Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The pond gets out the two minute noodles ... for a real insight into real education ...

(Above: work hard and if you get it wrong, cop a slap and if you get it right, why here, cop another slap. It's the Dame Slap way).

Poor hapless Bazza.

Janet "Dame Slap" Albrechtsen has taken out the cane and given him six of the best on the pants (or perhaps on the bare bottom, who knows, imagine it according to the richness of your fantasy life).

She starts - under the header Go to the bottom of the class, Premier (behind the paywall so you can avoid a caning) - this way:

April 22 marked the day when Barry O'Farrell finally signalled he was not a real Liberal.

Now you might start by wondering what makes a real Liberal in Dame Slap's eyes - doing a barking mad imitation of Ayn Rand or Paul Ryan perhaps - but the important point for the pond is that Albrechtsen has finally revealed her real persona - Dame Slap, she who first achieved fame at the top of Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree (and don't go politically correct and start yammering at the pond about how she should be called Dame Snap).

Oh yes, she's always grumpy.

Was it only the other day that the Miranda the Devine went as soft as a three minute egg over Gwyneth Paltrow (yes, she's fixed the typo) and wrote this?

“Experiments show that when some people punish others, the reward part of their brain lights up like a Christmas tree,” writes Douglas Preston, author of Trial By Jury. He says some people are born to be “punishers” and in our evolutionary hunter-gatherer past, they were needed to enforce social norms. Anthropologists call this “altruistic punishment”. 
But when Preston was researching his book on Knox, he saw a sickness in all the hatred online, “not unlike the witch-hunts of medieval Europe ... Never in human history has a system developed like the Internet, which allows for the free rein of our punishing instincts, conducted with complete anonymity, with no checks or balances, no moderation, and no accountability. On the Internet, our darkest evolutionary biology runs riot.” (here)

Indeed. The nauseating hate fest that runs riot in Murdoch land and fills the internet is something to see, and Dame Slap's meting out of the punishment - oh yes, she's the Punisher - is the most obvious example of all.

I mean, how cruel to say that big Bazza himself had come out and admitted he wasn't a real Liberal. Which is to say, instead he must be a phony, false, faux, imitation, surreal Liberal, as fake as a two bob watch or synthetic fabric strutting around pretending to be a real fox fur drape.

That's so cruel, so full of hate, our darkest evolutionary biology run riot and incarnate in Murdoch land.

(Though as an aside, it's no sterner than the Devine yesterday demanding in No dragons live in PM's perilous fiscal fantasy that fictitious wage earner John feed his family two minute noodles. Oh yes, tighten the belt, head off for a holiday to the Forster caravan park, hold off on the private schools until year eleven, practise thrift, just like the Devine, who only yesterday offered to slash her fee for blather in half to help out her needy employer. Even so, the pond couldn't help but marvel at the sheer luxury of two minute noodles. Why in pond's day after hard day's work at mill, we were ever so grateful for a one minute noodle rich in gravel and tar and knew how to curtesy in abject gratitude).

But we've been distracted - that's what a diet of one minute noodles will do for your short-term memory - and completely failed to mention big Bazza's crime:

The most that can be said about the NSW Premier signing up to the Gillard government's school funding package is he is reliably disappointing. Once again, O'Farrell has sided with the irresponsible members of the Left instead of NSW schoolchildren, parents, teachers and, of course, taxpayers. Once again he is too afraid of the teachers unions to demand real education reform.

There's that word again, this time in real education reform.

Sense you're in the presence of a parrot, spouting real as if it really means something, as opposed to the meaningless gibberish and rhetorical flourishes to be found in the Liberal party's nonsensical platform, Real Solutions for all Australians?

Real? Well it's really painful, so it must be real ...

Naturally the rest of Dame Slap's column turns into one long rant, about O'Farrell spending too much time with the Greenies (think a Carlton supporter ranting about people actually speaking to Collingwood supporters) and how he's a craven cowardly lick-spittle union lover and how the Gonski proposals are a disaster, a complete and utter disaster, and how only that Adelaide plains prat Christopher 'the poodle' Pyne knows about value of money and the meaning of reform (at which point you might be inclined to roll the Jaffas down the aisle, such is the fun).

Now you might think that Albrechtsen would mention that the idea of stealing money from tertiary education to fund primary and secondary education is a bold and strange manoeuvre which has attracted a public letter to the Gillard government from concerned academics around the land this very day. But Albrechtsen isn't interested in a sensible discussion of what is involved. She just wants a hate fest.

You see, everything that's wrong in schools and in education is the fault of unions and teachers, or teachers' unions, or teachers daring to be in a union, and pay should be related to performance, though Albrechtsen spends not a nano second explaining how you might compare and contrast the performance of a teacher given the job of teaching in some of the blighted suburbs of Sydney, up against the better eastern suburbs establishments.

