A refugee, like me: why the Golden Rule matters in an era of mass migration

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As the refugee crisis worsens, various “destination” countries, including Australia, are engaging in internal debates around multiculturalism, integration and tolerance. People are worried about cultural cohesion, racial divides and religious differences. The Conversation Author: Rivka T. Witenberg, Honarary Research Fellow in Psychology , Australian Catholic University Disclosure statement: Rivka T. Witenberg receives funding from Large ARC SPIRT Grant; Department of Psychology Research Support Scheme, University of Melbourne and Australian Catholic University; Centre for Education for Human Values and Tolerance, Bar ... Read More »

Religious study in schools can play a vital role in countering violent extremism

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Our young people should be taught about the role of religion in society. The Age – Anthony Bergin and Clare Murphy After the horrific terror attacks in Paris, Australian security and law enforcement agencies will be re-examining how we might respond to a simultaneous, co-ordinated mass-casualty attack and the tactics used when hostages are taken. We should also be focused on the prevention of future attacks by considering our counter-extremism response, including undermining the Islamist ideology that’s fuelling jihadism. Our ... Read More »

Seven minutes of meditation can reduce racial prejudice, study finds

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A popular meditation technique that’s intended to create feelings of kindness can also reduce prejudice, according to new University of Sussex research. EurekAlert! AAAS – University of Sussex The study, published online in the journal Motivation and Emotion, found that just seven minutes of Loving-kindness meditation (LKM), a Buddhist practise that promotes unconditional kindness towards oneself and others, is effective at reducing racial bias. Lead researcher Alexander Stell, a Doctoral student in Psychology, said: “This indicates that some meditation techniques ... Read More »

Brisbane asylum seeker accepts Year 12 certificate behind detention bars

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An Iranian girl seeking asylum in Brisbane will on Wednesday “accept” her Year 12 certificate from behind the bars of Darwin’s Wickham Point immigration detention centre. Brisbane Times – Tony Moore * Mojgan Shamsalipoor, now 21, will also receive a Rotary Award for her perseverance as a Yeronga State High School student – effectively while studying under armed guard – and where English is not the student’s first language. Ms Shamsalipoor hopes to become a midwife and tonight her Brisbane-based husband, Milad ... Read More »

I disagree with what you say

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Debates about how to reconcile the competing interests of freedom of speech and protection from racial discrimination have featured prominently in Australian political life over the last few years. CEFA Famously, the French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire is claimed to have said, “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.” Should the right to freedom of speech extend to speech that might be deemed to be racist? CEFA has produced a short ... Read More »

Why persistence is the most important trait to learn as a kid

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Comment The idea for my start-up Canva came about when I was teaching design at university nine years ago. It’s been an exciting ride. We now have more than 6 million users, using Canva to design their own social media posts, presentations, marketing materials and documents. The Sydney Morning Herald – Melanie Perkins * There’s often a myth about start-ups, that things happen overnight. However, this is never the case. Success only comes through determination to achieve your vision despite ... Read More »

Educating young refugees and asylum seekers the smart thing to do

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Malcolm Turnbull should extend student loan schemes to asylum seekers and refugees on temporary visas who meet the entrance criteria for further study. The Age – Sandy Gifford and Peter Mares On October 21 The Age reported on the case of Ali*, a VCE student who faces a far more uncertain future than most of his contemporaries. This is an anxious time for all year 12 students as they worry about doing sufficiently well in their exams to get into their ... Read More »

Australia, we need to talk about the way we speak

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Australians know all about the three ‘‘R’’s, but there needs to be a fourth on the curriculum: rhetoric. The Age – Dean Frenkel * Let’s get things straight about the origins of the Australian accent. Aussie-speak developed in the early days of colonial settlement from a cocktail of English, Irish, Aboriginal and German – before another mystery influence was slipped into the mix. The Australian alphabet cocktail was spiked by alcohol. Our forefathers regularly got drunk together and through their ... Read More »

Department backs school over national anthem furore

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The Education Department has thrown its support behind a school that invited students to leave assembly during the singing of the national anthem. Brisbane Times – Henrietta Cook, Education Reporter at The Age Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School recently told Shiite Muslim students that they could excuse themselves from singing Advance Australia Fair because it was a religious month of mourning. The move infuriated Lorraine McCurdy, who has grandchildren at the school and told 3AW radio that up to 40 students ... Read More »

Engage the mothers to counter Islamic youth radicalisation

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A dialogue that does not engage all members of the community is a dialogue that is incomplete, as will be the solutions developed to address the issue of Islamic radicalisation of Australian youths. The Sydney Morning Herald – Kishwar Rahman * The fatal shooting earlier this month of an Australian Federal Police employee in Sydney by a 15-year-old Australian, who in turn was killed by police, has added fuel to the national dialogue on Islamic radicalisation of Australian youths. However, ... Read More »

How Community Colleges Changed the Whole Idea of Education in America

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Community colleges have been at the forefront of nearly every major development in higher education Time – Sean Trainor,  @ess_trainor In January of 2015, President Obama unveiled his “American College Promise” program – a plan to make two years of community college education available free of charge to “everyone who’s willing to work for it.” In offering the proposal, the president did not just venture a partial solution to the student debt crisis. He joined a growing community of thinkers ... Read More »

When You Educate A Girl, You Educate A Nation

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I was almost ashamed to look directly at her. She stared at the ground, but that couldn’t hide her two bruised eyes, a cut lip, and an abnormally swollen face. You could see the shame she felt. And while the naïve 27-year-old part of me wondered why she didn’t just leave her husband, it would take me some time before I realised she had less choice than most. The Huffington Post – Chantelle Baxter, Co-founder of One Girl Violence against ... Read More »

Sweden is shifting to a 6-hour work day

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*Packs up life, books plane ticket* BEC CREW – Science alert Despite research telling us it’s a really bad idea, many of us end up working 50-hour weeks or more because we think we’ll get more done and reap the benefits later. And according to a study published last month involving 600,000 people, those of us who clock up a 55-hour week will have a 33 percent greater risk of having a stroke than those who maintain a 35- to ... Read More »

A Volcanic Eruption That Reverberates 200 Years Later

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In April 1815, the most powerful volcanic blast in recorded history shook the planet in a catastrophe so vast that 200 years later, investigators are still struggling to grasp its repercussions. It played a role, they now understand, in icy weather, agricultural collapse and global pandemics — and even gave rise to celebrated monsters. The New York Times – By WILLIAM J. BROAD Around the lush isles of the Dutch East Indies — modern-day Indonesia — the eruption of Mount ... Read More »

Help for former prisoners good for community, says human rights group

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More money is needed to support prisoners on release, leading to greater public safety and a saving of taxes. The rights group, Liberty Victoria, said this today in welcoming the Victorian Ombudsman’s report into prisoner rehabilitation. Particularly pleasing are recommended changes to the educational opportunities for prisoners, which Liberty has long urged. Liberty told the Ombudsman’s inquiry that prisoners should be given internet access for educational purposes under a state-first pilot program, and it supported a trial access program. Victorian ... Read More »

C. K. Williams in The New Yorker

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The poet C. K. Williams, who died on Sunday, at the age of seventy-eight, published his first poem in The New Yorker nearly fifty years ago. The New Yorker – By David Haglund * It ran in the April 2, 1966, issue, and was titled, “The World’s Greatest Tricycle Rider.” It begins: The world’s greatest tricycle rider is in my heart, riding like a wildman, no hands, almost upside down, along the walls and over the high curbs and stoops, his bell rapid-firing, ... Read More »