An unlimited license to condescend?

The topics of today’s students and Internet access (and the current roll-out of laptop computers to all students in Year 9) and its effect on literacy, are being hotly debated again on the various education listservs, and it was reminding me of a previous argument in the public arena in the 60s and 70s, and I just happened upon a quote that might put some of the current issues into perspective.

From Saturday morning fever: growing up with a cartoon culture by Timothy Burke & Kevin Burke (St Martin’s Griffin, NY: 1999, p 200):

“Whether it was [Spiro] Agnew or [Bob ‘Captain Kangaroo’] Keeshan, or some other untrustworthy person over thirty, the basic message was the same in the late sixties and early seventies: Blame television and you get an unlimited license to condescend. Then you don’t have to explain exactly why it was bad that kids were in the streets protesting against war or why exactly dropping out and turning on was a terrible thing. The wheel keeps on turning: in the mid-seventies television got blamed for making you passive, and then once again in the eighties, it was creating violence. It’s the excuse that keeps on giving. Amazing thing, television: it can make you passive and aggressive at the same time. If you don’t like whatever it is that young people are doing, it must be television that’s to blame.”

Sounds familiar?

Roll on the paradigm shift.

Powerful PowerPointing!

This term, groups of Stage 2 students at my school have worked with me, during our PSP literacy sessions, to create and upload Powerpoint presentations of the “Bear & Chook” adventures, explanations and procedures they wrote up as storyboards.

For example:

Looking in rock pools

Skipping stones

How to make a hanky hat

Rowing a boat.

We hope that other schools enjoy their work as much as we enjoyed creating them.

Using the many clever functions of PowerPoint this term has been my own steep learning curve! Today, with only five minutes left of the lesson, and as a Stage 3 class descended upon us from across the playground (library bags at the ready), one group of eager Year 3 students was guessing how to add a series of pale, white, special-effect curved lines to one of their sequences of photos. And we did it! Exhilarating!

Mara musings

The fabulous Musica Viva travelling musical troupe, “Mara”,
visited our school today, and were very well received.

My school has been playing music selections from Mara’s CD – as the students’ lining up music – for the past month. Today the musicians came for their concert and some of the kids thought it was an amazing coincidence that, with all the songs in the world that Mara could have played, the group somehow knew how to play our “lining up music”!

‘Allo Vera


‘Allo Vera – and her three new offspring. My photo of the day. A little something for peace and renewal.

This plant is the fourth aloe vera to inhabit this pot since the “shoestring renovations” of my school library, but certainly the most successful (the previous occupants have since recovered after a return to less neglectful circumstances). This week Vera showed off her triplets, much to the excitement of my observant, pint-size borrowers at the charging desk.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty!


‘Tis the day for compliments. A little Kinder kid told me I looked pretty today (I was wearing my infamous “Spider-man” shirt), and two more kids from school just saw me heading home and announced they wished it was Monday already.

“Why…?” I asked (a little bewildered, because this was barely the start of a well-earned weekend).

“Because that’s our library day and you’re our library teacher!”

Counting for Canberra

Our Stage 3 students are studying Australian government, to be topped off by a culminating activity: an excursion and camp to Canberra.

The educational activities on the Australian Electoral Commission website are proving useful. We’ve been using our votes predicting the CBCA Book Week award winners to practise

Counting the votes for the House of Representatives


Counting the votes for the Senate.

These video clips have been quite engaging!

The students have also enjoyed using the Practise voting demonstration on the library’s IWB.

Video clips on the hop

We are really enjoying the ease of finding short video clips via Encarta for Kids CD-ROM, and online at Youtube.

As a followup to last week’s Aboriginal Dreaming story, How the kangaroos got their tails, Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students are investigating facts about kangaroos.

Kangaroo joeys playing:

This amazing footage of newborn joeys in their mothers’ pouches:

A trained(?) boxing kangaroo on TV – not so natural? (Disturbing; perhaps more useful for older students writing persuasive texts?)