Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the category “Social justice”

Evolution of an opinion.

don't deserve to be robbed

A convtroversial picture to get a conversation started.

I know I’ve been away for a bit. It’s because of the picture above. I created this because it was something I was genuinely interested in knowing the answer to: why is this image different from the “Still don’t deserve to be raped” images going around the Internet and social media? My contention: I never want to blame the victim for things that happen. The reason why bad things happen to people is because there are bad people out there who don’t care about human rights. However, knowing that there are evil people in the world who do the wrong thing even with all of our laws and protections in place, isn’t it a good idea to make yourself less of a target?

That was my opinion. So I created this picture. I posted it privately on Facebook, only to my friends. And I invited conversation. I wanted to go through the conversation and post a summary of what was said. But I honestly think that the conversation shows the explanations and crossing of lines better than my summary ever could. So I’m posting the whole thing, names changed to protect the opinionated. And no, I don’t believe the picture above is a good picture to put out there. But as one of the conversationers says: the more conversation out there, the better. Just don’t use it as an excuse.

The conversation:

Male1: I wouldn’t recommend posting it. It won’t change anyone’s mind, because it is such a sensitive issue that people feel strongly about.
This particular example only applies to some people and those victims don’t need to be reminded of dumb decisions made at the time, and it discounts that, short of wearing a bubble, women are at risk anywhere.

Damian Perry The number of times it comes up, and I think “There are so many screwed up evil people in the world, with such screwed up senses of morality, that this argument is less valid than you would expect”.

Damian Perry But yes, I’ve been very hesitant in even putting the picture together

Female1 The picture sort of implies that being a girl wearing “sexy” clothes, or even just walking somewhere alone is a stupid thing to do. The guy in the picture looks like an idiot, who would do that, really? It implies that the parallel message of “still doesn’t deserve it” (with women and rape) is a message of the women doing something dumb and that being the result.

Damian Perry Yeah, and that’s why I’m trying to feel through the situation here rather than in public with people who will, hopefully, forgive me for saying something ridiculous.

Damian Perry Nobody deserves to be raped. Nobody deserves to be robbed. However, there are bad, evil people in the world. If someone walked down an alley with bad people around and (to be less ridiculous) was fiddling with his iPhone, we might say “you idiot”.

Damian Perry Nobody deserves the bad stuff that happens, but bad stuff happens, in these cases because of the bad people. Knowing that there are bad people, is it worth taking the precautions to avoid the bad situation?

Female1 I think the point of the rape issue is that even with precautions many women are still in danger. It’s not always the ones who are flaunting themselves, they could be fully dressed, and conservatively, but still be just as at risk.

Damian Perry Ah. Have I been misreading these pictures then? I thought it was “even if I’m dressed sexy (or naked) I don’t deserve to be raped.”

Female2 This is not the blog I was looking for but it’s close. The difference is is that whilst most men don’t feel entitled to someone else’s money / shiny thing, they are increasingly feeling entitled to a woman’s body Everyday Feminism link When even the ‘sane’ men start questioning misogyny in our society it’s pretty frightening to women. I have no answers, I’m just trying to tell you it’s not the same.

Female2 Ok. Think of it like this. You rob me – I am immediately the victim regardless of circumstances and you are the evil person.
You rape me – I am immediately judged on my clothes, where I was, did I fight back etc etc and you may be misunderstood, you may have not understood no. Etc.

Female3 You’ve got two issues within the spectrum of the rape culture thing, I think – the straight up idea of women being assaulted in lurky places, and the “dressed in tooth floss does not equal rape me” factor. And as someone whose had enough street harassment to varying degrees to want to retire from society forever, I actually find this parallel offensive for the same reasons Female1 has mentioned. Feminism and issue aside – don’t you dare post this because the shadowing on that face and money needs some serious revision.;)

Damian Perry I wanted to create a painted version of the guy to take away any copyright issues of stealing faces and bodies from Google and Photoshopping them, but in the end it was taking too much time for something I wouldn’t be allowed to post anyway, so I just gave up and posted it as is. Sorry Female3!

Female3 That’s what I wanted to hear, Damo. I can deal if its a mock up. I’ve been doing print ready files all day today and feel ready to set adobe on fire.

Female2 It might be more on the money to have a big, macho looking dude telling some cops that he was robbed and them saying – but what were you wearing? Women of the jury?

Female3 I like that idea better. there’s just something about putting a comically dumb man’s face on the issue that sits badly with me..

Damian Perry I’ll repost with the original guy’s face but it didn’t seem to fit

still don't deserve to be robbed seriousFemale4 I am unsure of the message you are trying to imply. Particularly with your comment of taking precautions. The point of the rape pictures is that often in sentencing, and general attitudes of the community it’s the victims responsibility to not have gotten so drunk or not have behaved so provocatively. It is about changing community attitudes that shift the blame from the victim and educate men that consent must always be sought.
To be honest, if I saw that as a blog post I would find it offensive as it implies that women and girls should be taking responsibility through their choices. It is as you said a very sensitive issue.

Damian:

Damian Perry From that article: “The clothes we wear do send messages to the world – if they didn’t we would all be content to wear the same thing. Learning how to decode and respond to the messages being transmitted by a woman wearing a low-cut top is a skill many struggle to ever master.

Again, this is not to argue that a scantily clad woman deserves anything she does not want, and that includes lewd comments and judgment. But women are definitely aware of the attention a nice bum in hot pants will attract, and are generally careful of the context in which they don them. Nightclub: yes. Workplace: no.”

Damian Perry And yes, posting this as a blog could give some people an excuse to use it against women, so I’ll leave it alone. All of the “still don’t deserve…” pictures are trying to reclaim some of the rights that women have lost.

Damian Perry Another point from another source, is that women need to take risks so that they can feel empowered. They need to be able to wear what makes them feel good, even if it does sexualise them, and walk home alone, even if it does put them in danger.

