Archive for the 'Youth' Category


The Kumon method

My son has been attending the local Kumon centre for some months now.  It costs us $200Aus per month, money worth its value.  With our children we’ve always considered additional teaching materials over and above schooling and Kumon provides that opening. 

The Kumon method is proven.  Key facets are repetition and consistency.  Each day he receives a booklet, maths and english.  He is challenged to finish each within ten minutes and with near 100% accuracy.  At five years old, and with many months of daily practice, he is at a level where he can complete each booklet by himself.  Each page is at a level that he is comfortable with – kumon aims to provide material at an individual level free from the competitive edge of peers.  The challenge is gradual, a new word or number sequence here and there.  Most of the time he is repeating answers he has already learned and by doing so builds confidence. 

The best part for me is that it is structured.  Goals are set daily.  If I consider a learning method where I demand results and if I over-impose this method without positive engagement then the ultimate result is failure, because ultimately he disengages.  Because Kumon is repetitious and within the scope of my childs capabilities it automatically attracts his will to achieve.  The Kumon method allows my son to take ownership not only in the results, but also progress.

Continue reading ‘The Kumon method’


Generation Y and Alice Springs

The other day I met with a local journalist interested in featuring a story on the Generation Y (those born 1980-1995). 

Our meeting prompted discussion about the nature of politics and future generations.  When we looked at issues that the Gen Y are interested in we came up with familiar themes: cheaper flights interstate to encourage the high social mobility (that the Gen Y share across the western world); more recreational opportunities; more accommodation options and all the other issues that other generations are interested in (community safety, community pride, et cetera.). 

A strong feature of our present generation is the strength of our economy.  The current generation is fortunate to live in these circumstances and there are many work opportunities available.  We haven’t experienced a recession as other generations before us have. 

We talked about how the difference between generations is largely the result of changes in technology.  I’ve met senior people who came to Alice Springs when they were young and had no electricity, fridges, televisions, et cetera.  Younger generations are now exchanging money over the internet and spend increasing amounts of time engaging social networking sites.  Mobile phones and computers are common place.  The contrast is significant.

More over the fold.

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Designing markets and investing in human capital

Progressive think-tank Per Capita have written a memo to the newly elected Prime Minister, located here

An excerpt reads:

Your government can build the Investing Society by focusing on the two big policy themes of market design and human capital investment. Designing markets and investing in people brings together the economic and social roles of government in a new fusion.

Market design is about setting the ‘rules of the game’ to get the right outcomes – in new markets like carbon, water and broadband, and in old markets where existing provision has failed, like infrastructure and housing. With good market design, governments harness market forces by setting incentives and accounting for risk.

Human capital is Australia’s most valuable asset and you have rightly made it the centrepiece of your education revolution. In addition to building human capital, your government should focus on protecting this precious asset: damaged human capital means opportunities lost and lives destroyed. Human capital investment not only makes economic sense, it’s morally right.

A focus of my blog concerns how this broad framework is applied to indigenous policy.

The first policy direction, designing markets, involves shaping the correct set of incentives through the prism of welfare reform.  But it also involves the design of markets that value the indigenous knowledge economy.  There appears to be no strategic approach to this second issue (an issue I include in the category located here).  As a result, reform is confined to shaping the perverse incentives without adding positive incentives.   

The second policy direction, investment in human capital, involves ensuring full participation of indigenous school-aged students in a merit-based education system.  There are generations of indigenous people who are locked out of a substantial bloc of employable options.

An important point, though, is that a strategic design of the indigenous knowledge economy enables a connect between indigenous (exclusive) human capital and employable options.  In this sense indigenous (exclusive) human capital is local indigenous knowledge where there is a significant gap in human capital that would otherwise result from a merit-based education.


A great privelage

This year I’ve had the great privelage of coaching an under 10s mixed basketball team.  It was a first time experience.  I was able to meet 10 children, each with their own personalities and ways of learning and engaging tasks.  I’ve witnessed a process of development and hard work.

Every week during games and in training we stand in a circle and review what we’ve done.  Our saying is ‘believe, work hard, achieve’.  A number of players know this by heart and recite it when I ask our team what our saying is.  I teach them that they can apply this to anything in life and, if ‘you believe in something, and if you work hard, then you will achieve’.  The limits are endless. 


Linking land rights frameworks to education

The Australian reports the launch of an endowment fund by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council to the value of $30m that will fund 200 education scholarships in perpetuity.  Described by Chairwoman Bev Manton as ‘our education revolution’, the money comes from a statutory fund established in 1983, diverting 7.5% of land tax accumulated over the course of 15 years.  After that period, the funds were invested and ballooned over a period of around 10 years from $281m to $700m. 

There are a number of important points to make in terms of demonstrating sound policy:

  • The education opportunities are the result of land rights.  Whilst not applying to specific land, the funds are the result of a land tax applied across the State.  It is an example of a right to land derived from Indigenous status that leads to a direct social outcome, and not passive welfarism.  This link should be built on in terms of linking other aspects of land rights frameworks. 
  • The fund will expand the administrative capacity of the Land Council, enabling greater connection to practical outcomes in education.  In part, this is a market-based solution to a significant social problem.  Land Councils have strong links with people on the ground and this will further solidify these links as well as extend the functions of Land Councils to devolving greater responsibility. 
  • It is the result of a long-term commitment on the part of Governments stretching back decades.  Politician’s are often criticised for not planning in the long term, or for making decisions that might not receive an immediate and practical political benefit.  This is quite the opposite.  
  • The long-term commitment used a method where money was invested and once it reached a significant amount the total was able to be used to provide scholarships in perpuity.  It is a model using principles of social entrepreneuralism.

Henderson and Territory education

The NT Minister for Education, Paul Henderson, was interviewed on Stateline recently (trasncript here).

His estimate, using Government figures, is that around 2000 school-aged young people in the Territory are not enrolled and are not attending school.  The NT Education Union estimates 7000.   

Economic and regional development is nominally organised around concepts of infrastructure, business investment, employment, et cetera.  The NT truancy rate represents the greatest medium and long-term economic and social challenge of any jurisdiction in Australia.   And it is not just active engagement in education that is the issue, but engagement on a merit-based level. 

If some years down the track we can look back at the present focus in indigenous affairs and say that one element has been a resounding success, and if it is in the area of addressing truancy and enabling merit-based education engagement, then the future will be a positive turn-around for many people and their families.


Marketing strategies that target children

A study reported here found that young children think that food branded with the McDonalds label tastes better than food without a brand.  63 children from 3-5 years of age were provided with two identical samples of food, both sourced from McDonalds, but one packaged with the Macdonalds brand and one packaged with no brand.

The study found that a significant number of children said that the McDonalds packaged sample tasted better. 

Continue reading ‘Marketing strategies that target children’

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