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Rock Eisteddfod winner’s political fight

By Kerces - 12 July 2006 144

Last week the Canberra heats of the 2006 Rock Eisteddfod were held and Calwell High school won with a performance the Canberra Times described as “a satirical look at the Federal Government’s controversial industrial relations changes”.

I knew nothing of this, having had to rely on RA for Canberra news last week, however I was intrigued by a letter to the editor in today’s CT (the last one on the linked page), which said the Federal Government has “once again shown just how out of touch it is with the youth of today” by saying the Calwell performance was “hijacked” by the political agenda of teachers involved.

A Calwell High spokesman, John Chisholm, told the CT the day after the Rock Eisteddfod that the students had put a lot of work into creating the performance, including analysing satirical shows such as The Chaser (if only I got to do that at school!) and looking at how the legislation affected workers.

“We had contract signing in our performance and one scene showing workers being manipulated by bosses and becoming devoid of colour,” Mr Chisholm said.

The precis for the piece, titled “The Devil’s in the Detail”, read:

Penalty rates … gone! Annual leave loading … So long! Pay rise … are you kidding! Public holidays … no way! Meal breaks … uh uh! Radical new industrial relations laws are being used extensively to axe hard won and long standing working conditions and cut the take home pay of millions of Australian employees.

The Australian reported that federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews said the performance was “totally inappropriate, regardless of which side of politics is being targeted”.

Mr Andrews said it was one thing for the school to teach students about current issues, “but it’s another thing entirely for teachers to politically hijack a rock eisteddfod, which is designed to promote positive lifestyle messages for our youth”. He also said it was “difficult to believe” that students had come up with the idea on their own.

Calwell’s dance teacher, Cheryl Diggins, told the Australian pretty much what Mr Chisholm told the Canberra Times and added that because the school was concerned some parents might be upset by the show, an explanatory was sent home with all the performers but that they “didn’t get one withdrawal or complaint”.

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144 Responses to
Rock Eisteddfod winner’s political fight
VYBerlinaV8 2:41 pm 12 Jul 06

When at high school, I had the misfortune of having to watch our school’s ‘entry’, performed in front of the school assembly. Sheesh – there’s 15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. I would almost have preferred to hear the crazy teacher carry on about how his wife ran off with his best friend, but how he still loves them both. There are times when this world is a sick, twisted place. Of course, for those young people who want to partake in such a performance, I hope they really get something out making their political statements – since that’s what things seem to have degenerated into.

Not that I’m bagging eistedfodds, you understand.

Chris S 2:32 pm 12 Jul 06

Bonfire, these kids are very politically aware. Sure, they pick up on vibes from around them (teachers, parents, friends, etc), but they are quite able to think for themselves.

Do you advocate the same right-wing, fundamentalist non-thinking that goes on within, say, Pentecostal churches? Get a life, Bonfire and give these young people the credit of having a brain, and allow them to express their concern over social injustices.

simto 2:14 pm 12 Jul 06

Bonfire, it’s obvious you’ve never watched a rock esteidford in your life.

Having watched the telecast of one or two (largely because, well, they’re freaking hilarious), all the dance performances involve “socially conscious” messages set to pop music. The most tastless, in recent memory, was a holocaust performance set to Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care about Us”. Which did indeed include concentration camp victims miming getting shot.

There’s good choroegraphy and production values in these, and they should definately be praised. But the attempts to engage in complex political ideas are deeply embarassing.

Roland GRNS 2:13 pm 12 Jul 06

I think live performance is the correct context for political statements and the exploration of political ideas.

I’m sorry for bonfire that he needs to be so aggressive in response to other people’s

That is much more of a social problem than young people expressing political ideas.

The latent violence implied by the use of language such as rabid lefty pinkos highlights the issue.

VYBerlinaV8 2:05 pm 12 Jul 06

I think Bart Simpson said it best:
“In my weaker moments I almost pity them. But then I remind myself: they’re trying to teach.”

