Friday, March 08, 2013

Computer use linked to literacy for pre-schoolers

The bumptious Susan Greenfield won't like these findings.  A truly odious woman.  For nothing more than her own attention-seeking reasons, she has done her best to upset the world's children

PARENTS of screen-loving pre-schoolers can relax. A new Australian study has found four-year-olds who spend more time on the computer have better knowledge of the alphabet than others.

The Murdoch Children's Research Institute survey of 1500 four-year-olds found more than half used a computer at least once a week.

They found this was closely tied to letter recognition, which is linked to reading and spelling ability.

Researcher Professor Sheena Reilly said greater computer use among pre-schoolers "appears to have a positive association with emerging literacy development" and was much better than watching TV.

Computer products, such as keyboard games, are marketed to children as young as nine months old.

"These days you do see lots of kids playing games on iPads and iPhones and even reading books on them," Prof Reilly said.

She said the link between literacy and computers remained significant even when researchers controlled for factors such as socioeconomic status and parental reading ability.

"It is possible that the kinds of activities pre-school children engage in when using a computer, including interacting with the letters on the keyboard, stimulate letter knowledge," Prof Reilly said.

But she acknowledged it was "also possible that pre-school children with strong emergent literacy skills and good letter knowledge are more likely to choose to engage in computer-based activities than those with weaker skills".

Prof Reilly said the study did not distinguish between educational and recreational computer use.

Canterbury mother of three and GP Kirstin Charlesworth said her son Lachlan, 5, played letter and number games on the computer.

"It's no replacement for one-on-one time with a parent, but high-quality computer time has its place," Dr Charlesworth said.

"I think it's important that kids go to school with some idea about computers and how to use them."


NSW Minister ignores "expert" climate panel

NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker has not met the state's climate change council - a group set up to advise the government - for more than a year, despite repeated pleas during the recent heatwaves and floods.

Departmental staff said the delay was a symptom of "paralysis" afflicting the government over its climate change policies, with key studies delayed or shelved. The council - comprising top business, emergency services and science leaders - has written to Ms Parker, seeking her response to its "request for engagement".

After Fairfax Media contacted the government this week, the minister indicated she would start consulting the council again.

In its letter to Ms Parker the council said "current and future NSW governments may find that extreme events exceed their capacity to respond effectively with serious economic, societal and political consequences".

The council, set up in 2008 to provide impartial advice, asked that the government undertake a strategic examination of risks from extreme weather and climate variability. "We do now have a malaise where the politics is preventing investment in renewables, or in coal or coal seam gas for that matter," said a member, John Connor, chief executive of the Climate Institute.

But he and other members stressed they were keen to engage constructively with the government.

Ms Parker was unavailable to discuss climate policies this week. In a statement she said the council had been put on ice while a review of policies was undertaken but it would meet again soon.

"Climate change is a global issue and it is appropriate that mitigation efforts are led by the federal government," it said. "The NSW government takes climate change seriously and is focused on removing unnecessary duplication between state and federal schemes and delivering programs that are both cost effective and efficient."

The government will soon release a new policy on wind energy, and a document on energy efficiency. It supports the federal opposition's promise to replace the carbon price with a different pricing system that it calls "direct action". But NSW relies heavily on the carbon price to cut emissions.


Unis fear teacher reforms will deter students

They will. Only desperates or the dedicated would want to take up teaching in Australia's now chaotic and dumbed-down schools.  NSW will just not get the high achieving students they want into their absurd teacher-training courses

Universities have hit out at the government's new HSC benchmarks for teachers, claiming it is an attack on their independence and a poor measure of the future success of a teacher.

As part of reforms designed to improve the quality of teaching in NSW, the O'Farrell government on Thursday announced school leavers hoping to become teachers would have to achieve at least three Band 5, or results over 80 per cent, in at least three subjects, including English.

Only 28 per cent of all of last year's HSC students would meet that standard, according to the NSW Board of Studies.

"Universities are autonomous, self-governing institutions," Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said. "This action significantly and seriously undermines the independence of universities."

Ms Robinson said it was probable that many universities, particularly those in regional areas, would see a drop in enrolments as a result. She called into question a claim made by Premier Barry O'Farrell on Wednesday that raising the standards would encourage more people into the profession.

"The way to lift prestige would be to really address the serious issue of remuneration," she said.

The government blueprint flagged the possibility of a new pay structure to recognise teachers who achieve accreditation in more senior roles, now known as "Highly Accomplished" or "Lead Teachers". The most a classroom teacher in NSW can earn now is $90,000 a year, according to the NSW Teachers Federation.

Several university leaders expressed concern that the new benchmarks could contradict agreed standards.

In 2011 state and federal education ministers agreed that all "applicants' levels of personal literacy and numeracy should be broadly equivalent to those of the top 30 per cent of the population" but it has not yet been determined how that standard would be achieved.

But Edmund Mission, general manager at the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, said the NSW benchmarks were consistent with that plan. "It sounds to me like it lines up pretty well," he said.


Changes to Federal act will limit union access to sites

Union officials face limits on the number of visits they can make to factories and worksites under the latest changes by the Gillard government to the Fair Work Act.

Big employers, such as BHP Billiton, have complained union officials have been abusing right-of-entry rules and in some cases have made hundreds of visits to its sites.

It is believed that under the proposed changes, the Fair Work Commission will be able to decide if there have been too many visits.

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten hosted a meeting with employer groups and unions on Thursday to discuss the new proposals as well as the government's already flagged changes around work-and-life balance.

It is believed the changes will also give unions greater rights as to where they can meet workers.

In 2008, Fairfax Media reported a case where male and female workers at a factory in Melbourne's west were forced by their employer to hold meetings in the women's toilet area.

Union officials also complained they are often forced to meet workers in a boardroom or an area where they are watched by management, a situation that discourages workers from attending.

Under the changes, it is believed union officials will be able to meet workers during meal and other breaks in the area where workers spend those breaks.

Mr Shorten is also understood to have signalled there will be limited access to arbitration on new projects, known as greenfields agreements, when talks break down.

In those cases Fair Work Australia will resolve the impasse.


Police arrive hour late to call to find woman dead in Cairns home after reports of a disturbance

A one-hour response time is GOOD for Qld. cops!

POLICE have launched an internal investigation relating to the suspicious death of a woman in Cairns after officers arrived at the house an hour after the call for help.

Police were called to attend a home in Boden Street, Edge Hill, about 9.20pm Wednesday after a disturbance.

When officers arrived, an unconscious woman was found inside the house and attempts to revive the woman were unsuccessful.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 38-year-old Townsville man has been charged with acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm.

“Initial inquiries by investigating police have identified that the police response occurred about one hour after the call for assistance,” a police statement said.

“The circumstances of the police response are subject of an independent internal investigation by the Queensland Police Service Ethical Standards Command, with overview from the Crime and Misconduct Commission.”

The death of this woman has also been reported to the State Coroner.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Ourselves and some neighbors caught the Aboriginal kids that had been burgling our street like it was the Kowanyama supermarket. Completely fearless they were, and completely stupid as it turned out. One neighbor down the street told Cairns police that if they didn't come right bloody now he would get his gun out and do their job for them. That got them moving. To be fair though, since the Community grog bans came in the black crime rate here has skyrocketed as all the scumbags have drifted to town for a drink. Oh, and the drugs. The psych ward is full of black kids with hydroponic weed-induced psychoses. You won't get that from the Courier Mail or Cairns Post. For the Police its like running a wildlife range. Doesn't matter where you are there's always somewhere else you need to be. Now if they put less effort into revenue-raising Statute-based penalty hunting....