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John Passant

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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)



Spanking: not fit even for low-life politicians

Kevin Donnelly, the reactionary ‘educationalist’ heading up Tony Abbott’s school curriculum ‘review’, has come out in favour of corporal punishment in schools. Beating kids up does not ‘discipline ‘them. It brutalises them and teaches them violence is OK.

The fact that Donnelly holds such 1950s views, and I use the description deliberately since my Catholic schools beat me and many of my friends regularly back then, shows this is a government that wants to take us back to the ‘good old days’, and not just in terms of discipline, or even curricula, but more generally the stifling conservative social mores that the ruling class stuffed down our throats to help make us disciplined robots for profit.

It also wants us to take us back to a more repressive era of state control, even suppression, of dissent and a complete disempowering of unions (although unions are doing a good job of disembowelling themselves.)

The world has changed just a little since 1953. The capitalist drive for profit and its reinvestment hasn’t.

The pressures workers felt then workers feel today, and the responses are much the same. They want better health and education systems, an adequate standard of living and fair treatment for those less well off.

The difference is that in the 1950s and 1960s workers were prepared to fight for these things by striking and capitalism had an economic base sufficient to pay for better wages and improving social services and welfare. That was in the days when profit rates were high and the bosses could afford to let us have a few scraps from their banquet to keep us happy.

Now with global profit rates in decline as a consequence of the systemic drive under capitalism to be more ‘efficient’ by reinvesting more in machines than labour, the surplus out of which to pay higher wages and fund government spending is shrinking, or in some countries, disappearing.

There are a range of ways that capital tries to redress this systemic problem of falling profit rates. Cutting government spending on programs that help the working class is one. Cutting real, and in some cases nominal wages, is another. Lengthening the working day and the amount of unpaid work we do for the bosses is yet another.

Attached to these economic attacks has been a cultural shift in the ruling class and its ideology to more and more set up systems to teach and breed obedience. The school system is about training young workers to become obedient automatons for the profit system and inculcating good ruling class values of nation and family and subservience to our masters and betters. That is why the curriculum review will recommend a return to rote learning, history as dates, English as a language stuck in the 19th Century with strict rules to follow, geography as places, Latin as a language base … The emphasis is on the what, not the why.

That is before compulsory Christian prostletysing and obedience worhhip becomes the norm in all public schools.

Hand in hand with this mind numbing educational socialisation goes the body numbing thump thump thump of discipline. They want to brutalise kids’ bodies to brutalise kids’ minds. We need to resist both.



Pingback from Spanking: not fit even for low-life politicians | OzHouse
Time July 16, 2014 at 11:11 pm

[…] Jul 16 2014 by admin […]

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time July 17, 2014 at 8:36 pm

They might as well appoint Rolf Harris to head this review.

Comment from John
Time July 17, 2014 at 9:00 pm


Comment from Lorikeet
Time July 18, 2014 at 4:18 pm

I would be in favour of a return to corporal punishment as I believe it has a deterrent effect. Over the years, schools have shifted from the brutality in Catholic schools portrayed here by John, to a system which encourages children to abuse parents, teachers and other authority figures.

If you speak with any public school teacher, he/she will tell you that the most difficult issue they now face in Education is Behaviour Management.

I have 2 sons aged 40 and 39 who got a very good education here in Queensland with minimal corporal punishment in place.

I also have a 22 year old who has grown up in the days when the adults were labelled the bad guys.

Now most young adults are both comparatively illiterate and innumerate. This is because teachers have to waste so much time trying to settle down classes and deal with the ill-behaved. Many good teachers have also been lost from the system because they could not cope with undisciplined brats abusing them any more.

Poor schoolwork ethics leads to poor workplace ethics. Therefore it could be argued that lack of discipline plays straight into the hands of capitalists.

When Australian students are poorly educated and cannot get a university degree, they have an excellent excuse for bringing in foreign labour and paying lower wages. When many of the better paid jobs are taken by citizens of other nations, more Australian children finish up in poorly paid work.

This also has the net effect of driving down wages and standards of living.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time July 18, 2014 at 8:12 pm

In the past, Rote learning of times tables produced kids who could actually calculate without the use of electronic devices, and therefore remains the best method.

When kids are not good at Maths, it is much easier for capitalists to rip them off in both retail and banking scenarios.

When my youngest son was in high school, it became clear that the textbooks had been written in such a way as to ensure the vast bulk of the student cohort failed the exams. When I was asked to give a score for the performance of each of the high school’s departments, the Maths department received the lowest possible score of zero.

Getting back to jobs, I recently saw a commentator from a university on TV who said that there would be 94,000 more full-time jobs if people would only stop working longer hours for no extra pay. He also commented upon the incredible speed with which Australians were expected to work in order to minimise the number of employees.

Recently I saw Senator John Madigan from the Democratic Labour Party get up in the parliament and castigate the Coalition for bringing in 457 visa holders from other nations instead of ensuring there was plenty of work for Australian accountants.

Comment from Kay
Time July 19, 2014 at 10:37 am


It is interesting that some Qld indigenous schools are now achieving better results in Naplan exams than many other Qld public schools. Why? Because they are using a more rote-learning model – the sort of educational model that was used everywhere during the time of my education, and earlier. This is before the current approach, where teachers are called on to be facilitators and guides by the side. Whether associated with what was known as child-centred learning, or its more recent cousin, personalised learning, the assumption is that children must take control and direct their own learning. Open classrooms, children working in groups, teachers no longer standing at the front of the room and lots of noise and activity are all manifestations of this progressive and new-age model of classroom interaction.

Memorisation and rote learning are condemned as drill and kill, whole language, where beginning readers are told to look and guess and phonics and phonemic awareness go out the window, and mental arithmetic and reciting poetry are obsolete.

So I’m with you – the older style, more structured educational models where the teachers actually teach, and were supported by parents and the community, produced far superior outcomes than today’s model does. My father went to a bush school, left at 14 to work, but could write a beautifully-structured business letter, and was a real whiz with mental arithmetic. And that is the basic need to manage your own affairs. Today’s uni graduates cannot put a simple 2-line letter together, can’t spell, know little about grammar, can’t do any mental arithmetic, and often don’t even know the alphabet. I know – I used to employ graduate trainees!! My husband agrees – he used to teach at uni.

I gather this rote system of learning is becoming popular with top students wanting high uni-entrant scores. Their parents are employing tutors to teach them in the old rote-learning method.

I think it is good to encourage kids to think for themselves, and develop analytical skills. but first of all they need a basic education to enable them to get a job! Today’s educational models are clearly failing across the board.

Comment from Kay
Time July 20, 2014 at 8:28 am


Here’s a disturbing article about teaching in today’s schools:

Comment from Lorikeet
Time July 22, 2014 at 9:03 am

Yes, I think we agree on this, Kay.

Today there are some new elements of learning that are useful and some extension and learning assistance programs in place. However there is too much emphasis on keeping students with the age peers instead of the intellectual peers.

Since 2009, I have believed that poor curricula and behaviour management are designed to send our students backwards on the world stage, delivering more of the top jobs to foreigners. The encouragement of disrespect for adults will also lead to children euthanizing their parents, primarily to get their money. This will also be supported by low pay and living standards, and an increasing government emphasis on blaming an “ageing population” for everything.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time July 22, 2014 at 9:11 am

When raising children, I put one of those posters on the wall that is designed to teach the times tables. I taught them at home, and some old-fashioned teachers (but not many) used them at school.

While it is good for students to understand the how and why of everything, it is not much use unless they also have some basic skills.

In the older age groups, the page is so cluttered with mathematical scrawl (process work) that the meaning is lost in the shuffle. Brighter students have marks deducted for not overloading the page with unnecessary BS.

Most parents also don’t want to take responsibility for the supervision of homework, preferring to land all of the responsibility on the school. Many also fail to teach ordinary things such as manners, taking turns, a sense of community etc which makes the teachers’ jobs more difficult.

Today’s parents also have too much say in the running of schools, which would increase under the Newman plan for Independent fee paying schools. When we were growing up, I think the parents had too little say. It seems that achieving a balance is something of which the government seems incapable.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time July 22, 2014 at 9:17 am

At one time, I had some involvement with the Queensland Education Reform Group which had both public and private sector teachers. They said there was too much emphasis on Outcomes Based Learning instead of actually learning anything useful.

Many of their other ideas were similar to yours and mine.

Teachers hate the NAPLAN program because they must teach to the test, rather than teach for learning. This puts teachers under a lot of pressure while achieving comparatively little.

Some group work seems to be very useful, but I really don’t like the over-competitive parents who refuse to allow their bright students to assist others.

We live in a very selfish world where the common good seems to have a very tiny place, which is another social “skill” taught by government to minimise social cohesion (and strikes).

Comment from Lorikeet
Time July 22, 2014 at 9:47 am

Thanks for the link, Kay.

A woman once told me her son who was a primary school principal had his teeth smashed with a gun by a parent in his own office.

During interviews, principals now mostly keep all of the doors to adjoining offices open, in case they need immediate assistance with an assault.

High schools with large student cohorts need a dictator for a principal. Perhaps when Premier Campbell Newman loses his seat next year, he could be successfully redeployed to the largest high school in a lower socio-economic area, which will also be a good source of social education for HIM.

I agree with parents who say that teachers and administrators have to be able to discipline children on their own turf, but this is difficult when their hands are tied and there are few useful tools in place. It is also difficult to suspend students when both of the parents are working, or sole parents cannot be there for their children.

My cousin was once transferred to a lower socio-economic primary school. She dreaded what it would be like, but was pleasantly surprised to find the students fairly well behaved and eating a decent cut lunch. But that was in the 1980s.

Teachers have told me that the worst behaved students come from wealthy and upper middle class homes.

I have done a lot of voluntary work in schools and I think that teachers would also do better if they used their intelligence and thought of practical solutions to problems.

For example, if there is terrible trouble with a child from a disadvantaged background, the teacher could harness the skills of humanitarian students to assist him or her.

If you should happen to get a chance to see the movie “Blended”, there are excellent examples of adults helping children whose behaviour is out of control.