But was it abuse, or creative teaching gone wrong? Tim Gilmour, assistant to the director of schools at the Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong, the group that oversees the school, said in an interview that the experiment started because the class was studying a well-known fictional children’s book, “The Stolen Girl.”
“What’s happened here is that the intention and execution haven’t matched up as well as they might,” he said. “We understand the criticism, and it is certainly the last thing we want to upset the students.”
“This incident reflects an attempt at experiential learning gone horribly wrong,” said Dr. Glenn Savage, a senior lecturer in education policy at the University of Melbourne. At St. Justin’s, both the parents and the school seem to agree that while the lesson was a worthy one, its implementation was questionable. It feeds into a debate, however, on how much control teachers get in the classroom, and how students are taught about the injustices of the past — or the future.
Classrooms across the world, in particular those that have complicated relationships with race and a colonial past, have walked the line between what some see as politicization and others see as education. In 1968, Jane Elliott, a third-grade teacher at an all-white school in Iowa, attempted to simulate the impact of the civil rights movement by dividing up her students based on their eye color. The experiment, which came to be known as the blue eyes/brown eyes exercise, became notorious, with teachers abroad also adopting it for their students.
These days, hot topics like climate change, sex and drug education, and even etiquette, have caused friction. In Wellston, Ohio, for example, one New York Times reporter recently examined how a new teacher’s treatment of global warming was met with resistance in a mining town.
In this case, the teachers may have learned a lesson of their own about the gap between good intentions and flawless execution. “We’ll learn from this experience,” Mr. Gilmour said.
[Published at 4:05 p.m. AEST]
Pell Charged With Sexual Abuse
The prelate, Cardinal George Pell, became the highest-ranking Vatican official in recent years to face criminal charges involving accusations of sexual offenses.
“Cardinal Pell has been charged on summons, and he is required to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court” on July 18, Shane Patton, the deputy police commissioner, said at a news conference.
The charges were served on the cardinal’s legal representatives in Melbourne. Commissioner Patton said there were multiple complainants, but refused to provide further details about them, including their ages.
Cardinal Pell is a senior Vatican leader. As the Vatican’s de facto finance chief, he is one of the most powerful figures in the Catholic Church ever to be charged with sexual abuse in an ongoing scandal that has been engulfed dozens of priests in various countries all over the world.
He had been accused in hearings before Australia’s Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse of mishandling misconduct cases against clergy members while he served as the leader of the Archdioceses of Melbourne and Sydney. Then allegations surfaced that he had sexually abused minors himself beginning early in his priesthood and continuing until he became archbishop of Melbourne. He has repeatedly denied the accusations.
Here’s our full story. We’ll be adding more context and reporting there.
[Published at 11:04 a.m. AEST]
Uber Drivers, United Against Uber
Uber, the ride-hailing company that can’t seem to get out of its own way, has a fresh battle on its smartphone-clutching hands.
Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman has announced an investigation, which will focus on whether Uber is in violation of Australian workplace rules.
Local drivers are making a push to be classified as employees, which would entitle them to full benefits, like sick days and superannuation. Currently, Uber classifies its drivers as subcontractors.
For years, the company has been achingly familiar with scandal. It’s had the unscrupulous inner workings of its culture peeled back and revealed, over and over again. There have been accusations of institutional sexism and bullying. Deceit and evasion of local government and authorities. Underpayment of drivers. Through all of this, while in the eye of the storm, the company has continually made unforced errors, which culminated in the recent ousting of Travis Kalanick, the chief executive and co-founder.
So, what do Australian drivers want — and why? RideShare Drivers United, an Australian-American driver advocacy group, wants Australian Uber drivers to be classified as employees, rather than subcontractors. The group says that “real subcontractors” would have far more ability to control and grow their business: Think directly negotiating prices with customers, asking for the destination before having to drive out to a customer and picking up people hailing on the street.
“More than 60,000 Australian driver-partners choose to drive using the Uber app because they like setting their own schedule and being their own boss,” Uber said in a statement emailed to Reuters when the news broke.
“Drivers don’t get any superannuation. No holidays, no sick days, you have to work every day of every week. Most full-time drivers will tell you, they can’t even take a few days off,” said Max, RideShare Drivers United’s Melbourne-based founder. Over the phone, he told The New York Times that he needed to conceal his full name: “I’m a full-time driver — they’ll fire me on the spot.”
Max said that being classified as casual employees would allow Australian drivers to bring a living wage home, even if it were the minimum wage.
“Either they pay us well — let us run a business, pay us like subcontractors — or pay us minimum wage,” Max said. “They’re trying to have it both ways.”
[Published at 11:34 a.m. AEST]