal of religion-inventing that is not based on experiences of revelation, deluded or not. People can invent goddesses simply because they don’t want to be patriarchal, not because they genuinely think a goddess exists. Druids dress up imagining horned gods in Sherwood Forest. Superstitions multiply today without any concern for scientific evidence. “Do you think it is true? What are the grounds for you thinking this up?” are simple questions that should get answers. Do Satanists really believe in the Devil and seek to propitiate it? What if they were truly faced with what they conjured up?

A fairly general opinion now is that there is no Truth, not even at the bottom of the proverbial well. Everything is mirrors, illusions, change. This perception is increased by the scams and spams on the Internet, by computer imagery and by psychedelic drugs, which at one stage people like Timothy Leary thought might make truth more accessible to consciousness. Watch a few dozen videoclips or virtual reality, and the real world may only be recognised in the prick of a pin – ‘I dislike what I fancy I feel’.

In personal affairs, the Moral Rearmament people have found that living by absolutes is pretty hard. There is the joke about the competition for liars, which so shocked a parson who claimed he had never told a lie in his life – and so he was awarded the prize. Francis Bacon’s essay on Truth (‘What is Truth?’ said jesting Pilate and would not stay for an answer) is worth revisiting – Bacon himself had problems in the practicalities.

Truth is a journey that may never have an end. Old-time pilgrims believed they followed a track with maps. The modern tourist usually does not even have a brochure, but it would be the holiday of a lifetime.

November 29, 2013

Australian population

Filed under: conservation, population — Tags: , , , , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 10:26 pm

We cannot hope to do anything about protecting nature while we expect enormous population increases. Melbourne growing to 8 million people
with the loss of some of the most beautiful country and wildlife in Australia is
No profit to anyone except developers and big retailers.
Great trouble for all other inhabitants with horrid housing, transport, loss of amenities and fertile farmland, more landfill etc.

We must keep our population low while we still can.
Climate change requires a smaller population to survive.
No more baby bonuses after the first two children is easy to do, for example.

April 11, 2013

Injustice for the disadvantaged

Injustice and huge waste of talent result when the disadvantaged face barriers that need not be. Also consider the personal suffering, the economic cost to society, and the wasted hours in school when children fail to learn through social disadvantage, dyslexic difficulties, or their foreign background.
Most people do not consider the injustice of which I write, and which my experience as a schools and hospital psychologist and teacher has burned me up, when I found how unnecessary it was.
Most people who are literate have learned it easily or have forgotten that even they had a struggle.
Many British and American talented men and women from Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin to inventors of modern communications like JV Atasanoff (computers) have seen the problem, but have tried to cure the problem of English spelling by radical change. That is impossible for many reasons. Other countries have updated their spelling. For many reasons Americans and English have not. Now spellcheckers help those who can read to write better. But what of those who cannot?
The burgeoning of texting shows how people can spell better than our writing system can. But this is hard for everyone to link to our traditional spelling.
Our academics prove that English spelling has problems; they know the problems of those who cannot learn literacy. But they fail to investigate how spelling could be updated, like other modern languages, to help the disadvantaged, and cut the time in education teaching reading and spelling for children to be able to learn other things, including learning by reading.
Experiment!
I have put forward ways in which this can be done. I have tried removing unnecessary difficulties in spelling for children, disadvantaged adults, foreigners learning English and even for ourselves as literate adults, and seen the happy results.

2011, Yule, Valerie ‘Recent developments which affect spelling. On the possibility of removing the unnecessary difficulties in English spelling, while leaving the basic appearance of English print intact.’ English Today, 107, vol 27, No 3. Sept 2011, pp 62-67 http://journals.cambridge.org/repo_A839oLF6
1986. The design of spelling to meet needs & abilities. Harvard Educational Review. 56.3. 278 – 297. http://www.hepg.org/her/abstract/489

Try Parallel Texting to give these unfortunats a chance. That is, a parallel text shorn of the spelling difficulties, set next to the present text. Mor foriners and English-speakers could then manage to read
I try to persuade teachers to giv it a trial. It harms no one. But everyone is afraid to start, altho my tests hav stood the test of time and experiment since the 1970s.

One side of each page in a reading book is normal spelling; the other side is ‘spelling without traps’ which helps beginners to read present spelling.
http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/litreadingcribs.html

Innovators! What do u think most needs innovation?
My work as a psicologist has been primarily with peple who hav not been able to read, or very badly, or strugld as children harder than we had to. Think of what they miss out. Think of the cost to society!
Try this, or think what u would do.

http://www.ozreadandspell.com.au/

http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/spelling.htm
If we got rid of the unnecessarily tricky spellings, most disadvantaged peple would hav a better life, thru having fewer barriers to literacy. Children could lern litracy qicker. We could read a spelling with rules that took one page – like most alfabetic languages – and so could they. No mor than one or two spellings per speech sound.

EXAMPL.
1. A Dictionary Pronunciation Guide based on the BBC Text Pronunciation Guide, plus 36 very common irregularly-spelled words to lern by rote that make up 12% of everyday text. (ALL ALMOST ALWAYS AMONG COME SOME COULD SHOULD WOULD HALF KNOW OF OFF ONE ONLY ONCE OTHER PULL PUSH PUT TWO THEIR THEY AS WAS WHAT WANT WHO WHY VERY, and international word endings -ION/-TION/-SION/ZION)
After that, only 6% of surplus letters in words need be cut, and 3% of misleading letters changed, in everyday text. That indeed makes a difrence for the disadvantaged, who can then read normal texts when Paralel Text is given next to it.
Experiment is the best way to progress.
Can u make a trial, for those whom u find hav dificulty?
Tell me what happens, or why u did not trial innovation at all.

http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/spelling.htm#word Can u spell? The best of us may not be perfect.
http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/spellresearch.htm
http://www.ozreadandspell.com.au/

2002. It’s the spelling that’s stupid, not me; Taking Ockham’s Razor to English Spelling. ABC Radio National broadcast. Ockham’sRazor. 5.5. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/its-the-spelling-thats-stupid—not-me/3505566

http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/paraleltexts.htm
http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/dyslexiatest.htm
Only one or two spellings are necessary for every speech sound, not up to twelve.
Dr Valerie Yule, M.A., Ph.D, Dip.Ed., M.B.Ps.S. Academic positions at Melbourne, Monash and Aberdeen Universities in departments of Psychology and Education; Teacher at all levels, from preschool to adult and migrant literacy; Clinical child psychologist at the Royal Children’s Hospitals, Melbourne and Aberdeen; Schools psychologist chiefly but not only in disadvantaged schools, Present research on imagination and literacy.

Sale of former school properties

Filed under: economic, Education, transport — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 1:27 am

Sale of former school properties

It’s just as well that the people living in houses on former school land won’t have any children, and that traffic wont worsen and petrol prices rise as parents take their children to distant schools, and that research that shows primary school children benefit from small schools is not read, and that governments don’t look to the future, when they will buy back land they sold off.
Keep former school land in public hands, for public use. It will be needed again.

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