aboriginal, children, culture, future, knowledge, population, the past

Australian aboriginal culture

In July, 2014 p 9) the last tracker is retiring from the Queensland police force, which highlights the fact that few of the younger aboriginal generation are learning aboriginal culture – which includes tracking, spatial know-how, finding desert food and water, making temporary shelters, weaving dillybags, knowing the southern stars – all of which are more important for the future of white as well as black than being good at football and painting pictures for white buyers, and specific aboriginal languages.

This is the aboriginal culture that can be taught by aboriginals to whites, thus raising their self-esteem. The time will come when we will be glad of it.

The very terms <indigenous> and even <aboriginal> cannot be spoken by aboriginals, much less written by them.

Aboriginal children stupefied by white imports of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, petrol for sniffing, and gambling cannot benefit from white imports of education. Fetal alcohol syndrome produces a next generation that is not capable of either aboriginal culture or white culture.

Different languages are claimed to be important, as they are dying out. Their importance is really how they carry practical as well as legendary knowledge which is dying out.

Different aboriginal ‘nations’ have different knowledge which should be kept.

Even the older white records are being lost, which record some of it – .e.g. how to make and throw boomerangs – a better weapon than guns which require a supply of bullets.

At present the aboriginal settlements in the far outback are losing the ability to survive in it without constant supplies from the white shops. At the same time, they are not keeping their numbers down as in the past to the numbers that can survive in the desert and semidesert; they multiply, when in the past they kept their numbers stable.

They eat out the traditional foods, like turtles and fish.

They have far too many among them, from babyhood to adulthood. who are disabled by white imports, Diabetes and other disorders they never had before have been imported or developed in response to white food, as well as diseases like trachoma which are eradicated elsewhere in Australia, but the young aboriginals still catch to make them blind.

Parts of the old culture which are harmful still remain. Mothers in Palm Island still tickle straws in babies’ ears to quieten them – and introduce germs for deafness. Then the deaf or semi-deaf children cannot respond to teaching, either white or black.

Who can do anything about this? The aboriginal elders that are recognized by the aboriginal people themselves, who may even have some of this passing knowledge themselves. The aboriginal leaders that are recognized by the white people. The publishers of books for the youth and educational market, white and aboriginal. The remaining custodians of the aboriginal culture, who will die out within a generation unless they can transmit it now.

Aboriginal children still attend kindergartens in Western Australia who if asked where they live can point accurately in the right direction while their white peers can give an address, but do not know where it is.

There are still blackfellers who can sleep out in the cold of a desert night without suffering, and who can find water where nobody else can.

There are librarians and scientists who have collected bodies of knowledge that should be more widely known.

There are gardeners now interested in aboriginals’ plant foods that were extirpated by our cattle.

Who is collecting this knowledge?


When I was a child in Blackburn, then a rural suburb of Melbourne, there were aboriginal campers up on the hill at the end of our street. We were taught to keep clear of them – nobody thought they could teach us anything. Now they are gone – and what they knew then, nobody knows now.

employment, future, innovation, knowledge, leisure., waste

Growth as waste

But let us look at our definitions of ‘growth’

Most of our ‘growth’ is waste.

An example is my ten-years’ old microwave oven.  It would not work.  Everyone said to me that I must trash it and buy another. That would be cheaper than trying to get someone to mend it.  I tried to get someone to mend it. It cost me his coming-out fee and six-minutes’ work. Now it works wonderfully.( But he does not get much work. He will soon be out of a job.)

Which of the two alternatives was better for the economy?

Buying another and trashing what I had gave income to the importer and the foreigner country that made the new one, using energy and materials. Trashing it would cost the local council the jobs of collecting it and putting it in landfill, which is getting scarce.  So the total cost of getting a new one would be income for some people.

Getting someone to mend my microwave would be income for the mender – his coming-out fee and six-minutes’ work. It would make less for the economy than trashing it – or would it?

My toaster was on the blink. I chucked it in the rubbish and bought  a new one.  Was the economy helped more than if someone had mended it?

I live in a house, which I refuse to sell. It makes nothing for the economy. If I sold it, I would make some money, the estate agent would make money, the wrecker would make money, the builder of a McMansion on my property would make money and so would all his subcontractors and their workmen and makers of parts for the house.  The buyer of the McMansion would perhaps take out a mortgage and the bank would make money. The McMansion would need more maintenance, cleaning, central heating and air-conditioning than my present house requires.  Selling my house would boost the economy. Not selling my house but living in it would not help the economy hardly at all.

