Updates in Aged Care, Disability and Employment

New Ideas and book reviews

Book Review ‘Humility’ by Barry Dickins

By Barry Dickins

AS a writer, Barry Dickins is like Bob Ellis – when he’s good he’s very, very good, but when he’s bad … he’s awful.

In Lessons in Humility, an often bizarre but allegedly ”true” story of his life as an English teacher, Dickins ranges from one to the other, and sometimes in between. The book, with illustrations by the author, is a veritable curate’s egg.

Barry Dickins takes a bizarre wander through a life of learning.

When Dickins, in 1970, completed his diploma of education at the Melbourne State College in Carlton, no one, he explains, had taught him ”how to stand in front of kids and interest them”. Indeed no one ever taught him how to teach. So it comes as no surprise that the one exam he constantly failed in his Dip.Ed was ”classroom management”.
This was largely, Dickins speculates 41 years later, because he didn’t possess any ”authority” as a teacher. And it showed. This especially applied to his early efforts to interest swarms of what seemed to be pathologically rude, urban primary-school children, who could hardly speak, let alone write, count or remember. It seems appropriate that Dickins dramatises much of his time as a teacher, often to pathetic but sometimes to hilarious effect.

As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, ”Only with laughter do we slay”.

What Dickins is good at as a teacher of drama and creative literature is listening – these days a lost art – knowing full well that almost all young children adore to be carefully heard, even if only to hear themselves.

As soon becomes clear in this rather shambolic memoir, Dickins was much more at home in little bush schools than teaching city kids in spoilt suburbia. In the country, he claims to have taught sweet children how to ”rhyme and compose a sonnet on the topic of looking after your goat or sheep or trying to establish a rapport with the estranged family ferret”.

In one mountain school he felt as though he was a boy from the bush, who thoroughly enjoyed the human company he discovered ”in cramped classrooms in old bluestone edifices that invariably had a sepia portrait of Queen Victoria over the fireplace”. As well, these little country schools, he maintains, often boasted a ”huge sad placard carved out of strange ugly wood that bore the names of the local bush blokes who perished courtesy of King and Country during The War To End All Wars 1914-1918”. True or false? Sometimes with Dickins it’s hard to tell.

The men and women the author taught with in the bush were quite different from city teachers. Dickins puts it this way: ”The [country teachers] know who is broke on the rundown farm and think nothing of running across miles of parched thistles to give them a feed or just hang out with them and listen to their woes.” Above all, they don’t text, but actually communicate face to face.

It is a testimony to the power of Dickins’ skill as a scribe that, in writing about teaching children, he brings to life a world of riotous imagination. So much so that the goings-on in classes as diverse as those at ”Posh College” and at ”The Boil Street Special School” in Sickening Road, however bizarre and far-fetched, in many ways seem somehow true.

For all its structural faults and linguistic excesses, Lessons in Humility presents Dickins as a faithful teacher deeply concerned with the education of the human soul.

■ Ross Fitzgerald is emeritus professor of history and politics at Griffith University and author of 35 books, his latest the satire Fools’ Paradise.


A Quote for Tomorrow

Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
~Victor Frankl

Quote for Today

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe,
a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something
separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison
by widening our circle of compassion
to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
~ Albert Einstein

