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.

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?

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.

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.

October 6, 2013

How pepl would like to spell

Filed under: Education, spelling, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 7:35 am

1973. Illiteracy- and a problem we refuse to face. Three articles in The Melbourne Age. June 16, August 14 and 21. Over 250 responses came from the public ‘spelling as you would like to spell’ Possibly the first public experiment in spelling reform.
How would the ansers be like today? Try it as an online experiment.

My first spelling research began in 1973 when over 250 readers of a newspaper sent in ‘how they would like to spell’ a short story of 102 words. Its findings have been replicated many times since, although the research itself is somewhere in the garage, following many moves.

The composite spelling reproduced below is made of the most common preferences of 250 entries to a newspaper request for ‘the spelling you would like’ – although the spread of alternatives was wide.
Words and spelling conventions which were not respelled by more than half of the respondents are left as they are – and show how common words can be blindly accepted.
Words in in capitals are compatible with Speling-No-Traps apart from diacritic acsents. Quite a lot.

Wuns apon a TIM the BUTIFUL dorter of a GRAT majishon WONTED MOR PERLS TO poot AMUNG her treshers. ‘Look THRU the SENTER of the moon when it is bloo,’ SED her MUTHER in ANSER to her KWESTION. ‘Yoo MIT find yor HART’S DEZIRE.’ The PRINSESS lafed BECOS shee DOUTED thees WERDS. INSTED, shee yoozed her imajinashun and MUVED intoo the FOTOGRAFY BIZNES and tuk pikchers of the LOONER SFERE in CULOR. ‘I perseev most SERTANLY that it almost always APEERS HOLEY WITE,’ shee thort. Shee also found that shee cud MAK ENUF MUNY in eit MUNTHS to bie herself two ENORMUS hug new jooels too.’

This compares quite well with a collage made up of the most popular spellings for the story when two classes of children aged 9-12 took down dictation ‘spelled as they would like to spell it’

“Wuns UPON A TIM the BUTIFUL DAUTER of a GRATE magishan WONTED MOR PERLS to PUUT amung her tresers. “Luk THRU THE SENTER OF THE MOON WEN IT IS blue”, SED her MUTHER in ANSER to her QESTION. “Yu MITE find yor hart’s desier.” The PRINSESS laft becos she DOUTED thees werds. INSTED she yoused her imaginashin and mooved intoo the fotograffy BIZNES and TUK pichers of the loona sfear in culur. “I PERSEVE most SERTENLY that it ALLMOST ALL ways apeers HOLY WITE,” she thort. She allso found that she CUUD make ENUF MONY in ate MUNTHS to by herself too ENORMUS HUG NU jewls TOO.”

Both sets of the paragraf still leave punctuation, tho possessives are a problem. The children, still with lots of spelling lessons, are closer to conventional spellling, not seeing it may be silly. Children use the morfemic ‘s’ for plurals and tenses, but are stil fonetic when it comes to participls -d/-t.

I still have the entry of Guy, aged 5, to compare with the ‘preferred spelling’ of more experienced writers:
“Oens a pon a time the byootiFul dort of a grat mjishan wotid mor guls (graphic reversal of p and g. vy) to put umung her treshas. Look throo the sent of the moon wen it is blue sed her mother in asr to her cwesjan. Yoo mit find your hrts disia. The prinses laft becos she dawtid thes wrs. Insded she yoes her imajinashon moovd in to the ftografee bisnes and tooc picchrs of the loonar sfiar in colar. She thort she cod pseever cwit sutlee it Alwas Apiad whit. She arlsoo Fawd lat she Wos Abil to bi her self too inoormas huj ne eyols to.”
Guy also uses the morfemic ‘s’ for plurals and tenses. He is notably economical, and also still hears some speech sounds slightly difrently from older children and adults.

valerie yule

May 4, 2013

Setting New Statesman competitions

I set NS Competition questions mostly but not only in 2005. They were meant to arouse thought, but I stopped setting them because instead competitors only tried to be clever.
I set New Statesman Competition questions mostly but not only in 2005. They were meant to arouse thought, but I stopped setting them because instead competitors only tried to be clever.

Some questions sent in and mostly published included:
1. Much modern comedy is about being horrible to other people. Is it possible to be funny about being nice (random acts of kindness, etc) without the punchline being that it doesn’t work or has horrid unintended consequences or it’s not nice after all?

2. Biblical prophets despaired that supernatural visitations could ever change anything for the good, and so it has generally seemed. Describe a supernatural visitation that could achieve something useful today.

3. List ten items that a museum would keep hidden away as sacred totems of modern British society.

4. As fast as globalism opens the world and the internet to everyone, forces try to privatize everything or keep it secret – from water and knowledge to museum artifacts and government activities. Here is the struggle in the next Harry Potter book. Outline the story-line.

5.The New Statesman decides to get its various acts together, and make sure that one thing happens each year that can ‘make the world a better place’, rather than being a pot-pourri heavily into schadenfreudia and dystopics. What feasible concern would you urge NS to take up and push for 2005? Give reasons.

6. A famous poet rewrites some of her/his famous lines in light of modern knowledge. It might be Byron for example, finding that man’s ruinous control does not stop at the sea-shore, or Blake’s Tyger facing extinction.

7. The custom of beginning sessions of Parliament with dedication by Christian prayer has been condemned as biassed. Replace it with a secular reminder of members’ awesome global responsibilities in these critical times, of high liturgical quality and memorability, and not one platititude.

8.In 200 words, list ten ideas for inventions that could save the world from the catastrophes that loom ahead.