I live in my house and don’t want to go to a retirement village or nursing home. If I did go, it would make money for lots of people, who look after old people ,from the operators and the care workers to the people who look after the financing of it all.

But we need to have jobs in preventing waste, not making more.

There are plenty of things needing to be done, without wasting.  All infrastructure needs vast improvement – repairs and innovation, in water supply conservation, sewage, transport and energy supplies. Sewerage systems can be restructured and rebuilt to stop the current appalling waste of our most renewable fertilizer, and enabling salvage of heavy metals and re-use of grey water at source. For transport, there is the invention, manufacture and maintenance of more types of vehicles that do not waste, pollute and endanger.    Housing and community environments are needed that are decent for everyone. Our present spate of development is building wastefully designed houses that pile up future problems. There are many aspects of rural Australia which need improving. How can the land be fertilized without pollution and run-off problems? What food sources can be easily grown that least deplete soils?  What are the best ways to conserve marine and forest resources, and make it possible for wildlife to survive? Landcare needs many workers;  you cant just plant trees and leave them.

Can we develop plants that withstand climate changes, poor soils and droughts? Preserve Australian unique flora and fauna?

Pest and weed eradication needs manpower more than chemicals. Can we find uses for pests and weeds, since they abound and are hardy, and that need manpower rather than chemicals to control? For example, not just cull – a temporary measure – but get rid of feral camels, using aboriginal desert know-how and skills, and making use of all bits of the camel.  How can we develop cheap means of taking camel products from the places of killing to a centre for distribution?

Can we prevent fires and develop less flammable forests and understoreys? Is a less destructive defence than fire possible against wildfires?

The greatest conservation challenge is to reverse deserts and speed the biological processes that can crumble rocks into soils.

Australian manufacture of products that are more innovative, renovatable, reliable, updatable, durable, beautiful, recyclable and less wasteful has the extra advantage of reducing the increasing freight costs from overseas.  Manufacturing techniques will conserve resources. There will be innovation in artistic and other cultural products of each country that are distinctive and contribute to variety and beauty in life in the world.  Fashions will be beautiful, useful, durable and comfortable, and designed to suit different needs, because they will be geared to the changing population

Research in many fields will be increased, rather than cut. For example, technology will be from renewable non-polluting energy sources, and innovative intermediate technology will be exported as well as for domestic use, using solar, wind, and well-geared human-power (exercise).

Retailing at present is a source of waste.  Most things in shops will be in waste-bins within two years.  Fresh foods are wasted that are not sold the first few days.  Retailers prefer to sell large appliances because the profits are greater, and hence have no call to sell innovative low technology.  As freight costs and petrol costs grow, retail can change to allow more local shopping. Local councils can sponsor local ‘Australia’ shops that advertise locally-made goods. And people ought to respond by buying them. ‘Conservation Shops’ can stock and repair only conservation products. Salvage shops and centres can find uses and salvage for everything at present thrown daily out of shops, homes and building sites, and annually as hard rubbish.

If housekeeping is sustainable and saves waste,  that will be more essential for our economy than markets that produce waste. Sustainable households will need more manpower and womanpower.

Services will include education that is lifelong to produce resilient, enterprising and idealistic adults; Childcare that is leisurely, for less herding and more freedom; Services include decent care for children, the disabled, sick, handicapped and elderly.  This will need three times the labor force than we allocate at present, and opportunities to develop services further. Entertainment programs can be produced that are as fine as possible, giving visions for the future.

Work share can reduce the load on the increasingly overworked work force, while the unemployed will be employed for the dole. Services to the public will be improved everywhere, as a priority.  ‘Invention sabbaticals’ and holidays for workers will help to develop ideas and innovations

Conditions of work can be rationalized. Once it was thought we should only need to work 20 hours a week.  Why not?  Today we have people working 48 hours plus, and others hardly working or not at all.  Skills and retraining can be organized better.

books, children, forgotten, future, knowledge, leisure.

The future of books

The future of books 12 11 2014

Like many older people, I have thousands of books.  Many of them I will never read again, and look for other people who would like them. Others I do read again and again.  P G Wodehouse I re-read while listening to the news – his books are no madder and much less upsetting.

