The latter days of 2019 folded and parcelled the year with gifts of joyful choral sounds, and traditional folk and classical music from many cultures. Along our coastline TENORI TIMELESS shared a classic collection of songs that remain as current as the day they were written. Puccini, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lloyd-Webber, Simon & Garfunkel and Verdi are but a few. Costume, cheer, music, song and beautiful art shaped thoughts and feelings, both new and old, as the country held open arms to welcome a New Year.
In addition to wonderful exhibitions in the city of Brisbane and in Queensland’s regions, our National Gallery brought us exquisite pre-Raphaelite masterpieces from the TATE; Monet’s 1872 work ‘Impression Sunrise’, about which he had stated “Eventually my eyes were opened, and I really understood nature. I learned to love at the same time.” Claude Monet Imagine the pride and excitement of our early Women Artists and Sculptors, archived by NCWQ; Lynda Sampson Searle, Denise Pommeranz, Dorothy Hartnett, Debbie Scott, Wendy Mills, Clare Llewelyn and the Far North’s Ellen Jose, viewing more and more new works, housed with the ‘old masters’! Australians are still able to view two titans of the global art world, who, it is claimed, sparred – ‘traded jobs and parrying blows to redefine the nature of beauty in art’. National Gallery of Australia: program MATISSE and PABLO PICASSO are on display until 13 April 2020. In the context of their sparring, this, also, has been recorded: “No one has ever looked at Matisse’s painting more carefully than I; and no one has looked at mine more carefully than he.” Pablo Picasso SDGs 4/10/17
Our early Women Artists and Sculptors, Monet, Matisse and Picasso looked beyond the WHAT and explored the HOW and the WHY!
In a major investment in education, a new permanent gallery is being established, which will be supported by an online resource centre for teachers, parents and students nationwide. Adjacent will be a new gallery space for the first creative learning centre, dedicated to the exploration and making of art in all its forms. All this has been made possible through the generosity of Tim Fairfax AC. www.nga.gov.au/visiting/familySDGs 3/4/5/10/17
Arts, Letters, Science, Literacy, Numeracy and Learning are in the spotlight! Few, however, are brave enough to speak bleak truths about these matters, but choose to evade responsibility for a weakening in many arenas, by blaming. One hopes that this New Year will reveal truths that have been avoided, and that we can, now, work with the HOW and the WHY and not just the WHAT of deficiencies. The Daily Telegraph has written: ‘…the inconvenient truth is that parents most certainly have had a hand in dumbing down our younger generations.’ Louise Roberts/p.13 Thurs Dec 5 2019. Much is attributed to ‘time-poor’ kids and not ‘time-poor’ parents. Students are claimed to be a full academic year behind in reading and science when compared with PISA results from the year 2000.
Allusions are made to teachers who have a political cause to push – this assuredly exists in some Queensland public schools! Additionally, suggestions are made that if a child is considered ‘average’ teachers have basically given up on that child. Considered opinion and research has revealed that our kids, in Queensland schools, have done poorly in Maths, in NAPLAN testing, not necessarily because they don’t understand the Maths; or because teachers are seconded as Maths teachers, without adequate training – but because they are not sufficiently literate when reading the QUESTIONS in the Maths segment. Our children, our students and numbers of our teachers CANNOT AND DO NOT READ FOR MEANING. Because this is so, tricky questions can confuse them and consequently they are unsure WHAT they are meant to be doing to respond adequately and accurately to questions. This is not peculiar only to Maths, but contributes significantly to poor outcomes.
So WHAT really is the message? We can see WHY things need to change, but HOWdo we change thing? Parents – Get involved and stay involved! Some studies have revealed that the students whose parents have read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all. Parent’s engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance. One teacher, who is also a mum, responded to queries on HOW we are currently educating our kids – ‘Too much, too fast. Inconsistency, over stimulation, less time on basics, no quality practice in maths so kids are reinforcing their learning, going beyond their understanding too soon and setting them up for a long battle to catch up.” Additionally, because the inability to read for meaning continues to diminish, this teacher/mum responded: ‘Reading is a dying skill as we are overloaded and over stimulated. Kids’ brains are not thinking how we used to because we don’t read for pleasure or enjoyment anymore. READ TO YOUR CHILDREN NO MATTER THEIR AGE, GET THEM OFF THEIR DEVICES. EVEN USING TECHNOLOGY FOR READING HELP IS NOT READING FOR MEANING.’ There are composite reasons WHY this deficit exists – we now need to support and work on HOW to address such vital matters. www.dailytelegraph.com.au SDGs 3/4/17
WriterMark MANSON, in an hilarious, confronting and refreshing book, reminds us that it is ok to be wrong…remembering that “…Five hundred years ago cartographers believed that California was an island. Doctors believed that slicing a person’s arm open (or causing bleeding anywhere) could cure disease. Scientists believed that fire was made out of something called phlogiston. Women believed that rubbing dog urine on their face had anti-ageing benefits. Astronomers believed that the sun revolved around the earth…” p.117 Ch. 6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F* Pan Macmillan Aust Pty Ltd. Sydney NSW 2000, 2016, 2017.