Damian Perry So yes, the picture does say that women should be taking some responsibility through their choices. Not because women are to blame for the things that happen to them. But because there are some evil bastards out there who don’t care that they hurt women.

Damian Perry But I’ve been convinced that posting it would do more harm than good, because we need to live in a world where women will take risks and feel safe and empowered, rather than living in a world where everyone wears loose sweaters and won’t walk anywhere alone, feeling unsafe in their own world.

Damian Perry I like to believe that most men are good, if slightly ignorant. These are the men who can be educated. But not all of them can.

Damian Perry “In the social utopia we all know will never eventuate, of course women ought to be able to do as the chant says: ”Wear what we want when we want.” But in the real world we live in, that is a dangerous motto to live by.”

Damian Perry “Sexual assault counsellors often post leaflets in the toilet cubicles of Melbourne’s busiest nightclubs giving tips to women on how to stay safe : appoint a friend to watch out for your group, make sure your phone is charged, always have a cab fare etc. This is practical advice that does not spark a movement suggesting the counsellors are blaming victims of sexual assault. But in cautioning women against placing themselves in the sort of situations that can make them more vulnerable to rape, are they not saying the same thing as Mr Sanguinetti?”

Damian Perry This is what I’m trying to say. Not to be offensive, just honestly wondering.

Female5 Interestingly… I was on holiday with a gf whose image (choice of jewellery, dressing up in the day time, her choice of window shopping) gave the impression that she has lots of money. Actually she has expensive taste and appears to be a bit “precious”. To me, she looked as though you could easily take advantage of her. On the very crowded train my choice is to appear organised, knowing which stop to get off, looking alert and confident. .. and she loudly says “where are we? What stop are we getting off?” While fixing her lipstick.

She’s MY friend and I made judgements based on her behaviour and appearance that she was vulnerable (“pick me” in a evil persons language)… I feel bad for even thinking it… I’m used to changing my exterior when I Feel vulnerable… and this includes living on a “rape timetable” as one male friend called it. He said: I couldn’t imagine having to live on a rape timetable, be home before dark, don’t walk- take a cab etc. .. I don’t even think about it as a man.

And therein lies another layer to a delicate issue.

I love the point above re: clothing and image communicating… 🙂

For me: I choose to reduce risk of harm. I will change my image, appearance and energetic vibe to camouflage or hide. I will change my behaviour including timing of outings to ensure my behaviour does not say “pick me” in evil language. .. although of course, I shouldn’t have to. Xo

Female3 I can’t comment on this anymore. Damo I am pleased you wanted to discuss this but I think you’d do well to leave it, as you said.
Female5 has a valid point about images and appearances, but that argument makes me tired. A vast majority of rapists are people you know, statistically friends, family etc, and sexual assault perps have been found to care less about skanky clothes and more about vulnerability (I.e drunkenness, Female5’s friend having no idea where she was, being alone). I’d source that but I’ve just woken up and have forgotten where it’s from. I got sexually assaulted on a tram because I had my hands full, carrying stuff home from university. I dress like a mountain potato. If you want to discuss it, maybe approach the issue from the concept that women don’t owe men anything, and vice versa. Safer to do, easier to talk about.

And I agree about the original image – he’s kind of leery, but I can’t say how.

Male2 It’s a discussion we can never have, because all it takes is for someone to say “so it’s the woman’s fault she was raped?” and the rational argument about taking responsibility is over. I’m sure Godwin has some law about it

Male2 Maybe you could make a meta-poster with a picture of yourself creating the original poster. I’m sure there is a great caption you could put on it but can’t think of one right now

Male3 There are so many nuances of the argument that this picture does not address that it becomes a bit pointless. For example, if you had 100 men like this, would one of them be giving all his money to anyone that walked past, and maybe 10% have gone to the alley(nightclub) with the express purpose of finding someone to give their money to, and would the guys in the alley have spent their formative years watching other guys give their money away for free on the internet, would a couple of the guys have gotten so drunk that they gave all their money to someone that they didn’t really mean to and wake up wishing they could get it all back? Is the alley in fact the right place for this scene? Don’t just as many crimes occur in lounge rooms, bed rooms, etc.

Male3 I should also mention that we are not constantly bombarded by popular and social media with content that reinforces the idea that our money belongs to the world, it should be a certain size and shape, and you should post pictures of it online on an hourly basis for the enjoyment of others.

Damian Perry Well, I’m glad that I posted it, just to get so many varied and interesting reactions. But, yes, we do constantly get bombarded with popular and social media content telling us to give our money away, and we do take thousands of pictures of our money (or what we spent it on) to post on Facebook.

Damian Perry And I KNOW that there have been nights where I’ve gotten drunk, woken up the next morning to find that I’ve given my money away and desperately wishing that I hadn’t done it.

Male3 And I guess therein is also part of the problem with the analogy. You may place a different value on your ‘money’ to someone else and the emotional attachment you have to your ‘money’ may be different. It doesn’t give anyone the right to take your ‘money’ but if enough people place little value on it then it creates societal expectations. Add in booze, drugs, mental illness and just plain bad people and you would do well to put your money away and perhaps use something else to make friends. Friends who will still love you when your ‘money’ isn’t as young as it used to be :o)

Female2 When I was at uni my psychology professor said that he once asked his male students to line up at one blackboard and female students to line up at another and write what they do every day to make them feel safe. They could not repeat what another student had written. That was the only rule. The sexes were split fairly evenly. The guys eventually filled up maybe a third of their blackboard. Mostly it was locked their door, make sure that they didn’t leave ovens on etc.
The women filled their blackboard and some of the white board and while it had some of the same stuff as the guys it also had things like don’t make eye contact after dark, don’t walk home alone when the sun goes down, don’t give the taxi driver our real address, etc. He said that women are brought up with a siege mentality, that we were taught how to survive the attack as well as to minimize its happening. He couldn’t then during the exercise, and while telling us about it, begin to imagine what living in constant fear all the while knowing that whatever happened it would always be viewed as our fault. He said that until men decided as a group that this was unacceptable and that no female regardless, was to be thought of as a product to be owned, and until females believed that they meant it the status quo wouldn’t change.

