A student is late:
"I didn't know it was not the end of daylight saving."
Be careful up there:
Student 1: "I was in the Trendy Bar last Saturday. You know, the bar a few doors up from the Glenferrie? No? Anyway, I was up on the roof, in the open air part where the smokers go, sitting at one of the tables with my girlfriend and a mate when I felt a bit itchy in the arse. I wiggled, but that didn't make any difference, so I reached around for a scratch, and fvck me if there wasn't a piece of glass stuck in my date. Big fvcken bit, about three inches. It had gone right through the new Calvin Klein jeans my cheese had bought me for my birthday, right through my undies, and sliced me another crack. Fvcken blood everywhere. My mum reckons she can fix the jeans, but I chucked the boxers out. Big fvcken piece of glass. Right in me arse. Didn't even notice it had cut me. Fvck."
Student 2: "Yeah, really. Same thing happened to me about a month ago. Six stitches."
There followed an interesting conversation on arse related injuries. I suppose, when you think about it, with all the people going to all the bars in Straya, there must be a lot of people sitting on broken glass.
Or is that high flyer beware? From the Sunday Age gossip section:
It seemed a good idea at the time. It was a Melbourne Grammar fund raising dinner, the prize was a week in the Hamptons (the millionaire retreat in New York state) and bidding was brisk. So estate agent Robert Vickers-Willis bid up big for his table, starting at $10,000 and rising up to $20,000. But winners were not grinners when they found out the deal did not include airfares. Caveat emptor, indeed. (They're going anyway. It's only money.)
Imagine blowing twenty grand on a holiday. Where's their public spirit? Getting stung for extra serves them right, the bunch of flash spendoids. Clearly, the right thing to do would be to give the money to Tafe college teachers.
Only the most vile swine would go to Melbourne Grammar.
A scholastic conversation:
Student 1: "Did you see the YouTube where the hybrid beat the Ferrari in a race?"
Student 2: "Bullshit."
Student 1: "It did. Straight down some drag strip in Europe."
Class: [The usual erudite and informed discussion.]
Jon: "It probably took a short-cut."
Where have I been? Well, in a word - electricity. I spent last week working with one of the state's power companies, researching how better to mesh formalized training with on-the-job testing and design procedures.
My intention was to put together a frightfully informative post on difference relays, distance protection and the wonders of current summing, you know, the good stuff. But in the end I didn't think you'd be able to handle the excitement.
Instead I've got a question: is it possible to have a proper job and blog? I don't mean teaching, studying, "working" for the government or being a journalist. I mean, actually getting out there and getting things done. How many electricians blog, for instance? Or blacksmiths? Is blogging merely the preserve of opinionated fatheads with too much time on their hands? Like me.
As the bank robber says in Dirty Harry: "I gots to know."
Oh, and if you lost power last week it wasn't the wobbly weather, it was me playing Eenie-Meenie in the Thomastown terminal station. Sorry.
Bit of a shock this arvo. I sat down to do a post when it occurred to me I'd rather be developing class work. Things are right up the gonga when you prefer calculus, critical clearance angles and generator stability to blogging.
Nevermind, I'll get over it. In the meanwhile time how about a list of songs that I'm currently listening to that would be on mypod if I had one, which I don't and probably never will.
Rock Show - Wings
Magneto & Titanium Man - Wings
Ramble Tamble - Creedence
New Age - Velvet Underground
Can I have your autograph
fat blonde actress.
Essence - Gang of Four
The French Inhaler - Warren Zevon
White City Fighting - Pete Townshend
Street In The City - Pete Townshend
Life On Mars/Kooks - David Bowie
Georgia George - Mickey Jupp
Sentimental Fool - Roxy Music
Funky 4+1 - That's The Joint
However Much I Booze - The Who
Rock Medley - Roy Wood
Power In The Darkness - Tom Robinson Band
Swallowed By The Cracks - David & David
Violent Times - The Barracudas
Country Road - Toots & The Maytals
That crack yesterday about "music being shit" - A BIG STATEMENT, right, and a rare exaggeration that won't happen again until the next one.
