December 08, 2003


What happens when teachers spend more time running political campaigns than they do actually teaching? Andrew Bolt finds out:

Here's the harmony and tolerance that blooms when a teacher at a state school in Melbourne's inner-north gets a Year 4/5 class to ask [Immigration Minister Amanda] Vanstone to free the children held in our detention centres.

"Dear Minister, ... I think you are a racist pig," goes one typical letter, decorated with a picture of a pig's head, helpfully labelled "you".

"Dear Minister, ... You completely and uterly (sic) suck," says another, signed by "your Nemisis (sic)/arch enemy".

"You should be fired and turned into a hobo ... I hate you nin (sic) hundred zillion plus one."

Another letter, also decorated with a pig's head, reads: "Your (sic) being a racist pig just because their (sic) not Australian and don't speak english doesn't mean you can put them in prison."

"You Imbasil," writes another child from the same class. "You are so raset (sic)."

"I think you are being very racest (sic)," agrees yet another.

"I will tell my parents not to vote for you (not that they ever did)," warns a classmate.

"You are a racist!" writes a student who signs off as "arch enemy/nemesis/rival/hater".

These letters should’ve been sent to the Educashun Minista.

Posted by Tim Blair at December 8, 2003 08:39 PM

nice to see nemesis has been keeping himself busy.


Posted by: zing at December 8, 2003 at 08:57 PM

Any wonder responsible parents have their children going to private schools?
They have then some possibility of seeing that their children are "educated" not "indoctrinated" or "attitudinised" by lame brain cretins posing as teachers.
But who are the evil bastards who give these cretins their jobs? More of the same no doubt spawned from the likes of Phat Phil and Margot.

Posted by: lawrie at December 8, 2003 at 09:47 PM

I remember my young cousin saying her teacher was telling the kids in her class how bad it was that illegal immigrants were being kept out of Oz. My cousin was the only one with the courage to disagree, saying why should her parents' taxes have to pay for these people who bludge off welfare, and the teacher abused her. So much for tolerance.

Posted by: Mike Hunt at December 8, 2003 at 09:48 PM

I'm sure if you collected a bunch of letters from any year 4/5 class, whether public or private school, picked out the ten worst and then published a few choice lines from each of these, they would be filled with similarly poor spelling, and similarly immature and clumsily expressed opinions. These kids are still in primary school, relax. And Bolt did point out that some of them were polite and showed a genuine concern.

In fact, if you take the bottom 10% of posts to blog sites, you'd probably again get comparable quality.

Bolt says:
"Never mind the facts, learn these opinions -- these right and angry opinions ...."

Quite funny to read Andrew Bolt, surely one of journalism's top purveyors of "right" and "angry" opinions write a line like this.

I don't approve at all of a teacher leading their students towards a certain political opinion, but I do like a teacher who encourages the students to take an interest in current affairs. Maybe a better idea would have been a class debate?

To the teacher's credit, I think it is an achievement of sorts to get a bunch of ten-year-olds to passionately write a letter to a politician. Must be hard to get kids that age interested in writing at all.


Posted by: Steve at December 8, 2003 at 11:04 PM

Why weren't the letters at least corrected and the children made to rewrite them before they were bundled up and sent to the Minister?

The teacher almost certainly did not edit the letters so as to make them appear to be genuinely spontaneous. I can picture several alternative plans for lessons meant to prepare and guide the children.For example, a word list could be compiled and then used as the basis for a look-it-up-in-the-dictionary vocabulary exercise. Couple this with some work on racism and kids in detention, link Vanstone as the villain and you've got some subtly brainwashed kiddies.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at December 9, 2003 at 12:07 AM

You think it's an achievement to get 10-year-olds to call someone a racist pig?

Posted by: tim at December 9, 2003 at 12:09 AM

Isn't "Imbasil" one of the bad guys in Tolkien?

Posted by: Jay Manifold at December 9, 2003 at 01:44 AM

No, it's the lead character in Fawlty Towers: "I'm Basil."

Posted by: tim at December 9, 2003 at 01:59 AM

Oops - severe career limiting move for the teacher and principal involved. And the school can kiss goodbye to any funding increase next year. This is not a State school - a State teacher would not be so foolish as to let this kind of appalling abuse out. Notice the Mr Bolt is coy about naming the school. My tip is this is a northern suburbs multi-cultural school, probably a private muslim school.

