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IPA Blasts VATE Conference For Left Wing Bias But Fails To Mention That I’m Presenting!!

Ok, VATE stands for the Victorian Association For Teaching of English and one of the keynote speakers at the conference this year is Professor Gillian Triggs. Other notable speakers include Van Badham and Shen Narayanasamy. Apparently these people are too left-wing to speak at a conference that – according to Kevin Donnelly – should be about grammar and such. We shouldn’t be looking at evaluating arguments, critical thinking or persuasive writing. And we certainly shouldn’t be hearing from any “left wing” people. Mind you, nobody seems to have a problem with conservatives like Donnelly speaking to groups of teachers, even though one of his books (“Dumbing Down”) incorrectly tried to create a verb out of the word “dumb” which as we all know means unable to speak and not stupid. (Ok, I know that there’s a debate to be had about whether language evolves or not; it’s just that I know where Kevin sits on that debate so I find the use of the word “dumbing” a little hypocritical… But more on Turnbull after I’ve dealt with the IPA)

Now, in case you missed it because you don’t read “The Australian” but the IPA doesn’t think that such people should talk to a group of English teachers. (Link may be behind a paywall. Rupert’s good like that. He stops poor people from reading his newspapers which I think is an excellent idea which should be expanded as much as possible!) Of course, being a two-day conference, there are a host of speakers and presenters. In fact, I also have a workshop on the Friday and I feel rather miffed that the IPA didn’t think that I was worth mentioning! After all, I write for the AIMN – that surely makes me left-wing and not at all appropriate to speak at a conference. Even if my topic has nothing to do with politics. Surely anybody who thinks that some of Andrew Bolt’s articles are a little lacking in empirical evidence is too left-wing these days to be allowed to address a crowd.

However, putting my personally affront to one side, I can’t help but wonder how the IPA reconciles its position on this with its position on 18C. You remember? They were concerned that 18C was stifling free speech. Apparently free speech doesn’t apply to Gillian Triggs. Or rather it does. It’s just that she shouldn’t be allowed to speak to teachers because clearly hearing any speaker that the IPA thinks politically unsound will be enough to radicalise them. After all this is what VATE says about Trigg’s keynote speech:

The topic for Gillian’s speech is: ‘Human Rights in a Post Truth World’. Do facts matter? Is there such a thing as ‘post truth’, or an ‘alternative fact’? Have we not long been subject to propaganda, distortions, false news and outright lies in global and national politics? Is there anything new under the sun or is acceptance of the idea of ‘post truth’ a new phenomenon?
Gillian Triggs will consider these questions in the context of the protection of fundamental freedoms in Australia. She will argue that we need a Bill of Rights to provide a benchmark against which courts can hold governments to account for compliance with Australia’s international human rights obligations.”

I guess that I must be left-wing after all because, not only don’t I find that particularly radical, but I also think that an organisation that complains that they’re not free to say what they like while wishing to stop others from addressing people could be considered just a wee bit fascist… Which some might say is like being a little bit pregnant.

Speaking of inconsistencies, Malcolm Turnbull!

Mm, I’m tempted to leave it at that. Let’s face it, you’ve probably already thought of five or six things I could be about to mention after the words “Inconsistencies, Malcolm Turnbull”, but I was thinking more about his position on the audit of MPs citizenship.

Just forget his rant about Bill Shorten’s citizenship a few months ago: “The position with citizenship and (so far as) Mr Shorten’s papers are concerned is that, to be honest, I don’t why he doesn’t produce the documentation. It’s perfectly clear that he inherited UK citizenship by descent through his father. That’s not in issue. He’s said he renounced it but he doesn’t want to produce one sheet of paper. It’s up to him whether he wants to do it. But this is a guy who is not known for transparency.”

Now demands for an audit are a “witch-hunt” because all MPs know that they need to uphold the constitution, so there’s no need to prove that they have, even though six have been found to have been a little bit slack in checking this – we can just presume that the rest are ok. No need for people to do anything. It’s was only Mr Shorten who’s untrustworthy. You know, he’s a “sycophant” who sucks up to millionaires and there’s something wrong with that unless you’re a voter and “aspirational”.

And, as for Josh Frydenberg. Well…

Turnbull does make a compelling case for the absurdity of suggesting that Josh has allegiance to Hungary, given that his parent’s were Holocaust survivors and declared non-citizens. However, the problem will be changes in Hungarian law, because, well, if the law says that Frydenbeg has Hungarian citizenship then it’s pretty much another one of those technicalities which is seeing an unusually high turnover rate in our senators. After all, nobody asked Scott Ludlum or Larissa Waters whether they liked their respective alternative homelands or not. It’s therefore irrelevant to suggest his feelings about Hungary would matter. One might as well argue that he’d surely have some sympathy for those on Manus Island because he’d understand the problems of being a stateless refugee because of his parents.