This interesting young writer also reasons that ‘Failure is the way forward…Pain is Part of the Process…’ – which allows us to revisit current teaching delivery and important issues and change practices. The examples used are extreme, but so is our current plight!
‘When Pablo Picasso was an old man, he was sitting in a café in Spain, doodling on a used napkin. A woman sitting near him was looking on in awe. Picasso finished his coffee and crumpled up the napkin to throw away….”Wait!” said the woman, “Can I have that napkin you were just drawing on? I’ll pay you for it.”
“Sure,” Picasso replied. “Twenty thousand dollars.”
The woman’s head jolted back – “What? It took you like two minutes to draw that.”
“No, ma’am….It took me over sixty years to draw this.” He stuffed the napkin in his pocket and walked out of the café.’ pp.147/148
Change – ’In the 1950s, a Polish psychologist,Kazimierz DABROWSKI studied WW11 survivors. Traumatic, gruesome, mass starvation, bombings, the Holocaust, torture, rape and/or murder of family members, if not by Nazis, then a few years later by the Soviets…..Dabrowski noticed something surprising and amazing. A sizeable percentage of them believed that the wartime experiences, though painful and traumatic, had actually caused them to become better, more responsible, and even happier people. Many described their lives before as if they’d been different people then: ungrateful for and unappreciative of their loved ones, lazy and consumed by petty problems, entitled to all they’ve been given. After the war, they felt more confident, more sure of themselves, more grateful and unfazed by life’s trivialities and petty annoyances. p.151
DECISIONS AND CHANGE ARE BASED ON VALUES. Manson defines Good Values as those that are……
- Reality based
- Socially constructive
- Immediate and controllable
Poorer Values he defines as those that are…..
- Socially destructive
- Not immediate or controllable – Ihope all of the above may be useful for us to confront problems openly and effectively and enable us to change things. Please do not be offended by the wording of the book title* SDGs 1/2/3/4/16/17
FEMALE ‘SOFT POWER’ STEERS COURSE OF HISTORY – Writer, Miranda DARLING and Art expert, Viola RAIKHEL-BOLOT, describe the extraordinary women they want to showcase to the world through books and documentaries created by their newly formed production company VANISHING PICTURES. These women want to tell the stories that have been hidden – they allude to “…soft power – and the power of art and culture is ‘soft power’,” says Darling.
Dividing their time between London and Sydney, the busy pair have produced the book IRAN MODERN: THE EMPRESS OF ART, all about a $US3bn lost art collection assembled by the former empress, Farah Pahlavi in the 1970s. That famous collection includes works by Picasso, Renoir, Warhol and Dali. Darling and Raikhel-Bolot are now working on a book about female spies. This includes Australian spy Nancy WAKE, known as “The White Mouse”. Milanda Rout, p.3: 5 Dec 2019/www.theaustralian.com.au SDGs 4/5/12/17
A magnificent read! – ‘THE IDIOT GODS’ “Spectacular world-making.” The Times.
AN EPIC TALE OF A QUEST FOR A NEW WAY OF LIFE ON EARTH. Written by David Zindell and told from the perspective of Arjuna the Whale ….this is a uniquely moving novel of the sea, exquisitely written, with a rare depth of perception, awareness, grace and hope, in symbiosis with an even rarer breadth of courage and wisdom!
A rarity for avid readers! I had to resort to Fowler and old publications of The Oxford Dictionary at times and I read zillions of books…very, very beautiful. One word we will not discover in any of the above, is ‘quenge’. To ‘quenge’, the reader is told, is the most quintessential part of a whale’s true nature…inexplicable though this may be. p.14
Ignoring the human peculiarities, the many strands of excrescence – ‘nets’ the humans called them – Arjuna wanted to hear the music. “And what music they made! And how they made it! I swam toward the boat, drawn by the mighty Beethoven chords that somehow sounded from beneath the water. The density of this marvellous blue substance magnified the marvel of the music. Joy, pure joy, zinged through my skin. I moved even closer to the boat and to the music’s mysterious source beneath the rippling waves. “
“O what a song I have for you!” I said to the humans. I knew that if I was to touch their hearts as they had touched mine, I must go deep inside myself to speak with the monsters and the angels that dwelled there. “Here, humans, here, here – please listen to this song of myself!” pp86/87 When Arjuna of the Blue Aria Family encounters three signs of cataclysm, he leaves his home in the Arctic Ocean to seek out the Idiot Gods and ask us why we are destroying the world. But the whales’ ancient Song of Life is beyond our understanding, and we know nothing of the Great Covenant between our kinds.
After capture and starvation and being forced to do tricks in a tiny pool, the Orca’s love for a human linguist gives him hope. As the whales’ beloved ocean turns toward the Blood Solstice, the fate of humanity hangs in the balance; for if Arjuna gains the Voice of Death he could destroy mankind. If understanding can prevail, he may, through the whales’ mysterious power of quenging, create a new Song of Life and enable human evolution to unfold. Harper Collins Publishers, London 2017 SDGs 2/3/4/6/14/17
Welcome to 2020 on Planet Earth – Very Best Wishes to All