Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The church of political correctness controls national discourse

The desire to belong to an organisation with a coherent body of beliefs and to spread this gospel to others has always been a strong one for many people.

Like these older religions, the PCC subscribes to a long list of doctrines, among the most prominent of which are:

* Formal legal status for same-sex marriage.

* An alarmist view of climate change and its causes.

* Depiction of Australian society as essentially racist.

* Support for a bill of rights.

* Scepticism about the police and other law enforcement agencies, especially in relation to anti-terrorism legislation.

* Indifference to issues of border security.

* Hostility to Israel in the context of conflict in the Middle East.

It may be noted that none of these views involves any economic costs to those who hold them.

The PCC is generally wealthy and concerned to stay that way. Most of its members are not particularly interested in the distribution of society’s resources.

There is also some overlap between these views and the policies of the Greens, although the PCC generally prefers not to be identified with any particular political party.

Some of these views, of course, may be justifiable in whole or in part, but the PCC is not interested in debating them. Like many religious movements in history, it considers that anyone who rejects even one of these doctrines is not merely misguided but part of an evil conspiracy and deserving of suppression.

The debate over freedom of speech and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act exemplified this. By making it unlawful to insult or offend some sections of the community, this provision, if the PCC were to be believed, was necessary to prevent Australians engaging in racist behaviour as bad as in the US deep south in the 1950s and 60s.

The PCC is relatively small in a numerical sense and many of its tenets are not supported by popular sentiment in the wider community. But its influence is considerable because of where its members are located.

This is because its members dominate large sections of the media; most teaching staff in universities; all legal professional bodies; the senior ranks of the federal and state bureaucracies; and the management of several large corporations.

It is not true, of course, that every person in these organisations shares all or even some of the PCC doctrines. But any dissenters must be well aware that their career prospects could be seriously harmed by expressing a contrary opinion.

This is particularly true for people at the start of their careers and not yet established in a secure position. And it is again reminiscent of many religious groups: it is not enough to accept most but not all of the doctrines. Disagreement with any one of them leads automatically to exclusion from the group. As in many previous periods of history, silence is often the safest course of action.

There is an interesting question as to how the PCC came to capture so many influential organisations in Australian society, especially since this phenomenon seems to date only from the early 80s.

It is true that there are some strong strains of political correctness in other countries, including Britain and the US, but Australia seems to have led the way in this exercise and produced a much greater stifling of public debate on social and political questions.

Why this is so is a conundrum, although the answer may have something to do with the huge ­expansion of universities over this period and the introduction of PCC material into school cur­riculums.

The difficulty about reversing this situation is that once people in organisations realise that a particular set of views is expected of them, they are unlikely to advertise any contrary opinions, so the present system is self-reinforcing.

There are still contrary voices in Australia to this stifling regime, but any dissenters need to have an established position in society so that they are immune from persecution by these grimly determined and utterly humourless zealots.


David Leyonhjelm parodies Kevin Rudd's apology to stolen generations

Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm has parodied Kevin Rudd’s historic stolen generations apology speech in an election video on tax and spending policy.

On 13 February 2008 the former prime minister apologised for the “hurt, pain and suffering” the parliament had caused Indigenous people.

On Monday Leyonhjelm released a three-minute election video apologising to Australian taxpayers for the “needless pain, suffering and hurt” caused by government taxes and regulation.

“At long last we acknowledge the mistreatment of Australian taxpayers, amongst the longest suffering peoples on this land,” he says.

“We reflect, in particular, on the systematic punishment meted out to wealth creators and of the relentless grab of their hard-earned money.

“On behalf of my fellow legislators, past and present, I apologise for the laws and policies of successive Coalition and Labor governments that have inflicted a profound loss of wealth on its citizens and deprived them of their liberties.”

Leyonhjelm asks for a minute to reflect on how money had been wasted on middle-class welfare, 2 million public servants and failed Aboriginal welfare spending.

“The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past,” the NSW senator said.