Actually, I did find one of Mr Frydenberg’s statements on the matter even more confusing than his approach to energy policy. He said: “It’s absurd to think you could become a citizen of a country unwillingly.” Mm, tell that to Barnaby Joyce. Actually, when I come to think of it, most people don’t make a conscious choice about their citizenship. “Yes, well, I wanted to be an American citizen so I chose to be born there even though my parents were poor farmers in Albania and couldn’t manage to get me there. Please issue me with papers as I never chose to be Albanian. I was made a citizen unwillingly!”

Early this week, a reporter asked Malcolm Turnbull if he was over it and ready to just toss in the towel, to which he replied: “I’ve never had more fun in my life!” I guess that’s the important thing. Malcolm’s having fun, so why should he actually care that since becoming Prime Minister, the only thing that he’s achieved is… um, he… well, there’s the… No, that has happened yet, that’s just a plan… but there’s… no, that’s just a guarantee.

Well, at least he’s having fun. Perhaps, that should be Bill Shorten’s next question in Parliament.

“My question is to the Prime Minster, given the recent (fill in latest stuff-up) is the member for Wentworth still having fun?”

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  1. john ocallaghan

    Poor old Malcom, drowning in hypocrisy and blustering with bullshit!!

  2. Kaye Lee

    Soooo….if the IPA get to decide who teachers want to listen to, do we get to decide who speaks at IPA conferences?

  3. dragonnanny

    Oh dear, the poor Albanian……….. I don’t recall making any choice to be an Australian citizen. Perhaps my parents chose for me. Fabulous article Rossleigh

  4. Kaye Lee

    I love the conference theme rossleigh 🙂

    Now, gods, stand up for bastards! (Edmund in King Lear)

    Lawrence Money defines an ‘amazing bastard’ as ‘a bloke who does stuff that other bastards wouldn’t try in a month of Sundays’. Our students search for, and discover a range of voices, just as we teachers do. As the world changes, so must our language and our use of it. Who would have thought that Bob Dylan would be a Nobel Laureate? The times certainly ‘are a-changing’.

    In 2017 VATE celebrates those individuals who take the contrary line, who will not or cannot swim in the main stream, who view the world from a different perspective, who, with Shakespeare’s Edmund, question what is legitimate. In doing so, we also celebrate and further empower the language in which we work and live. We value the bastards, the contrarians, the iconoclasts, the dissidents and the marginalised, those for whom the status quo will not do.

    In 2017, when we as a society are excluding and punishing the innocent and deracinated, language is one of the few weapons we can wield in their defence. In his fourth year of detention, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani claims that ‘only in literary language can people understand our life and our condition’, as ‘where we are is too hard’ for the jargons and limitations of transactional language.

    VATE 2017 wants to speak to and for the mavericks, we want to disrupt, challenge, experiment, innovate: we, like Oliver Twist, ask for more, as we search for space in the cracks of a rigid curriculum. After all, as Leonard Cohen says, ‘There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in’.

  5. Glenn Barry

    I always marvel at the indignant opinions of the RWNJ’s (Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine et al.), ridiculous politicians (Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews) and conservative think thanks like the IPA bemoaning left wing bias.

    The only facts they successfully illustrate are the positions of the complainants themselves. Basically when they’re misidentifying others as left wing it demonstrates their complete lack of situational awareness.

    When you posit such extremist right wing opinions that the only positions more extreme are likely to emanate from the likes of the Westboro Baptist church or Cory Bernardi, then everyone else is on your left.

    Time for the extremists to wake up and recognise the difference between reasonable argument and the fallacy of justifying something by giving reasons

  6. Rossleigh

    Just in case anyone’s interested, I’m presenting on the Friday, middle session. FW2.21
    “Why fliipping a bottle has more to offer than flipping your classroom”

  7. helvityni

    “Mind you, nobody seems to have a problem with conservatives like Donnelly speaking to groups of teachers….”

    I certainly had a problem with him writing about education on ABC some years ago, and offered to pay his fare to Finland to check their education system. He replied by saying that he would not feel safe flying Aeroflot, maybe he thought Finland was part of Russia…or maybe he assumes that no left-winger can afford to fly Quantas or Finnair…

    Or maybe just belittling in a typical right-winger fashion…?

