May 2008


This man is a complete dick. I cannot imagine anything less intelligent or helpful at the moment that this ill-advised and anachronistic foaming at the mouth. The Jensens are the shame of the Church of England.

We constantly whinge about the intolerant and fanatical outbursts from so-called Islamists. Where are the laws that protect us from this socially-divisive and reckless rabble-rouser? How dare he associate himself with the long-tradition of Anglican broadness of mind?

He is as Christian as a snake-oil salesman, and his brand of religion is as efficacious…

To be even more offended, read on (from Sydney Anglicans.Net)

Protestantism is a protest. Our protest is against the enormity of the claims of the Roman Catholic Church.

Some people are born as Protestants. They are anti Roman Catholic because of their own tribal roots. They have no belief other than Roman Catholics are wrong.

But Protestantism is not tribalism. It is the belief in the sole authority of the Bible. The Bible explains to us that salvation is only by the Grace of God. This salvation comes through Christ alone, and is received by faith without any works on our part. So all is to the glory of God alone. It is the belief that Christ’s death was sufficient to pay for the sins of the whole world.

In his death Christ turned away the anger of God. Our Prayer Book describes Christ’s death as “a full, perfect sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.”

So we protest against Roman Catholic claims to authority. We object to the Pope claiming to be the Vicar of Christ. We reject all claims to authority that imply the insufficiency of Scripture. We oppose their confusion about the way of salvation. We reject any implication that Jesus work on the cross was insufficient or is received by more than faith or requires some other mediator.

This protest against Roman Catholicism is no small complaint. It goes to the very heart of the gospel and the way of salvation. The 39 Articles of the Anglican Church state “the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith”.

That sentence was written in the sixteenth century. Since then the Roman Catholic Church has added to its heresies – the Immaculate Conception (1854), the Infallibility of the Pope (1870), and the bodily Assumption of Mary (1950). There is nothing in modern Roman Catholicism that reduces our need to protest. They have not repented of their Reformation errors.

In a few months time the local Roman Catholics are going to host the World Youth Day, in our city. This large congress of people will inconvenience the normal flow of our lives. It will cost our community large sums of money. Some people have protested against it. Their complaint is usually in terms of separation of Church and State or the undermining of the secular nature of our state.

These protests have little to commend them. Australia as a nation has a proud Protestant heritage. That is why we have so many policies on individual rights and tolerance. But about a quarter of Australia’s tax paying citizens are Roman Catholics. They have every right to enjoy a gathering of their people.

[What condescending tripe!]

It is an honour for our city to host people from all over the world. It is to the credit of our city that we are willing to be hospitable not only to people with whom we agree but also to those with whom we disagree.

Of course our hospitality is expensive. That is the nature of hospitality. But in the larger picture of our finances it is a small amount of money. Compared to the amount of tax our Roman Catholic neighbours contribute it is as nothing.

Naturally our hospitality is inconvenient. We are regularly inconvenienced by parades and demonstrations, by sporting events and parties. That is the nature of living in a world city. The sectional groups that invade our space are all part of the rich tapestry of city life. I do not have to like every group that meets in the public square.

The World Youth Day does not compromise the separation of Church and State. Nor does it undermine secular government. The government provides facilities and security for any group. This is done without reference to what they believe. To refuse to provide these facilities to the Roman Catholics would compromise the separation of Church and State. This is true especially if the refusal was because they were Roman Catholics.

Our secular government is just doing what they are elected, and paid to do. They are providing the things of this age – roads, power, police, electricity, etc. The fact that they are providing them for Roman Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists or Hindu’s is an irrelevance. We can only complain when there is favouritism. The complaint then is about favouritism not about the group to which favouritism is shown.

Once again we see the confusion of secular with secularism. It is the confusion of secularist philosophy with secular government.

Secular means this age – of this world. We have a government that is secular i.e. relating to the things of this age – hospitals, building, roads, economy etc.

Secularism is the religious philosophy, which teaches that there is no other age or world than this one.

Secularism is another name for materialistic atheism.

The secularists wish to impose their atheistic belief on society through government. They are the ones who do not believe in the separation of church and state. They try to use government to enforce their viewpoint. Thus they oppose the normal secular support that is given to Roman Catholics.

It is perverse to think that the government is helping promote Roman Catholicism by assisting World Youth Day as they are. If this were the World Jehovah Witness day or the World Yoga conference the government support would be the same. We live in a city with neighbours whose life-style choices are varied and whose philosophies of life are diverse. As citizens we need to help each other whether or not we agree with each other.

The Government closing roads or making way for pilgrims does not compromise my protest against Roman Catholicism in the slightest.

I will not be welcoming the pope, going out to see him or waving a flag. But I am certainly not going to pray for rain on his parade. Remember our Lord said that our Father in heaven sends sun and rain on friend and foe alike. This is God giving secular support. We should want our government to do the same

It makes you want to vomit…

This executive summary from the SITES 2006 study (the report on which was published this year in March) is worth a read. I’ll get the study itself, but check my red emphases! It confirms much of what I have observed personally and emphasises that it is not technical skill that is required but something more in line with the cultural basis of teaching.

Pedagogy and ICT use in schools around the world: Findings from the IEA SITES 2006 study

Executive summary

About SITES 2006
SITES 2006 is an international comparative study of pedagogy and ICT use in schools. The study focused on the role of ICT in teaching and learning in mathematics and science classrooms. It examined the extent to which pedagogical practices considered to be conducive to the development of “21st Century Skills” were present in comparison to traditionally important ones. “21st Century Skills” were defined as the capacity to engage in life long learning (understood as self-directed and collaborative inquiry) and as connectedness (communication and collaboration with experts and peers around the world). SITES 2006 also examined how teachers and students used ICT and whether ICT use contributed differentially to learning activities geared towards the development of 21st century skills. Analyses were also conducted to identify conditions at the system, school and teacher levels associated with different pedagogical practices and different ways of ICT use in teaching and learning.