Here at school, there's a co-league with a strange habit.
Me (Reading the paper): "Morning."
She: "Hi. Are you reading the paper?"
Me (Making tea): "Morning."
She: "Hi. Are you making tea?"
Me: (Going to class): "Morning."
She: "Hi. Are you going to class?"
Doubtless she's just being chatty, but it's unsettling, all the same. On balance, I'd prefer she said something, anything, else.
Anyone seen Notes on a Scandal? No, thought not. Here's Christopher Bantick in today's Herald Sun:
Still, besides the sex and power games, teachers are not portrayed favourably in the film.
Judi Dench is a friendless, repressed cynical lifer in a school system that has defeated her utterly.
Hippy-dippy, wispy Sheba fails to control herself or the children.
Meanwhile the staffroom is a menagerie of losers.
More than a few teachers will feel intensely uncomfortable in recognising themselves here.
Teaching, as portrayed by Notes on a Scandal, is mean spirited, exploitative and carnal. It is a repository for burnt out largely disillusioned and diminished people.
For many teachers the film may be hard to take, but then reality often is.
Is it? Sure, I'm a bit of a swine, but most of the rest of my colleagues are diminished, at worst. Some are almost OK.
The new air conditioning at school is broken, which is more than completely fucked on this humid day, and which also led to the standard whinging from the students. "Tony, can we open the window?" Yes, of course. "Tony, can we spray ourselves with water?" No, of course not. "Tony, it feels like Queensland." Who's drunk then? I've this theory it's Queenslanders who most help Straya achieve World's Best Practice in getting pissed. It's a thoroughly researched observation, too, none of this I-once-met-a-shitfaced-guy-from-Cairns rubbish. Even though I did.
Anyhoo, someone suggested we be issued with moistened towelettes - a disgusting phrase, if ever there was one - while someone else asked who invented them. Another inquiring mind wondered if they actually did any good on a cost/package/usage basis. Then finally someone said they are rubbish, a point with which I'm broadly in agreement.
Do we indeed need moistened towlettes? Or even towels, as another eager-to-please student suggested.
Big moment yesterday. I was up in front of the class, rabbiting on about the difference between an expression in the time domain and an expression in polar notation with respect to maximum and RMS values, when I coughed. Trouble is, the cough caused me to drop a massive fart. It was impossible to pass the wind off as a minor faux pas because the bastard fairly bounced off the walls; so I did what any sensible mentor would do in such a situation, I started laughing. What else are you supposed to do? Of course, the students started laughing, too, so I said "Kevin Bloody Wilson was right." Bad mistake. This just made them laugh some more, then I laughed some more, then they laughed some more, then we stopped. Then we started again. This went on for about ten minutes. Every time I tried to talk about maths, we all broke up.
Anyhoo, your own fart stories would help to raise the tone around here. Lately this blog has been a little low brow.
Interesting conversation in class this morning. Two students were telling me how one of the other teachers always tries to share jokes with them, but instead looks like a "total tool". They couldn't have been more contemptuous.
Naturally, I managed to look po-faced. Can't condone a lack of respect for faculty members. Not outwardly, anyway. When they'd finish shitcanning the teacher I gave off an extremely convincing "You shouldn't bag the other teachers ... when I'm in the room." They love that line.
The member of staff they were bagging is one of those people who loves to tell "jokes" but flatly refuses to get anyone else's as she waits her turn to tell another "good one". Should you happen to crack wise on the odd occasions you bother striking up a conversation she always looks as if she's going to punch you on the nose. And while she doesn't get it, she's too scary to rib.
Or not, as the case may be.
Nothing quite says "Have a great Australia Day" like a pair of moccasins left to loiter in our school carpark.