I have two rooms for a ‘LITERACY MUSEUM’, full of children’s fun and teaching books, books on reading for teachers, the best collection on spelling in Australia, innovative materials for teaching reading and spelling,and  the history of education in Australia and overseas – and I  look for people who would like these books.  Otherwise they go when I go, which is a great pity.

Education Departments do not want these books – they are busy downsizing their book collections in their libraries. Some school libraries don’t have books any more.

Many of the books are already museum pieces, but all of them soon will be.


THE MUSEUM KEEPS CHILDREN’S FAVOURITES –  story and picture books that pre-school children have loved and older children have used to learn to read.  Adults can use these books as picture-story books even with some babies of six months upward, pointing to the pictures and talking about them, rather than reading the text.  As children grow older, they like to hear the text, and the reader can run a biro-end under the words, so children can see how the print relates to the spoken word.  Children can ask about any words they do not know, or you can add an explanation of hard words as you read.  “He had a donkey – like a small horse with big ears – and rode it along the highway, along the road.”

Some of these books are now worn with use, but it is good for children to find out that tatty-looking books can be the best ones, because it can be a sign of love and long use. “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

These children’s books include Stories, Myths and Legends, the Alphabet A-Z, Walt Disney,       Anybody at Home? (lift the tab and see what creature lives there), Bears in the Night ( a marvellous book for concept learning as well as learning to read); Cat in the hat picture dictionary (Children love this, including children learning  English, the New Golden Encyclopedia, Di Manaka aku? (An Indonesian sort of ‘Where’s Wally’,  but this book helps children learn more about the world and the people in it, and Australian children like it too, when you talk about it rather than read it,) Doctor Doolittle,  Flower Fairies series, The Ear Book (A marvellous book for children learning English spoken  language as well as literacy ‘I hear a ding, I hear a dong –‘), the Magic Beach (and other books by Alison Lester, an Australian author,)The Merrygoround – an Oxford  collection of rhymes and poems for children – (to read and sing to children, but learners also like reading it.  One seven-year-old severely disadvantaged girl learnt to read from this book when all else had failed,) My Book about Me, All the Doctor Seuss books – One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish,The Foot Book,       I can do anything – almost,       Plant and Animal Alphabet coloring book, Ten Apples up on Top! (a great counting book as well as reading book) The Golden Geography – a child’s introduction to the wider world, Old Hat, New hat (marvellous in learning to read) , People by Peter Spier. (This is a really marvellous multicultural book. If it is in print, get copies,)Inside, outside, upside down. (Children love this, including children learning English language as well as literacy),       Tale of Peter Rabbit (and all the Beatrix Potter stories,The Australia Book,What do people do all day? – Richard Scarry,        What makes it go? Also a sheet of lullabies for adults and children to sing to babies .

Add to this list. If they are out of print, they should be back in.

Rather than say ‘It doesn’t matter what children read as long as they are reading’ , the better principle is ‘You might as well read books worth reading’

Find books you like and look for other books by the same authors

This list will change from time to time.

If a book is tatty it often means other people have loved it.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

All the pictures should be ones children like to look at more than once, with CLEAR PRINT.

Everybody likes different books, so find the ones that YOU like.  In a library or have a Bookshop Crawl.   There is a lot of junk out there, so you can dig like a miner in a gold-mine for the gold..

1 Junior Beginners, babies and upward

My First Word Book. D Kindersley. Even good for adults learning to read.

The EAR book, by Al Perkins, Cat-in-the-hat beginner book. Random House 1968.ISBN 0 00 171203 9. Great for letters and sounds.

Gobble Growl Grunt, by Peter Spier. World Books. Marvellous sounds of animals and birds to read aloud.

Bears in the Night . Stan and Jan Berenstein, Collins. 1972. A great rhythm book.

The Ugly Duckling, Cinderella, and other favorite fairy stories

Dr Seuss books, including My book about Me, by Me, Myself

Possum Magic – Mem Fox


National Geographics  Talk about the pictures

Milly-Molly-Mandy  stories. Happy little adventures in daily life. Joyce Lankester Brisley

Books with flaps that open out, such as Who Lives There?

Beatrix Potter books

Nursery rhymes and fairy stories

 Picture books of nature and science and technology and history that are really fascinating.

And there is more!