Damian Perry There’s the statement that explains all of the pictures. Finally I get it. Now: would taking all of this conversation, drawing it into a cohesive whole, leaving off attributions (unless you want them) make a good post that would justify an exploration of the picture? If you say no I won’t bother, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who had this picture in their head.

Male3 Do you follow Collective Shout Damo? They bring up some interesting material including the recent Wicked Campers controversy. This is an interested read along the same lines as Female2’s post:

If we reject you

Female2 I don’t mind Damo. The more discussion there is about this subject the better I think. You can’t change someone mind with silence.

Male3 My real problem is this “men must decide as a group it’s unacceptable”. We have. It’s against the law. It’s prosecuted when it’s reported. I don’t know a single man who would condone this behaviour and if I did I’d slap him. To paint all men as complicit in every occurrence of sexual assault is as ridiculous as painting all men as accessories to every murder, robbery, car jacking etc.

Female2 But that’s your group and who you know. I would always presume that people that I hang out with, the people they hang out with would think mostly like me. But do you immediately think predator arsehole when you read about a woman laying charges against a football player or do you think – what was she wearing?

Damian Perry I think that I and my friends are pretty good. I also know some of the conversations we have in guy nights, just as a joke, that prove the exact opposite. I’ve tried to pick up girls in bars and nightclubs (when I was single) which is, according to one of the articles above, a no-no. Men as a group might be outwardly ok with it being unacceptable, but the point is that we all still have our inner apes.

Male3 I try not to judge without knowing the facts. That’s a job for the courts.

Female6 In regards to those we call ‘famous’ getting charged with a crime and society asking who’s really to blame. It’s hard not to question motives when some ‘victims’ wait for so many years. As for people flaunting money, power, fast cars, boobs! Yes you have the right to but it will always draw attention and not necessarily from the right people. I do believe most people are good but there are still dirtbags out there that choose to go against social norms

Female2 See. The way you wrote victims just upsets me. Think of the most traumatic thing that ever happened to you. Make sure that there was a shit load of guilt and self-shame associated with it to make it really work. Then think about how long it would take to tell someone about it. Now think if the person who did all that to you was known to others as good person. How long do you think it would take you to come forward now? Just because you think you are a strong enough person now doesn’t mean they are in the same place. I know a person who wet herself in 5th grade in from of the class. I can bet you she doesn’t talk about that at all.

Female6 ‘Victim’, a word I chose to incorporate a vast group of people. I am a victim of several crimes and I own that word. Being a victim clarifies that I am in no way to blame for what others chose to do to me. I have never felt shame or guilt over any of it and have always come forward. I’ve worked with girls about that age in the same situation, it doesn’t have to be like that and schools aim to teach children to be more accepting these days. Hell, we use to get belittled for blowing our noses in primary school!

Female6 Female2: what are your thought on the siege mentality that your psych professor demonstrated? I would love to live without it and feel safe enough to go to gigs on my own but there have to be some up sides right? It means we should kickarse at risk assessment!
I guess it can explain helicopter parenting. I’ve heard it blamed on Gen X growing up with Stranger Danger that we are terrified of letting our children do anything. Hence why so few kids walk to school or play outside or any activity that a parent can’t hover over.

Female6 Ok, I’ve think this is what I should’ve said all along.
I am glad to live here, I can wear what I want, when I want and stand up for myself when I do it without fear of persecution. Most people will still come to a woman’s aid if she needs it.

Male3 We were at Fed Square on Sunday with our kids then read later about an attempted child stealing. Nothing wrong with reasonable helicoptering! I think part of the ‘blame game’ is also a way of risk assessing. Is there something that person did that, done differently, would have reduced the risk of becoming the victim of the crime. When we establish that we establish the risk to ourselves and also establish how we can protect ourselves and our family from becoming victims.

Female2 I think it’s like anything. Too much is bad. Focusing totally on nothing but your safety means that you will miss out on a lot of awesome stuff, not focusing at least a little means ‘bad’ things can and will probably occur.
What we forget is that towns used to live under siege for many, many years sometimes and the people would get used to the sounds of warfare and just get on.
Heightened awareness is not a bad thing.
To me what has changed about stranger awareness is that WE are more aware of the dangers. 50 years ago no one thought a thing about letting your kids run mad, the dangers were still there but we didn’t talk about or acknowledge them. Now we have pulled the bogeyman out of the closet we are not sure how to deal with it.

Damian Perry Holy crap this became a very in depth discussion.

Male2 It’s certainly a lot better than some other discussions i’ve ever seen on the subject! A rational discussion on a sensitive subject is a rare and wonderous thing.

Male2 Some parallels between the MH17 shootdown here… lots of comments like “how dare you blame Malaysian Air! The people who shot it down are at fault, not the pilot who flew a plane where shootdowns were known to occur”

Male3: http://www.news.com.au/…/story-fnki1jcy-1226995419163

 

Conclusion

Don’t blame the victim. Don’t blame the victim. Don’t blame the victim. There’s no other way around it. Men will never really understand how women feel, but through discussions and actually listening to what is being said, we can start to get an idea.

That’s out and about now. I can get back to some slightly lighter topics.

Advertisements

Lock ’em up.

Before I begin I need to reiterate to any new Damo Finders that I very rarely do research before I rant. This blog does not contain scholarly rigour and I freely admit that pretty much anything I write here could be completely untrue.

