Strong opinions cannot be manufactured; they tend to stem from experiences and personal findings. For Tony Edwards, this is especially true as he has a strong perspective on Australia’s education system.
Mr. Edwards, who was a teacher, left high school functionally illiterate but now looks back and believes education should take place of high importance. However, he believes that the current system only halts learning.
“Education to me is a bizarre thing, because at the age of five you learn to construct a sentence for the first time in your life. Then you’re sent to an institute that tells you to be quiet. Then at the age of 11 you develop good motor skills to run and play sport and you’re sent to another institute that only lets you move every 40 minutes to an hour. But if a student does not comply with these guidelines, they are suspended…”
Mr. Edwards thoughts and ideas come from a past of feeling like he was the “dumb kid” but now he knows that he learns differently, like many other children struggling with the school system.
“Education at the moment, is only really focused on the top 5-10% and everybody else is in there somewhere.”
With a desire to help children just like him, Mr. Edwards sought teaching as a career. For 15 years, he took the initiative to make his class different so that students were encouraged to learn in an environment where they were not expected to be a certain way.
“I built desks that students could stand at and I had bean bags so that they could sit. No body was getting in trouble. Some of the kids who weren’t able to read or write in year 7 were able to take notes from a video in year 8, so it definitely helped their learning process.”
The education system could be the very reason why many students walk away from school believing that they are just “dumb”. But having been there himself, Mr. Edwards believes that different people learn in different ways.
“I was very proud of my students, they are probably my greatest heroes.”
With the Stella Fella Friday event held last week at the Beresford Hotel in Sydney’s Surry Hills, an organization known as Project Futures aim to raise funds for the Salvation Army.
Shining a light on the outstanding men across the Australian community, Project Futures has been successful in raising over $100,000 for their current campaign. “A hundred thousand dollars means we can be alongside more people” the head of the Salvo’s Services, Melanie-Anne Holland said.
“We rely on partnerships like the one with Project Futures to keep our services up and running… It’s a step by step process but we see the results everyday”.
Purchasing a bowtie for Stella Fella contributes to the partnership with the Salvation Army’s anti-human trafficking unit, an initiative designed to house up to ten women at one time.
The safe house provides victims of human trafficking with counseling, financial support, education opportunities, immigration and advocacy with legal proceedings. “[It’s] a holistic program to help them regain their confidence and take back their lives” said Holland.
CEO of Project Futures Stephanie Lorenzo, was able to take a positive spin on the issue. “The campaign aims to create male role models within the community to take the lead and set a precedent of support” said Stephanie.
One of the top finalists in the running for the Stella Fella award was finalist, Sasha Lawrence. One of five young leaders running workshops for more than ten thousand young people, the 23 year old nominee also runs the Mali institute (of which he is the CEO).
“I run a lot of workshops for young men and it’s all about being positive males in society… So I think this campaign [Stella Fella] is really clever in that regard”.
Amongst the Project Futures ambassadors was news presenter Matt Doran. “Once I stepped in there [safe house] everything changed for me because you think Australia’s immune entirely from this as a problem when in fact, we’re not.”
Human trafficking now takes place across a range of industries. A study conducted by Project Futures found that people are now being trafficked into domestic servitude, construction, retail and hospitality. It has grown into an industry of over $30 billion a year and has become the fastest growing crime in the world.
Walking through the children’s section of the library; I couldn’t help but spot those old-time, classic books that my mum used to read to me as a child. It brought back so many memories and made me wonder if those memories are the very reason I enjoy books so much. Many adults would recall being read to when they were younger. But with the change in technology, children are constantly accessing tablets and smart phones, making bedtime reading with loved ones a thing of the past.
Many studies have concluded and psychologists agree that the emotional connection between parents and children could just be what births in them a desire to read.
“In my experience, children love books and will engage with them if they have a role model in their life who encourages reading, whether that be a teacher or a relative or a friend.” Said Kylie Fornasier, newly found author.
As a result of an easy-to-use interface, children do not need a family member’s help in reading and learning. Children are being entertained by educational games and activities on technology; the fear is that when reading a book, kids will be easily distracted and will not engage.
“I think that with our busy lifestyle, less parents are reading and sharing books with their children and this has the biggest impact on the next generation’s reading habits.” Said Fornasier.
The Literary Trust (www.literarytrust.org.uk) recently published the results of their survey into the reading habits of 34,910 children aged between 8 and 16 and discovered that: “Those who read daily on-screen are nearly twice less likely to be above average readers than those children reading in print and that those who read eBooks are also three times less likely to enjoy reading.”
Not only for children but also as they grow into adults, there are some negative impacts on the brain when reading online.
Author of “What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains”, Nicholas Carr, has investigated these studies and observed that the emergence of reading encouraged our brains to be focused and imaginative. In contrast, the rise of the Internet is strengthening our ability to scan information rapidly and efficiently.
It was found that navigating through a document that lead to many different links only halts understanding and gives the reader a shallow knowledge of the topic. As a result of disrupting concentration, such activity weakens comprehension.
So, could a visit to the local library every now and then really improve your child’s reading habits and concentration? According to newly found author, Kylie Fornasier, it could very well help. “I think that if I hadn’t grown up surrounded by books, I wouldn’t have started writing my own or be where I am today.”
“There was a strong culture of reading in my family when I was growing up. I had a library card before I began school. I remember going to the library as a family and coming home with the car full of books. Reading before bedtime was a nightly ritual when I was young. My mother would read to my brother and I, and later as we got older, everyone would sit around the lounge room reading their own book. My favourite books are still the ones I remember being read before bedtime.
Lee Castledine, a professional storyteller, has had 25 years of experience in public libraries. The last 6 years, she has been working in Blacktown max Webber library, taking part in initiatives such as story time and baby rhyme time.
“I can’t remember not reading, I had a really good carer who gave me a love of books growing up. We do the same thing here, we give parents and children an exposure to books and stories.”
“It’s important to teach children stories and to teach parents that sharing stories with their kids is a great bonding time and an opportunity to help them learn.” Said Castledine.
Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age”, believes that what can help our children’s imagination and learning could just be our tech habits. “Since so many young children consider screens competition for their parents’ attention and, as they grow older, our tech habits establish a baseline norm for them.”
All that’s left to do now is hope that they don’t pick the longest book tonight for their bedtime story!
‘The Road’ is such a well written piece. There are no chapters, therefore nothing there to encourage you to have a break from the story. He has a wayof forming his sentences that can give you the wrong idea which made it hard to put the book down. With the stench of death smeared on every page, it was refreshing and an absolute delight to see glimmers of hope shared between a father and son. Even with such chaotic circumstances, Cormac beautifully depicts a loving relationship between the two main characters.
“When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.” A brutal story of a father and son trying to survive a country that’s been ravished by war.
I was amazed at how the characters’ tiredness and haze toward the end was actually being transferred on to me as Cormac deliberately writes less and less about the day, time, where they are, how long they’ve been there. This made it scarier and even more gripping as you feared for their lives, not being able to make out what their surroundings might look like and who might be around.
I give this book a 5/5. I can see myself coming back to read it again down the track. I have not seen the movie. Yet.