17 February 2013

The Courage of One's Convictions & Anonymity...

So much for only the one post in February!

I recently received an email from a dear friend and the unrelenting anonymous cyberbullying and cyberstalking that she is encountering on an hourly basis twenty-four hours per day. Why is this happening? For no other reason than holding an opinion different to those of the cyberbullies and being willing to share it with a view to ensuring that people are not only well-informed but to ensure that they are properly informed too.

The reality is that I cannot go into a whole lot of detail as the matter is subject to some real sensitive information. But, in a general sense I can get into the detail. In its most simple form, this is a case of one person blogging, social networking, and working under her real name and a host of pseudonyms and other anonymous posters attacking her on every front. In fact, it really is cyberstalking, wherever she goes these individuals are sure to follow.

And, this is the point of the title of this post. My personal opinion is that if you have the courage of your convictions and you truly and honestly believe in what you are standing for then you should feel the need for this to happen under your real name. If the pen-person-ship is ours then claim it as so.

The belief that you can remain anonymous and untrackable is a fallacy, particularly when you are making outlandish and absurd claims about government to government conspiracies, double-agents, and the sacrifice of insignificant individuals (in the sense that they are so unimportant in the big scheme of things that they warrant being thrust front and centre in this global conspiracy) to the alter of global politics.

Let's face it, when push comes to shove, governments have a lot of time and money to throw at uncovering who the anonymous and pseudonym-covered posters are. Unfortunately, the perfect laws are not in place in Australia to deter cyberstalkers and cyberbullies, but we will get there. Nevertheless, the reality is that defaming someone is defaming them and there are laws in place that can be used to see that it stops and that the perpetrators make their reparations to those that they injure.

I blog under my own name not because I want to be some sort of hero or because I want to throw caution to the wind and hell be damned, rather I blog under my own name because I believe in the things, the ideas, the views, and the issues that I talk about. I have the courage of my convictions and people don't doubt my passions or my beliefs (well, not all that often there are always cynics out there somewhere). If I have something to say about someone then I say it. It is that simple.

I am not going to spend 100s or 1000s of hours in compiling data to release a "Confidential - Not for Publication" report under a pseudonym and then publish it as widely as possible. Clearly, the report is neither confidential or not for publication, rather it is for public viewing and dissemination.

The truth is that if I believe in what I have researched and what is contained in the report is fact and beyond reproach then why not put my name to it. To suggest that the state will enter into a conspiracy with other states to silence me is delusional paranoia. Some more truth is that where the report attacks and defames an individual then there hardly seems the need for the paranoia. It is not as if the report is about the Head of State, is it?

To be clear, I do not have a problem with anonymous blogging or writing or doing these things under a pen name or the like. I do have a problem if one is trying to use anonymity and pseudonyms as a cover to attack, bully and harass people because they have a different view to your own.

What it the point of the post. Well, how can we expect to educate our children on the stupidity, silliness, inappropriateness, and danger of cyberstalking and cyberbullying when adults themselves cannot behave in appropriate ways and show good character? How do we expect to help our children develop honesty and integrity in an ever-increasing technological worlds when the role-models they see cannot do it for themselves.

It is time to leave the naivety behind as it relates to the dangers of cyberbullying and cyberstalking and start being truthful to ourselves and those that we care about.

Cyberbullying and cyberstalking is not on at any time, it is not welcome at any time, and it will never be a solution ever!

Those of you out there engaging in this atrocious behaviour, get over yourselves, get a life, and get on with living your own and leave the rest of us to do the things that need to be done. The stuff being written, spoken, shown and disseminated anonymously is nothing more than cowardice with a capital "C".

This 'information', in the weakest sense of the word, is being disseminated anonymously as the perpetrators are more worried about the "truth" of their allegations and the veracity of their allegations that they feel safer hiding behind the veil of anonymity. But rest assured it will not be long till that veil becomes sheer and your true identities will be uncovered, or unveiled perhaps.

Sweet dreams...

Thus endeth the sermon!

Peter Garrett -- Burning the Midnight Oil...

Being the voracious reader of news that I am, I was reading this story about the Federal Education Minister, Mr. Peter Garrett, formerly of Midnight Oil fame and now responsible for leading the revolution in the education of Australia.

Mr. Garrett, or Petey to his friends, is a firm believer in NAPLAN. I am sure if you are Australian or have children involved in the Australian education system you would have heard of the 'dredded' NAPLAN exam. This exam happens in early May every year for Years 3, 5, 7, and 9. The National Assessment Program -- Literacy and Numeracy was, according to Petey, designed to test the curriculum. It is not designed to be an assessment tool of schools or individual teachers. Consequently, this lack of understanding, or simple fear-mongering by individuals and unions, places increased and undue stress on children who must take part in these exams.

So, rather than admit to a flawed NAPLAN idea and a flawed implementation process, Petey blames the teachers. It is not the government's fault that teachers are not up to speed or not capable of getting the job done. The "fact" that teachers can't get the job done, Petey says, is proof positive that there is a need for performance pay and for pre and post-appointment testing of teachers to ensure that they meet a revised higher standard of expected achievement.

Unfortunately, Petey does not seem to understand that the vast majority of teachers in our state's and territories' education systems already exceed those higher expectations. So, perhaps the issue is not one of teacher quality but rather government commitment to the fundamental belief that education is a human right that all people enjoy and one that government must endeavour to divert more funds to. But, I digress...back to NAPLAN.

The reality is that because of the concerns that NAPLAN is a tool that is designed to test schools and individual teachers, as much as it is to test students place on the literacy and numeracy continuum, teachers often feel compelled to "teach to the test". Simply, this means a teacher gets out there collection of past NAPLAN tests and goes through those tests over and over and over and over again and then they do that over and over again in the lead up to NAPLAN.

This is a flawed approach, not because it does not achieve the desired outcome, because it does not provide students with the basic skills to be natural users of the English language. Students are being taught how to complete the test and not how to be life-long learners of English nor how to be competent users of English.

Back to the idea that students are stressed. Well, when it is all said and done we are talking about students and a national exam. If I was still a school student in Year 3, 5, 7 or 9 then it is pretty likely I would be stressed too. No matter what my teacher would have told me about the importance of the exam or what it is allegedly designed to test. So, yeah, students are stressed. However, it is worth adding that the government is the one that links NAPLAN outcomes to the future funding of schools and particular programs and our informed students are aware of what this means and how it may effect and affect their future educations.

Then again, maybe our students of today are facing a range of different pressures from numerous angles and this leads to the increased stress levels in our students and not their teachers knowledge or lack thereof of the NAPLAN test. Let's face it, when mum and dad are going out and spending $20 or more per book and insisting that their children read and complete each and every activity in the book in preparation for sitting the NAPLAN test would seem to be indication enough that mum and dad think the test is pretty important. So, with this being "reinforced" at school, it is of little wonder that some students are going to have increased levels of stress associated with NAPLAN. Why solely blame teachers for this? Scape-goating?

I must add that these are my own personal views and in no way reflect the views of the organisation that I work for.

Anyways, that might be it for February...I promise to try and get in one post per month.

Feel free to comment...I will reply provided it is not some kind of linked advertisement for viagra or the like :)