Saturday, May 14, 2005

Choosing Schools & 3 Monotremes 

This morning we looked at a possible High School - oops, I mean Secondary College - for J., if she misses out on the alternative school that we're really hoping she'll get into. We had our interview for the alternative school a few weeks ago, but evidently there are very few places and lots of families with children keen to fill them. That's a pity, because I think J. is exactly what they're looking for, given the arts/music/creative focus.

The school we looked at this morning is a Government school out of our area, and one with excellent academic results, so also able to be fairly selective, though it is definitely a matter of getting all the right paperwork done at the right time (soon!) to have a chance of enrolling J. there. They seem to have a strong focus on music and performing arts (along with sport), but also strengths in design, science and information technology, and the latter is something that the alternative school system seems to still completely reject (though I see their point in some ways). In addition, this school has a good focus in hands on skills such as textiles, cooking, automotive, wood and metalwork, which I think are lacking in most private schools.

It does make me think - I went to some of the crappiest government primary and high schools in the State, and I realize the consequent depressed morale at the time probably did no-one any good. It's funny how many writers want to claim they're from a lower-class background (as if it made a lot of difference then, in Australia), and how far from the truth it is for most of them. Anyway, I digress...

I have mixed feelings. Ideally, I'd still like J. to get into the alternative school, as I think it is the closest match to who she is, and who she will want to be later. We started as home-schooling parents, which is unusual in itself, I suppose, and that's probably still where my heart is with regard to education overall.

3 Monotremes

Something I read in The Age yesterday bugged me. There was a good article about Healesville Sanctuary's new platypus enclosure being opened, complete with a full monitoring system to see how they act with regard to breeding (the best speech I ever saw on this was Roy Slaven on Roy and H.G. Nelson's old show, boasting about how breeding platypuses in your backyard was eeeeasy!).

Anyway, the zoo keeper at Healesville reportedly said of the platypus: "Being one of only two monotremes alive - a mammal that lays eggs - very little is known about them." WROOONG!

There are 3 species of monotreme, and plenty is now known about the platypus (they're even studying near where I live). The main thing that grates is the ignorance of this statement from someone working so closely with the species!

Anyone who has seen a long-beaked (or New Guinea) echidna - which resembles a large furry kiwi with four legs - would be unlikely to overlook this amazing animal, and it desperately needs both promotion and conservation measures! It was also widespread here in prehistoric times and is a totally different animal to the common echidna in almost every respect (Genus, appearance, diet, habits). My usual gripe: How can we possibly conserve an animal if no-one knows it exists?!

* Picture source is Ed Lonnon's Endangered Species page


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