You have been warned.

teenager in prisonOnce again, I’ve returned from coaching a debating evening filled with the half-formed thoughts of Year 9 students. This time, they were asked to argue “That children should not be incarcerated”. From what I could gather, they were arguing that children (legally, those under the age of 18) should not be held in detention, put in prison, taken to juvie, or the like. It was a challenging topic, especially for our side, who were trying to convince the audience that even a murderer would benefit more from a kind word and some therapy than a stint in the pokie.

Their arguments were that children’s minds are not fully formed before the age of 18 and that they cannot distinguish between right and wrong, and therefore cannot be held accountable for their actions and should not be punished for them. That placing children into institutions puts them in contact with other criminal types, increasing the risk that they will become hardened criminals through association.

The negative team’s best argument was that if the Victorian Police are willing to give a 12 year old a gun license, they must be pretty damn sure that the child knows the difference between right and wrong. They also felt that the greater good of society needed to be taken into account and that a murdering child needed to be removed from society for the good of society.

Good arguments. What do I think?

It is completely possible for a child to be a psychopath. A child doesn’t turn eighteen and then lose the ability to empathise with others. As far as I know, psychopaths are born, not made. There are children that are, if not evil, then at least completely amoral. They either can’t tell the difference between right and wrong, or they know and don’t believe that such distinctions apply to them.

If a child kills or assaults someone, not through an accident or loss of control, but through careful planning and forethought, that child can’t be allowed to continue to exist in society. Who knows? Maybe they can be “cured” or “rehabilitated” through intensive therapy. Maybe not. But until they are judged fit to coexist in society, they are requested to leave the pool. Play time’s over.

James BulgerThose are the extreme cases. Remember James Bulger? Jon Venables and Robert

Thompson – both ten – stole the two year old from a shopping centre. They walked him around town, beat him and kicked him, and then killed him and left him on the train tracks.

Did you know they moved them to Australia? Gave them new identities and gave them to us.

One of the important concepts highlighted in this case is that of “Doli incapax”. Legally there is a stage that a child can be held responsible for their actions. That they understand the concepts of right and wrong, and that death is a permanent state. Back in the early nineties, once it had been judged that the boys understood that death was permanent, they could be tried as adults. I’m pretty sure that’s no longer the case.

Either way, the argument is for or against putting children into detention. I say yes, for murderers and insane evil little Chucky clones (ever see The Good Son?) but no to those who commit crimes against property.

Sticking a child in detention that has been done for shoplifting or similar is like creating a master class for junior thieves. You can find out all sorts of nifty tricks when you hang out with other people with a similar mind frame.

“I’ll swap you some breaking and entering skills for some tips on pickpocketing.”

More to the point, incarceration creates an institutionalised child. It’s not a natural society. The pecking order is similar to prison. The concepts of helping out a fellow inmate or being kind are beaten or terrified out of the child and they learn that being stronger than the next person is the way to be. How is that going to help them in the real world?

Some would say it’s a perfect lesson. I say it’s the top of a slippery slope to hell.

I deal with teenagers every day. Only once in a blue moon do I have to deal with a child around whom I am genuinely uneasy. There is good in almost every child. But there is always the exception to the rule.

I’ve seen a student who was the most surly, angry boy in the school smile with genuine appreciation when I told him his work was good. I can’t say that his attitude changed that much, but his mother told me during parent/teacher interviews that he really liked my class and talked about it a lot at home.

lord of the fliesChildhood in general is like Lord of the Flies. The power plays and shifting alliances are complex and endless. Teenagers are in constant fear of being embarrassed, of breaking an unwritten rule, of being ostracised or excluded. The rules are many and you often only find out you’ve broken one after it’s too late. And everything is done under the shadow of the authority figures in their lives.

We can only be the best role models we can be. We can listen and give advice. We can point them in the right direction and hope that something sticks. And we can fire up their imaginations so that they have more productive ways to exhaust their energies.

But if they’re out there killing people, then hell yeah, lock ’em up.

Rant over. Lighter topics next week.

The Rabbit Pram

First up: the mo. http://mobro.co/damianperry

the mo

Next: Now that we own our own house, the family is keen to get a dog to go with the house. We have gnomes. Why don’t we have a dog?

And now the negotiations begin.

I want a big dog. A German Shepherd or a Kelpie, something that I can take for a walk or a jog down at the oval without having to disguise it as a Mogwai or something. I could even go a smaller dog, if it was a terrier – a Jack Russel perhaps. A cool, masculine dog. A dog with eyebrows:

fluffy mop dogShereen wants a placid dog. A mop, maybe a beanbag. Every dog she points out has shaggy hair and a hole for a broom handle… what do you mean, that’s not what the hole’s for? Dogs that wouldn’t feel stupid with a name like Fifi or Miffy.

Ophelia wants a cat. Dogs are cute, but cats are phenomenal. I agree, but Shereen’s allergies really preclude cat ownership.

So we are compromising. So far, the dog that both of us like best is a Scottish Terrier. “Och, Chum is soo chumpy, you could carrrve it!” Small for her, cool for me. We both liked the look of Beagles, but my sister and a few other people say they’re terrible dogs to train.

And then there’s the name. We were all happy with the name Moby. Ophelia came up with it. I thought it was remarkably literary of her until Shereen explained that it was the name of one of the characters in a trading card set she’s collecting at the moment.

But still, we don’t have to tell anybody that.

On the weekend, we went into the local shopping mall. The pet store in there had signs everywhere describing a new initiative they’ve taken on where they’ve partnered with an animal rescue group and sell rescue animals. It has nothing to do with the story, but there you go.

And then Shereen saw the rabbit. And fell in love. It came up to her and stared into her eyes with its big brown bunny peepers. And now she wants a rabbit instead of a dog.

“That would be a manly animal to take for a walk around the block,” I mused.

