by cloudier

key findings of the gonski review

1. There is an urgent need for change. The Gonski Review found that Australia is
investing far too little in schools and the way the money is distributed is not efficient,
effective or fair. The system is failing too many students who are missing out on the
resources they need.
2. There are growing gaps in student achievement. While Australia remains a high
achieving nation in education, our overall performance has fallen in the last decade.
Students in disadvantaged areas are up to three years behind those of the same age
who live in wealthy areas. One in seven 15 year old students does not have basic
reading skills.
3. We must invest for success. The review recommends a major increase in funding
to schools. The way it is distributed would also change to better meet the needs of
students. It says public schools should get the greatest increases in funding for
additional staff, learning programs and upgraded facilities. Funding would vary
according to the needs of students, but the average increase would be almost $1,500
a student per year. That is enough for seven extra teachers in a public school with 500
4. The Federal Government needs to lead the way. Gonski recommends a much
greater funding commitment to public schools from the Federal Government. Currently
it is only providing 15 per cent of the money that public schools receive, despite
having access to greater revenue sources than state and territory governments
5. Our children’s future is at stake. The report’s recommendations are aimed at
ensuring every child has the same chance to receive a high quality education. But
Gonski warns a failure to act will cost not only our children but our country: “Australia
will only slip further behind unless, as a nation, we act and act now.”


Q. What has been the response from the politicians in Canberra to
the Gonski Review’s findings?
A. So far there has been no commitment to deliver the additional funding that
Gonski warned is so urgently required for our children. Labor has committed
to introducing legislation based on the recommendations this year but no
timetable has been set. The Coalition says there should be no changes to the
existing system until at least 2017.
Q. What will happen if the additional funding and changes
recommended by Gonski are not delivered?
A. The review makes it clear that the cost of inaction for students and our
country will be significant. A lack of resources will continue to hold back too
many students and make it harder for them to get the skills and knowledge
they need for secure, well-paid jobs. The economic and social cost for our
country of failing to lift student performance and help students overcome
disadvantage will also be significant. As the Review stated: “Australia will only
slip further behind unless, as a nation, we act and act now.”

Living with Nyota the Bonobo

A Life Outside the Research Center

Unlike baby humans, young bonobos are never left alone by their families, not even for a minute. So for three years, Fields and Nyota were together all the time, day and night. When Fields slept, Nyota curled up beside him. When he took a shower, Nyota came along. And when he had to go run errands, he tucked Nyota under his coat, and told him to be very very quiet.

Fields was worried about taking his baby away from the protection of home. But he insisted that Nyota be allowed to leave the research center with him, an opportunity that other bonobos had not had, because Fields wanted him to know about the human world.

Sometimes they went to the drive-through. Occasionally, Nyota would try a French fry, but mostly he liked the little toys that came with them. They also went to the Dairy Queen, where he got peanut butter parfait and met up with a human friend Nyota particularly liked.

Introducing people to a baby bonobo can be tricky.

“I would go [into a restaurant] and say ‘Look, I have a special friend and this is his phototgraph, and his name is Nyota,'” Fields says. “And everybody would ooh and ahh, and they’d say look at the monkey. And I’d say, well he’s not a monkey, he’s an ape.” Then Fields would ask if Nyota could come to the window and hand the cashier money.

This is all part of Field’s job. He is an ethnographer, and when he began working with bonobos, he set out to do something that has never been done before: describe the culture of a non-human society.

So Fields did what ethnographers do, he went to live with the subject population he’s describing.

Fields always wanted to work with apes. As a child he loved Tarzan movies and told his parents he wanted to go live with chimpanzees. His work in ethnography eventually led to a paper about language and the use of tools, and the bonobo Kanzi, who had both.


Confidence is bred from privilege and security, two things which women lack – in both cases, sadly, due to men. It’s difficult for men to understand a woman’s perspective on threatening language or behaviour, on lewd remarks, or even on the prospect of walking home alone, along a dark street. The world is actually two radically different places, yet we see only one.

Our selective generalisation is something that often strikes me. A positive or praiseworthy act by one man is implicitly claimed by all; it’s the essence of our socially-conditioned entitlement. Yet the acts most quickly stereotyped for women are those that are foolish, or poorly considered, or accidentally amusing.

Women are very aware of it. Their implicit ambassadorship is the bane of every woman who stalls a car, feeling the real or imagined weight of male derision turning towards her. The assumption (very often, sadly correct) that any error will be generalised across one’s entire gender, and will only serve to confirm and reinforce preexisting biases. A pressure that men rarely face.

(via beep beep boop)

The ‘Busy’ Trap

“The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play. That’s why we have to destroy the present politico-economic system.” This may sound like the pronouncement of some bong-smoking anarchist, but it was actually Arthur C. Clarke, who found time between scuba diving and pinball games to write “Childhood’s End” and think up communications satellites. My old colleague Ted Rall recently wrote a column proposing that we divorce income from work and give each citizen a guaranteed paycheck, which sounds like the kind of lunatic notion that’ll be considered a basic human right in about a century, like abolition, universal suffrage and eight-hour workdays. The Puritans turned work into a virtue, evidently forgetting that God invented it as a punishment.