Some 2019 Letters to the Editor

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2019 letters to the editor #13 (pdf)



Publ 20 Jan 2019 Herald-Sun


It is heartening to read that Monash Uni and Peninsula Health are seriously trialling ways to enable the elderly to spend their final stage of life in their own home space rather than in “caged care”.

There is a tendency for family members and care professionals to feel obliged to squeeze out the maximum number of days - even if the artificial twilight period is unfit for humans.

Death is natural.  When the time comes, and nothing more can be done to maintain a wholesome life, let people die with dignity in their own space. POC 

Printed 12 Feb 2019 Herald-Sun 


I understand the recent reports of stress for school principals. Parents naturally feel they have a say in what a school does with their child.  But one parent’s demands conflict with another’s. 

Let me give an example. My wife Faye and I founded Fitzroy Community School in 1976.  We provide more outings, camps and other adventures.  At first, we thought everybody would love it.  Most did.  But we got caught up in stressful conflicts with some parents who were highly risk-averse.  

We soon learned the importance of interviewing all prospective parents and explaining exactly what kind of service we provide.  And that we did not want to exclude any child from the adventure program.

Since we implemented the 100% explicit interview with prospective parents, we have enjoyed far more harmonious teacher-parent relationships.

We don’t select children - just parents.  I expect there would be happier parents and teachers all round if schools didn’t simply chase enrolment numbers, but clearly explained and upheld their particular school philosophy.POC 

Publ 26 Apr '19  The AGE



Christians form their concept of God from the teachings of Christ – and Muslims from the teachings of Mohamed. Almost all worshippers adhere to the faith of the family they were born into. A good question for believers to ask is, “Would God really reward me for randomly killing believers of other faiths?”  POC 

Publ 28  Jun '19  Herald-Sun



It would be a strange God who created gays and then sent them to hell for seeking a partner.

Of course, some cultures have created a hell for gays. Cultural mores have often been equated to God’s will.

Now that we moderns can see across many cultures, we should be able to sweep a lot of primitive detritus out of our religious beliefs. 

Notwithstanding the above, a right to freedom of speech is vital to human progress. POC 

Publ  14 Aug 19   The AGE 



How sad that the worst years for depression are 18-24 years of age.  Many of the young are not coping with life beyond school.  How can we better prepare them?

Convention says that parents raise the children and teachers give them skills.  But things have changed over the decades. Today, we have small nuclear families.  School is now, by default, the extended family.  Schooling needs to evolve.

Given that children attend school for 13 formative years, we must aim to give them a love of learning, to create a large-family environment that builds social skills, and to boost personal resilience.

These outcomes are achieved by employing teachers who love their subject, opening small primary schools (or sub-schools within larger schools), and including an outward-bound, confidence-building programme. 

Potentially breaking an arm is a lesser evil than losing the joy of living. POC 

Publ 16 Sep 19  Herald-Sun



Rita Panahi once again speaks wisdom. Both Brexit and the Trump presidency offend some of the more well-heeled and highly educated classes who assume they know better than the masses as to who should rule.  

They have forgotten how unjust and unstable societies were before democracy.  The stability results from accepting the verdict of the voters (or count of the winning seats) – no matter how close the numbers.  It is no accident that migrants want to move to democracies.

To reject or repeat the Brexit vote with its clear majority is to undermine democracy.  It is arrogant to say that the people of Britain did not know what they were doing.  The masses know what they and their families have endured in a century of European affairs. POC 

Publ  6 Dec 19    Herald-Sun  


I respect counsellors and hope that we’ll have enough to help those in need.  But counselling can’t be our sole solution to the surge in mentally troubled young people.  

We must look to the societal cause of the epidemic. Childhood is the critical time for forming personal viability.  Give me a child until they’re 12. 

Over the century, we have moved from large and extended families and local community to tiny families living in isolation.  Schools have not evolved to keep up with these changes.  

Schools need to broaden their role from simply teaching subjects to also supporting communication skills - by grouping children into small, mixed-age, big-family groups (maximum 70) and by building resilience through adventures.

A wholistic childhood will always be the best preparation for adult life. POC 

Publ  9 Dec 2019   The AGE 



Maths confidence is acquired or lost in the early primary years.  I managed a primary school for 25 years.  The school was not selective but consistently scored high in Maths.

Our secret?  We used our best Maths teacher to take all the Maths classes in the first four years. Thus there were no gaps or overlaps when moving from grade to grade. 

The teacher was also savvy about the English versus Maths learning curve.  Some naturally strong mathematicians will drop out if they are confronted with problems in language which they cannot yet read.  We can’t afford to lose them this way. 

Let younger children romp amongst the numbers first and discover the patterns and equations.  There were no Maths dropouts.  A simple remedy - costing no more to provide.

Publ 11 Dec 19  Herald-Sun


Leaving aside for a moment the question whether CO2 really does threaten life on Earth, there’s something odd about the uncommonly high penalties we Australians endure to reduce our CO2 emissions.

We’ve doubled the cost of power, pushed out power-hungry industries, reduced export earnings and suffer more blackouts.

Remember, all our sacrifices have absolutely zero effect unless the biggest-emitting countries follow suit.  But they are steadily increasing their CO2.

Do mature adults really believe the big emitters are going to follow our example one fine day and close down their cheap coal-powered energy?  POC