The LDP, represented in parliament only by Leyonhjelm, is campaigning for a 20% flat tax on income and companies, abolition of import tariffs and the scrapping of taxes on alcohol, tobacco and fuel.


Labor must stop union Games delays: LNP

Queensland's Labor government must stand up to union bosses to ensure preparations for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games get back on track following construction delays, the opposition says.
Liberal National Party leader Tim Nicholls says "militant CFMEU activity" is threatening the timely delivery of the key Carrara Sports and Recreation venue for the Games, to be held in April 2018 .

Mr Nicholls is urging Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to heed Gold Coast Organising Committee (GOLDOC) chairman Peter Beattie's calls for industrial issues to be resolved.

The opposition leader said Ms Palaszczuk can't "pass the buck" as it was a state government project and the biggest event Queensland would host this decade.

"Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to take action to ensure these Games are delivered, taxpayers funds aren't wasted and jobs aren't being lost," Mr Nicholls said on Monday.

Mr Beattie has told The Courier-Mail that any delay in the construction of facilities for the Games was of concern.
"We are keen to see the industrial issues resolved as quickly as possible," he told the newspaper.

"This can only be achieved by negotiations between the parties or by the intervention of the Fair Work Commission".

The commission has commenced proceedings against the CFMEU and two of its officials over the work stoppages.

It alleges the $126 million taxpayer-funded project has been disrupted by twice-daily, two-hour-long union meetings organised by the CFMEU.

The Federal Court on Friday ordered that no more than one meeting a week be held until a trial begins on July 25 to determine whether the union used the stoppages to "coerce" the head contractor into signing a new enterprise agreement on its terms.

A spokeswoman for Commonwealth Games Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said all infrastructure, including the Carrara project, was on track to be delivered 12 months ahead of the Games.


General Morrison goes too far with his politically correct nonsense

LISTEN up guys – and that includes all you ballbreaking sheilas reading this – it’s time to man up and fight back against the gay political correctness garbage infesting our lives.

Last week’s moronic video by the laughably entitled Australian of the Year David Morrison was, for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I can no longer sit around passively on my backside, as so many of us have done for decades, while this never-satisfied army of politically correct censors inflict their retarded ideologies on our language and freedom of speech.
Australian of the Year David Morrison is merely a stooge for political correctness in his video Words at Work.

Mr Morrison, get knotted. It is my language and I will use it how I choose.

I love our language. I love its innuendo, its cheekiness, its bawdiness and its sarcasm. I love its variety, its ever-changing colloquialisms and its garden of delightful hidden meanings and wicked word plays.

English, going back to Chaucerian and Shakespearean times, is without a doubt the most fun, inventive and versatile language on the planet.

No other language offers the richness of meaning and subtlety. No other language lives, breathes and constantly adapts itself as does our mother tongue.

And very few other languages have its wealth of rude, crass, hilarious, cutting, insightful and sarcastic means of causing offence and poking fun at ourselves and at others.

And in Australia, courtesy of our mixed Cockney and Irish backgrounds, the Aussie version of English has held its own in terms of inventiveness, coarseness and subversive humour.

So I will no longer be cowed by the quasi-socialists and self-pitying misery brigades of the Left in Australia who endlessly seek to mould how we think and behave by the process of limiting what words, phrases and concepts are deemed to be “appropriate”.

It’s time to hit back with a campaign to encourage politically incorrect thoughts and words: #unPCwithme, or something like that.

Listen to this balderdash (what a great word! No doubt they’ll try and ban it soon, too) from the former Chief of the Army and now Chief Nanny-state Wowser of the Year in his ludicrous video:

“Every day at work, there are hazards that you walk past without realising just how dangerous they are,” was his opening line – accompanied by Hitchcock-style Psycho music to ramp up the fear.
Harden up guys and all you ballbreaking sheilas who can’t cope with the language of the workplace.

(Note also the deliberate use of “that you walk past” in the script, designed to echo the speech that made Mr Morrison such a leftie hero in the first place).