But really, when did Australia Day become a greeting day? Tones Delroy greets to callers to last night's Challenge: "Have a great Straya Day, Pat from Mt Lawley." Karen Tighe welcomes listeners to Grandstand: "Happy Straya Day." Once upon a time this business was restricted to Christmas and other birthdays, then it was Mother's Day, then Father's Day, now Australia Day. It can't be long before celebration day creep encourages people to "Have a great Tuesday."
Today used to be a nice, peaceful day of watching cricket from Adelaide - Go the Aussies! - with maybe a Roulettes flypast. Now, because we just have to overegg the golden goose, Straya Day has become a Have A Great Day Day with simulcasted fireworks. It gets right on my tits.
The public holiday is fuckin' grouse, but.
Right then ... sorry, left then, I'm off to the big union march at the MCG. If last year's shindig is anything to go by, it'll be laughs, love and labour movement. Jimmy Barnes is going to sing Working Class Man, too. He's a gem. If I bump into him I'll ask for that money he owes my family from his wife's failed "business" enterprise. Before he declared himself bankrupt and scarpered to France. Solidarity, frère.
Kevin Donnelly, Straya's favourite/unfavourite educationalist depending on which political party you barrack for, was in yesterday's Australian banging on again about our dumb youngsters. Now, it's true many of my students "are unable to read, write and think" - you should see some of the illiterate scribbling I have to negotiate - but with the assistance of a red pen you take that in your stride. Some are actually quite intelligent. No, what puzzles me is that even the clever ones know next to rock-all about STUFF. To them, I'm a proper genius because I know a mile is longer than a kilometre, or that Augustus was the first Roman emperor, or that the Miami Dolphins play in the NFL, or that Sweden is a type of vegetable. It's astounding what little they know in the way of facts, places, history, dates, THINGS. Yes, the argument's always been whether or not you need to know knowledge, but when one student said to me this morning "Tone, it would be good if England won a test" I knew how Sysyphus felt.
Took an excursion to the LaTrobe Valley on Monday. Why? Why, to look at power stations, of course. Why else would you go to the LaTrobe Valley?
"It was some time before dawn on June 15, 1997. That much they were sure of, though peering back through the haze of booze and dope, none of them could recall with any real precision what time it was."
Well, yes. Below is a picture taken from on top of the steam boiler at Loy Yang B. As it happens, and I think you might be quite interested here, the boiler is 20 stories high and hangs from a set of flexible rods. Big rods. It is suspended thus because of the massive contraction and expansion. Think about how a steel urinal goes BANG! when you take a piss on a cold day. Sometimes it fairly makes the toilet lollies jump. Were the boiler merely plonked on the ground, its weight combined with this vast change of shape would cause it to explode like one of those pieces of fruit that are always used for target practice by movie assassins.
The process that turns coal into electricity is alarmingly simple. So simple you could even try it at home sometime, although you might want to be careful when you're digging up the neighbour's pool. It's a bit like cooking: a pinch of this, a pound of that, a little heat, stir, blow, pour and there you have it - a cake. In the case of cooking electricity, it goes a little bit more like this. Coal is dug out of the ground via open cut dredging and scraping. They've been digging coal out of the LaTrobe Valley since 1924 and so far they've exhausted only three percent of the product. Do the maths: eighty-two years times thirty-three means that LaTrobe Valley power stations can be run on coal until roughly 4730, give or take a year. This will please the conservationists. It's black coal that's rich in ash and sulphur and causes acid rain. We, on the other hand, have nice brown coal which has little of either, and only the odd twenty-five percent of moisture which only pumps the odd thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It gets better. Round about 4730, maybe sooner, we will have a viable nuclear program. So, it's all good.