Sorry my linkedIn profile is so unprofessional

There are some experiences so intense, that it can take a matter of weeks – even months – to fully comprehend what has happened.
Our minds, deeply scarred by the combination of rushing adrenalin, wide-eyed fear and sheer panic, shelve the event until such time that we’re mentally prepared to process it. The subconscious comes to our protection; shielding us from our own feelings.
And so it was the day I decided to join LinkedIn.
It has taken almost a month for me to come to terms with the utter devastation caused by my naive venture into the world of professional social networking. I tell my story today in the hope that others will be better prepared before going down the unforgiving path of becoming ‘linked’…
For the new players, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and boasts some 300 million users worldwide. It’s basically an online destination for three types of people:
People who share motivational quotes about war from dead global political leaders and think they apply to their day job in accounting or PR; and
People who like to write smugly about themselves in the third person; and
Anyone looking for a new job.
I had resisted joining for several years (not because Jamila doesn’t enjoy writing in the third person because she does, but) because I wasn’t job hunting and so didn’t really see the need. I was also mightily annoyed by the incessant and unprovoked emails from people I had never met, urging me to connect with them. LinkedIn was peer pressuring me to join their club and I was going to resist that particular Coke bottle bong for as long as I could, godammit.
social media I joined LinkedIn and I am never, ever going back.
“I was blissfully unaware of the total social catastrophe that I was causing.”
But then I discovered that there is a fourth type of individual who uses LinkedIn: The employer.
The business I work for is growing fairly rapidly and our CEO had been telling me for some time that I needed to start using our fancy recruiting tool on LinkedIn.
So, sitting around the living room with my housemates that very evening (waiting for Game of Thrones to start) I opened my laptop and selected the ‘join’ button.
Within minutes I had entered my name, my age, uploaded a photo and road-tested various capitalised and not capitalised versions of my job title in an attempt to make it appear Maximum Level Fancy.
Next, I needed some friends to connect with and helpfully, LinkedIn already knew who my friends were. It displayed half a dozen or so of my Mamamia colleagues, each smiling happily at me from tiny little Instagram-shaped boxes on the page.
Why not? I thought. I know all those people. Click.
Then I got a second prompt, asking if I wanted to import some more contacts from my email account; again displaying a handful of people I interact with online pretty much every day. Click. Where did I go to school? Australian National University. Click. Would I like to join any of these suggested groups? Not right now thanks, is there a skip button? That looks like it. Click.
By now I was thinking “I am actually pretty excellent at this whole LinkedIn caper”, so I boldly continued filling in tidbits of information for a good 20 minutes. I did so, blissfully unaware of the total social catastrophe I was causing.
“Hey Jam,” says my housemate Josh, messing around on his computer with half an eye on an epic Game of Thrones battle scene. “Yes I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn.” He laughs.
“I too would like to connect with you Jamila,” says Josh’s girlfriend Jess. “Although, perhaps I didn’t need the twelve other updates about which primary school you went to.”
Penny Needs Help For Her Computer Addiction On The Big Bang Theory I joined LinkedIn and I am never, ever going back.
“My LinkedIn inbox starts expanding, fast. Like, really fast. And somehow it is also sending email alerts to my actual inbox, so I am now becoming panicked across multiple platforms…”
It turns out I haven’t turned off the option to send updates to all of my ‘network’ every time I update the page.
And I’ve saved a good 20 updates tonight. Shit.
I start clicking around desperately looking for instructions on how to deactivate the function.
I do however discover that, thanks to one of those new-fangled prompt things, I have accidentally selected a diploma from the Australian National Beauty School as my key qualification.
Anyone who has ever seen me with make-up on knows this is not even remotely true.
Double shit.
My anxious search for an ‘edit’ or ‘undo’ button continues. But oh no, on LinkedIn things are not easily changed. When you say you did something on LinkedIn, you did it FOREVER. What has been done cannot be undone. There is no ‘back’, there is no ‘delete’, there is no little cross I can hover my mouse over to get rid of the error.
Desperation growing, I click on a little picture of an email, so I can let LinkedIn know about my emergency and quickly have it resolved. But actually? This is not an ‘email the creators’ function, this is my own LinkedIn message box… and I have 173 messages.
173 messages, after joining roughly 30 minutes prior. How is this even possible?
Turns out that in my hasty ‘skipping’ of the suggested interest groups, I may actually have joined a bunch. One of the organisations I have joined is an association for people who share my first name, Jamila. My message box now contains 15 or so notes from other Jamilas around the world, including two who are quite angrily insisting I have spelled my own name wrong (I haven’t).
Shit. Shit. Shit.
My LinkedIn inbox starts expanding, fast. Like, really fast. And somehow it is also sending email alerts to my actual inbox, so I am now becoming panicked across multiple technology platforms.
linkedinmeme I joined LinkedIn and I am never, ever going back.
“I did what any self-respecting person who works with social media every day but has just COMPLETELY FAILED at a new social media platform would do: I turned off my computer.”
How have all these random people found me? Not all of them are name-twins, either. A bunch of them seem to think they know me and are addressing their messages in a far more familiar tone than my mother normally uses.
It turns out I have unwittingly sent invitations to ‘link’, not just to my proper email address book contacts but to anyone I have ever had email contact with.
This includes thousands of writers who have submitted work to Mamamia, my excessively polite dentist, several people I do not particularly like, the removalists who broke my bookcase when I moved house last year and my ex-boyfriend’s parents.
So I do what any self-respecting person who works with social media every day but has just COMPLETELY FAILED at a new social media platform would do: I turn off my computer.
I’ll just never go back there, I think to myself. I will never use the internet or read my emails again. This means going into work tomorrow and resigning; then finding a new technology-less job. It will require me to become Amish in order to have continued social interaction with others like-minded technology deniers. Oh, and possibly I will need to enter witness protection and hide away from all my ‘professional contacts’ who think I am an Evil Spamming Beautician Who Cannot Spell Her Own Name.
It is the only way. The only way…..