“Some things are just plain bad for you – I’m talking about the power of words,” he intones, as he stares with a disapproving sneer at … a poster that says “Clean up after yourself. Your mum doesn’t work here!”

The offence, presumably, is to suggest that it is only mums who clean up after messy boys and girls, whereas in our brave new PC world of the Left’s imagining dads must of course do their fair share of the housework too.

Well, Mr Morrison, have I got news for you.

I suspect that in about 90 per cent of normal Aussie households, most of the cleaning up does indeed get done by mum because dad couldn’t be arsed or is too busy watching telly or too hungover to care. It ain’t a perfect world, but at least it’s a tidy one.

Mr Morrison then drivels on about other things we dreadful people in the workforce do and say, such as using the word “guys” as a generic term for men and women (Hollywood Valley Girl slang circa the ’80s), or – Shock! Horror! – using the word “girls” to address a group of, er, girls (sorry – self-important, smug, sanctimonious, whingeing workplace Wendys would be a better description of those depicted in the video).

Oh, and we mustn’t call our female co-workers “feisty” or “ballbreakers”, even when that’s what they are, because we don’t employ the same words to describe our feisty, ballbreaking male co-workers.
I suspect Mum does the cleaning in 90 per cent of normal Aussie households.

True. We tend to use far blunter anglo-saxon words like (children stop reading please) “f--kwit”, “d--khead”, and a certain part of the female anatomy. Give me “ballbreaker” any day. It’s far more imaginative.

As part of #unPCwithme, I encourage universities and workplaces to set up the opposite of the politically correct and nauseating “safe spaces” that have proliferated in recent years, such as the now infamous Oodgeroo Unit at QUT.

Instead, let’s see some specially designated “unPC spaces” or “PC-free time” in which individuals may assemble with the express purpose of nobody giving a rat’s what anybody else says or how they say it.

If you don’t want to hear it, don’t go. But if you want to be able to crack jokes, says daft things, be sarcastic and poke fun at stereotypes without fear of David Morrison popping up over your shoulder, feel free. Chaucer and Shakespeare would be the first to rock up.


Phonics check

One of the policy announcements in the 2016-17 federal budget is a Year 1 phonics check

Why do a phonics check?

Three major reviews of the research on effective literacy teaching methods found there are five essential elements to a high quality, comprehensive for initial reading instruction. They are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

The most contested of these is phonics – the relationship between sounds in speech and letters in writing. There is ongoing debate about the need for explicit phonics instruction, with arguments against phonics often based on misinformation and misconceptions. Many teachers say they teach phonics, but reading specialists argue it is often not taught in the most effective way – with dire consequences for later reading development.

What is a ‘phonics check’?

If a phonics check in Australian schools is modelled on the Phonics Screening Check in England, it is a teacher-administered, oral assessment consisting of 40 decodable words. Twenty of the words are real words like ‘shelf’, twenty are pseudo-words like ‘wep’. The pseudo-words are included because students will not have learned them as sight words.

A phonics check would reveal which schools are teaching phonics well and which need to strengthen their teaching in this area. It would also show which children need extra support

Why is explicit phonics instruction so important?

Phonics instruction is one of the most researched aspects of education, in terms of both the volume of studies over the last few decades and the consistency of the evidence. Numerous studies show that reading programs with a well-developed phonics component routinely and consistently have greater effectiveness for children learning to read than programs without a good phonics component.

Some children need more training in phonics than others, but all students benefit to some extent ¾whether it’s for learning to read or learning to spell. Sometimes when people dismiss phonics and say phonics programs are unnecessary or don’t work, it’s because they haven’t used a good phonics program.

Is English a phonetic language?

English is less phonetically regular than other languages; it is more accurately described as a morphophonemic language. This is arguably why a good phonics program is so important for teaching reading—if the relationship between written and spoken words is complex, it requires more explicit and careful teaching.

Research cited by Louisa Cook Moats in Speech to Print says approximately 50% of English words are easily decodable, another 34% have one exception to the rules of simple letter sound correspondences, and another 10% or so can be read accurately if morphology is taken into account. That leaves only a small proportion of words that have to learned as whole words.

