Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Is coaching for exams beneficial?

The writer below is broadly right. There is no substitute for inborn IQ.  The results one gets from IQ can however be influenced to some extent by the child's environment. Families who send their kids to coaching probably already provide a good opportinity for intellectual development, however

The revamping of the selective high school entry examination will inevitably be viewed as an attempt to make the test less coachable. But why do we have such a problem with coaching?

When it comes to academic performance, Australian culture places a premium on natural ability. Yet in other endeavours, such as sport, we have no problem with systematic training. Few look at a star football player and remark bitterly: “Well, his mother was taking him to training since he was four.” Likewise, the ballerina who practises diligently 12 hours a week is a source of admiration for her dedication.

Even children feel the stigma, with many gifted students underplaying their amount of study in the belief that you are not really smart if you have to put in effort. Academic success that appears to come easily is more highly valued than that which is the result of hard work.

There is a perception among many that undeserving children who have been coached from an early age are stealing places at selective high schools from naturally bright students. Often coupled with racist undertones, this argument in part stems from a certain streak in mainstream Anglo-Australian culture which hates a “try hard”.

Coaching, many feel, confers an unfair advantage. This is certainly true from an economic perspective. Students whose parents can afford years of tutoring may gain an edge over an equally bright child whose parents lack the means for extracurricular support. Yet this applies to most fields of endeavour. Our footy star and ballerina also need parents who are able to pay for coaching.

So there’s a certain hypocrisy at play when parents are criticised for providing academic coaching but admired for supporting their child’s dream with other forms of coaching.

But before you rush out and enrol your child in the closest coaching college to get that “academic advantage”, consider the following. What can coaching focused exclusively on test preparation really do for your child?

Research tells us it can reduce test anxiety. If you have never sat a test before, then you are probably going to be nervous, especially if your parents and peers have whipped you into a frenzied belief that this is the most important exam of your life.

Most Year 4 students sitting the Opportunity Class exams have only had one experience of a formal assessment, NAPLAN, so the experience of going to a large hall at a different school can itself be overwhelming.

If you have sat tests before, then you know what to do and what to expect. You know how to manage your time and not spend too long on one question. You know that tests start with easy questions and that the harder questions are at the end. You know that you should read the whole question before answering. You know that with one minute to go, you should fill in “C” for any multiple choice you have not answered.

These are techniques that coaching colleges are adept at drilling and as the government's selective high school review confirmed in 2018, they could make the few marks’ difference between getting a place or not. However, they are also techniques you can learn by practising with a $15 book from your local newsagent.

I am yet to see any research that shows that coaching of any description can turn a child of average ability into a gifted child. Nor is there any evidence that children who have been coached wouldn’t have got into selective high schools on their own merits – and saved their parents a great deal of money in the process.


Folau only player not to take a knee as Super League returns

Catalans coach Steve McNamara has defended Israel Folau after the controversial former Wallaby was the only player not to take a knee before a Super League clash in England.

Folau’s Dragons were hammered 34-6 by a St Helens side boasting the returned James Graham, former North Queensland premiership winner Lachlan Coote and former Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson in Super League’s first match back from a five-month lay-off.

‘‘As a club we are completely against racism and all for equal opportunity,’’ McNamara said after the match. ‘‘But there were some players and staff who made the decision not to take the knee, that was based on personal choice and we decided we would respect anyone’s personal choice on the matter.’’

Sporting competitions across the world have paid tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement since returning to action after the coronavirus shutdown including the NBA, Premier League and AFL.

Orlando's Jonathan Isaac, who is also an ordained minister, was the first NBA player not to kneel for the national anthem when that competition returned to action last week.

"Absolutely I believe black lives matter. A lot went into my decision ... kneeling or wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt don't go hand in hand in supporting black lives. I do believe that black lives matter, I just felt like it was a decision I had to make, and I didn't feel like putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand in hand with supporting black lives," Isaac said at the time. He was also backed by his coach Steve Clifford.

Folau's decision to remain on his feet drew attention on social media and was far from the first time the cross-code star has found himself in the firing line.

Super Rugby's all-time leading tryscorer, Folau's religious views first caused major controversy in April 2018, when he was asked by a follower on Instagram what God's plan was for homosexuals.

One year later he posted a meme warning that, among others, homosexuals were destined for hell, leading a code of conduct hearing with Rugby Australia, who had months earlier signed him a lucrative new four-year contract.

Folau settled his unlawful dismissal case with RA in December, which saw the governing body apologise to the 31-year-old former Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos speedster.

He signed with Catalans the following month, returning to the game where he made his name for the first time since 2010.


Irrigators pushed for 'primacy' over the environment in water allocations

NSW's main irrigator lobby group pressed the Berejiklian government to place the state's water plans above the federal law and sought to tap water earmarked for the environment.

The demands are detailed in a letter obtained by the Herald and The Age the NSW Irrigators Council (NSWIC) sent to the state's senior water bureaucrat in April.

At the time, the government was putting final touches to new water sharing plans it has since submitted to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority for accreditation.

The irrigators sought the insertion of words that would "confirm primacy" of the plans over the 2007 Commonwealth Water Act, a move environmental lawyers say would trigger legal challenges.

The council also backed a narrowing of the definition of what constitutes so-called planned environmental water, a call it noted Water Minister Melinda Pavey had taken up.

The irrigators thanked the Planning Department for the removal of some environmental water rules, citing the Murrumbidgee River as one example.

The push to identify and allocate "underused" water for farming use may also open the way for legal challenges if such changes run counter to the $13 billion Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Claire Miller, interim chief executive of the NSWIC, said her organisation stood by the letter's contents.