The coal is fed into a pulveriser which smashes it into a talc-like powder, only black. This powder is blown into a burner and ignited by gas jets, but once the burnering starts, the coal itself keeps the process hot. Very hot. 1200 degrees hot. This hot is used to turn oodles* of water into a steam pressure capable of eroding stainless steel pipes. We don't use the steam for that - not intentionally - we use it to turn a turbine that turns a generator that turns out the atomic motion that we in the business like to call electricity. If you don't believe me, stick your fork in your toaster and watch the free electrons zoom up your nervous system and into your heart. Go on. It's like Bart Simpson and the electrified cupcake - it's fun. You'll need to get your partner to hold in the safety-switch while you're doing it. Those in old houses should replace the fuse with a nail.
Can I just add that not much happened in the way of irksome students. The only real hinderance came when we were kicking off earlier than normal from school. We took it for granted that a student who is ALWAYS late for the normal 8:30 classes would never make a bus at 7:00. He didn't, so we took off without him. But not long after, there he was, chasing us up Bell Street in his car and waving frantically, so we pulled over and picked him up. You might say that even when he is early, he is late.
* Not enough people say oodles these days. If you have a blog, do the right thing, will you, and slot it into your next post. Context is important: "Fat Beazley oozed oodles of prolix" works, as does "Rat Howard oodles Janette's hand."
Been in a conference. We're ratifying the latest training packages, core units, descriptors, underpinning knowledge, competencies, etc. You know, crossing the eyes, dotting the tees, that kind of thing. Anyway, while tossing around the latest on Essential Knowledge and Skills something occured to me - I've been blogging for four years and three days.
Without fear or favour, rarely exceeding the requisite levels of sarcasm, we cater for the diverse educational needs of all strata of society; even the special needs of the criminally obtuse.
Boy: "What is equate?"
TT: "What is equate?"
TT: "You DO know what equals means?"
TT: "And how many words do you know start with equ?"
Boy: "Dunno. A few."
TT: "And what do they all have in common?"
TT: "Yeah ... and?"
TT: "That's right. Which means equate has something to do with ... "
Boy: " ... equals?"
Boy: "Pah! How am I supposed to know that?"
The students here really work you over. Tuesday at lunch, one of my co-leagues was reduced to this:
Him: "It's like banging your head against a wall. How many times do you have to repeat yourself before you get a response?"
Us: " ... "
Him: "I mean, how many times do you have to repeat yourself before you get a response?"
Me: "Dunno. Three?"
I went to a private school and now teach at a public technical school, so you'd think I'd be well placed to join the Private/Public debate. I mean, I'm not the only person to tread the path in that direction, but you never know, I might offer some new perspective. Yet I've been looking at this first paragraph for around an hour now, and I've got rock-all worthwhile to add. Not even sure I want to add anything.
What I will say is that I don't like Linda Withington. It's not just "I don't want my daughter to grow up to be pretentious but I want her to be nurtured educationally" bad as that is. It's the whole thing.
At a playgroup in Malvern, Linda Withington, is talking about private schools for her children - Stella, 4, and Leo, 2.
Educated at government schools in Broadmeadows, Withington is a believer in state education but, as university entry becomes tighter, she does not want to take the risk.
She has her children's names down at Caulfield Grammar, Xavier, St Kevins, Lauriston, Maundeville [Mandeville, aaactually], and Sacre Coeur
"I believe so strongly in government schools but I didn't want to interfere with my kids' options in life," says Withington, a former teacher in government system.
"I think it comes down to policies by he Kennett and Howard governments - they (government schools) have been so strongly undermined and underfunded, ostensibly to offer a choice of types of school, but actually we lose. I feel I have no other choice," she says.
"I come from a working-class background. I don't want my daughter to grow up to be pretentious but I want her to be nurtured educationally."
From yesterday's Age.
If a student threw up in your class, what would be your immediate course of inaction?
Bonus spew poll. Which is more disgusting?