“We could get a special bunny pram, with a hutch on it. You could take it for a walk that way,” she said. Which led to a Facebook status. Which led to a few interesting misconceptions and a lot of confusion. Which led to this blog.

And now I should go and do some work.

Gimme MO.

The form letter is the godsend of the time-poor human! Here goes:


It’s Movember and time to focus on men’s health. To show my commitment, I’m donating my face to the cause by growing a moustache for the entire month of November, and need your support. My Mo will spark conversations, and no doubt generate some laughs; all in the name of raising vital awareness and funds for prostate cancer and male mental health.

Why am I so passionate about men’s health?
*1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime
*This year 20,000 new cases of the disease will be diagnosed
*1 in 8 men will experience depression in their lifetime

I’m asking you to support my Movember efforts by making a donation by either:
*Donating online at: http://mobro.co/damianperry
*Writing a cheque payable to ‘Movember,’ referencing my Registration ID: 356964 and mailing it to: Movember, PO Box 60, East Melbourne, VIC, 8002

Funds raised will help make a tangible difference to the lives of others. Through the Movember Foundation and its men’s health partners, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue: the national depression and anxiety initiative, they are funding world class research, educational and support programs which would otherwise not be possible.

If you’d like to find out more about the type of work you’d be helping to fund by supporting Movember, take a look at the Programs We Fund section on the Movember website: http://au.movember.com/about/funding-overview/

Thank you in advance for supporting my efforts to change the face of men’s health. All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Thanks, Damian Perry

Please donate at: http://mobro.co/damianperry

Teachers get paid too much!

“You teachers get paid too much already. Why are you striking for more?”

Someone actually said this. And this is probably the main reason why we go on strike. It happens every time we go into pay negotiations. The government go in with an offer at the bottom end. The unions ask for something completely over the top. Nobody budges. We go on strike. The general public tell us we’re already earning more than we should, as glorified babysitters, and the proverbial hits the fan.

Nobody likes being told that the career that they have decided to make their own is worthless. Everybody knows that the job that they do is vital to the running of the community. I imagine that I would be quite dismissive if the Paparazzi Union was calling for more money, but apart from that, most sectors of the workforce do a fantastic job for what is probably not enough money.

Apart from CEOs of massive corporations. And the politicians who are telling us we’re worthless.

But I’m a teacher. And so I’m going to focus on my problems and my gripes now. Listen if you will. Share this if you agree. Leave nasty comments if you don’t. I have some big burly year nine students I can send around to your house to argue the point.

“Teachers get into work at 9 and leave at 3.15!”

Uh huh. Ri-ight. I left home this morning before seven, as I always do (except for the mornings I do the student radio show and leave home at 5.45). In at work by 8. I plan on leaving at 5 tonight, and calling it an early one. I’ll be in on Saturday from 9am until after 5.

“Ah, but this is a special event – you’re doing a school production (Super! It’ll be great. Tell your friends)!”

Yes, but as a teacher, the special events keep coming. I’m involved in:

–           debating (at least 5 nights out over weeks, plus planning)

–          The Writing club

–          Public speaking

–          The production

–          Parent teacher evenings

–          Taking results for Sports meets at night

–          Information nights (many MANY information nights)

–          School camps

SCHOOL CAMPS!

Which other profession has you working 24 hours a day for a week in a supervisory role? At a co-ed school, we’d sleep in shifts, to make sure someone was up all night for checking rooms and the like!

“You get twelve weeks of school holidays!”

Who gets twelve weeks of holidays? I know I don’t! I get twelve non-teaching weeks, which is not the same thing. I spend at least one week of each holiday marking work and planning tasks for the next term, making sure that my students have the best education they can get. And then, when we do get to go on holidays, flights and accommodation cost double because – what do you know – it’s school holiday time!

But back to the original question:

“You teachers get paid too much already. Why are you striking for more?”

We’re not. At this point in time, we’re striking for some basic respect.

“The Premier’s promise could not have been clearer – he would make teachers “not the worst paid, the best paid”.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/today-our-teachers-deserve-our-support-20120905-25ddm.html#ixzz25YTdbatA

We are being offered a 2.5% increase in pay, if and only if, we also accept the following concessions:

  1. An extra hour a week teaching.
  2. All professional development to be undertaken during holidays.
  3. An extra week in school for school support officers.
  4. There is no longer an automatic increase in pay.
  5. Teachers will be paid bonuses instead of wage increases.

Now that last one sounds ok, if you’re a good teacher. You do a good job, you get a bonus. What could be simpler. However:

–          The principal has to pick the top ten per cent of teachers for a 10% bonus.

–          The next 40% get a 6% bonus

–          The bottom 20% don’t get a bonus.

–          At least 5% of teachers are not allowed to go up in pay each year at each school.

This is incredibly divisive. It is a hard choice for the principal, especially at a small school. And if every teacher at a school is doing a great job, what happens then?

I know I can live on what I earn now. It is the rare teacher who does the job for the money. But I hate the thought that we are dismissed simply because we are willing to do the job at a wage that proves to the general public that we are not professionals.

Finally, a couple of people who have said it better:

A petition to make Ted keep his promise to teachers

Teachers should be paid as babysitters

 

Go for Gold

wooo ahhhhh!And the Olympics are over for another four years. Eric Idle sang “Life’s a piece of shit” in front of the world and Wonderwall was sung by the most bored-looking bunch of musicians I’ve ever seen, and Posh Spice rode, terrified, around the arena on the top of a cab, and then we’re done.

And in another way the games have just started up again. In the paper this morning, the Melbourne headlines roared “Massive push for 2024 games!” With the immediate response being: “Sorry, no way. We’re not interested.” by the Australian Olympic Committee.

Oh, I don’t care! In 12 years, my stepdaughter will be at uni and my actual son/daughter could be starting high school and nothing is less important to me than whether we host another money-sucking, elitist sporting competition.