Now if you wanted a compendium of stupid comments about education and educational practises, you couldn't do better than Dame Slap, who presumably has never gone within cooeeeh of a school as a teacher doing the daily grind.

Apart from the merit-based pay - a chimera when you get down to working out a workable definition of merit - there's the ability to hire and fire teachers and sound curriculum reform.

What does sound - or perhaps real - curriculum reform mean? Why it means adopting conservative values of choice, excellence, quality, values and discipline, though whether the discipline should come via cane, stinging nettles or a finely honed Percy Grainger whip, the pond will leave to you.

Yes, it's the usual blather, along with a hint of technophobia:

During her Gonski announcement in mid-April, Gillard mentioned putting smart boards and iPads into the nation's classrooms. Shiny tech devices won't lift student achievement. Rewarding the best teachers and getting rid of the worst is a better start.

Note the snark about shiny tech devices. 'Tis true, why in pond's day we were content with nib and ink and nothing wrong with that.

And note that fine old conservative value - punish, punish, punish, the punitive approach is always the best approach. Carrot and stick. Oh bugger the carrot, here's the bloody stick.

Now here's where the comedy rubber hits the road as Dame Slap sings the song of the poodle:

Long before Gillard came on board, Pyne advocated investing in improved teacher effectiveness as the single most successful way to improve student effectiveness.

Which calls for a re-statement of the bleeding obvious:

Schools matter only so much. The real problem rests with the social context in which schools operate— namely, the family, neighborhood, and peer environments that under this perspective make it difficult for low-income children to take advantage of educational opportunities. Adopting accountability or market-oriented reforms without changing social policy more broadly will punish educators for factors beyond their control, and potentially drive the most able teachers toward schools serving less-disadvantaged students. (Improving educational outcomes for poor children - pdf format)

Truth to tell, there's not too many problems if you trot off to a well-heeled private school, with amazing facilities, and a peer group that will provide you with useful contacts in politics, law or finance for the rest of your working life (oh yes the pond has mingled with the rich and seen how it goes down).

The notion that somehow fixing the teachers (and neutering the unions) will fix everything is so reductionist and simplistic, it could only come from the minds of Pyne and Albrechtsen, and presumably without contemplating the extensive literature and research available in relation to effective schooling.

But Dame Slap did achieve one strange outcome. Usually the pond has thought of big Bazza as a prime goose - how else can you describe a man who publicly supported the notion that Sydney's second airport should be in Canberra, connected by VFT. He actually said it, publicly and then stood by it, compounding absurdity with Beckett-ian absurdity.

But now the pond has a sneaking sympathy for him. He's not a real Liberal, and worse, he took the money and ran, betraying the thoughts of future chairman Abbott and his poodle Pyne. The shame, the horror:

And all for what? So O'Farrell can mimic the sinking Gillard who, like her predecessor Rudd, talks deliberately in ridiculously grandiose terms about revolutions and crusades to hide a lack of real reform. 

Yes, there it is again. Real reform! It seems only real Liberals can do real reform!

Please, Premier O'Farrell, reconsider your craven deal. Remember what Pyne said last year when he quoted a warning from Franz Kafka: "Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy."

Actually the pond hadn't thought this before, but perhaps Kafka was wrong. Perhaps there's something to be said for the slime of a bureaucracy, at least when compared to Dame Slap sliming poor old Bazza and calling him craven and foaming and frothing at the mouth and cheering on the poodle Pyne ...

But it also raised another deeper convoluted issue.

Is Dame Slap proposing that conservatives can avoid the slime of a new bureaucracy? Or an old one?

But, but, but where would that leave "real reform"? Which as we all know proposes a real revolution in real educational values?

Surely this means a state of constant real revolution? (Never mind the Maoist overtones).

Does this mean conservatives should pose and posture as the real revolutionaries, of a real educational or other real kind?

Does the real Pyne really fancy himself perhaps as a member of the French revolution? Perhaps a Georges Danton, first head of the Committee of Public Safety?

There's certainly more than a passing resemblance.

Perhaps Kafka should have written Every conservative eventually evaporates and heads off to the grave, leaving behind the slime of a well-fed, self-serving life ... but at least that means there are more packets of two-minute noodles for the poor.


  1. Sorry to have to tell you this but your picture of Robespierre is really that of Danton.

  2. Sheesh, those two minute noodles addled the brain this morning, but thanks and for once - since we generally tend to follow our Liberal and Murdochian heroes and never backdown or backtrack - we've fixed the error and thrown in a bonus link to his wiki. Doesn't change the joke ... though we admit we should have found an even poutier image of Danton ...

  3. Does Dame Slap have any children, or did she eat them?

  4. According to her wiki, Team Feeney, she has two daughters and a son, with John O'Sullivan but they're now separated

    That said, the wiki is silent on whether she snacks on other children. Who knows, she might well be a lover of veal, and soylent green, and a worshipper at the shrine of Dean Swift's solution as to what to do with troublesome children ...


Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.