The study collected information from principals and technology coordinators from roughly 9,000 schools and over 35,000 mathematics and science teachers in 22 countries/education systems. The National Research Coordinators of these systems also provided policy information on education and ICT use through a questionnaire. Fifteen of these systems also participated in SITES Module 1, a similar study conducted in 1998. Hence trend analysis could be done on a number of indicators, enabling the researchers to examine whether there is evidence of changes in pedagogy and ICT use since 1998.

The 22 education systems that participated in SITES 2006 were: Canada (2 provinces: Alberta and Ontario), Chile, Hong Kong SAR, Chinese Taipei, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Norway, Russian Federation, Russia-Moscow, Slovak Republic, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain-Catalonia, South Africa, Thailand.

Major findings of SITES 2006
Of the 22 countries and education systems that participated in SITES 2006, 20 reported having a system-wide policy on the use of ICT in education, though their policy concerns differed widely. The majority of countries had at least slightly increased ICT spending during the past 5 years and some level of government funding for the provision of hardware and software was reported in nearly all of the systems. With the exception of South Africa, computers are available for teaching and learning purposes in nearly all schools in all participating countries. On the other hand, use of ICT in teaching and learning by mathematics and science teachers remained generally low and highly variable across countries, with reported adoption varying from 20% to 80%. Furthermore, there was no correlation between the level of ICT access (student-computer ratio) and the percentage of teachers reporting having used ICT in their teaching.
Findings indicate that the extent of ICT use does not only depend on overall national level ICT policies and school level conditions. For example, in Japan and Israel, the percentages of mathematics teachers reporting use of ICT (around 22.5% in both countries) are much lower than those reported by their science teachers from the same samples of schools (44% and 53% respectively). This indicates that national curriculum policies also have a major impact on ICT use in teaching and learning.

21st Century Skills and ICT use
There is a worldwide policy concern that schools should prepare students to undertake self-directed, collaborative inquiry and to communicate and collaborate with experts and peers around the world, which are capacities considered to be essential for the 21st century. The SITES 2006 study found that the impact of ICT use on students was highly dependent on the teaching approaches adopted when ICT is used. Greater student gains in 21st Century Skills were reported by teachers who provided more student-centered guidance and feedback and who engaged more frequently in advising students on group work and inquiry projects. On the other hand, higher levels of reported ICT-use did not necessarily equate with higher levels of perceived learning gains from ICT-use. No significant correlation was found between using ICT in traditional instructional activities and perceived students’ learning outcomes.

Trends in ICT provisions and priorities in teaching practice
Between 1998 and 2006, great improvements in access to computers and the Internet were reported, though considerable diversity in terms of ICT infrastructure available in schools remained. In most of the 15 education systems that took part in both the SITES M1 study in 1998 and SITES 2006, there was a general increase in teaching practices that involved information handling, which includes searching for information, processing data and presenting information.

On the other hand, considerable diversity in developmental trends across countries was observed. Marked changes were observed in the principals’ reports of the presence of lifelong learning oriented teaching methods in their schools over this same period. In most of the 15 systems that took part in both studies in 1998 and 2006, there was a general increase in the perceived presence of lifelong-learning pedagogy. Substantial increases were evident in some of the systems that reported the lowest presence in 1998 such as Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. Conversely, a decrease in presence was reported in the three European systems that registered the highest presence in 1998.

Factors influencing ICT use in teaching and learning
There was no evidence from this analysis, that age and gender per se were influencing teachers’ pedagogical adoption of ICT-use. However, academic and professional qualifications, technical and pedagogical ICT-competence, and attendance at ICT-related professional development significantly and positively correlated with adoption of ICT. Of all the personal characteristics of the teacher, pedagogical ICT-competence was the best positive predictor of teachers’ pedagogical adoption of ICT, a finding triangulating well with the observation that the teachers were more willing to attend pedagogical than technical professional-development activities on ICT-use.

Support as perceived by teachers emerged as the one most consistent positive predictor of teachers’ pedagogical adoption of ICT, a finding indicating that teachers are more likely to use ICT in their teaching if they feel they are receiving support from the school—support that provides them with technical and administrative support and that offers their students access to ICT outside of class hours. Shared decision-making followed by professional collaboration were also found to be positive predictors of pedagogical ICT-use

Investigations of school level factors influencing teachers’ use of ICT, particularly whether ICT was used to support the development of 21st Century Skills found that the principal’s vision for ICT use to support lifelong learning, technical support for ICT-use and the principal’s priority for leadership development were the most important positive contributing factors. This finding indicates that if a principal of a school has a strong vision of how and when ICT can be used to support lifelong learning pedagogy, if the technical support for ICT-use within that school is in general readily available, and if the principal gives relatively high priority to leadership development, then the teachers within that school will generally show a higher lifelong learning orientation in their ICT-using practices, and vice versa. The level of technical and pedagogical support for ICT use in teaching was also found to contribute significantly to increased use of ICT by teachers. Student–computer ratio per se did not have a significant association with teachers’ use of ICT. However, if the other school level factors such as leadership and support were held constant, improved computer access (i.e. lower student-computer ratio) was found to associate significantly with increased ICT use.