I’m being subjective, instead of objective. I should just report, and let you make up your own minds.

On a completely different topic, I took my students to a debate last week (they won – in the finals, woo!). The topic was that London 2012 should be the last Olympic Games.

Sorry, this is less than subtle.

The main points, completely uncontested by my boys, were these:

1. More money was spent on the Olympics than the Mars landing. In a quick glance at Google (my version of research), I see costings of 10 billion pounds, 15 billion pounds, or more, depending on whether you’re talking to a politician or a media personality. Just think what you could do with 15 billions pounds in a world where whole countries are starving!

the real Olympics2. The vision of the Olympics has been corrupted by sponsorship and greed. Olympic athletes are now more interested in personal glory than the glory of their country. This is evidenced (the debaters said) by the number of competitors who live and train and compete for one of the larger countries, even though they were born in another, less prosperous country. They go where their win is. Right down to the American Dressage competitor riding the winner of the 2008 games – a German horse.

And sponsorship! The two main sponsors of the Olympic Games: McDonalds and Coca Cola. How did this happen? In the room next door, my Year 8 debaters were debating whether the government should add tax to high fat foods. Does nobody see the conflict of interest here?

3. The Olympic Games have lost all sense of tradition. When was the last time you saw a naked Greek man running in the marathon at the Olympics? See what I mean? No tradition. Wait. Did I say “I”? I meant, see what the students meant? I was just illustrating the point. Even here, my debaters didn’t contest the argument.

At no stage were they debating that the Olympics as they are should be continued. Their argument was that they should not be discontinued. They put forward the idea that the Olympics should return to the simple concepts and traditions that made them such a good idea in the first place. Instead of dividing nations and causing competition, separating rich countries from poor, the Olympics should purely be about the sport. Have the flame of competition without the golden arches plastered to the side of the torch. Compete for the glory of the win rather than the future sponsorship deals a win will garner.

First stop in that path? Kill sponsorship. Cap spending at what is necessary to provide accommodation for the athletes – no new stadiums, no massive opening ceremonies, no Gallaghers at all. I think the world will thank me. Our opposition screamed “But then nobody will watch the games! Nobody will televise it! What’s the point?” The point is, I think, that we will have single-handedly removed the tempation to do drugs, cheat, spend thousands on super hero costumes masquerading as uniforms and restored the concept of competition to the forefront of the Olympic ideal. Who cares if nobody is watching? You know what? Who watches the Paralympics? These are people with FAR more Olympic spirit, competing for the glory of achieving something great, and nobody will show them on television.

My team argued that the games should definitely continue, but that the Olympic spirit would die if we continued with the bloated, parasitic monster of a model that is the current Olympics.

Sidenote: I thought that here would be a great place to put a picture of the “Olympic Monster” so I did a quick Google search. Instead, I came up with this article, about a sea monster, terrorising Olympic athletes…

olympic spiritAgain, bloated, parasitic monster that is the Olympics as it has become. In my head, the Olympics is the lean, muscled, Greek Adonis, wearing the laurel wreath and carrying a bright torch of competition and comeraderie. And if we take away the sponsorship and the shiny stadiums, and the Olympics disappear, we at least know that they haven’t died. That happened decades ago. Rather, they were on life-support, trapped inside their head, looking at that fine body wasting away to fat and rot, unable to die because nobody would let them.

If we won’t let the true spirit of the Olympics live again, at least let it die with dignity.

a political statement

A quick sidenote

New blog tomorrow. I’m sure it will be quite riveting. But first:

My Golden Pen club (the school’s creative writing group) are participating in Write a Book in a Day on the 22nd June. They will do it no matter what, but can’t be recognised for their efforts unless they raise $250 per team for their hospital. Anybody with kids or nothing better to spend their money on, please feel free to help out 🙂

  1. Click here
  2. Click on Sponsor a team on the left hand side.
  3. Choose Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation (VIC/TAS)
  4. Choose Golden Pen 1 or 2
  5. Pay by credit card.
  6. Let me know.

$500 here we come!

PS. I wrote the Every Sparrow story because of this club. That’s got to be worth something!

PPS. There were some problems with accessing the credit card payments. This has been fixed. So if you’re still looking to help, please feel free!

Parenting plates.

PsSo far, I’ve written an entry for every week that I’ve been doing this blog. I may not always write every week, but I’m keeping up with the quota. I’m glad I’m not one of my students. I’d be going home with a “work not done” sticker. Which I would promptly ignore.

This is a rant. A relatively light-hearted rant, but a rant nonetheless. A goodly amount of people will completely disagree with some of what I say, and as always, I have done no actual research before writing this post, so they may well be right. But it’s what I believe. Erm, what I believe today.

I’ll start by tellling parents they need to be more involved with their kids and end up saying that you shouldn’t be allowed to have kids without a license. Stick with it, it’ll be a laugh riot!

Here goes.

Parental involvement

All the literature says that the biggest contributor to a child’s success in education is not the school they go to, or the expensive iPad they use, nor the wonderful teachers (shooting myself in the foot here) or the canteen food. Student success is directly linked to parents’ involvement in their education.

Stuff the research. I spend all day with students and could point at each student and say “he rarely sees his parents after school” or “his parents read the English novel as well so that they can talk about it.” On parent/teacher interview nights, I complain that the only parents I see are those of the kids who are doing well. But that’s an indication. If the parents cared enough about their kids to show up to parent/teacher interview nights, I might be saying better things about them.

Of course, there are always the harried parents, shuffling from teacher to teacher, knowing exactly what they’re going to hear and dreading it. They love their child, and hate hearing teachers bad-mouth them over and over. Or offering helpful, sympathetic advice. Or saying “he seems like a nice kid, BUT”. I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions. It may be that this child with caring, loving parents, will bloom after school: in their career, or as an adult. Or they might just be broken, and all of the love poured into them dribbles out through a hole in their damaged little soul.

