Friday, July 03, 2009

New Blog

My blogging focus has changed and so I have set up an entirely new blog, located here. Enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Crtitical, contextual thinking is not postmodern...or wrong...or "bad"

I think this piece by teacher Peter Job on the continuing debates regarding the teaching of (Australian) history is an incisive analysis and and summation of the issues at play.

Job manages to highlight the contradictions inherent in the arguments of the conservative agenda (espoused most forcefully by John Howard and Kevin Donnelly), in that they accuse teachers of history of indoctrinating a 'black armband' version of Australian history as well as accusing these teachers of taking a postmodern, relativistic approach.

The reality is that Howard et al. are not against indoctrination, it is just what is being indoctrinated that they want changed.

Anyway, here's what I believe to be a great excerpt from the article:

The debate on history teaching is predicated upon two fundamentally different views of what history is for. Those who see history as primarily an intellectual discipline, a search for understanding based on evidence, see critical thinking as central to comprehension and exploration of the past, providing students with a moral compass with which to understand and question the present.

The debate on history teaching is predicated upon two fundamentally different views of what history is for. Those who see history as primarily an intellectual discipline, a search for understanding based on evidence, see critical thinking as central to comprehension and exploration of the past, providing students with a moral compass with which to understand and question the present.

Far from being post-modernist, such elements have been a vital element in quality pedagogy from at least the time of Plato. The position adopted by Howard and Donnelly, in contrast, is one in which the primary role of history is to engender a specific kind of national identity and pride in line with their own conservative preferences. Such a prism is hostile to the evaluation of evidence that is inherent in a critical thinking approach, for by considering different views it damages this project. Howard and Donnelly are not only hostile to what they call a "black armband" view of Australia's past, but to the notion that the education system should contain a dialogue of different views.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

How biblical is (much of) evangelical theology?

I was doing some reading on Friday morning and came across this article by Ronald Sider. Here's an excerpt that I thought was rather challenging for those of us who are middle-class evangelicals...

‘Lest we forget the warning, God repeats it in I John. "But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and truth" (3:17-18. [RSV]; cf. also James 2:14-17). Again, the words are plain. What do they mean for Western Christians who demand increasing affluence each year while people in the Third World suffer malnutrition, deformed bodies and brains, even starvation? The text clearly says that if we fail to aid the needy, we do not have God’s love -- no matter what we may say. The text demands deeds, not pious phrases and saintly speeches...’

‘All the texts from both testaments which we have just surveyed surely mean more than that the people of God are disobedient (but still justified all the same) when they neglect the poor…’

‘In light of this clear biblical teaching, how biblical is evangelical theology? Certainly there have been some great moments of faithfulness. Wesley, Wilberforce and Charles Finney’s evangelical abolitionists stood solidly in the biblical tradition in their search for justice for the poor and oppressed of their time. But 20th century evangelicals have not, by and large, followed their example. The evangelical community is largely on the side of the rich oppressors rather than that of the oppressed poor. Imagine what would happen if all the evangelical institutions -- youth organizations, publications, colleges and seminaries, congregations and denominational headquarters -- would dare to undertake a comprehensive two-year examination of their total program and activity to answer this question: Is there the same balance and emphasis on justice for the poor and oppressed in our programs as there is in Scripture? If those of us who are evangelicals did that with an unconditional readiness to change whatever did not correspond with the scriptural revelation of God’s special concern for the poor and oppressed, we would unleash a new movement of biblical social concern that would change the course of modern history.’

Thursday, July 19, 2007

From Jesus to Osama in just six years!

I have been growing my beard for the past three months or so.

I have also spent the past four days working back at a school I was doing relief teaching at before we left for Kazakhstan. The standard comment being made by all people is that I look like a terrorist. Or, someone may say "I didn't know Al-Qaeda was working here *hee, hee, hee*".

Now, I am not offended by these comments -- they don't make me feel bad. However, it has been interesting to note the extent to which the dark, bearded man has become a stereotype for a terrorist.

Perhaps even more interesting is that six years ago, when I grew a beard like this, the most common response was "You look like Jesus"!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Perhaps ASIO needs a pharmacist?


Nicholson of "The Australian" newspaper:

Climate change as a global opportunity

Why is it an opportunity? Because it challenges many of our existing modes of thought and gives us an opportunity to us to re-visit and re-think many matters related to our Christian responsibilities.
• Climate change challenges our understanding of the nature of our responsibility to the global environment and the way that the world relates together as a community of nations and peoples - in politics and international relations.
• Climate change asks us whether the way we view ourselves a nation (or even perhaps, the way we see ourselves as a state) is helpful. Climate change questions modern nationalism.
• Climate change also gives us the opportunity to re-think about the way we exercise our ethical responsibility in the world – which is very ‘tribal’.
• With climate change we can re-evaluate the meaning of being stewards of God’s creation and we can look again at the spiritual nature of our relationship with the world.
• Climate change asks serious questions not only about the extent of our consumption of the earth’s resources, but it also about the spiritual meaning of our need to consume and live and travel as we do.
• It challenges our understanding of economics in relationship to the environment.
• Climate change also raises questions about the environmental, social and spiritual future of the world. In short, it raises questions about the nature of our hope and suggests that should re-visit our understanding of the implications of believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Brian Edgar and Mick Pope, "Climate Change: Problem or Opportunity? Understanding Climate Change in the Context of the Gospel", June 2, 2007.

Proof that YouTube will allow anything on its channels

I take back what I wrote here about John Howard not being in touch with the younger generation. He didn't want to lend his identity to MySpace, but it seems the PM is happy to share his thoughts about climate change with YouTube watchers.