Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Swedish Moonbats Suppress Knowledge of Communist Genocide

There's a reason 90% of Swedish students aged 15-20 don't know what a gulag is, despite living in the neighborhood of the former Soviet Union. Swedish moonbats openly hold that knowledge of communist atrocities must be suppressed, lest people develop conservative views:
A recent opinion piece in Biblioteksbladet magazine (a periodical for Swedish librarians) denounced the government's plan to spread knowledge to students about the horrors of communism. In the article, two school librarians write that informing students about the crimes of communism would be wrong as it would risk making the pupils' views more right-wing.

Kjell Albin Abrahamsson, who worked as a foreign correspondent in communist countries, was enraged by the piece, noting that by its own admission the Russian government killed 32 million "counterrevolutionaries" during the Soviet era. (The total number of people killed by their own communist governments during the 20th Century is estimated at over 100 million.) Nonetheless:
Support for communism, both hidden and visible, is still quite prevalent among many groups of intellectuals, such as journalists, librarians and those writing in the culture pages of the daily papers. Indeed, outright supporters of communism can be found not only in the Swedish Left Party but also in the Green Party and in the ranks of the influential Social Democrats.

One symptom of this tendency is the widely believed myth among Swedes that Cuba is a relatively prosperous welfare state, offering a decent quality of life and fantastic healthcare to its citizens. Few bother to question the official statistics from a communist country where thousands of citizens have lost their lives whilst attempting to escape on rafts to the United States. Cuba might have gone from being the richest country in Central American to being the second poorest due to Castro's rule - but this has not stopped Swedish intelligentsia from spreading a positive view of his policies.

Similarly, Swedish journalists seem more interested in pointing out that Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is a morally superior socialist standing up to the vile Americans, than looking at his dubious moves towards a socialist planned economy and authoritarian rule.

Moonbats who continue to advocate communism aren't slow learners who haven't yet caught on that their ideology invariably leads to oppression, misery, and death. They know what they want: evil. For evil to triumph, truth must be suppressed. This is why leftists flock to careers in journalism and academia that put them in positions to keep the good in ignorance, the better to corrupt them.


Happiness lessons: What crap

The latest looniness from Britain. Anything that is not objectively assessable they love. After all, they are extraordinarily bad at teaching things that ARE objectively assessable, like the "3Rs"

Feeling down today? OK, let's talk about how you feel and start again. With this touchy-feely approach, the Government is hoping to bring about a revolution in the classroom. Today Ed Balls, the Education Secretary, will announce that lessons in happiness, wellbeing and good manners are to be introduced in all state secondary schools. The initiative follows an extensive pilot of a programme called Seal (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) in primary schools, which has been found to boost both academic performance and discipline by helping children to better understand their emotions.

[Assessed under "double-blind" conditions? Not if it is like most educational "research". So any benefit was probably a "Hawthorne Effect". It now seems generally agreed that there was no Hawthorne effect at the Hawthorne plant but we know something close to it as the placebo effect -- possibly the best documented therapeutic effect in medicine. The basic lesson of the Hawthorne study was that any changes made with enthusiasm had some benefit.]

The adoption of "wellbeing" classes by state schools suggests that emotional intelligence - a term coined in 1995 by psychologists in Britain - has now become entrenched firmly in the educational mainstream. Ministers are convinced that teaching children to express their feelings, manage their anger and empathise with other people makes for a calmer school and boosts concentration and motivation.

It is not just the pupils that benefit. Research published today by the Institute of Education (IoE) into the effect of Seal in primary schools indicates that it is equally beneficial for teachers, reducing their stress levels and boosting their enthusiasm for study. The approach includes wellbeing assemblies and one-to-one sessions in which pupils may, for example, be told a story about a personal conflict that they are then encouraged to discuss.

The wellbeing ethos will be incorporated into all lessons and even into playtime through the use of positive phrases and ideas, such as "OK, let's start again" and "people like me succeed". Susan Hallam, author of the IoE research, suggested that the Seal programme was the perfect antidote to the intense pressure imposed on schools by the testing regime and exam league tables. "Most of the effort in recent years has been on academic work. Seal gives teachers and pupils permission to think about things that are not academic. It allows them to take time to consider how they think about themselves and others," she said.