Mr Evil 1:57 pm 12 Jul 06

Thumps, a depiction of Latham’s life would have involved far too much drinking and violence to be appropriate for school kids!

bonfire 1:57 pm 12 Jul 06

im thinking of staging a rock eistedfodd where the kids march around in skinhead uniforms denying the holocauset took place.

one kid will portray david irving.

or is that perhaps, inappropriate ?

your twisted softehad ideology blinds you to the fact that the performance was an inappropriaet venue for political statements.

regardless of whether the yooth think its ok.

teachers shoudl knwo better than that – in fact they do – but as rabid lefty pinkos they think its their duty to inculcate that ideology into their charges. and that justifys this poor behaviour in their minds.

i dont knwo the kids or the teachers involved, and i dont care if you have had an orgy with the teachers concerned, the fact remains – the performance was inappropriate.

nyssa76 1:52 pm 12 Jul 06

bonfire, I spent a lot of time with those senior students, teaching them across 3 KLAs.

They’re not stupid. They understand quite a lot.

I also know Cheryl Diggins and John Chisholm. Neither would ever push their political ideology on students.

My view is based on knowing the people involved. Yours is based on speculation.

“inappropriate – but typical of teachers” – wtf? You cannot base your own experience of your teachers on others.

I had shit teachers and good teachers in school. I don’t blame all teachers because of one or two for things. I try to emulate the good ones and try to be a good teacher myself.

Teaching is not about politics. However, it is about assisting students in seeing both sides and making their own decisions, be it reading Romeo and Juliet or the AWAs.

Thumper 1:37 pm 12 Jul 06

I wonder if anyone did a performance of MArk Latham’s days as leader of the ALP.

That would have been interesting….

Big Al 1:09 pm 12 Jul 06

So what are you saying Bonfire? That if the kids came up with this – and the publicly available information suggests that they did – the teachers should have stepped in to stop it? You can’t honestly be suggesting that they should have sought to impose a value system on the kids, because you’ve already said that its inappropriate for the teachers to impose a value system on the kids … or should secondary school kids just waft through their teenage years in a mist of feel-good warm and fuzzy comfort – never challenged, never provoked to critically analyse the issues that will directly effect them?

bonfire 12:59 pm 12 Jul 06

yes nyssa76 but do you consider that the view that you think is correct, may not in fact be correct? and may in fact be wrong ? and that soem of the kids in the performance may not have agreed with the politics their teachers were encouraging ?

inappropriate – but typical of teachers.

nyssa76 12:19 pm 12 Jul 06

Having taught at Calwell High when they won the RE for their Burmese set, I know that the kids are well informed and no it wasn’t the teachers who “put them up to this”.

The kids work their arses off for the RE and congratulations to them. Some of my old students would have been dancing this year.

Mr. Andrews is an idiot. He has no clue as to what teenagers think or understand about issues affecting Australians today.

Well done Calwell High!!!!

bonfire 12:16 pm 12 Jul 06

As winner of the ‘red ragger’ award at my high school valedictory dinner (true), i found all my teachers to be lefty pinko fellow travellers taking their orders from beijing on shortwave radios.

ive mellowed since then.

however, a ‘rock eisteddfod’ is an inappropriate venue for the agenda that teachers to foist upon their pupils.

i detest eistedfodds. this is simply another reason they should be discouraged.

Thumper 11:31 am 12 Jul 06

I have no doubt the teachers would be pushing an anti Howard agenda, however, give the kids some credit.

And Andrews should have had more sense than to comment. it just makes him look mean spirited and petty.

Big Al 11:08 am 12 Jul 06

I saw this too and couldn’t help thinking how demeaning and patronising it was for Andrews accuse kids at the secondary level of being incapable of possessing the political awareness or motivation to come up with this sort of thing. I would have thought that – as a demographic – secondary school kids would be amongst the most effected by new the IR laws so it would make sense.

Remember too that this was a competition and that performances would have been developed, tailored and targeted to appeal to a particular audience – one no doubt loaded with left leaning, pinko sympathisers – it was probably more a case of find out what people like and give ‘em heaps of it.

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