Thursday, November 01, 2007

New Zealand school incriminates mother for slapping son's hand

Post below lifted from NZ Conservative. See the original for links

There were several interesting aspects to this case:

1. The mother says her family feels traumatised after a visit from CYF and later (for a separate incident), by three policemen. The policemen questioned (interrogated?) her child separately. I wonder if that was without a third party witness? She feels she has been labeled a "child abuser" for a simple smack on the hand.

2. The mother was in favour of the changes to s59. Obviously, she bought the line that this law change was around stopping violent abusers from getting off serious abuse by a legal loophole. It wasn't.

3. She did not want to be named because she 'fears losing her children'. There were a few notable cases in Sweden where parents said they had been threatened with losing their children if they made any aspect of the case public. It is likely that those that will speak out are going to be in the minority. We can expect this theme of blackmailing parents by threatening to remove their children for unfavorable public attention will continue here.

4. We can see that it will not take much for people to 'dob in' parents for a minor smack, and this in turn will create the climate of fear. She was dobbed in by a school teacher when the child said he got a smack, and a neighbour. Had the child been 'educated' that a smack is a bad thing, so he thought he could use it to gain attention, or as an excuse, not realizing the implications?

5. Ruth Dyson, Associate Social Development Minister believes the CYF intervention was not a result of the law change, but 'reflected greater community sensitivity to child abuse'. Firstly, note how a smack on the hand, that leaves no mark, is equated to child abuse by Dyson. Also, reflect that the law change encourages zealots to report such infractions.

Over time, there will be an increase in cases where the punishment of removing children from basically good families will far outweigh the "crime" of physical discipline. Will we learn of these cases however? Will parents be forced to remain silent for fear of never getting their children back?

Update and related link: Dave at Big News has the Mother's side of the story in the form of a letter to Family First.

11:00PM - As usual, scrubone weighs in with a worthy post on this topic, by reminding us how hard Sue Bradford [of the NZ government] tried to sell us that this is all about the violent abusers, not a little smack

Australia: Grammar comeback?

GRAMMAR will return to Queensland classrooms in Years 11 and 12 under a revised English syllabus requiring that students be taught grammar, spelling and punctuation. The Queensland Studies Authority, which is responsible for school curriculums, says a new senior English syllabus to be taught from 2009 will remove the "over-emphasis on critical literacy" used to analyse literature. Critical literacy is a theory used to analyse texts which holds that language is never neutral and should be dissected to reveal how the writer is manipulating the reader.

The changes are based on a report by the executive dean of arts at the University of Queensland, Richard Fotheringham, which recommends the syllabus be more specific about the novels, plays and poems that students should study. The report was commissioned last year by Queensland Education Minister Rod Welford, who has called for "plain English guidelines" and criticised the "post-modern mumbo jumbo" in the state's English syllabus.

In an article in the QSA journal, director Kim Bannikoff said the revised syllabus would encourage teachers to use a range of approaches to texts. "The narrow focus on 'socio-critical elements' will be reframed so students are assessed on their evaluative thinking skills and decision-making in the reading and writing of texts," he says. Mr Bannikoff refused to elaborate, but a QSA spokesman said socio-critical elements were what developed students' ability to critique texts. "The narrow focus in the past refers to the over-emphasis on critical literacy," the spokesman said. Mr Bannikoff said the syllabus would ensure students studied a range of classic and contemporary novels, poems, plays, films and other works. Teachers can expect more specific advice about what to study and assess.

The QSA spokesman said the syllabus would specify the range and balance of texts to be studied rather than setting mandatory reading lists. The changes were greeted with suspicion by the English Teachers Association of Queensland, whose president, Gary Collins, said teachers would resist plans to remove critical literacy from the syllabus. "We certainly believe a critical literacy approach shouldn't dominate all teaching and assessment tasks," Mr Collins said. "But it would be a decidedly retrograde step if it were to be removed entirely."

A spokeswoman for Mr Welford said the minister was considering the report.


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