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  1. Voice

    9 March 2015 by shartley

    Today is International Women’s Day.  It is a chance for women to have a voice so I thought I better use mine today too.  I am tired of women being silenced and many examples can be found just flicking through the articles around today and with my own recent experiences.

    In my Facebook feed there has been numerous articles on theme.  My favourite has been Annabel Crabb’s article about being a bad feminist, demonstrating the contradictions and quandaries involved in labelling oneself as a feminist (Crabb 2015).  Crabb’s article was prompted by a book authored by Roxane Gay, which I now have to buy.

    In another article, Penny Jane Burke wrote about the lose/lose situation women face when fighting for representation in male dominated hierarchies:

    Women are repeatedly blamed for their own under-representation, in terms of their assumed low aspirations and/or low confidence. On the other hand, the collective strength of women expressed through feminism is also seen as a problem, with continual innuendos about feminism leading to the “emasculation of men”. (Burke 2015)

    Today I also read about criticism of Tara Moss for having overly glamorous holiday snaps (Hornery 2015) and another woman criticised and condemned as obese for changing her carefully filtered and styled photos to more natural photos because it showed her as not so skinny (Grey 2015).

    As a teenager I remember listening to the lyrics of Luka by Suzanne Vega.  It was a rude awakening to domestic violence in the world.    Not much has changed in the 28 intervening years.  Social media has helped to give a stronger voice to the protests but now Tony Abbott uses his voice to announce a $30m awareness campaign for domestic violence not long after slashing $100m to services that actually helped the victims of domestic violence (Freedman 2015).  Meanwhile the Salvation Army quickly gathered together a clever campaign of its own based on a black and blue dress that a week earlier became the favoured internet image of the day (Visentin 2015).  Clever tricks are required because otherwise the victim’s voice may not be heard.

    I have seen so often, too often, women be quietened, whether it be directly like a female Lebanese news anchor being told to shut up, making news and celebrated today for the rare silencing of her attacker by turning off his microphone (Champion 2015) or the constant haranguing of Julia Gillard in terms of what she wore and through plain misogynist abuse (Summers 2012) to the extent that any positive comments were drowned out by a cheap shot like Germaine Greer’s comments on Q&A (Goldsworthy 2013).

    Speaking of Q&A, I stopped watching it a while back because I was continually seeing women being quietened by voice and body language by the men on the show that I now prefer to watch in a secondary manner via Twitter where I can enjoy the outrage expressed by the people I follow.

    As a female teacher in a predominantly male school it often feels that the female voice is hushed.  The hierarchy has been overwhelmingly male at both the schools in which I’ve been employed and thus there is little room for a woman’s opinion but also with male students there can be an issue.  It might be thought that the authority of a teacher would have some sway, and usually it does, but some boys know how to use their masculinity to intimidate in a way that male teachers often don’t understand, such as blocking a path, standing too close, standing over, a sexual swagger, a tone of mockery when the words are right but everything else screams disrespect.  Elements of this behaviour occur for male teachers too but it is different with women.  Thankfully I have hardly experienced this in the last few years; age has its advantages.

    The male voice is generally deeper and louder than a woman’s voice and has gained respect for being this way over the centuries, or always.  I have often been talked over by men but my speech lessons as a child sometimes pay off and I project myself as well as I can to be heard.  It doesn’t always work and I don’t always feel brave enough.  It was only in the last few months a man waved a big finger in my face, just a couple of centimetres from my nose, because he didn’t like what I was saying.  Pure intimidation.  Men are good at talking down to women and often they don’t even know they’re doing it, which is why ‘mansplain’ is Macquarie Dictionary’s word of the year (Gray 2015).  I’ve seen and experienced when women are promoted that the men feel the need to explain to women how to do their job whereas they don’t do the same for their fellow man in exactly the same promotional position.  A friend of mine, a data analyst, works in a male-dominated industry and feels subjected to mansplaining on a daily basis.

    This is one of the reasons I like social media, it gives me a voice.  I’ve seen the stats and know that not many people read this blog but at least I’ve been able to express myself, uninterrupted.  But I’ve also seen the horrendous trolling that has occurred on social media and am particularly horrified at the way women protesting violence in video games have been treated.  Thankfully for me, Twitter has connected me with strong women prepared to label themselves as feminists and to speak against misogyny and slowly I’m becoming braver to speak up about it too.  We have been silenced for long enough.

  2. Tell me a story…

    29 October 2014 by shartley

    Image Source: RBA

    Inspired by Cameron Paterson to use images for inspiring thinking processes, to commence the topic of Unemployment for HSC Economics I handed out a different graph from the RBA Chart Pack related to Unemployment and gave students in pairs 15 minutes to tell me a story about what the chart told them.  I said I was looking for drama and climatic turning points.  They then presented their stories to the rest of the class.  The stories won’t win them many points in an Economics HSC Exam but it certainly engaged them in the topic and allowed them to be more creative and think deeply about Unemployment.  The story below is the result of one pair based on the graph pictured above, while not 100% accurate, it demonstrated creative thinking about the graph.  Please note the concluding paragraph was a deliberate ploy to include several English terms.