9. A non-profit DVD has been invented for self-help in learning to read. Write the report of an educational institution recommending that it not be trialed, or similar report by any organization against trialing a humane invention that might affect its interests.

9. It is discovered that since children learn more out of school than in school, however – schools are needed by society as baby-sitters. Selected children are therefore allowed out on probation into the work-force for two-week periods as assistants, after which they do projects and catch up on schoolwork from their computers and books. Disruptive children may be frequently selected. A longitudinal study includes a control group. Since the children are learning that life is a tricky business means, the school does not have to bother about legal liabilities or insurance.

10.The case that human beings are not Freudian plumbing systems puts paid to the public faith in ‘outlets’ for aggressive impulses and the value of continual excitation and stimulation.Instead, concepts of ‘fizzling’ emotions and redirecting impulses into sublimation actions. Rather than tensing up with worry beads and desktop gimmicks and throwing plates, send ideas for a new theory of therapy

11. A recent legal case was so complex that the lawyer spoke for five hours. At least two hours of this case must have involved Little Bo Peep. 200 words from the defence lawyers’ lengthy oration in any current or recent business legal case, that brings in Little Bo Peep in a way that can guarantee another two hours talkling.

11. Do a take-off of the New Statesman at the time of Kingsley Martin or now. Hopefully winners will include examples of both.

12. A future archaeologist interprets a modern urban midden

13. Write on the theology of the astrology in modern magazines.

14. Designer babies. Design a human with characteristics that already exist (ie feasible) that might best survive the environmental challenges ahead.

15. This crowded world. A new children’s game for a playground with 800 children in it.

16. The blurb for a fantasy novel with a quest, in which all the characters have names like Emma and Robert, they seek things like dish-washers, and a royal commission is – well, a Royal Commission.

17. ‘The Borrowers’ is a famous children’s novel by Nora . . . An exerpt from a further sequel in which a family of borrowers (Glitches?) live in a computer – and characteristically have taken over English vocabulary for themselves, as with mouse, ram, scroll, etc, – and how they take their entertainment at the back of the screen instead of in front.

18. ISAGIATT – It seemed a good idea at the time. Future-looking at unexpected consequences from say, translocation, designer babies, universal literacy, memory pills, ageless beauty, honest politicians, thought-reading or other dreams science might make true.

19. An art critic writes about Modern Art as the elaborate colorful graffiti that wayward geniuses spray on walls and fences.

20 An exerpt from the Ancient Mariner on the Last Albatross, Blake on the Last Tiger, Kipling on the Last Elephant, or Charlotte’s Web in a factory farm.

21. From a Just-So story explaining something like Climate Change.

22. A happy ending for any notable tragic play or novel – say, Hamlet.

23 Can you design principles for a reform for English spelling that is more way out than the extremes of those that are commonly proposed?

24 Translate some great passage of literature into modern English vocabulary of say, the hoodie or barmy-army type.

April 27, 2013

New Game for spelling

Filed under: humor, Pleasures, spelling, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 7:31 am

New Spelling Game – Spell a word as u think it ought to be spelld.

 

Play every spelling game by spelling a wurd as u think it aut to be spelld.

 

Win every spelling bee by spelling a wurd as u think it aut to be spelld.

 

Pronounce every spelling as u think it aut to be pronounced!   Grapes of wrath or wroth?

 

See how much we all agree on changes from present spelling. 

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.

March 17, 2013

Fallacies used to retain present spelling unchanged

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/03/reviewed-does-spelling-matter-simon-horobin

Five errors need correcting in this book. First, almost every other modern language, exept English, has had some degree of successful change, major or minor, that updated its writing system (Writing systems and how they change, Yule, in press). The fights are often long and continuing, but the changes enable mor pepl to read and rite. Remember that the Arabic number sistem, essential for modern sience, took 500 years to be acsepted over the Latin numerals in some parts of Europe!
Second, Simon Horabin confuses phonetic (sounds of speech) and phonemic (sounds as represented in a ritten language). The word DOG (phonemic spelling) is pronounced meny diffrent ways in spoken English, from dawg to dahg (phonetic pronunciations), but we all think we are saying DOG.
Third,” in order to preserve the richness, subtlety and history of our language” Horabin claims that we must keep spelling unchanged. Our spelling has continued to change since Samuel Johnson, e.g. – e.g. horror and economic for horrour and oeconomick.) but change is stopped by our Spelling Checker. Most literat peple cannot spell without a Spelling Checker. Most peple, however well educated, cannot spell 16 common words which have surplus letters. (http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/spelling.htm#word)
If spelling checkers changed, we would change our spelling too.

4. Dictionries and other books tell us the
history of our language. Updating spelling does not uproot our culture. Experiment and see. http://home.vicnet.net.au/ozideas/spelling.htm an index page about spelling

5. Noam Chomsky’s statement that English spelling ‘comes remarkably close to being . . .an optimal system’ was made in one regard only. I have examind this one regard and even then there are caveats. (Carol wrote in the Harvard Educational Review that it enabled one to see the relationship of PRODIGAL and PRODIGIOUS.) I have a letter (not email) from Noam Chomsky himself in which he regrets the wide misuse of his statement, and says he is sympathetic to ideas of spelling reform, properly conducted.

http://home.vicnet.net.au/ozideas/writsys.htm – Other writing systems of the world, their advantages and disadvantages, and how many have been reformed

http://home.vicnet.net.au/ozideas/sprules1p.htm English spelling rules on one page

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