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Community highlights

The Conversation receives a lot of comments each day and you can’t read everything. That’s why we occasionally end the week with a selection of community highlights: comments we enjoyed or thought interesting. Read on for six comments or discussions I thought worth highlighting.


Here’s looking at: Rottnest by Guy Grey-Smith

Heather L. Robinson and Lydia Wells shared differing opions on Guy Grey-Smith’s painting and its representation of Rottnest.

Heather L. Robinson

Grey-Smith’s heightened tones and colours make little sense unless your eyes have spent time in Western Australia. I remember well having to adjust my inner settings when I arrived in Perth 15 years ago and first experienced both the landscape and how it was represented by the local artists’. Both the Grey-Smiths seemed to enjoy a conversation via their respective palettes about the many and varied landscapes of WA which I found enlightening. Great to see them again, and thanks for bringing back some lovely memories, Ted.

Lydia Wells

Yes, you see, I grew up in WA and still live here and go to Rottnest regularly and just adore it. Seddon was right: it exists in our minds as a pure and somewhat ‘truer life’, despite it’s terrible history (I always feel that it is a bit like Port Arthur - a terrible past but somehow a strangely serene present? Anyway, I digress…).

So, as much as I appreciate and enjoy the Grey-Smith depiction of what ‘Rotto’ offers up to us in our mind’s eye, I just cannot relate to it as being the Rotto I know and love. I’ve visited the island during all seasons of the year and once, memorably, during a heatwave. Never does it evoke the colour red to me - it’s not a desert. The climate is very maritime. It’s cooler and windy and humid at night - everything feels salty and damp (often because, when you’re there, you swim from morning to night!!). Even during the said heatwave, with temperatures in the low to mid thirties - because Rotto rarely if ever reaches the same maximum as Perth(!) - my dominant memory and sense of it is one of blueness - as it always is. The blue sky, the blue sea. It’s just not true that it’s ‘scorching’ and red. I’ve visited the Pilbara - now that’s scorching and red. There are many trees on Rottnest and one of the main reasons it has such a special place in West Australian hearts is that it generally has much milder weather than Perth and the dominant colour and ‘feel’ of the island is blue, blue, blue and more blue…!! (and maybe a bit of white - for the beautiful, fine white sand and some of the old buildings - and grey - evoking the quokkas and the bush). I do appreciate Grey-Smith’s vision. But it’s not mine.


How schools avoid enrolling children with disabilities

Maria Perrone offered up the experiences her child faced in the education system:

Thank you for sharing this article. It happens everywhere and it is mostly when you have people who do not understand the disability and are not willing to get training or advice in best to help the child. I have had this from past experience and have decided to become a special needs teacher as I have a child with autism and intellectual disability.

Even mainstream graduates are not given enough information in regards to helping in these children instead they are scared and follow what other teachers do in the school. Again from past experience.

My child has been in both the special school system and the mainstream system and the experience has been both the same. It really depends on teacher and their understanding and view on the disability presented.

The article’s author, Linda J. Graham, had this to say in repsonse:

Thank you for your comment Maria and you’re right, this does happen in all systems and it even occurs in the special education system. This is why it is so important that these issues are not swept under the carpet, yet again. How many Senate/Parliamentary reports does it take?


How to avoid toxic disputes between parents and teachers

Kenneth Woolford explained his approach to teacher-parent relationships and how it helped him in the classroom:

Great article. As a teacher (now retired), in my twenties I decided to improve my teacher-parent skills. I read on the topic, then started allocating time early in the school year to meet with parents. Conference times were out of school hours, and I allowed 60 minutes for each meeting (if needed and more if required). I listened to the parents and took notes, prioritising the parents’ knowledge of their child and projected hopes. I planned possible ‘futures’ re their child with them. I explored family education and work histories. Over a number of years (working with a high percentage of challenged and challenging children) I noted that my behaviour management in class was much more effective where I had put time into these conferences than in years where I was unable (for various reasons) to hold the conferences. Parent- teacher conflict was also much reduced. This approach suited my philosophy and my temperament - I knew many teachers who were critical of my approach - despite the resulting acknowledged improvement in teacher - child - parent relations. The priority, though, had to be child and parent, NOT curriculum.


Giant monster Megalodon sharks lurking in our oceans: be serious!

Mike Archer shared some stories of shark attacks (and some trouble-making kids):

Excellent article John! The question came up on 19 August, 1967, soon after I arrived back in Australia. Bob Bartle, while cray-fishing and in a black wet suit, was bitten in half by a large shark in Jurien Bay. He bobbed up to the surface as a torso shouting ‘shark!’ but died soon after being pulled into the boat. His companions said at the time that they saw a huge White Pointer circling the area. But we were sent, in the Western Australian Museum, his wetsuit which showed the cut marks where the shark had bitten him in half. These clearly indicated it was a huge Tiger Shark, not a White Pointer. Nevertheless, what followed was the usual program of systematic culling of large White Pointers, the gut contents of which were sent to the Curator of Fishes at the Western Australian Museum, Roley McKay. Roley called me into his lab when trying to identify items in one of the gut contents–a huge cartilaginous vertebra, clearly of a monstrous shark, something the culled shark had consumed. His question to me, as a palaeontologist, was simple: ‘How long ago is it presumed that ‘Megalodon’ died out?‘ When I asked if it could possibly belong to a whale shark, he said he had checked that out and, although not sure, didn’t think so. No matter how irrational my reaction, that has managed to keep me out of the ocean for most of the rest of my life. Mind, I was attacked by a shark at Coogee a few years later while jogging along the promenade. It came flying over the sea wall and struck me fair in the head. When I got up trying to figure out what had happened, it was a dead shark about 2 metres long. As I gathered my wits and commanded my heart to stop beating hysterically, I heard the laughter of two kids as they ran off down the beach, having succeeded brilliantly in timing the launch of the shark over the wall just as I ran past. Basterds.


Feeling emotional? Facebook’s Reactions finally let you say more than just Like

Finally, Phil Morey called for cooler heads on Facebook:

As usual it’s very American. Emotions that are far too robust. Where is the emoticon for ‘mildly amused’ or ‘vaguely irritated’ or ‘ennui’ It will only lead people further down the path to excessive emotional responses to everything in life.


Read a comment you thought interesting? Let me know during the week. You can leave a comment below or send me an email.