  8. Terry2

    Yep, I think the IPA are right, VATE sounds like a Lefty love-in and for balance they should have invited somebody from the Right, maybe Pauline Hanson, to present a paper on, Spoken English Communication in the Contemporary Political Environment. Would be quite fascinating !

    But, seriously, I heard Van Badham on the Drum the other night and I was mightily impressed with her command of the vernacular and the force with which she communicates her ideas. Gillian Triggs would be as she has shown herself to have a very precise and measures command of the English language.

  9. Mark Needham

    This is Ms Triggs, dealing with her topic ““The topic for Gillian’s speech is: ‘Human Rights in a Post Truth World’. Do facts matter? Is there such a thing as ‘post truth’, or an ‘alternative fact’?”

    Now, the above link from about 4.00 on, has her espousing ‘Truth and Honesty”.

    I would love to be at her “Presentation”. As a Professor, knowing all about Truth, and teaching us poor Plebs, all about it, in a precise and measured manner.

    Tell us Gillian,
    Mark Needham

  10. Rossleigh

    Truth is uncertain, say some, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know a lie when we hear it!

  11. helvityni

    Triggs and Van Badham, good women both of them; they speak and write excellent English ( their native tongue), but even more impressed by what they stand for.

    The Right seems to be more impressed with Pauline Hanson. Could they tell me why…?

  12. Keith

    Any views with the backing of Donnelly, IPA, or The Australian is suspect. But, if they had integrity they would allow opinion contrary to theirs.
    In relation to “Think Tank” which is what the IPA is meant to be, it is an oxymoron. The IPA espouses an odious idealogical viewpoint which stifles an ability to understand the nuances of complex situations.

  13. Nearly Normal Frederick

    A very interesting perspective on what is now promoted as “truth” in today’s world is given by Ken Wilber in his new book Trump and a Post-Truth World. Check out the new essay by Paul Street on the Counter Punch website. Especially as some/many of the IPA/Spectator/Quadrant talking-head zombies still pretend that the tweeter in chief is going to be good for both Amerika and the rest of the planet too.

    Meanwhile the psychotic mad monk gave another speech to the USA outfit the Alliance Defending Freedom – an outfit that specializes in “religious” post-truth applied politics.

  14. Jack Straw

    helvityni : The Right seems to be more impressed with Pauline Hanson. Could they tell me why…?

    Ans: Because they know she is stupid and easily manipulated.

  15. diannaart

    If the IPA, et al, are so absolutely correct in everything they say/do/excrete – why do they even feel the need to silence others?

  16. kerri

    I too thought Frydenbergs “absurd” comment smacked a bit of the Malcolm Roberts.
    His mother was made stateless so she chooses to believe her birthplace is forever irrelevant???

  17. paul walter

    F..k the IPA, who only ever open their mouths to do harm.

  18. paul walter

    One thing I don’t get…If Frydenberg’s mother was Jewish, doesn’t that make him Israeli?

  19. guest

    When I read the name Kevin Donnelly I have an urge to tear at my hair with anger – and when he is linked with the IPA my anger turns to danger level. I have been aware of Donnelly’s scribblings for at least 30 years and they have not improved in any way – same old same old. And as for the IPA, their wish-list is intent upon destruction of anyone or thing not of the Right.

    No wonder they disapprove of the VATE conference. First of all, it is Labor’s Victoria (but still relevant Oz-wide). And it is for teachers (you know, those leftie activists marching through the curriculum) and it is about English ( a subject which is not being taught in the manner of the C19th Lancasterian Utilitarian drill-and-test education system – see Dickens’s “Hard Times”).

    Besides that, the conference is about alternative matters, about mavericks beyond the mainstream, and literary language which goes beyond the merely transactional. That means it is a direct challenge to the conservative. nationalistic jingoism of Donnelly, the IPA and the Right who so hate Professor Gillian Triggs and her stance on Human Rights, refugees and the marginalised.

    Donnelly has his own mentor. He follows the kind of ideology espoused by Allan Bloom in “The Closing of the American Mind” (1987), so attractive to conservatives because it is so critical of young university students of the 1980s and going back to what Bloom sees as the origins of decline in the 1960s. That is, he opposes a developing curriculum that goes beyond the Western Canon. It is a view spruiked by conservatives such as Donnelly and used by the Murdoch media to sell contrived controversy.

    Interestingly, Bloom is criticised by George Anastaplo (1988), professor of law and lecturer in the liberal arts at the University of Chicago, where Bloom taught. He makes this general statement about Bloom’s writing:

    “A proper education should make one cautious in one’s uses of sources, moderate in the tone of one’s political and social advocacy, and anything but overbearing in one’s assessment of the less enlightened, keeping in mind that it is usually easier to attack than to defend. Related to these concerns is the perennial question of how influential the traditional education can be if its advocates display themselves, both in public and in private, as decidedly self-indulgent.”