Ls bells - what a difference a letter makes. Two students were talking in class today, rabbiting on about whatever it is Noughties students rabbit on about. Not that I mind, particularly. They babble away, paying rock-all attention to me - I teach away, paying rock-all attention to them. Quid pro quo, et al that. It's astounding the shit they talk, even more so when I remember they are much the same as I was back then. That, I tell you, is a depressing realisation. Anyhoo, as I was scribbling on the board I picked up the arse-end of their conversation. "You've never heard of AGB? You know, AGB - After Grog B ... " Lucky I was facing the board, because I must have looked a right prune trying to work out whether he'd said "blog" or "bog" and hoping he'd said the latter. It's not a scat thing, just that I'm not keen on the savages reading my blog. Not keen at all. It turned out to be "bog". After a night on the sauce, he felt the class ought to know relief was in order. Which, coincidentally, was a relief to me.
That's the Veetmanese lady in our lunch shop talking about her daughter; the girl has the hot bananas for me. I took it in my stride, though, going with a particularly suave "Thank you - two sausage rolls, please. With sauce." On reflection, I can stop wondering why they've been giving me those furtive looks and then giggling like schoolgirls. Well, in so much as one IS a schoolgirl.
Col League: "New students have no concept of magnetism. To teach them the basics we should line them up on the oval, a north pole in one goal, a south pole in the other then tell them the various ways to face to demonstrate molecular movements."
Toe Knee: "We ought to chuck a bucket of water over them. That'd teach them saturation."
I'm on fire lately.
Who's your favourite electromagnetic pioneer?
a) Hans Christian Oersted
b) Michael Faraday
c) Karl Gauss
d) James Maxwell
e) André-Marie Ampère
It's a curly one, a real poser, just who is the top dog? The Numero Uno. They're all such heavyweights in the field* I reckon you'd struggle to pick one from the rest.
Mind you, I'll understand if you don't vote for Ampère. Not that I'm trying to swing the vote, or anything, but it's such a Frenchy, girly gay name.
* Field - get it? That's one of the classics.
Learning types - Which are you?
Rock-solid global, I am. Until, that is, someone mentions personal meaning, or there's even the merest hint of group activity. Then I'm analytical - bring on the numbers, the facts, the logic. I'd like to say it's because I'm flexible, but the truth is I'm globalytical - it all depends what kind of mood I'm in.
Tomorrow I start Professional Development. PD is something we do every year, and unless you're a complete cretin you'll work out its aim is to improve our teaching skills. You know, so we're better able to, like, communicate facts and ... umm ... ideas and things. An stuff.
But here's the rub: I've done PD for each of the previous five years I bin teachin' and apart from the odd technical aspect, I've never had even the faintest clue what the PD teachers were on about. It's this stinky bog of weighty words, public service jargon and enormous acronyms. Oddly enough, though, it's been a doddle to pass - tick this, copy that and Balthazaar's your uncle. But things looks set to change. Judging by the first paragraph of this season's intro, Aught-Six is gonna be heavy going. No-one's getting out of this paragraph alive:
Waxing rhapsodic about the benefits of critically reflective teaching is of limited use unless we have a specific focus on how it actually happens. In the previous chapter I explained that critical reflection focuses on the hunting of assumptions of power and hegemony. The best way to unearth these assumptions is to look at what we do from as many unfamiliar angles as possible. In this chapter I want to explore how we can see our practice in new ways by standing outside ourselves and viewing what we do through four distinct lenses. Each of these lenses illuminates a different part of our teaching. Taken together they throw into sharp relief the contours of our assumptive clusters.
Stephen D. Brookfield, Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher
A recent school memo was news to me: "Our students are Generations X and Y and expect a lot more from our printed material." Really? Well, I'm Gen X and I made do with the printed material I made do with. Enormous text books, Vana exercise books and reems of "purples" eagerly sniffed for their luscious, calming meths. Did it do me any harm? It did not! My students get well looked after in the print department yet can't even spell X or Y. But me done it the hard way and look how I turned out!