Emma Carmody, special counsel for the Environmental Defenders Office, said while it was normal for a lobby group to advocate its members' interest it was surprising to see them seek water sharing plan provisions at odds with the basin plan and Water Act.

"Water sharing plans are subordinate legal instruments," Dr Carmody said. "Like all subordinate legal instruments, they sit under, and must comply with, overarching statutes, not the inverse."

Independent NSW MP Justin Field noted the council had recently complained in a letter that their concerns were not being addressed. This leaked document, though, was "proof that they are being heard at the highest levels of government and are getting their way".

"This letter spells out that the Irrigators Council have successfully lobbied to remove significant amounts of water designated for the environment and these changes have made it into the final water sharing plans without other stakeholders having the opportunity to comment," Mr Field said. "That is an outrageous process."

The call for primacy of the state plans over the federal laws was "a gobsmacking request that shows them as bad-faith actors in the implementation of the entire basin plan", he said.

A spokeswoman for Ms Pavey said the government had "consulted widely on all changes to the state water sharing plans" over the past three years.

Other groups consulted included the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, key Aboriginal groups such as the Murray Lower Darling Indigenous Nations and Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations organisations, environmental interests and local councils.

"It shouldn’t be a surprise that the NSW government is committed to creating water policy that benefits water users, including the environment," the spokeswoman said.

It comes as the recently released Living Planet index found the numbers of such fish had plunged 76 per cent globally since 1970, including 59 per cent in Oceania.

Lee Baumgartner, an ecologist at Charles Sturt University and a lead researcher for the project, said fish numbers for many species in NSW were less than 10 per cent of their pre-European colonial times.

"We're dealing with severe water deficiencies," he said, some of which were caused by dams and other interventions.

"By fixing rivers for fish, you are by default fixing them for irrigators," Professor Baumgartner said.


Indigenous activist who forced Coon cheese from the shelves now wants Pauls to scrap 'Smarter White' milk brand - because it's offensive to Aborigines

An indigenous rights activist who succeeded in having the Coon cheese brand scrapped will now campaign for Pauls to rename its 'Smarter White' milk.

In July, Dr Stephen Hagan convinced Canadian dairy giant Saputo to axe an 85-year-old moniker, named after American cheese ripening pioneer Edward William Coon, because of its racist connotations.

The former diplomat and academic, who now works as a social justice consultant, has now called on Pauls's French parent company Lactalis to replace the 'Smarter White' label, which has been used to sell low-fat milk since 2002.

'Aboriginal people are saying that there's an inference that it's for smart, white people, not for smart, black people,' Dr Hagan told Daily Mail Australia.

'There's a lot of Aboriginal people who take offence, who don't drink that milk because of the interference that it's 'smarter white'.'

Dr Hagan said 'these enlightened times' of the Black Lives Matter movement meant a name change was 'worthy of consideration'.

The soy milk drinker said lots of Aboriginal people had raised the matter with him. 'I recall having conversations with people who don't buy that because of the connotation 'white people are smart',' he said.

'A lot of people have raised it with me: they asked the question about the Smarter White milk - 'Why couldn't it just be Smarter Milk? Why does it need to put the 'white' in there?'

'If enough people want to bring it to my attention, I'm happy to write a letter to the owners of Pauls and say, 'Look, will you consider changing the name?'.'

Pauls's French owner Lactalis declined to comment. 'Unfortunately we're unable to make any further comment,' a spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia.

Indigenous Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Price described the call to rename Smarter White milk as 'utter nonsense'.

'I don't know a single Indigenous Australian who is offended at all by milk being called 'Smarter White',' she told Daily Mail Australia.

'Indigenous Australian have far greater issues to be concerned with than the name of a brand of cheese named after its founder or what's written on a carton of milk.'

Ms Price, who ran as a Country Liberal Party candidate at last year's federal election, said affluent activists 'whose lives are easy' were inventing issues to feel like victims instead of addressing family violence and sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities.

'I'd advise anyone who chooses to be offended by such a ridiculous proposition to assess their priorities,' she said. 'The victim mentality is unhealthy and completely unhelpful in attempting to address the real issues.'

New South Wales One Nation leader Mark Latham described the campaign as idiotic and pondered as to whether cows would have to be killed for producing white milk.

'Kill all the cows for producing white milk? When he invents black milk he'll be smarter too.'

Hours earlier, Mr Latham has posted an image of a popular Pauls diary product to take a dig at left-wing, cancel culture activists. 'Surprised the mob haven't cancelled my favourite milk,' he said on Facebook.

'Evidence of the inconsistencies and hypocrisy of cancel culture where evil snowflakes randomly select their next victim.'

Mr Latham, a former federal Labor leader, isn't the only critic of corporate political correctness.

Peter Russell-Clarke, a former ABC-TV chef who fronted Coon commercials during the early 1990s, last month slammed Saputo's decision to kill off the cheese name that debuted in 1935 under Kraft and the Fred Walker food company.  'I think it's ridiculous,' he told Daily Mail Australia. 'Are we going to change the name of the raccoon, do you think?

'Should we cut off the beaks of cockatoos to make sure the black beaks aren't offensive to the white of the cockatoo?'

Russell-Clarke said Coon's owners should be more concerned about maintaining the quality of their cheese than ditching an 85-year-old name to 'suit the whim of the time'.

The 84-year-old former host of ABC-TV's 1980s Come and Get It program has a grandson of African heritage and said ditching the Coon cheese brand would do nothing to address racism.


 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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