    Hard words. And he points out that there have always been complaints about the young and about how they should be educated. But he points out that there are all kinds of influences which come to bear on young people growing up, especially noticeable in the 1960s and with us still, such as television, cars, contraceptives, drugs, conscription into the army to fight wars such as the Vietnam, political chaos, economic uncertainty…

    Bloom had problems with pop music, sexuality, women and feminism, with racial minorities… – and his health!

    Anastaplo points out (1988) that students are “more open to radical intellectual challenge” and that they need to have access to “many programs in addition to the finest training in the liberal arts that relatively few students can make much use of”.

    It looks to me that VATE is opening up those programs, but are being opposed by those who seek to espouse a contrary ideology which is based on a real closing of the Oz mind – a narrow, antique, top-down curriculum.

  20. Frank Smith

    Keep an eye out for Peter Dutton at VATE – the evil one is boning up on further obscure ways to use the English language to “stiffen up” the citizenship test.

  21. LOVO

    I like flipping bottles. ?
    In fact, I’m flipping one right now.

  22. Suziekue

    For balance, perhaps Pauline Hanson could present a workshop “How to Speak Gooder English”.

  23. wam

    Rossleigh is it left or right to use frydenberg in the same sentence as the two loonies who were born overseas and leave out robertson? What would your attitude be if cormann or scullion(very suss in 2001), also born overseas, didn’t divest themselves of dual citizenship?

    To suggest that hanson is popular because she says what everyone is thinking is true.

    To suggest that half the population is below average intelligence is probably true in theory.

    To suggest the VATE selection process for students skews the top hat curve to the left denying many students access is arguably true.

    To suggest dumb is a powerful word with many applications without meaning is true.

    To suggest the IPA has privileges not afforded Get Up is true.

    To suggest what you believe or are led to believe is true is, despite the Lord, true.

    To suggest education is the way to changing beliefs is true

    Can the dumb access education a la VATE?

    Sadly hope and osmosis are the slow processes available to billy.

    ABC control and rupert’s media broadcasting slogans are available to the IPA and LNP QED?

  24. jim

    The IPA are sick they are still intent on blocking the democratic process of debate and discussion by censorship and/or distortion of political activities. The IPA = Ill Peoples
    We have a NewsLtd/IPA COALition regime in power in Australia as intended by the religious right wing fundamentalists and their masters in the corporate world. IMHO.
    Action is needed to bring these culprits who are actively distorting Australia’s democracy to a court of law.

    A RC into “our” media is Essential for our democracy and thus for the people of Australia.

  25. Nemesis56

    The first casualty of politics is truth….these neolib extremists wouldn’t know the truth if it punched them in the face. The greatest threat to our democracy are our politicians. The only aspiration the hopelessly inept Presidente Trumbul has was to become PM. Like the mad monk before him, there was no plan what to do when he got there. Screaming about witch hunts and stateless people, Trumble is either too stupid or too arrogant or both, to miss the obvious irony in these statements. AWU. Manus Is. Every time we think the incompetence, corruption and disdain for democracy by the Coalition can’tpossibly get worse……it does.

  26. win jeavons

    Clear thinking was taught to Matriculation students, and examined on. Disappeared decades ago, and doesn’t it show! I am sick of illogical statements by climate skeptics and xenophobes. You would think that with so many politicians with actual or possible dual citizenship that we would welcome migrants, no matter what their means of transport, if only to fill all those dubious seats of the future.

  27. guest

    win jeavons,

    If you mean those “comprehension” pieces where students answered a battery of questions which were meant to inculcate “clear thinking”, they are not so common now for good reason. Every subject requires clear thinking.

    As for climate skeptics and xenophobes, they believe they are thinking clearly when their statements accord with their own ideology. For them it is entirely logical; for others it is madness. Hence climate skeptics have no science but stick by their belief that the science is not “settled”.

    That high levels of education create people of clear and logical thinking is questioned by the fact our last two PMs were Rhodes Scholars, many of our politicians have tertiary qualifications and attended expensive private schools. I am beginning to think that the drift to private schools is failing.

    Nor does religion or faith guarantee clear thinking. That is why the word ‘faith’ is so apposite.

    It is not the learning alone that counts: it is how one uses it.

  28. Rossleigh

    At VATE Conferenc, and the presenter is wearing a t-shirt saying “Feminist”, yet she claims to be fair and balanced. Wait till “The Australian” finds out.

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