Do we really care about our kids?

Photograph of Verity Firth

Despite all the rhetoric about “protecting our children” and “children are the future”, our governments seem determined to prevent them preparing for the real future. Take NSW schools minister Verity Firth…

This morning the Sydney Morning Herald tells us the NSW government will receive $285M for new laptops — which will then be blocked from accessing social media and most everything else.

The Minister for Education, Verity Firth [pictured], said the Government would prevent access to the social networking sites, and other sites, even when the laptops were used at home.

“We don’t want these kids to be using these computers for the not-so-wholesome things that can be on the net. And they won’t be able to because essentially the whole server is coming through the Department of Education.”

So kids will be prevented from using their computers to connect with and understand their peers and the real world because of this continuing paranoia about unspecified “not-so-wholesome things” and parents being too lazy to supervise their own children.

Maybe Ms Firth needs to read Mark Pesce’s Those Wacky Kids, or watch the video. As Pesce quite rightly points out, if the classroom is the only part of these kids’ lives which isn’t hyperconnected, then the classroom will be seen as irrelevant.

Rupert Murdoch is right to say we have a 19th Century education system. Our Minister seems intent on keeping it that way.

Continue reading “Do we really care about our kids?”

Links for 17 November 2008 through 18 November 2008

Stilgherrian’s links for 17 November 2008 through 18 November 2008, thinned with cheap turpentine:

  • NSW Government in Exile: “NSW is mired in incompetence and corruption. No-one in or near power appears able to come up with a coherent policy or plan. So let’s start.” Aparently I’m minister for infrasructure.
  • HOW TO: Build Community on Twitter | Mashable: “The strength of your community determines overall what you will (or won’t) get out of the microblogging platform. What do you want to use Twitter for?” Sarah Evans offers some good tips.
  • HOW NOT TO: Build Your Twitter Community | Mashable: The flipside to Sarah Evans’ previous post.
  • What the family values folks don't get about family | denialism blog: “The anti-gay marriage folks think that family is all about fear, sex, and violence… These folks who fought for Prop 8 don’t understand the real meaning of family, of love, of comfort. For most of us, it’s not about fulfilling one fringe group’s idea of what God wants. It’s about creating a life with another, sharing a physical and emotional space with someone, rejoicing together when things are good, and holding each other when things are tough. It’s human.”
  • Twitter is Real Life | Aide-mémoire: The ever-thoughtful Kate Carruthers has written an excellent piece countering the “Twitter is dead” meme which seems to surface from time to time. Yes, she says nice things about me (again), but there are good bits too.
  • 30 Hilarious TV Meltdowns, Outbursts & Blunders | ClearlyAV: A collection of 30 videos which are (mostly) people losing their temper on TV.
  • Green ICT Symposium 2008: The presentations for this conference, held in Canberra last Friday 14 November 2008, are now online.
  • SSL Certificate Tester | digicert: While I don’t use digicert to buy my SSL certificates, this handy test page is good for showing the status of SSL certificates installed on your web server.
  • Making money twice | 37signals: A good portion of this industry is still trying to figure out how to make money for the first time (hint: charge people). But for those who’ve mastered that, I want to talk about the next step: making money twice (or three or four times).
  • NYT: Obama saying goodbye to BlackBerry? | The limitations on the President, both legal and security-based, mean that Barack Obama may have to give up using email. Unable to get unfiltered access to The Real World, he’ll become increasingly dependent on a worldview filtered through his “advisors”.

Why The Greens won’t win Marrickville

By all rights, The Greens’ candidate for Marrickville in the forthcoming NSW state election should be a shoe-in. This is The Greens heartland, and Fiona Byrne is a local councillor and presumably knows her patch. Labor incumbent Carmel Tebbutt, the Princess of Marrickville (so-called because her husband Anthony Albanese, the Prince of Marrickville, is the Federal ALP member for the equivalent district, Grayndler) has to dissuade us from thoughts that the NSW ALP government is rotten to the core. And environmental issues are at the top of the agenda.

But it won’t happen. And here’s why…

Earlier tonight, my post-gym dinner-and-drinks led me to the Carlisle Castle Hotel. It was a quiet night, and my gym partner and I were almost alone in the front bar until Fiona Byrne and her entourage turned up after a candidates’ forum at the Newtown Community Centre.

Continue reading “Why The Greens won’t win Marrickville”