Professor Hallam evaluated the impact of the Seal in a sample of primary schools from 25 local authorities that used the programme between 2003 and 2005. The programme had seven themes including, "good to be me", "getting on and falling out" and "relationships". Finding that the programme helped them to understand their pupils, teachers noticed that they were shouting less and resolving conflicts more easily. Queues of naughty children outside the head teachers' offices diminished or disappeared entirely. Because the children were more relaxed, their learning, motivation, willing to interact with those from different backgrounds and cultures," Professor Hallam said. Children's behaviour at home also changed: they tidied up without being asked and had fewer confrontations with their siblings.

Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College in Berkshire, who has pioneered wellbeing classes in the independent school sector, said the approach was based on hard evidence. "We know much more about how to teach children to be emotionally resilient and self-reliant and to be able to manage their emotions than we did. Even ten years ago there was no empirical evidence to support this approach, but now there is," he said.

Oli Marjot, 16, who took wellbeing lessons at Wellington last year, said: "The wellbeing lessons were a pool of calm. They don't teach you to be happy all the time. They teach you about how to deal with things when you are not happy." But Seal does have its critics. Frank Furedi, Professor of sociology at Kent University and author of Therapy Culture, has cautioned that children are more likely to develop emotional problems if they are encouraged to become obsessed with their emotions.


IQ tests rediscovered in Australia

Although he was shy, overweight and pushing 40, Paul Potts somehow summoned the nerve to perform on the show Britain's Got Talent. He appeared on stage in a wrinkled shirt and cheap, ill-fitting jacket and trembling like a leaf. You could see the three judges looking at each other, wondering what this mobile phone salesman was doing there as he prepared to sing Puccini's Nessun Dorma. But he went on to win the competition and was signed by a record company. People who do not appear to have ability sometimes go on to achieve great things. We need a university entrance system which takes this into account.

Our tertiary admissions system is like a footrace. The first students to cross the finishing line - those with the highest entrance scores - gain entry to the most popular courses at the most prestigious universities; those who run a bit slower get to study less popular courses, and so on. It sounds fair, but is it? In most races, the runners begin at the same starting line, which is rarely true in life. Some students have the advantage of private schooling while others struggle in under-resourced schools; some help out their families by working part-time while others may use the time for extra tutoring.

A fair system should take unequal starting points into account. There are two ways to do this. One is to use special "access" schemes to allow students from deprived backgrounds to enter courses they would not get into under the competitive admissions system. Because these students may displace students with higher entry scores, access schemes face substantial political resistance from those with higher entry marks. In addition, many academics worry that students admitted just because they are socially or economically deprived may lack the necessary motivation or the academic potential to succeed.

This is where admissions tests, such as the one we intend to introduce at Macquarie University this year, can help to uncover hidden talent among educationally disadvantaged students. I expect that those who will be most interested in taking the test will be students whose entry mark has been adversely affected by illness, family problems or poor schooling. This test is already being used by the Australian National University and Monash. No test is perfect, but the UniTest, at least, makes no assumptions about schooling. For example, students may be asked to read and answer questions about a paragraph. All the necessary information is contained in the paragraph, so the test assesses only reasoning, not knowledge.

Tertiary admissions tests had their debut at Harvard University 60 years ago, when the university was the preserve of wealthy students whose families could afford to send them to the best preparatory schools. James Conant, the president of Harvard at the time, believed talented students were missing out because their poor schooling did not prepare them for the curriculum-based achievement tests that Harvard used to select students. He wanted selection to be based, at least in part, on a general "aptitude" test that was not linked to any particular school experience. In Conant's view, such a test would produce an even playing field in which working-class and middle-class students could compete in a contest of brains rather than bank accounts. The test he chose was the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

By the 1990s the test was producing revenue of about $US200 million a year. But critics questioned its status as a test of innate ability. Studies found that coaching improved performance, although how much was debatable, and certainly good schooling helped students achieve higher scores. This doesn't mean the Scholastic Aptitude Test is not useful. The test predicts first-year university performance - the reason it is still widely used to select students.

Although the admissions test may help make the system fairer, it is important to remember that no test can be guaranteed to uncover every Paul Potts. There is no perfectly objective selection device and there never will be. All examinations are influenced by social and economic factors and by life experiences. The best we can hope for is that universities will use test results as part of a holistic assessment. University admissions will always be more of an art than a science and the playing field may never be completely flat, but we can make admissions fairer by using admissions tests.


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