    Picture this: Australia in 2002-5, a bustling economy struggling to establish itself with the giants of the world against insurmountable odds. The economy had job vacancies higher than the advertisements for these jobs, showing the lack of awareness of these jobs. Never fear though because after 2005 there was a sharp increase in the advertisements for jobs, with only a marginal increase in the job vacancies. At this point in time the advertisements were actually higher than the vacancies, showing the desperate need for awareness regarding job vacancies. PEOPLE WERE CRYING OUT FOR HELP, AND THERE WAS NO WHITE KNIGHT RIDING TO SAVE THEM. This travesty is due to the Global Financial Crisis, which hit Australia at the peak of advertisements shown in the graph, when vacancies were 1% lower than advertisements. In 2008 the vacancy trend was removed completely from the graph. This could be due to the vast amount of vacancies as the GFC hit, causing a substantial outlier in the graph that would affect the average too much. 

    A DARK DAY IN 2009 WHEN the Advertisements nosedived in, after everyone was made redundant as a result of the GFC, and the vacancy of those jobs were no longer available.

    The vacancy trend picked up again in 2010, staying just above the advertisements, and mirroring its trend from 1.5% of the labour force to just above one percent in present day.  A TREMENDOUS VICTORY FOR THE GOVERNMENT, BUSINESS AND THE INDIVIDUALS THAT MAKE UP THE ECONOMY AS A WHOLE. THE WORKING CLASS. THE COUNCIL WORKERS AND THE JOE BLOW FROM FRIENDLY GROCER.

    This is a tremendous story, cohesively highlighting the economical and unemployment  trends experienced by Australia, and allegorically represents a microcosm of an economy experiencing the fluctuation in job vacancies whilst fighting to keep unemployment at a controlled level. 

  3. Pedagogy

    13 October 2013 by shartley


    Photos by author

    I have recently been immersed in a wide range of activities learning about curriculum, pedagogy and technology in schools.  As a consequence I am attempting to write a series of related blog posts. Yesterday I wrote about IT Infrastructure.  Today I’m writing about pedagogy with a focus on research by Kalantzis and Cope, as seen in their New Learning website.

    I don’t have a single pedagogical model to call my own.  I am deeply cynical and resent prescribed models dictating a single way of teaching, yet this week I had to present on 21st Century Fluencies because this is a the model I’ve been training teachers in PD sessions at my school, as part of my role on the Innovative Learning Team. Solution Fluency is just one style of Project Based Learning (PBL) and PBL is just one pedagogical practice. What I like about PBL is its focus on process as much or more than the product.

    I believe teaching should be a balance of a whole variety of methods and be flexible according to circumstances, with circumstances being anything from the students themselves to the weather.

    Kalantzis and Cope (2012, p.86) describe today’s typical learning environment accurately, “We have in our classes today a generation of young people who will be bored and frustrated by learning environments that fail to engage every fiber of their intellectual and active capabilities”.

    I hence also like how Kalantzis and Cope (2012, p.84) advocate for traditional teaching “to be replaced by new notions of ‘learning design’”.  In some ways planning for learning is my favourite part of teaching because Plan A is for a perfect world where students behave according to expectations and technology works as it should and I’m excited for its potential.  It is then a case of Plan B, Plan C and so on as all the possible variables come into play.  Plan A generally focuses on “addressing the big questions” (p.84), much in line with the programming model my school follows, Understanding by Design, not that I think this needs to be followed strictly either.

    I would love to see schools that Kalantzis and Cope (2012) call “sites of energetic intellectual inquiry and practical solution development” (p.86) and my previous school was trying to do this but at the expense of other aspects of education, such as nurturing students.  I think this community centre of thinking is almost science fiction idealism but I dream.

    Back to class, I like students to be active in their learning, meaning I am student centred in my pedagogy.  I’m not so fond of the term student-directed because I believe, in the main, students still need to be provided with direction, although there should be a place for passion projects.  This why I’m against open-plan learning but support flexible learning spaces so that learning can occur at a cohort level, large groups, classes, small groups, triplets, pairs or alone.

    Technology must have a role in Australian education because it is so integrated into our daily lives and is engaging for students.  It also allows for a wider audience and collaborators outside textbooks, schools and teachers’ own knowledge.  Thus learning is more connected to reality.  Students therefore need to be literate and discerning with technology.

    My pedagogical model is a mixed bag but my motto, Keeping it Real, is what’s closest to my heart.


    Kalantzis, M. & Cope, B.  (2012) New learning: a charter for change in education, Critical Studies in Education, 53:1, pp.83-94

  4. Try Twitter

    19 November 2012 by shartley


    I have spent too many hours over the weekend preparing this simple guide as to why and how to use Twitter for a PD session I’m running at my school this evening: TryTwitter

    Special thanks to @betchaboy, @edumenic, @lasic, @MitchSquires@Woojm and all others mentioned in the handout.  If you want your name/Twitter handle  removed please let me know.




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