Although the rules required in order to decode English words are more numerous than in other more ‘transparent’ languages like Finnish, it’s certainly much easier to remember the rules than it is to memorise what every single word in the English language looks like.

Another reason we know English is a phonetically decodable language is because good readers can read words they have never seen before. For example, when science fiction and fantasy authors make up names of characters and places, they usually make them phonetically decodable. If you are reading Game of Thrones for the first time and you come across the name Targaryen, you can decode it. You don’t need to have watched the show, you don’t need someone to tell you­―you can work it out using the basic rules of written language.

How do parents know whether their child’s school is providing good phonics instruction?

Parents will know if their child is getting good phonics instruction if, at the end of their first ‘foundation’ year of school, they know all the single letter sounds. They will know how to put them together to make simple words that use regular straightforward letter-sound correspondences, and they will be starting to be able to read bigger unknown words using diagraphs (combinations of two letters that makes a single sound). If their children can’t do these things after a year of good initial reading instruction, they may need some extra support with a reading intervention.

Is phonics all there is to reading?

While decoding is important, so is comprehension. The ‘simple view’ of reading is that it is made up of two elements―decoding/word recognition and comprehension. Reading for meaning requires both those things. People who have difficulty learning to read will have trouble in one or both those domains. Some people are good decoders but poor on comprehension, some vice versa, and some students who really struggle can have problems in both areas.

What is a good phonics program?

Programs developed by people with specialist knowledge of the way that the English language is constructed are likely to be more effective than others. It is also important that phonics programs be evidence-based; that is: to have been proven to be effective using rigorous scientific research methods.

At present the model known as systematic synthetic phonics has the strongest research support. In synthetic phonics, teachers build up phonic skills from their smallest unit (graphemes). The processes of blending and segmenting are also taught.

Three of the key elements of a good phonics program are: the sequence in which letters and sounds are taught; early introduction of blending and segmenting; and use of decodable text.

For children who are learning the alphabet for the first time, the method and order of introducing letters and letter combinations (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes) need to be carefully planned. In explicit and systematic phonics programs, a small number of letters and sounds are introduced at a time and children learn those before moving on to the next ones. Letters that look similar are not introduced at the same time, for example, b and d. The aim is to minimise confusion and maximise success for children.

In a good phonics program, blending is taught shortly after sounds are introduced. Students do not learn all the letter sounds and then learn how to put them together into words; each group of letters selected can be made into simple words. If the letters s, m, a, t, and i are taught as a group, children can learn to blend them into words like sit and am. Children learn that if they take the ‘i’ out of the middle of ‘sit’ and put an ‘a’ in its place, it makes the word ‘sat’.

By this process, children begin to understand that written words are a code, and it’s a code they can break. And when they do understand that―some children will pick this up much more quickly than others, of course―the rest comes much more easily. After a period of time, once they’ve learned grapheme-phoneme correspondences and are able to blend them, they can read almost any word they come across.

The third element is practising reading using decodable text. As children learn how to put letters and sounds into blends, and start to be able to read whole words, they should also be taught some common sight words that don’t follow the normal sort of rules¾like ‘was’ and ‘of’, for example. Sentences or short stories composed of decodable words and common simple sight words give students the opportunity to use the phonics skills they have acquired and learn about print conventions and punctuation.

Of course, a comprehensive reading program will also use real children’s books to develop vocabulary and comprehension, but novice readers benefit from reading material that allows them to successfully read independently as early as possible.

‘I wasn’t taught phonics but I learned to read’

Skilled reading is unconscious and automatic­―most people are not aware of the complex cognitive processes taking place. Few people remember how they learned to read. That’s why research and evidence are so important: so assumptions are not made that what might have worked for one person will probably work for everyone else.

The question research seeks to answer is ‘what is the most effective strategy for the largest number of students’? There is a lot of research showing what that strategy is―a well-developed, comprehensive reading instruction program that includes an evidence-based, explicit phonics component.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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