Posted by: Walter Plinge at December 9, 2003 at 06:44 AM

"To the teacher's credit, I think it is an achievement of sorts to get a bunch of ten-year-olds to passionately write a letter to a politician. Must be hard to get kids that age interested in writing at all."

Steve - No offense, but anyone who think it's ANY kind of achievement to teach kids that it's fine to fire off misspelled letters full of invective to public officials does not deserve to be a teacher.

If the kids are having trouble with spelling, make sure they can spell before letters go out. If it was a class assignment - and it appears that it was - there's no reason to preserve "spontaneity". The only lesson the teacher conveyed here was that it's not only fine to call a high official a racist pig, it's fine if you seem illiterate while doing so.

It's NEVER too early to teach kids to write well, and it's a teacher's job to do that. This teacher should be ashamed of herself.

Posted by: Kimberly at December 9, 2003 at 07:18 AM

Gramsci lives, kinda like Dracula.

Posted by: ForNow at December 9, 2003 at 08:05 AM

Teechers are stupid.

Posted by: Tony.T at December 9, 2003 at 10:17 AM

Do schoolkiddies these days ever learn about things like logic and evidence? Or is the forming and expression of opinions enough?

Posted by: Willmott Fribbish at December 9, 2003 at 10:34 AM

Vanstone should sue the little bastards for defamation. It would be a practical lesson for them in the rules and responsibilities of civil society. Also being mean to 10 year olds is fun!

Posted by: Andrew D. at December 9, 2003 at 11:33 AM

Don't these kids have Spellcheck? What are they doing on their computers all day - just playing games?

Posted by: freddyboy at December 9, 2003 at 12:04 PM

The little dears are not supposed to 'form' opinins, Willmott - they are supposed to receive wisdom from on high and to regurgitate it without question. To form opinions requires independent thought, anathema to all Leftists and generally punishable by gulag and then death. Only the controllers may think.

Posted by: Paul Johnson at December 9, 2003 at 12:29 PM

if schoolkiddies were going to contribute to say, blog comments pages, sure all they need to be skilled in formulising, and expressing opinions. there is absolutely no requirement for logic or evidence.

to the letters referred to above, like any class, there will be well constructed writing, and there will be semi-literate garbage. the boltster, unsurprisingly, edits the writing to underline his point. that's his role. he ain't here for the good news y'all!

steve's point is a valid one - to engage children in communications is a commendable effort. next, if my training still means anything, would be analysis and criticism of what the kidlets wrote, and perhaps some constructive assistance in forming opinions based on evidence.

continue the process until the person is an uninhibited free thinker.

education is not a complex process.



Posted by: chico o'farrill at December 9, 2003 at 12:31 PM

Actually I'm reminded of the "two minutes' hate" in 1984. The enemy of the moment is paraded before the class and the children are encouraged to express their "strongly-felt opinions". This week Vanstone, next week ...

Posted by: WiIlmott Fribbish at December 9, 2003 at 12:59 PM

Reminds me of when Salmon Middle School in Seattle organized an anti-war rally and conducted it during school. The kids had made posters and one young girl proudly held hers for the camera. The viewer could see that it had once read NO WOR corrected to NO WAR as the A was darkened but with a bottom line giving the look of the Greek letter theta.

Good thing, that rally, else young lady might never had learned how to spell WAR. For as with the Canadian removal of the word gun from spelling lists Seattlites certainly removed the word war from their spelling curriculum long ago.

Posted by: Jericho at December 9, 2003 at 05:59 PM

I must confess to moulding such a young mind. This Port Power supporter took his young nephew a couple of years ago to see his first AFL match. Playing Essendon there was a big roll up and the young fella was so agog at all the excitement, he hardly watched the footy. With all those Port supporters about, what could uncle do but tell him nearly everyone barracks for Port and would he like one of those nice scarves everyone's wearing? A dedicated convert now, out of reach of those vile Crows fanatics. Herr Goebbels would proud.

Posted by: Observa at December 9, 2003 at 07:53 PM

It seems unreasonable to bar illegal entrants because they don't know English if the natives are unable to write in English either. I'm sure the detainees could learn to spell a few simple insults and draw pigs or alternate farmyard animals if pigs are inappropriate for religious reasons.

Posted by: Joanne Jacobs at December 9, 2003 at 08:08 PM