Scott & Sarah Kennedy

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Some Thoughts

I was reading a paper Geoff Macpherson had done on youth ministry today. In it he commented on how the entertainment industry saw teens as a lucrative market. Because of this young people are often held back and tied to immaturity and dependence. He quotes Mark DeVries (Family-Based Youth Ministry):-

'As the bridge from childhood to adulthood gets longer and longer, young people find themselves mired in a peer-centred culture that no longer moves them naturally into adulthood. And unless they can find their foot to step out of that culture, they can be stuck in perpetual adolescence."

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Let's Investigate our "Neutral" State Education Curriculum

The following is part of Dr Muriel Newman's "Newman Weekly". (Apologies if this is not all right, as I had trouble with transferring it from my email to this. It went all weord and computerry.)

While reflecting on education, I was reminded about the comments that are frequently made about how young people today think so differently from their parents’ generation. As a result, I decided to check out the school curriculum to see what our youngsters are now being taught and how it has changed since the fifties and sixties when I was at school and the seventies and eighties when my children were there. I have to say that I was surprised at what I found.

The school curriculum is now divided into seven essential learning areas: Language, Maths,Science, Technology, Social Sciences, Arts, Health and Physical Well-being.

Even a cursory examination indicates that there has been a dramatic shift in curriculum content in some areas. Maori language, rights and beliefs (including “the spiritual dimension of hauora”), have been interwoven into the curriculum at every level and in every area, and significant amounts of material that would previously have been considered to be political can now be found. The burning question, though, is whether or not this constitutes indoctrination and social engineering?

Firstly, to the Social Sciences learning area and Social Studies where our five year olds (Year 1) are being taught about the benefits of central planning and environmental advocacy, through talks from planning staff and building inspectors, resource materials supplied by Greenpeace and farming discussions about issues such as “concern from anglers that dairying effluent is harming fish (and tourism) in South Island rivers”.

In Science, seven year olds are asked to discuss not only recycling, but also global warming and environmental activism, eight year olds must write “a letter to the local council justifying why a mangrove swamp "should be conserved”, and twelve year olds are expected to research “the ethical implications of a current biotechnological issue: genetic engineering, reproductive technology, cancer research, HIV/AIDS”.

But the most dramatic curriculum change is in relation to those deeply personal issues that used to be regarded as family matters that have now been incorporated into the Health and Physical Wellbeing learning areas. This curriculum teaches five year olds to name all “sexual parts” of the body. By age seven, the children are taught about “gender equity”, “cultural equity”, “abuse” and “harassment”, and at eight, they are learning about “pubertal change”, the “differences in gender and in sexual orientation”, and recognising “discrimination on the basis of chronic illness, mental illness, or cultural difference”.

At age nine, they are taught to manage risks in “sexual decisions, drug use, rape, harassment, racism, sexism, and homophobia”, and at ten, they are learning about harm minimisation in relation to “rape, harassment, the use of drugs, discrimination, and sexual activity”, as well as being introduced to the Privacy Act and the Human Rights Act.

By age eleven, the children are taught “safe sexual practices and drug use”, and in one teaching unit, “Positive Puberty”, they are expected to carry out ‘group’ research on “menstrual periods, wet dreams and erections”.

At age twelve, students should be able to analyse “euthanasia, reproductive technology, abortion, racial conflict, politics and sport, poverty and unemployment, unresolved grief, child-rearing practices, and violence in sport, gangs, and families”.

To explore the curriculum yourself, go to the NZ Centre for Political Debate website where all the learning area links have been provided -

Friday, February 03, 2006

A Wee Story About Tax

From here.

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men — the poorest — would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12, the ninth $18, and the tenth man — the richest — would pay $59.

That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement — until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language a tax cut).

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So now dinner for the ten only cost $80.00.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six — the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, Then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59. Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.

But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man who pointed to the tenth. "But he got $7!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar,

too . . . It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!".

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man, "why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered, a little late what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill! Imagine that!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.

Where would that leave the rest? Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straightforward logic!