Parents that are involved with their kids breed kids that are going to be interesting and involved adults. Not necessarily nice adults. But at least they’ll be involved in society. What’s more, nice, involved teenagers come from children who were cared for and had parental involvement from birth. Leading me to my next commandment:

Read to your kids.

This one I’ve seen from both sides of the equation – teacher and student. From when I first met Shereen, she would read to her daughter every night before bed. Picture story books, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, The Magic Faraway Tree and any number of others. We also had books on tape, that Ophelia could listen to as she was winding down in the evenings. Now she’s in Grade Two. I bought her How to Train Your Dragon for Christmas when she’d just turned six. At seven, she’s just finished Pratchett’s Bromeliad trilogy, The Amazing Maurice and is almost done with Wee Free Men. She’s read all of Roald Dahl’s books.

Esio Trot

She read Esio Trot in just over an hour. I smiled to myself and thought: “Ah yes, read.” And started to ask her questions about the plot. She could answer comprehension questions on every chapter. I was amazed.

Now I’m not saying that she is this good because Shereen read to her. I am saying that she wants to read all of these books because Shereen read to her. I am saying that reading to her gave her the curiosity and the drive to want to learn to read so that she could explore these worlds for herself.

And I see the students in my English classes. I can again tell the students who have been read to, and those that can recite whole episodes of the TV show Ben 10 but can’t tell you who Peter Pan is (“that’s a Disney movie isn’t it?”). The Three Little Pigs are slowly disappearing from our culture and Red Riding Hood has been relegated to a truly awful movie directed by the woman who destroyed the first Twilight movie. And seriously, making that book worse was an achievement!

All of my nieces and nephews have a love of the story. And they’ll all do well at school, one way or the other.

Read to your kids.

And stop feeding them garbage.

ADHD is a Myth

Man, that was a terrible sequeway. But I’m ranting. Expect shifts in topic.

I’d change the heading for this bit, but I want to be a bit controversial. Obviously, ADHD is a documented medical condition. I’m not a doctor. And as per normal, I’m not doing any hard research on this to try and disprove it.

ADHD is real. Most kids don’t have it.

Ow. Ow. Stop throwing things at me. Really. Doctors over-prescribe ADHD because parents don’t listen to the original diagnoses: your kids are eating too much rubbish. Your kids aren’t getting enough sleep. Your kids are watching too much TV and playing too many computer games and aren’t getting enough exercise.

You don’t care? OK. Here are some pills.

Food

mmm, brekky.

Diet is incredibly important to the growing child. Different foods and drinks have astounding effects on children. And probably adults as well, but we are better at masking it. I despair when I have to deal with a child who is diagnosed as ADHD and they come to school with a can of Red Bull in one hand and a donut in the other. Might this combination not have some effect on his behaviour?

No doctor should be allowed to prescribe Ritalin or any other ADHD drug before the parent can prove that they have put their child on a month-long balanced diet, free of processed foods and stimulants. Hell, make them put up with what I’ve had to: no dairy, gluten, sugar, red meat. Fresh vegetables, lots of fish, plenty of water and see me in a month. If they’re buying crap at school, don’t give them money to spend at school. Be a dictator. We’re not allowed to run the country properly, at least run the child properly. They’ll thank you for it in the long run.

Actually, no. They probably won’t thank you at all, but they’ll be healthier and lose less teeth from Ritalin poisoning.

Sleep

Teenagers need more sleep than adults do. Their bodies are war zones of hormones and emotions and even if they’re only saying “mawaiunno” to you when you ask them a question, their brains are whirring with a thousand seemingly vital problems.

If I make a random statement about Game of Thrones, which starts at 9.30 and a Year 7 pipes up with “Yeah, that bit was great! She had nice boobs, didn’t she?” then that Year 7 student is either stealing TV from the Internet or not getting enough sleep.

And they have nice taste in boobs.

However, that aside, it isn’t a bad thing to say “no computers in the bedroom”, “no TV in the bedroom” and most importantly “no phones in the bedroom”. My iPhone is almost more powerful than my computer. It is by far more useful for instant communication and retrieval of information. And it connects me to my friends and work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

I do have my phone in my bedroom. I don’t sleep as well as I should. But when I do want to sleep, on goes Airplane mode and away goes the power of communication. There is no way that a student is going to do this. So, to be prepared for the following day (or whatever they will believe), phones are all on charge in the kitchen before bed.

And lock ‘em in. Stuff the fire safety codes.

I didn’t say those last two sentences. That would be incredibly rash.

Stimulation

She doesn’t deserve to die!

This one should be a no-brainer. Grand Theft Auto IV is rated MA15+ for people aged 15 and above. If a Year 7 student is telling me how he cut the throat of a hooker to get his cash back after the trick, someone has dropped the ball on following the ratings system.

But that’s not the point. The point is that playing computer games hyper-stimulates your brain. It tricks the body into thinking that it is participating in a fight-or-flight scenario and fills you with lots of lovely chemicals designed to help you avoid the tiger or pillage the neighbouring village.

Without the accompanying exercise – frantically climbing a tree or setting fire to a grass hut – all these chemicals do is give you a pleasant buzz and a desire to KILL SOMETHING NOW AARGH ARGH.

Television and computer games are specifically designed to provoke emotional responses. That’s what makes them popular. Letting them loose on your children without checking them out for yourself is … how much trouble do I get in for calling that irresponsible? It’s a rant, I’ll risk it.

It’s irresponsible. And then you send them to us, the teachers, and wonder why they aren’t doing any work at school, hopped up on Red Bull, jonesing on 4 hours of post-gaming sleep and spoiling for a fight.

For the most part, we love your kids. Why else would we do this job? We want to see them achieve their best and become useful, productive and interesting members of society. And for the most part, we do our best. And in most (?) cases, we succeed.