Read more at http://www.mamamia.com.au/hub/working-5-to-9/why-is-linkedin-confusing/#d4eiILHxlk4hKxwp.99

Give Mature Workers a Chance


Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan has called on all employers, large and small, to actively consider hiring mature workers.

“From July 1, the government’s incentive of $10,000 to employers who hire a previously unemployed person over 50 came into effect,” Commissioner Ryan said.

She said the government was sending a strong and important signal with this incentive.

“The message is that there are thousands of experienced, capable workers ready to work productively. All employers should look at the widest talent pool available, and appoint the best person for the job.”

Commissioner Ryan said it was obvious that the best person will often be the one with extensive relevant work experience and a good work record.

“Our economy needs to make better use of the pool of experienced workers,” she said.

“I commissioned a report from Deloitte Access Economics recently which showed that a 3 per cent increase in the participation of over 55s in paid work would create a $31 billion positive impact on the national economy.”

Commissioner Ryan said the government incentive was underlining the importance of giving older workers a fair chance, and called on all employers to take note. She said it was clear that a positive impact on their business performance would follow.

About My Blog

About My Blog.

Work place ready

Ronald Reagan was the oldest president to have been elected in the United States, a couple of weeks shy of his 70th birthday.

However, when challenged about how many birthdays he’d had, he unleashed this zinger in response: “I do not want to make age an issue in this election. I do not want to exploit for political purposes my opponents’ youth and inexperience.”

Reagan was a master of the comeback.

Communication specialist Dr Louise Mahler says humour is a great way to diffuse a difficult situation.

While most employers know some questions are off limits (age, children, and religion, for example), they still crop up in job interviews. This is despite the fact such questions open them to action through the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Fair Work Commission or the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Mahler’s tip for candidates faced with an inappropriate question is to reframe it, as Reagan did.

They can also empathise with the interviewer, reflect the question back to them, understand their concerns and then negate them.

Karalyn Brown, founder of Interview IQ, a career marketing consultancy, says these questions are no longer often asked in big companies, but in smaller businesses, managers may not have been educated about inappropriate or illegal questions.

First, you have to consider whether they are inquiring as part of “idle chit-chat” at the end of the interview.

“It could be that they are just getting to know you,” she says.

However, if you are concerned your answer may count against you in your application for the job, you will need to bat it away with tact.

Brown suggests adopting a quizzical air and saying: “I didn’t realise there was an age requirement on the job?

“Put the onus back on the interviewer, focus on your experience.

“People do slip up, but if you interpret something as discriminatory, ask some questions and see where it is going to go.”

Being able to counter inappropriate questions without being seen as defensive or “difficult” requires some social skills.

“The interview will end pretty quickly if you are aggressive about it.”

The managing director of Adage, a mature age job site, Heidi Holmes, suggests job seekers try rehearsing answers to those questions.

Holmes says people should tackle the questions head-on to find out what the concern is.

Ask: “Is age [childcare, gender] an issue in this job? Why would that be?”

Even if the question hasn’t been asked – but the candidate fears it may count against them – the job seeker can take the initiative and raise an issue at the end of the interview.

This means they can pre-empt any concerns about their ability to work around caring responsibilities, adapt to new ways of doing things, or get along with others.

“You could say that you have been adapting to new technology all your life,” she says.

Give examples of when you have worked well with people who are younger or of a different gender or background.

“[Raising it] shows the interviewer that you are willing to be frank and transparent,” Holmes says.

Mature age job seekers can also help themselves by making it harder for interviewers to discover their age.

They should remove any dates on their resumes that might indicate when they started their career.

“What you were doing in the 1970s and 1980s probably has little relevance to what you are doing now,” she says.

Adds Brown: “Whether you can do the job, that’s probably the bottom line.”