Social Commentary

Are You Too Busy For a Thumbs Up?

This was originally written for my regular Generation Next Column. It has a handful of comments there that you might like to read.

My 5-year-old son attends swimming lessons each and every Sunday. It’s a busy pool with multiple classes going on at once.

During lessons parents sit around the pool and watch their offspring splash around, offering words of encouragement, the occasional ‘thumbs up’ and many smiles of pride.

You can picture it can’t you? It was pretty much the same as when we learnt to swim… way back when.

However if you’ve actually taken a child to swimming lessons recently you’d know that the picture I’ve painted is actually a fake.

In my experience, parents aren’t offering words of encouragement, thumbs up or even smiles. They’re staring at a screen reading banal Facebook updates, answering ‘important’ emails that simply couldn’t wait until Monday or just surfing mindlessly.

I wonder why?

Have we really convinced ourselves that we are that busy that we can’t devote 30mins of our attention to our kids? Heck even 15mins would be good!

How many of these parents have to lie when their kids ask them, “Did you see me?”

How many of these kids finish a lap to look for a thumbs up, only to find their parents’ thumbs otherwise engaged?

I know this might seem like a trivial matter, but I wonder if it’s just the tip of a much larger iceberg?

I’d be interested to hear what you think… am I worrying about nothing?

Ipad Parents


Shouldn’t every class be an Opportunity Class?

The OC

75 public schools and a large number of independent schools in NSW have an Opportunity Class.

They specifically cater for “academically gifted and talented children in Years 5 and 6.”

The NSWDEC states that:

[Opportunity Classes] provide intellectual stimulation and an educationally rich environment.

Am I missing something?

Is that to suggest other – let’s call them – No Opportunity Classes are not stimulating or educationally rich?

What does that say to those kids who aren’t in the OC – as it’s often called?

Some schools (public and independent) market themselves based on their OC. Some parents believe that the OC is the golden ticket to a selective high school, which in turn is the golden ticket to university, which is – of course – a cast iron guarantee of success… isn’t it?

Perhaps that’s why we hear of stories of babies, or even better… unborn babies being placed on waiting lists for private schools. Or maybe you’ve heard about two-year-olds attending tutoring… all in the hope they’ll get that golden ticket.

All in the hope that they’ll get an opportunity.

Of course I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t cater for our gifted & talented students, but I do believe we should think in broader terms of what constitutes gifts & talents and I also believe that every class should be an opportunity class.

Education Social Commentary

The Great Australian Education Debate

My somewhat cynical, tongue-in-cheek, superficial (call it what you want) take on the education debate in Australia.

Blame Game_01(2)