I just don’t want that success to be in spite of what the parents are doing. I would love it to be because of what the parents are doing.

And I’m probably not talking to you. The parent who is doing everything, or most things right. And I get that raising a kid is hard. As I say, I’m on both sides now. And have been before. And sometimes, no matter what you do he still goes out and sets fire to the tennis court, or smashes down a toilet door.

And I get that sometimes it’s just too hard to cut up the vegies, when Maccas is around the corner. I’ve been there too, and have the extra 20 kilos to prove it.

And really, probably, the people I want to read this don’t read. Or won’t read. Or can’t read.

Oh damn. I really nearly finished this off then. I have one more thing to say. Something Pippa and I have been advocating for years. Something most teachers would probably get on board with:

When you hit puberty, you have to give up your reproductive organs. I’m sure there’s a safe way to do it. Keep ‘em in a jar beside your bed to remind you of what you’re aiming for.

When you decide that you want to become a parent, then you undertake the parenting test. There is a theory component and a practical. It would be competency based. You prove that you are fit to usher a new life into the world and shape it into a productive member of society.

Then we give you your P plates – your Parenting license. And you can breed like rabbits and the world will be a better place.

My only sneaking suspicion is that parenting licenses might bring on the rather speedy extinction of the human race.

OK. Done. I think I managed to insult or offend almost everybody on the face of the planet. Sorry.

PS. I was looking for a P plate for the start of this post and found the following picture, which now has a completely different connotation:

Look, she has her Ps!

Look, she has her Ps!

Gamification

Let the Wookie WinI am, I must admit, an incredibly competitive person. None of this “let the wookie win” nonsense for me! Chewie would be beating me around the head with my own arm and I’d still be laughing at my victory. My seven-year-old step-daughter knows (or will learn) that if she beats me, it is purely through skill. For safety’s sake, I’ll start her off on Scrabble, and then maybe arm wrestling.

So I was intrigued when, while reading Popular Science, I came across an article called Can Treating Your Life As a Game Make You a Better Person? The author, Matthew Shaerat, talks about Gamification: the use of video game mechanics such as levelling up and gaining achievements in non-gaming situations. He decided to try and “score” his life for a week using a number of different apps and websites to see whether he became a better person.

It’s an intriguing notion. Until I look at my life and think “Hmm. I already use EpicWin to score my tasks. I use FourSquare to diligently list my location, going out of my way to check in to a place that will give me a badge. Not to mention my actual game playing. Achievements on World of Warcraft kept me playing long past the game’s expiration date.

Side note: I only got onto FourSquare  after reading Least I Could Do. I’ll link to the comic, rather than insert it, because it involves inserting and I really don’t need that on my page. But the comic is hilarious and I realised there was a form of social media out there that I wasn’t a part of.

But I’m talking about Gamification. And then I’m going to talk about games. And then you can have your lives back for another week. I take you back a number of years, to when I was living in Dromana. Shay, Dave and I decided to Gamify our dealings with shop staff. It was social justice rather than social media. We wanted people to be happy and thought we could make a competition out of it.

The plan: to get shop staff to smile. The reward: points. Lots of lovely points. And the point of the points? Well, none, really. But we got to say we were winning. And it showed we were still involved in the game. True to my dedication to not researching anything, I’m going to make up the points system again.

The checkout – argh! I want to write “chick” but I know I’ll get into trouble…

Points are awarded if:

The checkout chick (stuff it, I don’t care)                                  smiles:                                    10 points.
Laughs:                                   50 points.
Genuinely laughs:                                  100 points.

We kept score religiously for a few months. We made a lot of people happy, actively trying to make conversation instead of it just happening. It made me more aware of these people and I still try harder to make conversation while I’m waiting for my purchases to be tallied up. A funny little lady at Woolworths yesterday told me she would buy each member of her family a house if she won the Tatts draw, and a car for each grandchild, the youngest being a baby. It was an entertaining conversation.

Your challenge, then, is to tally up your points for a week and get back to me in the comments section. Let’s see who wins this one! Game on! I can even award badges! For example, the LOL badge, for when you get someone to laugh out loud for the first time:

The LOL badge

LOL

Or the harder to achieve ROFL badge. Make sure they’re not holding your eggs at the time:

The ROFL badge

ROFL!

Give it a shot. See how you go, let us know. It’s a way of life as well as a game.

And speaking of games…

A long car ride can be a wonderful or a torturous thing. Add a small child into the mix and the needle tends to swing towards torturous. UNLESS you get into the car forewarned and forearmed. You’ve been warned. Here’s the armament.

First up, car cricket. Many have heard of car cricket. One colour car is 1 run, Another is 4, A truck, perhaps is a 6, and something else is out. We don’t like cricket, but we’re quite happy to count cars. Here’s our variation:

For the whole trip (this works better for shorter trips in the city):

Purple Car

Five points!

Blue car = 1 point.
Purple, orange and pink cars = 5 points.
Yellow cars = two points.
Pointing out a yellow car that is actually a taxi = -2 points.

I don’t tend to bother with the blue cars, as the driver, unless I’m close to winning or passing another player. Go for the big score, look down side streets, remember that there is traffic in front of you (as the driver). Don’t forget your score (or DO, if you’re behind).

Secondly, the alphabet game. Start at A and go through the alphabet, finding the letters on signs and number plates. You cannot use a sign or number plate that someone else has already used. J and Q are stopping points, where your competitors can catch up. So if you can use the N in a Just Jeans sign, you can have your opponent gnashing their teeth while you power ever onwards.

The third game I want to detail is Roger, Rupert and Roderick. But the explanation involved in that one is a post in itself. So, I shall leave you here, the hero leaping over the chasm on his mighty white steed. Will he make it? Find out next week.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: