Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Melbourne Weather - forever a surprise!


I always like to look at the weather forecast for Melbourne as invariably they get it wrong. The seven day forecast is especially ironic as it changes from day to day as does the weather. Yesterday for example we sweltered in 33 C plus weather and today we froze at 20 C with a chilly wind and when you factor that in coupled with the fact that it is rainy and overcast you have a chilly day. Tomorrow is supposed to be another one of those days but we shall see. This city is full of surprises and you have to be tough to live here. If you go out on a hot morning and it drops 10 degrees in as many minutes, well you just get goosebumps and soldier on regardless.
If you go out on a chilly morning in your best woollens and warmly clothed then the weather heats up from 10 C to 29 C by lunch time, well you just pretend you are in Iran and sweat it out. You either love it or hate it. I love it. I can't stand weather that is the same day in and day out for months on end. I would not do well living in the Sahara Desert. Too much of the same sunshine and the odd sand storm for months and months. Human  beings thrive on a bit of excitement.
Imagine Russia with snow and ice for years on end. I can't and it feels like Siberia at the moment here and thus I am headed off to bed as I have to rise at 5 to do some work on reports. Or I must get up even earlier.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Very busy couple of days and not much time to up date

I am smack bang in the middle of reports. It is so good to be back teaching, apart from the financial considerations which have lifted a load off my mind and decreased my stress levels to know that I can pay rent each month, I love the atmosphere at the school where I teach. The teachers do care about the kids and work hard to make lessons worthwhile and to increase their learning and aptitude. I am treated like a person and not some oddity that had a child at 49 and therefore someone to make jokes about, sneer at and generally make life uncomfortable. When I think back to how hard they must have tried to make life absolutely intolerable for me at Narrandera and Deniliquin as they really did not like me as a person and were looking for ways to make me feel as unwanted as possible, it makes me smile. Half the time, I was oblivious to their taunts because I was focused on more important things like raising my baby and doing my job. I had no time for their petty nastiness. It must have irked them no end to realise that most of the time I could not really care less about their parties and their little cliques. I remember the way they invited all the female staff to a dinner and did not even bother to tell me about it and then their shopping and film trips to Wagga Wagga where indicated all the cars were full but 'if you want to come along, there is nothing to stop you bringing your car, is there Ilana?' I would not have wasted petrol to be among such ridiculous petty people.
I cannot spend time on this as I have 3 reports of one class to do and 20 subject reports to start and finish by tonight. It will be done.
I am drinking Dandelion tea now and not so much regular tea and coffee. It is far better for you. I must also take up Yoga over the holidays again. One has to place oneself in a bubble and be protective of oneself and family and real friends and not place oneself in harm's way by too much contact with negative people.To be appreciated as a person and not denigrated had been quite refreshing.
When I think of how I got involved in partners and husbands who were totally negative about me as a person I realise it must have been a lesson in learning how to protect myself. Very interesting that I have talked to two other single mothers, one with two sons and one with three sons who have had similar experiences to mine. Being discarded by non Jewish husbands and left to raise our children literally single handed and succeeding at it without being ground down by the experience. One told me that it was actually quite liberating at the end of her relationship or marriage of twenty years. He found someone else while she was coming over from overseas. Maybe it was a mid life crisis, who knows, but I do know that I have actually never really missed my ex husband in the physical sense. I did for a while miss the partnership if you know what I mean, even though I realise that it was based on a falsehood that he created in order to get his visa and permanent residency in Australia. He being Nigerian was quite cunning and had no intention of ever raising my son or other children together with me. Hashem protected me from further hurt by him and it was interesting how it was done. I can look back on the last eight years or more and see the hand of G-D in all things and realise that I have two main missions in this life. That is to raise my son in a true Torah and G-D fearing manner and to teach and be true to myself. Many years ago before my ex husband, my son's father, I had another husband who was Jewish and who was totally the wrong person for me. How I ever got mixed up with such a person I still do not know. My self esteem must have been at an all time low. I remember actually feeling such despair that I was feeling like I wanted to actually hurt myself while involved with him and it was a reflection of how he felt about me. He despised me and he I feel actually despises women. He is a very dangerous person for any woman to be involved with as he hides his real nature behind a charismatic personality but in private is brutal and quite nasty.Again that was my mother figure and the patterns of interaction that I learnt with my mother whose birthday comes up in a few days. I am sending her something but not signing it or saying who it is from. She can think she has some secret admirer. If she is aware it is from me, she will not accept it or be disparaging about my gifts to her, so it is better not to let her know. Sad. I only connect to G-D and understand that this life is for a greater purpose than the pettiness and jealousy of some individuals and even if it happens to be a mother, one must move on ultimately and we are answerable to G-D eventually for all things in this life that we do and how we use our talents.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Caulfield Junior Fete was GREAT!


Melbourne turned out some perfect weather and I was happy to see a packed oval with some divine stores. The French people outdid themselves with their food and made me wish I was not so kosher for a moment or two. Their food looked absolutely scrumptious and I took a card to see if the Melbourne Kosher authority could certify a few spreads that have some very natural ingredients.

There were Soccerwise, Jumping Castles, a climbing wall, a merrygo round and lots of fun stuff like a petting zoo. It was fantastic and my son enjoyed his day as well as sang for his supper. I helped on the wildly popular felafal stall for a couple of hours and we all had fun.
Here are some pics.
Nir at the soccerwise venue where he spent most of the day. We were there from 10.30 am until about 4 pm.

Here is the HIP choir and he was wonderful singing along side his HIP mates. They sang three lovely Hebrew songs.
And again.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

No Time For Perversions of Nature!


I have just watched a video which was quite inane and frankly pointless in it's message. You get no speech, just images of a young man involved in various domestic chores,family activities and outings. Good you say. What's wrong with that? The introduction to the clip starts with 'It's time" logo 'a la Gough Whitlam era' and we all know what a disaster that was. This clip is about marriage  'equality' and it ends with a clip of a young man opening a ring box and putting it on the hand of another man.

Whoever made the clip is very clever in his use of images and scenery because it is all about normalising the abnormal. It's trying to say it is OK for us to give in to unnatural desires and to fulfil our wants and desires even if they happen to be wrong or harmful to society at large.
Once we start with 'normalising the perverse or unnatural' we then go one step further and say child molestation is OK. The argument can be used that children should not be denied sex. Believe it or not that argument was used by some pedophiles to justify their abuse of children. Then we can also say being bashed by a marriage partner is also OK. The Catholics (let's hope they have changed that viewpoint) say marriage vows are 'until death us do part'.Quite masochistic with overtones of sadism. There is no mention of respect for others in the family and the people themselves.
The Jewish view of the institution of marriage is highly sensitive and sane. It is about seeing marriage as a holy state and one that brings kedusha to a family and imbues the family with a sense of respect for others and especially kavod for the father and mother.
Why are a man and woman joined together in marriage? Not simply to have children and continue the generations, but to imbue that relationship between a man and a woman with respect for each other, to be role models to future generations after - their children and their grandchildren, to acknowledge the Creator who made both of them and they are each and every man and woman joined in marriage - the bedrock of society.
The same cannot be said of a 'gay couple'. However lovely they may be, good people etc, etc, they fall down in one area. They are giving in to desires that are not natural and frankly abnormal. If a person has those desires they do need help. It is not like the desire to have a child, to contribute to society or even to be rich or successful or to be famous. It is something that is insulting in a way to the mother and the father that borne them.
Last week's parsha we talk about the twins Esaiv and Ya'acov. Esaiv was a man of the earth, red, hairy and lusty. A hunter who knew no boundaries and did not follow the normal standards of decent behaviour. Yet he was a man of great talent. Extremely talented and powerful. He was Rivka's son, just as Ya'acov was Rivka's son and yet Ya'cov the younger was the one chosen to be blessed. Why, you may ask and how cruel. But Rivka knew that Ya'acov was the man more suited to be a father to the Jewish nation. Esaiv was not leadership material, real leadership material, because he was impulsive and vulgar and had no boundaries if he wanted something he worked at getting it and did not care about who he hurt along the way. He could be extremely powerful and charismatic. However he used that power and charisma not for the service of others and to help build a community. It was all for self and there you have it. Ya'acov was gentle and perceptive. He was also strong but he cared about others. That is probably how he could deal with several wives and their children, but even then with Yosef and his brothers, he made mistakes.

To allow marriage between people of the same sex we are spitting in the face of G-D who made two sexes for a holy purpose which is more than just sexual reproduction. It is about partnership and human relationships and truly serving G-D and working towards holy purposes and creating a better world. I am not saying we need to be against people who are gay. Nor am I advocating hatred. I am saying we are being sensitive to their needs but saying to them gently but firmly, thank you, you are human and nice people, intelligent people, people who make great contributions to society, however sorry you cannot be married the way a man and a woman are married. You can have an acknowledged partnership just the way defacto partnerships exist, but you cannot be recognised under the title of marriage and all that that implies.
Let's draw a parallel or two. For example, I am a Jewish convert and I decide I wanted to marry a Cohen. It cannot be done and nor can such a relationship be ever recognised under Jewish law. It is illegal, forbidden and illegitimate and and furthermore any children of such a union bear great stigma in Jewish society because they are Chalal or Chalala. The male progeny of such a union has all the restrictions of a Cohen and none of the benefits. The females have a lessor stigma but a stigma just the same because their parents followed desires and not what G-D wants of them. Converts have to be stricter with themselves than the average run of the mill Jew and so do Cohenim for some similar and some different reasons. I could stomp my foot and throw a tantrum until the last stone of the third beit Hamikdash has been set in place and ever after. Nothing will change that fact and I had better start to accept the fact and move on to more appropriate service of Hashem and find another marriage partner who is more appropriate.
Most gay people I have known over the years have been incredibly gifted people but by the same token incredibly twisted emotionally and psychologically. They needed help. Some of them may have genetic dispositions to homosexuality and that is incredibly sad. They are like Esaiv in many ways. You can accept the person for who or what he or she is as a person but you cannot accept their behaviour or see them as fit for a leadership role in society. We want our children to have a normal life. We want our children to marry and to carry on the generations in the normal way and to build life and make life and this earth a better place to be. Not to destroy the moral fabric of a good society.  A lot of things in this world are so mixed up because of the lack of communication and lack of understanding between people. We do not need gay marriage not because we dislike or hate homosexuals. We do not. We need to know and acknowledge them as human beings and people who can do good things, but they are not leadership material in a moral and just society. Why? Because someone who follows their desires in a very intimate sense like that, how can we be sure that such a person will not also follow his or her desires in more serious decisions that affect a greater number of people for the detriment. Sadly people who want to have 'equality in marriage' should reflect on just what they are asking for and that can never be as much as others want to sugar coat this issue and bring it down to emotional issues of 'love' etc etc, it is just nonsense and the gay community need to wake up and grow up. While I identify with their emotional pain, they have to be realists and not chase after castles in the air.
Esaiv felt great anguish at missing out on his father's blessing but then he chose to follow the life he led and no one led him by the nose. Instead later he wanted to kill his own brother. Now that is a dangerous person and one to be very wary of. Ya'cov by contrast was a dweller of tents and a person who was solid, sincere and honest to a fault. Some would say a little naive or more than, seeing the way he was tricked by Laban several times, but eventually he got his own back and went on to be one of the fathers of the Jewish nation.
I like Ya'cov most out of all the fathers. He was compassionate and warm, he had honesty and he was a little naive, but he was sincere. There was not a nasty bone in his body.
I prefer to end with this clip and as we go out into the next week we should reflect on what is our purpose here on this earth and how we can best serve others and G-D ultimately.
And just to show that I still do have a sense of humour I have several clips some serious and some not so.
These people wanted a Jewish wedding but were not Jewish. Two Jewish guys obliged them with a very unique and quite strange ceremony. They used a lot of Jewish elements and symbols but it was not a real Jewish wedding. I am not sure I agree with this. It is like some Jews wanting a catholic wedding. Not on.

By contrast, this is nice and dignfied

and some Israeli weddings

The more traditional Mitzva tanz
and the more orthodox version as the girl's face is covered completely and more modest.

and another one

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Toldot The Birth of the twins

Twins can be different. Radically so, and on a deeper level we can also have a twin. We must decide how we conquer and channel our animal self for a higher purpose. In Eisav, we have a person who gives way to his impulsive, animalistic hungry persona. He cares only for himself in many ways. Although he still has enough respect for his parents to attempt to deceive them as to his true nature, Rivka knows who he really is and knows that he is unsuitable to 'lead' the Jewish nation or to be its true spiritual father because of how he behaves and uses his G-D given talents.
He is a charismatic person with many talents, a hunter of prey and a trapper of men and he is far from innocent. He pretends to his father that he is though. Rikva knows that such a person is flawed and limited because by their very actions they cut themselves off from real holiness. That is what an aveira does. It cuts you off from the source of truth, dignity and justice. A liar can not bring Moishiah into  this world, only truth and on truth with compassion,  chesed and justice will the foundation stones of the third beit hamikdash be laid.
Connect to the truth and leave the lies to those who are enslaved  by their animal nature. We need to be to have complete trust in the Abishter's chesed and understand that all things are for us to be better people and closer to Hashem and the coming redemption. When it comes is up to all of us.
Shabbat Shalom

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I have to leave inclusiveness in education for a few days and do reports, but here is an interesting article


This is very well written and quite scary, but the facts have been there for some time. We all have not woken up yet. Pity. How much will it take and at what cost?

Monday, November 21, 2011

At this point in time, I have no time to update, but I will ...


Leave you with a story tonight about a young woman who was going to the mikveh for the first time as she was about to get married. She was told to tell the Mikveh lady that she was a Kalla which is Hebrew for bride. Somewhere along the way, she must have got confused. Anyway when she arrived at the Mikveh, she told the Israeli lady who was the Mikveh lady 'I am a Challa'. (Challa is the plaited loaf of bread that we have on the shabbat or yom tov table.) The lady looked at her a little strangely. 'Slicha Giveret??' So our young woman was very nervous repeated more loudly,'I am a challa. I need to go to the mikveh.' A person who was waiting her turn overheard her and started to laugh saying 'Challa usually needs an oven, not a mikveh.'
At this, the young woman became quite desparate to be understood. She firmly announced, 'I am a new Challa and I need to immerse in the Mikveh before my huppa.' There was a lot of laughter both before and after it was explained that the difference between two words was a chet and a kof. The challa has a chet and the bride has a kof.

Otherwise I now have reports and more writing to do. I really wanted to enter the ABR essay writing competition as apart from the brilliant prize money there is the prestige of it all. It is a toss up between inclusiveness in education and valuing the individual and the value of marriage as a sactifiction of the union between a man and a woman and what is for ultimately and why same sex marriage is a non issue or dead duck before it even leaves the waterhole.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Continuing Inclusiveness 101


If we are to consider society as made up of all sorts of people with differing abilities and talents; we understand that for a good and healthy society to function well and in a cohesive manner, we must include every member of society as a vital contributor to it.  We must think of the individual as part of the whole and as valuable members of it, we have to include to include each individual mentally, spiritually and physically as an important element.

A school society or community mirrors on a smaller scale a general society or community and what we create in our schools is recreated in part from the education that the students have had. They learn values and how to treat others from how they are treated in the family and in the school environment.

   Therefore, we we create special schools for students that have sometimes borderline learning difficulties or even students with greater difficulties, instead of integrating them into our mainstream school system, we are saying to society at large and the students themselves, you are different, you are not a part of us, therefore we have to create schools especially for you. You are not a part of us.

   Humans are very social creatures and in some respects often mimic the behaviour of animals. For example, horses are herd creatures and to be included in the herd is all important to them. These animals become remarkably distressed and even panicked when they are excluded by other animals in the herd. It is also a form of disciplining to push a herd member out of the herd if they have behaved badly.
   In effect what we are doing is punishing these children for being different or not the norm.It is for the teachers to model acceptance behaviour to the students and for the students and teachers alike to accept a student who is different and to make them feel a part of the crowd. It is saying you may be different by you are ok because you too are a human being with feelings and a set of values and beliefs similar to ours. When we look only on the exterior or the surface, when we decide because someone is white, black, yellow, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian or Muslim or disadvantaged in some way through a medical condition or by accident of birth, Downs syndrome, autism or mental condition, that they are no longer acceptable, we are doing a disservice to ourselves, smacking G-D in the face for having created that person as different to our perceived version of 'normal'.

   If for example, a Down's Syndrome boy of say fourteen or fifteen decides that he wants to go to a school 'where everyone is like him,' that means that there is something wrong with the acceptance as a human being that he is receiving at the mainstream school where he is.  It means that the acceptance of students and teachers at the school is only token and that something must be changed in the way that they operate and the way that they deal with and respect this boy. If he was treated with respect as a human being, he would be thriving and he would be strong in his resolve as a human being and not alienated. I lay the blame squarely on the school and perhaps the parents for not understanding that this kid is distressed and that somehow he is not accepted in part.
I have a child who went to the same school and he is part African as his father is Nigerian. Now he was the only half African child at the school and older boys came up to the kindergarten fence and talked swear words to him and he was bullied and treated as an idiot. My son is an only child and like  many children of single parent families, he looks up to his peers more than the single parent he lives with for behaviour models. What he got from these peers was racism, contempt and a devaluing of self. He also had a South African kindergarten teacher whose son was at a mainstream school, not the school she was teaching at. Now her values of ingrained racism, probably from living in South Africa under apartheid formed her perceptions of anyone who was either African, or part African or Coloured in other words. She decided that my son had 'problems' and was a sore thumb.
Let me give you the one glaring example of what she did. After being most difficult to deal with and even quite derogatory towards me and superior (because after all I had been married to a 'black man' and was somehow not quite right in the head or terribly flawed as a Caucasian who intermarried or married out of my race) to the extent I felt she did not even listen to me because what ever I had to say was of no import and who was I at any rate?
  She stopped me one day in the school yard and this is after my son had been subjected to psychological testing by some woman in the school on advice and I was told he had an IQ of 47. She trumpeted to me,'Oh Ilana I have to tell you this. I tested your son the other day. I read the class a story and I asked him several questions. He was clueless. Totally clueless.' I looked at her astounded both by her insensitivity to my child and her brazen declaration about a child to a mother in a public place. 'Oh', I replied, 'Did you ask any other child the same questions?' She gulped and was taken aback for a few seconds, probably at my audacity for asking the question. Then, she stated again. 'No but he is totally clueless.' 'So', I said, 'You did not ask any other child the questions you asked my son and on the basis of those questions, you decided he was clueless.' Then she started to waffle on about how a friend of hers who was a kindergarten head at another school had told her this and this about my son and from her observations which I consider flawed, my son is mentally incapable.

   It was at that point I began to have real fears about my son's future in the school and I realised that when he entered prep and was totally unprepared, I realised what had been done to him. He had been excluded and ignored. He had not been made to feel a part of the whole school in the eyes of those around him. His acceptance was only token. don't think kids don't pick it up. They do, just as we adults  can walk into a room and either feel accepted and one with the group in the room or uncomfortable as a stranger or newcomer. Now newcomers are integrated into a group fairly rapidly if they show signs of sharing certain characteristics and know the right social graces or foibles common to the group. However if they are not accepted or made to feel that they are too different in belief structure or appearance, their mental state can deteriorate to the extent that they do develop mental conditions that are either long standing or temporary.
I was a first time parent who respected the expertise of some so called 'experts' and I was let down. On the advice of these 'experts' I was bullied and bullied my child. I actually believed that there was something wrong with him and that he was somehow deficient mentally. I actually enrolled him in a special school and that would have been the worst thing that I could have ever done to my son. It was when he was in the car one Friday coming back from that school mimicking the behaviour of a severely autistic child, that I realised how foolish and wrong I was and how I had been led astray into destroying the mental state of my child. If I had left my child in this 'special school' on the advice of these so called 'experts' he would have ended up in jail or worst and been mentally and emotionally destroyed. It was in a meeting to discuss my son's 'progress' and their hideous recommendations that I put him full time in this school and I was told I could bring him back to the other school where he did kindergarten for 'cultural events' that I really woke up to what was happening and I resolved to look at another school. I had had my heart sent on an education for him in this school so it was hard.  I still believe that this school can give an education but I do have my doubts as to whether it can accept that not everyone is cauasian and I believe that it has problems with kids who are of mixed or interracial background of any type. That is sad, but the fact that my son left was the school's loss. But in order to prove themselves correct they have gone on to try and perpetuate the myth that my son is somehow deficient mentally. He is not.
He is a highly sensitive kid who picks up the attitudes and prejudices around him and acts accordingly. He is actually a very smart boy. His expressive language is not so good and we are working on that with speech therapy. He is also left handed and he was 'guided into using his right hand' in that kindergarten and the school he went to afterwards. As someone who had their left hand tied behind her back in grade two after a year of using it to write, I should have known better. But his teachers told me that 'he is using both hands equally' and they convinced me that he is better being trained to use his right hand. I should have resisted. At the time, I was tired and fighting a battle on several fronts and did not. I was maybe not as aware as I might have been. Some of the blame has to rest on me for not fighting harder. He kicks a foot ball off the left foot and is a good little player, learning both soccer and AFL.  He does many things left handed. My father was left handed and also my grandmother refused to allow him to be changed. She was horrified when she learnt what had been done to me but she could do little as she was only the grandmother and not the parent.
We need to accept that often people are not the same. Ludwig Beethoven was deaf. Stephen Hawkings has multiple disabilities and has overcome them to contribute greatly to society. It was Hawkings who said that people who boast about their IQ are losers. True.
We must only estimate worth of a person relative to the value of a human being's worth which is in effect priceless as we were all created as valuable masterpieces. Thanks to G-D who is our Master and Creator divine.

Inclusiveness 201 coming up. Soon.

Inclusiveness in Education and basic respect for others


After a very wet Shabbat in Melbourne and some interesting shiurim at Mizrachi Shule I have to impart a few things of note. I also have to say a very big thank you to a woman who goes to our shule who on hearing that I had no hot water for tea or coffee (my urn is broken and I still have not had time to take it down and get it changed. I bought it at Pesach and it is still under warranty.) bought me a Thermos of hot water at around 8.45 am this morning. She then proceeded to go and visit a mutual friend in hospital and then on to an Aged home to visit her in laws for some time and then back to another friend for lunch. She is indeed a compassionate person. I really appreciated the hot water and the cup of tea that I made with it.
Now let's get down to brass tacks and explain inclusiveness.  What do I mean by inclusiveness in education? Inclusiveness means that you have basic respect for students or an audience before you as a lecturer or teacher - you listen to them, respect their opinions and learn from them. As teachers, we are all students and to be good teachers, we have to be good students.
Today I saw something that brought me close to tears. It happened in a moment of great clarity and it affected me in a really very deep way.
In our shule there is a guy who has a few disadvantages in life and he is not the best looking of guys nor is he particularly socially adept but he is still a very worthwhile human being. The Rabbi who was giving this shiur or lesson in our shule, asked a question of the audience and received a very astute answer from this man. He listened with great kavod or honour to what this man had to say. I was so struck with the respect that this Rav paid this man and it was sad to reflect back on how some of the students at Narrandera High School were treated by some of the teachers there, who I must say, were not a majority of the teachers even in NSW, because they simply treated the students with contempt that was quite shocking. Apparently the present principal is so much better and the school has turned around. It would want to do so.
It does not matter who a child is, what his parents do or don't do, how much money they have or don't have - that child deserves a chance of a proper education and to be respected and to respect in turn. I do not believe in special schools as I believe they start a process of alienation in society that allows the mainstream to foster selfishness and self interest as a way of life.
For me, every school is a special school and every student in a school is a special student. Education is a very serious thing. It is more than learning to read and write. It is about understanding who you are and what you want to be in life. By sending a child to a 'special school' we are saying to the child and society at large, you are 'disabled' and you cannot be 'up there with us'. You are somehow incapable of doing anything too much. We do not respect you and we believe that you cannot do anything. We believe you are somehow crippled and unable to do what most normal kids can do.
If you have low expectations of someone, they will fulfil them invariably. Shocking as it seems, children and people reflect what you believe in them. Think about it and have a shavoua Tov - a good week.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Once the holidays are here

It is the end of the non Jewish year again and this time it is different to what has gone before. I will have worked for approximately sixteen weeks of the year and feel so much better for it. When I left Deniliquin High School in 2006 I felt as if my life, my training and my self worth was at an all time low. In other words, I felt completely and utterly rejected as a person, as a mother, a human being and indeed, I felt that people were waiting for me to do something drastic like take my own life because it would fulfil their expectations of my dire and nasty future. They hated me for being older and a mother. They hated me for being a single parent. They hated me for being a Jew and not accepting JC. In fact a part of what they did to me, alienating themselves from me and trying to destroy me psychologically was to get me to become a 'christian' because then they would be able to say to the world, 'see the blood of JC will save you'. The fact that I did not even attempt suicide must have been an awful blow for them and a bit of a slap in the face. It was only for the brave actions of a few of my teaching colleagues and the fact that I had a couple of good friends in Melbourne who knew and believed in my worth as an individual that saved me.
They made dire predictions about my son because I was an older single parent of a boy and in the words of a principal who said to another staff member and probably others, 'what right does she have to have a child at her age when most women are grandmothers'. My son was given no chance of a normal life because I was female, single, older and a Jew. Only in a Christian community who would take my son 'off my hands' would he have chance. That again I will prove wrong. I saw a woman who was a widow with five kids who had a breakdown after her husband's tractor rolled on her. She was pregnant with a fifth at the time. She had no support from family around as there was no one apparently and these pigs watched as she had a nervous breakdown and recovered in a sort of way. I felt for her and I admired her. She turned up to sports days, a rough looking woman of pride with raggedy clothes and barefoot. Teachers and townspeople made fun of her. I watched from the sidelines and seethed at their insensitivity towards this woman and her kids. She brought her kids up alone while grieving. She is what real Aussie battlers are made of. Not these self indulgent wretches who want to party all the time, watch videos, get drunk and want money for doing very little or nothing. This woman ran her farm with the help of the elder children and did it through sheer hard work and gritted determination. Some Australians make me sick today and we need to change our attitude.
I am looking forward to finishing a book for a friend, doing some craft work, excursions with my son and then starting my book on bullying.

A Nazi Mother's love

From the time
I drew breath and clung
to the breast, I was hung
more surely than
a common criminal and what
Was my crime?

Early in the peace
You offered a chalice
You filled with malice
Poisoned chocolate so sweet
disguised the labour of hate
as you had the family feast.

One by one, the children died,
Little blond godly offspring
They laid down toys and things
As the deadly potion took hold
They curled up and grew cold
You watched and never even cried.

You wrote one last entry in your diary
'The day's gone and it is done.
All is lost except for one.'
She missed the sacrifice, the killing
I doubt she would have been willing
She may have guessed and been wary.

And yet, how does a mother willingly destroy
A child like some discarded toy?
That which she nurtured under her heart
For nine months until a living being is thrust
Into life, to grow and grow
And yet, how does a mother ever destroy
even one girl or one boy
Let alone six?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Education - What is the Price of Quality?

I have sent this into a newspaper but it will not be published as it is too long. So I have self published it here.

I teach in a school where the principal has been told that the education grants for terms three and four are being withheld. It is a small school in a relatively inner suburb of Melbourne.  This school had a poor reputation many years ago. This perception has changed in the last few years.  Some good teaching staff and a principal, who are passionate about quality education, have turned this school around. Its good reputation has evolved and the school is on the road to achieving very positive goals both academically and in terms of extracurricular activities.
   So I was amazed when the Principal announced to us in a staff briefing that grant money which should have come to the school in terms three and four is being withheld for no real reason.

   Imagine if you were a mother and suddenly one night your partner tells you, ‘sorry dear, can’t give you the money for January, February and March’s housekeeping.’  ‘But dear’, you protest, ‘the children need to eat and they need clothes and we have education costs. Their football and their basketball,  their Maths and English tutors need to be paid.’ Your co-parent scratches his armpits momentarily then says, ’Ok I hear you. Kids have to eat. You will have to go to the market though, because I am cutting your food budget and clothes. There are op shops. As for the tutors, they will have stop now.’  ‘But, but’ you protest, ’Jamie’s English is so poor, he just cannot get the attention he needs from the teacher to do well in a class of 20 other students. He’ll fail Maths. He also gets much a much needed confidence boost from his football because it is one of the few things that he is good at. Julie has to have English tuition as she has VCE in two years and she also needs extra instruction that she cannot get in the classroom. What are we going to do?’

   Your co-parent shrugs and says, Well it can’t be helped there isn’t any money at the moment for education. I have to buy myself some new guns for my gun club, also fees for the international clubs, I belong to have gone up. The company has decided to produce some glossy brochures and booklets to raise the company profile again in several areas, plus security has to be upgraded.  Oh, yes and we are having few managerial conferences. They all cost money. We may have to take the kids out of school and send them to work.’ ‘But dear,’ you protest, ’the kids are too young to leave school. They need an education to do well in life. A good education stays with you forever.’  By this time, co-parent is extremely frustrated at the mother’s failure to understand that he just has to balance the books. Education has to come second to the ‘more important aspects of life’.  He tells her ‘Dear, some very successful people left school at grade 8. Some of them can’t even read and write. They pay someone to do it for them.’ By this time mother has her arms, eyes and legs crossed and is looking down gun barrel sights at her spouse.

   ‘In what Century are we living? The nineteenth century had literacy rates at better levels in some areas then today.  Kids left school earlier, but then life was simpler. Education is needed today because life is far more complex and young people do need to be better educated to deal with the issues that they will come across in their life. We need to give them values and they need to be able to learn effectively in schools. How will they do that, if they are not taught and supported in their learning ?

  ‘Oh, dear, you are taking this to heart, aren’t you?’  At this retort, the mother is visibly upset. She replies ’the education of children is our insurance for the future. We need to put money into children’s education, because it is money well spent. The children we educate today are going to be the decision makers in governments’ of the future. They are the builders of tomorrow’s nations and communities. If we sell them short today, then we will pay a price in the future.’

And there you have it. The mother is the education department and her principals that constantly get squeezed for budget cuts and get less of a share of the taxpayer’s money when they should be getting a far larger percentage. The irresponsible parent is the government that expects education departments to run on shoestring budgets and schools to be under-resourced, understaffed and over loaded with administration work requirements that have little to do with the actual teaching of students.

   In 1993 I was at Flemington Secondary College, which was closed during the Kennett government reign of terror on schools. Interestingly enough, Flemington Secondary School backed onto Flemington Racecourse. It seemed odd that they picked that school to close. Springvale Secondary College was another school that was ideally placed near a railway station and it too, was closed.  Both schools were on prime real estate land. Budgetary concerns seem to take priority over the education needs of young Australians.  That is reflected at the moment in the general education perspectives of the society at large. I once had a principal waffle on about the corporatisation of education and he told some astounded teachers and non teaching staff that we should see the students and their parents as clients or customers to whom we are providing units of education at maximum effectiveness and minimum cost. In other words, we had to be cost effective teachers.

   Unfortunately, you cannot produce and buy quality education like some product in the super market. It has to be built up over time and it is a combination of sweat, inspiration, dedication and passion by unique individuals who are supported, praised and valued as professionals in their workplaces. Most good teachers I know have had to have hearts like Phar Lap and the constitution of Carbine and Makybe Diva combined to survive in Australian schools lately.

   Even if a school has a small student population; it can grow with the right principal leading staff to produce amazing results. Dedicated teachers inspire students to want to learn and that is what it is about. If teachers feel devalued and under-supported, how are they able to convey a sense of confidence and value in the students they teach? They cannot. Again in some schools, the Education support staff are vital to the progress of many students and they provide much needed support for helping students achieve learning outcomes at a much higher level than they would have been able to without such support.

Education is not just for the gifted or the academically average. It is for all students and schools are a community where all students should thrive in a productive, nurturing environment. If we devalue our schools and what they do, we run the risk of producing mediocrity in our future citizens and our country. Australia used to be a clever country. That is no longer true.  The way we are ripping money out of schools and education departments and putting it into bureaucracy, mismanagement conferences and glossy brochures to alert us to the threat of terrorism or drug education instead of teachers in classrooms is perilous in the lack of commonsense displayed.

Money has been spent on buildings for schools that are dodgy to say the least and definitely not designed for teachers and students, but by those who think they know how teachers should teach and think. In a new school building with an open plan space that has terrible acoustics, another teacher and I counted twenty two lights with huge energy saving light bulbs in a space that has good natural lighting and could have been lit by maybe eight or ten at the most. Did the builder get these lights in bulk at a discount price and did he want to use them all up at once?

  At the same school they have to fund raise for a new roof and floor for the ‘new sports building’. The workmanship on some of these ‘new buildings’ that were part of the Rudd /Gillard government initiative is shoddy to say the least.

When is sense going to be a common element in the planning and running of schools and education departments? Give education a decent budget and let principals be allowed to administer it autonomously. They are usually the people at ground zero and with the odd few exceptions, I have to say, they know what to use if for and where to use it. Holding Principals to ransom over funding and not allowing them to do the job that they are hired to do is ludicrous. What has happened to the days in Australia when kids and their education were valued as they were perceived as the future? A smart government educates all sectors of society and teaches the value of compassion and caring for others. If financial considerations have priority in education, you might as well close every public high school tomorrow and send all the kids out into the workforce, except those who can pay full fees for their education at a high school level, of course. Is that the ultimate aim of the governments, both federal and state? It will put us back a century or two. Raising the retirement age, is fine, but lowering the education standard will just drive more students into the workplace. There you have the answer that the more short sighted in government budget management are perhaps looking for - a larger number of younger, unskilled, lowly paid people in the workforce. Most countries want to raise their standard of education and we are working at lowering ours.  Ironic indeed, for a clever country that is, with clever pollies running it, of course.  Just stupid voters who elect these clever people to misuse taxes entrusted to them to run the country correctly and for future generations. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The difference between fearing G-D and not!

Many people in this world are fearless. They are not afraid of anything and that can lead them into doing rather unspeakable things to other people, animals and the environment - this world we inhabit because they believe that they are their own master and they somehow control everything in this world that they come into contact with. To be fearless - is it a good trait? Maybe when it is from the perspective that everything in this life is dependent on the mercy of a greater being, a creator, it is. But what is the difference?
When you live a life that is ruled by a code of conduct set out in the Torah, then you lead a life that is  in tune with a compassionate and merciful Master. When you live a life that is controlled by what you want and your desires, then you live a life that is quite dangerous for you and for those around you. Why? Because if you feel that something is desirable and you want it, then what is to stop you from taking it? You want it, it is yours? Wrong. Nothing in this life is ours. We have possession of certain things because the Master of the Universe wants us to have possession of them or custodianship for that time. We need to be aware of that. We need to give thanks for what we have and understand that in our moments of joy, G-D is with us and in our moments of greatest despair, there is also G-D who is with us and supports us in the darkest moments of our soul's journey in this life.
Telling a lie about someone is one of the biggest 'fearless' acts I can comprehend and it is one of the worst. When you lie about someone to another person, you are effectively trying to kill that person. You are a murderer in your mind. That for me is extremely scary and I am scared of liars. They have no fear. there are people who lie by omission and it might be to protect others. That sort of lie I can cope with. But those who lie to put others in a bad light or to destroy reputations - I find those lies, very frightening. A liar can do all things with out shame and then lie about it. Better the bad person who tells the truth and says to you,'Yep, I am a bad person because I am not capable of  being good.' He or she does know the difference between right and wrong and one day that person can do Teshuva or improve the way they interact and behave. A person who lies creates a reality in his or her mind that is the 'truth' for them and they have in fact created a realty that is very subjective and false. It is scary. People who lie, ultimately lie to themselves.  They seek to destroy others through creating a reality about a person or persons and that perception is not a real one but one that suits their purposes at the time.
Truth and faith are elements that are in short supply in this world. It is scary. We have to go right into the soul of a person to discover who and what they are and to understand whether this person is worthy of themselves or others. Those who attempt to be good and to speak the truth and know when to be silent specifically because one does fear G-D then those people are better to have a companions in life than people who do not fear G-D or divine punishment eventually in another life. A person who is his or her own creature in this life and lives for the present, such a person is ultimately very dangerous.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I am glad I am still an ape....

I read something very interesting last night researching indigenous Australia for my ELC class. I came across this site which has a question and answer forum and it asked: 'How do Aboriginal people celebrate Xmas? And the answer, wait for it, was
 'There was no celebration of Christmas in the true Aboriginal culture. However, for those indigenous Australians who have accepted Jesus and embraced the human culture, they will celebrate it the same way as the rest of Australia.'

I did not have time to send in a scathing letter to these people but obviously someone else did for it now reads:
There is no celebration of Christmas in the true Aboriginal culture. However, for those indigenous Australians who have embraced the western culture, they will celebrate it the same way as the rest of Australia.
Read more:

Apart from the fact that Xmas has nothing to do with Aboriginal culture at all, I developed a satisfied feel from the statement and understood I was a non human because I definitely do not believe in accepting JC and furthermore I do not celebrate X-mas along with a few other Jews, the Muslims, Hindus and whatever in the world. It is even arrogant to assume that western culture = Christianity. It does not. The foisting of a foreign belief system on indigenous peoples is still going on in some parts of the world. They seem to have no idea that these people have their own beliefs and religion.
Furthermore I felt angered thinking back to my time at Narrandera High School where the powers to be had the arrogance to use a forty five minute session of Teacher Professional Development time to subject staff to a presentation by the Librarian's oldest daughter who had been to Papua New Guinea on a missionary mission to 'civilise the natives and bring JC to them.' We had pictures and a video of these poor little papuan kids singing off key,'The blood of Jesus will save me' or some such ridiculous thing.
Now I am for tolerance and co-existing, but didn't our very fundamentalist Principal think that not all his staff are Christians, besides aren't Staff Development Days for the development and knowledge of teachers and their teaching skills? They still are down here.
Am I glad to be back in Victoria where a spade is a spade and we do what we are supposed to do in the classroom and not play religious games and whatever else he was trying to do aided by our very 'Christian librarian.'
It is arrogant of any religion to think that people are 'better off believing in their particular brand of G-dliness.'
I am very happy being a Jew and have no desire to have other religions thrust down my neck. Thank you.

Understanding Nature, You know

Men often love the smell of battle
more than the scent of peace
for within it
Is an adrenal rush
that is not aroused in some
By the sight of oceans lapping the shores
Of broad coast lines
Great expanses of sand and swampy bushlands
The silences of the bush broken
Only by the Cooee call of birds
That soar free over Mulga scrubs
The yodelling Kurrawong's song
The thud of the roo's tail
As the herd pounds the red dirt
In search of waterholes
In the heat.
Men love the hunt
whether it be for food or other game
Women love the peace
Of being by a campfire
With a child at the breast
Turning the meat and tubers
Among the hot coals
Reflecting on the glow
Both within and without.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A talk about 'creating a mentsch or raising a child' by world renowned lecturer Manis Friedman


This is one hour and sixteen minutes long, but it is a great talk and well worth the time spent listening. He and his wife have raised a large family and he has wisdom and fascinating insights on lots of issues.

The jury is out on this one. Interesting though...


This article is all about these light bulbs that are going to become mandatory by law in many countries. It makes very interesting reading.  I WONDER?

I am still trying to find out what is happening in Nigeria with regard to the Muslims burning up the Christians. It seems like the world over there is a little crazy at the moment.

These photos are not for the squeamish but then war never is, however these are shocking.

Why have I published these rather gruesome photos? Because I think it is time we are all aware of what is happening over there and attempt to stop some of it or somehow get it stopped. Simply awful and those poor little children. Disgusting, vile and incredibly cruel beyond belief in other words.
No person who fears G-D truly will do this to another human being or even an animal.
The Master of the Universe should have mercy on us all.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Fences create divisions. They separate things and draw boundaries where none shall cross without permission. We need borders and boundaries. When does the process of separation begin? From birth when nature forces us to separate from out mothers and the umbilical cord is cut, we strive to create and break boundaries. We are separated and constantly seek to re attach or to create a feeling of belonging to understand the feeling of home.
Some of us are forced into the role of refugees by our birth. Maybe there is a parent who lacks paternal or maternal feelings for a child and that child is forced on the outer and made to feel different or unwanted. Somehow that child is not a part of the family. The child is not told but feels in so many actions and words, that he or she is not as desirable as another child or somehow that he or she is a failure. He or she has failed to fulfil the expectations of one or both parents and therefore lacks.
He or she needs to rise about it or sink into failure and I have seen both.
Once I had outside my house where I was living a few years ago, a woman who was a regular visitor to the house next door. Now all went smoothly while this disruputable character Jimmy was her paramour and allowed her entry into the strange abode and the even stranger groups that used to visit this house. I think I blogged about it once. This house had cardboard over the windows. No curtains. Strange I used to think, when these people could have gone to Spotlight and gotten material for a few dollars a yard and run up some curtains. Far more attractive. I mean they all had good cars. One of them owned a jeep. A new one. He was a menacing looking character and dark Italian or Greek. Sort of reminded me of my sister-in-law in America except she is blonde and built like a bloated stone fish with blond tips to its fins. I always thought she would be the type to go in search of a mafia type hit man to knock you off if you displeased her in any way. A regular control freak with delusions about her own capabilities and business acumen. One thing she does do well is collect and hoard.
Anyway all of a sudden this woman was sleeping in her car outside the house. I used to write up in the little room ajacent to my son's room. I had a view of the street, the tree outside and the birds' nests and other trees and bats and all day and night life in the skies. I also could view the goings on and comings and goings of next door. Not that I wanted to but it was difficult to avoid at times. She was obviously also bonked out of her mind on something - whether legal or illegal - who knows or who cares. People who need drugs of any kind in the majority to get through life are losers and either not intelligent enough to know that drugs are bad or too lazy to eat properly and to look after themselves. I have no patience with people who pop pills every time something distresses them a little or want to be on an anti depressant high most of their lives. They probably only need a multi vitamin or vitamin B 12 and 5. However there is a whole industry out there telling them Zoloft and Prozac is the go when what they need is probably just a change of diet and lifestyle.
Anyway I watched Jimmy sneak past her car with his latest squeeze in tow and sometimes he would get past and other times, he and the latest would make a run for the door as she was busy clambering out of her car shouting abuse at them. They would lock the door and go up stairs and proceed to make such a noise doing what ever they were doing that I had to move my son and myself into my bedroom further up the hall. There would be a knocking on the adjoining wall of the bed head and lots of other unpleasant noises.
From the street would come howls of abuse. I even heard these animals laugh in amusement about her distress. She was stupid too. When obviously this man was a low type of creature, why did she hang around for more abuse? Why did she make such a spectacle of herself, yelling abuse at a second floor window, using lots of foul language and screaming and carrying on. Once I moved my son and self to my bedroom and shut my son's bedroom door, we could no longer here what was going on next door. Thank goodness. But we could still hear the anguished screams and pain of this woman.
Now one morning she was parked behind my car. I had to go to take my son to school and could not get out. She looked half dead. I found out who she was through her car registration and her mumbling a phone number at me. I rang it. It was some guy who worked for a large organisation. He was her father and her mother was a psychologist. So this woman came from a well off and well educated family, yet here she was at 37 or 39 and she looked older than I am and I am 57 sleeping in her car outside the house of a guy who does not want her, probably just used her for a year or so, she has blared her distress to the whole street and is sleeping in her car outside his house. I mean what gives? Where is your self respect to do something like that.
Her father came to collect her and to take her home from his work. Not a happy guy to be honest. Neither would I be. Where are her boundaries and understanding of what is proper behaviour? Why did she not go home and have a good cry and then move on with her life and forget him. Read a good book and be a hermit for a year or two. Don't spend all that energy on a mongrel. Build a fence around your emotions and don't let them wander aimlessly in public view.
I once visited the town near where I grew up and to be honest I had a chance meeting with a particularly vile individual who played with me and my emotions many years ago in the seventies. He actually made jokes about me when I was lying on the bitumen with a shattered leg. It was in a clothing shop where I was buying a pair of trousers. Not a word passed between us and he was with some fat tart that was his wife or current defacto. He rolled his eyes at me and giggled. Said something to his partner and they both looked at me and giggled trying in a mean way to get my attention.To be honest I looked at him and thought to myself, how on earth did I ever, ever think something of such a foul, vicious and basically mean individual? I pretended not to recognise him because even though it was over thirty years ago, I really had nothing to say to him. I wanted to be as far away from him as possible. I erected a fence of barbed razor wire in seconds and had several retorts ready in case he tried to renew an acquaintance with me.
Fences are our protection in physical life and in the non physical world. We need them.

Headlines and reflections of the fraility of our human condition


Had a wonderfully peaceful Shabbat, read two books, went to shul early, came home early and had a pleasant lunch and read, snoozed and rested my foot, for which I am about to take painkillers to deaden the pain of it, before I go to sleep. 

I am not sure what is the matter with it but it was made worst by a car accident on Thursday about 4.30pm when I was hurrying down to the Commonwealth Bank on Glenhuntley Road. I was stopped behind a nice shiny new Lexus 4WD when suddenly BOMMM! and I was thrown forward with the impact from a car behind me and my sore foot which was on the brake tramped down and I came to a shuddering halt, hands clenched around the steering wheel, teeth chattering in fright. The woman in the Lexus a super thin woman in her mid fifties or maybe older, with a wealthy woman's bob hair cut, lots of make up, dark eyes and a commanding presence stepped out and beckoned me to pull over. I was nearly in tears. She thought I had hit her. I was not sure that I had but I did realise that someone or something had hit me. Who had hit me was a woman driving a sedan and with her five year old son who had a red welt across his shoulder where the seat belt strap had cut tightened on impact. It was her second accident in several weeks and she was apologetic. I had my shock replaced by annoyance later as now I have to put my car into the Auto repair place and I will be without a car for a week plus from the 21st of November and I am still going to get it done as I might still get to Qld to see my mother and brother and his family, I hope. No point in driving around with a bashed in back door of the car and a bent tow bar. The tow bar took most of the impact but sure made a mess of the other woman's car. I did pay a lot of money for a good tow bar and now I am glad I did. If am able to go to Qld driving I may take several days and get a towbar fitted but it depends on getting work next year as I may have to borrow money to go up there. I guess the upside is that I may get the back of the car looking as new as new, but I will still be paying registration, and for a new spare tire and maybe two more new ones if we go up country.
The only thing is I will be going to work by public transport for a week or so. Interesting.
The two books I read were, The Writing on my Forehead by Nafisha Haji and Wildlight by David Metzenthen. The first book was easier to read by far. Maybe because it was by a woman and about a subject that is interesting for me as a woman. It was very much a woman's book. I am not going to give the story away but it was well written and had some interesting twists and turns. I found myself hoping for a sequel to it. The other book was Australian in context and content but 'Oh David it lacked something.' I am sure I have read something by this author before that was much better than this book. Men often lack the sensitivity and the subtlety to write good love story material because for a man, they are so physical at times about the way they view romance and love. They just cannot help themselves. It is only writers who are gay or something like that who really do or can understand how a woman thinks and views the world of relationships. Very few men do really understand women and yet women do understand men far better than they understand themselves at times. Men are so cut and dried and women are not. For women, emotions and love and the bonds between people are so much more subtle and spiritual than most men can comprehend or want to comprehend. Women have to be the glue of the family unit so to speak. If they are not, then we are in a dreadful mess if we are not already. Men are very good at the hunting and collecting role and are emotionally suited to it. Most women can do it but then men cannot fulfil a woman's role in the family in the main. There are some men who can to a certain extent but women are definitely able to multitask and swap roles far more readily then men if they have to. I really do not know why anyone would want to be a man. I am far happier being a woman and have no desire to be a 'man' except in the of equal pay for equal work as say a nurse or teacher or lawyer for example.

Now to why I first wanted to write post at this time. Read the head line and then read the story.
Commandos shoot dead ferry hijacker
There is no punctuation and it reads kind of funny. I mean why would commandos shoot a dead hijacker? So don't they have editors at The Age anymore? Why could they have not said
Commandos shoot ferry hijacker dead
The second title makes more sense. It is such a simple error and no one picked it up. They must have been drinking up at The Age editorial offices. And to think they have such a big circulation and cannot edit a headline properly? It does make one wonder.
Here is the link. Read it for yourself.
Good night Irenes and Beans! To bed to sleep I must go.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It is only a matter of time...The rise of Radical Islam and all its dangers

There are those in the world who have their heads in the sand as to what is really happening. Where do you think all that oil money is going and has been going in the world? It has been going to increase the power base of a few extremely rich people with a radical Islamic agenda. These people are extremely dangerous.
I really feel it is summed up in this quote by Winston Churchill. 'An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.'
Two very interesting articles and the true picture is ignored by the world media who do not want to alienate all that oil money. Money speaks very loudly in this world and how loudly we will find out to our greatest cost.
And just where did they get the money for brand new SUV's. It has been a Saudi backed Arab Spring all along. Let's hope they have their usual infighting as egos get out of control and they start fighting with each other. That will happen too.

This one is a gay British MP who was abused at a mosque in Britian. I am very glad I am not living in Britian. I am not pro homosexuality but by the same token, I think gay people should be allowed to live their lives peacefully and quietly and not be subject to abuse. It is just not a life style I espouse or approve of, but they are human beings too.

Remembrance Day 11.11.11 11.11

We remember them
For time does not dim the loss
Of those whose lives were the cost
Of peace, enjoyed yet too briefly.
We remember them
These young men who went to war
To defend the vulnerable, the weak, the young
All of us, for they believed themselves too strong
For bullets or bombs or knives
Wielded by those they believed
One moment of carelessness
They die on foreign soils amid rocky hills
On beaches and shores of other lands
Nicked by a stranger's weapon.
We remember them
Because we do forget
Our countrymen, our soldiers, our fathers, our brothers
Our nephews, our sons and our husbands all.
We remember them
Missing the upturn of a mouth,
Joyful laughter, moments treasured,
an arm draped
Across a shoulder,
Strong, too solid
For a deathly touch, which for some
Follows no rules and when there are no options
The soul flies off in an instant
Returning to the greater soul
Understanding, it leaves just a shell
But we who are left,
Remember the divinity of its spark
The holiness it once contained.
And we do mourn
Young blood cut down;
swallowed by a hungry maw
Of the warrior god gone manic
In a blood lust
For more and more.
We remember them
Their lives, their names and stories
Now but whispers in the coming storms,
Their faces etched
Acid grief on the mind.
We stand trembling on the brink
Where they stood to the end a firm link
Ready to defend and to die.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Respect, Basic Manners and the role of the Teachers and Schools


I have just participated in a discussion on FB about the role of teachers and parents in teaching children manners and respect for others. It was quite interesting and a bit disturbing as I was told off for indulging in a 'personal attack' on one or two posters, because I stated quite categorically that I do not believe that it is the role of teachers and educational institutions to teach respect to children. Personal attacks are poor practice in debate and it appears that these people do not understand what a personal attack is. I simply attacked their argument that it would be a good idea for the school to take up the issue of some boys bad behaviour at a birthday party. They stated it all boils down to their education and teaching respect should be done through the educational institution.
Yes, it is the role of teachers and educational institutions to reinforce and uphold values and standards that are common to all of us and make for a good and egalitarian society both in the home and outside it.  In the case of religious schools, one would expect that those values and standards that are dear to the particular religion or social group would be reinforced and espoused through out the school and embedded in the school curriculum.
However the buck starts and stops at home. If parents cannot teach manners and respect at home, how can you expect them to be manifested in children's behaviour outside of the home and in school. It starts in the home from how the children are treated and what behaviour they see in parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. The message about how you treat others comes from the home. Yes, your children may pick up some language and behaviour from other children at school,  but ultimately it is you - the parent who sets the tone of behaviour. Yes, there are exceptions, but it is something that most parents are aware of. The school can only reinforce the positive tone of respect for others, community awareness and social values when the ground work is laid for these values in the home.

It is always interesting to read the posts of parents who feel they can take the pressure off themselves and rely on others to 'teach their children respect and manners' because prehaps they do understand that this is where they are lacking themselves and thus they must call on the educational institutions to educate their children in some of the basic values of life. It is exceedingly selfish of them. Teachers and schools are about education and skills for life. They reinforce and strengthen the values of the home.
When you break in a young horse, you start when it is a yearling to teach it to lead and to be around humans and to communicate and to be civilised. If you have an orphaned foal, you have to be very careful that that animal does not become too familiar with humans and therfore disobedient. In other words, you do not spoil it. You teach it respect. There is a fine line between respect and spoiling children. Even parents must distance themselves from children who are behaving in unacceptable ways.  Look at Ishmael and Avraham and why does Rivka want Ya'cov to have Esav's blessing of the first born. One has to be worthy of one's parents and heritage. The understanding of respect is more than manners it should be embedded into our psyche.

What is wrong with the above quotation? It says that respect is dependent on you giving it. No way hosea. You have to give respect, even if you do not get it in return and hopefully you will influence others to behave more respectfully.

Let us end with that you must love your neighbour or your fellow as yourself. Think about what that implies.