Saturday 22nd of June 2024

Helping the kids!

I'm a Modern History teacher and am currently teaching 'People Power' to my Year 11s with particular emphasis on the Peace Movement. They will be primarily studying the Vietnam Peace Movement and comparing it to the contemporary situation.

This site is an excellent example of modern people power. However, it is a little 'high-brow' for the average 15-16 year old to just jump on and use. That being said I was wondering if anyone on this site would like to help me out with a 'virtual field trip' using the chat facility for about an hour in the next couple of weeks.

I would be able to email those interested with sample questions the students will be prompted with and am open to any suggestions from the forums (I'll also jump on the chat site around 7.00 on Tuesday night). It has to be kept really simple and any difficult concepts explained but you will be surprised at what they are aware of (they mostly all NOFX fans!).

I think that this would provide us with an opportunity to put our money where our mouths are. If they enjoy themselves they may participate in their own time.


There is a group of women who helped the young men who were against National Service. If you go in to Radio National and do a search I am sure you will find it. It was one of the most interesting programs I have heard re: the women of this country. I can assure you that the young ones who did not want to fight another man's war were seen by most of us young ones as only trying to protect themselves. You had to be there to see the protest marches about our involvement in Vietnam. Perhaps you could get some old footage so that your students can see for themselves.

I hear this generation say, "I don't have time to attend rallies of any kind. I study." Rubbish! I started work at 15, 8.30 to 6 pm and played sport on the weekends. I had no car only buses and I managed, and so did millions of others. No HECS fees then; only up front fees. I asked if I could be a teacher. "How much," my father said. "2 pound seven and 6 pence a week" I said. He said, "forget it." (about 6 dollars in1962). The wages for ordinary people where probably about 10 pound 20 dollars a week then.

So you see this site is not for overly bright people. It is really for all no matter what. My spelling is not the best and there is no word check so I often make mistakes, but I can tell you. I don't make mistakes when it comes to knowing what is right and wrong in the country. The Vietnam war was a turning point in my life. I began to vote Labor as I could not stand by and watch our boys' lives being gambled with. I am afraid today that the only thing people seem to think about (judging by the polls) is what is and what is not in their pockets. I wish you success with this but I strongly advise you live the subject; don't just read out of books. Go and talk to Vietnamese families. Go and talk to men who fought there - seek them out through the R.S.L. And most of all find out about the passion of the youth back then and how we loved our country back then.

You may not know but the way National Service was conducted those days was disgrace. It was no better than a lottery, lives where gambled with, my husbands birth date was picked out, the barrell was just like the one you see on the game show, he was a member of the army reserve and had been since school days, but he was not exempt. As it turned out he did 23 years in the army reserve and has the Australian Medal for Service to the country.

But this form of National Service must never be allowed to come back for other people's wars. I have read recently that if the head of governments went with the troops these days there would be no wars.

I want you to take your students forward to the time when the war finished. We took the Vietnamese to live with us in this near-empty country of ours. We did NOT lock them up. I wonder now many Iraqis are in detention at this moment. Perhaps you could find that out to compare how Australia has changed for the worse in recent years. Tolerance has gone out the window.

I feel it is the most important thing you can show your students. That in the 70's and 80's we were a more tolerant society.. I really wonder what people are afraid of today. Is it fear of the unknown that keeps people in detention. If this is so Australia has a lot of growing up to do.

The other thing you should suggest is that they visit Vietnam, and other places at the first available opportunity in their life. What an eye opener that is. Unfortunately I have only just been able to do this. All our children went as they finished their degrees. I think it has made them better and more understanding people.

ps. It would be great if I could have some feedback. My son has just been to Nepal. He tells me that was a life changing thing for him.

Thanks Nolly

Thanks Nolly, you take us back to when there was a Left-wing in Australia. When the Left and many others just refused to go to war, refused to fight and they said so. They were demonstrative and disruptive. It amuses me today to hear about the Left and the Right in 2005. I came from a time of the DLP when communists were part of the Australian Labor Party, of Jack Munday with his Green bans, then the filling of Lake Peddar in Tasmainia and the Franklin Dam Affair of Bob Hawke and Dr Jim Cairn and the Peace Movement and the marches in the streets and also the rise of the Anti-Nuclear Disarmament Party. To me now there is only the Right and the Far Right. Even the letter from Carman Lawrence expecting Bob Katter to stand with the ALP tells many just how far the ALP is to the Right. We have already been indoctrinated on the path to the USA and religion and the Bible belt yet the USA has big problems with its poor that are so un-Christian and uncaring.

Sorry Nolly

Nolly my cut and paste didn't work.  It is the button which says ABC and has a "tick" under it.

To Nolly

Hi Nolly.  There is a spell check it is the button on the top right that looks like this 

You will find it a bit different to use than the spell check you are probably used to in Word.  But it is simple to use.

I enjoy reading your posts.  Keep them coming.

in 45 minutes

We will be welcoming Naomi's class in the chat room at 9.45am. Site members are encouraged to attend.

Naomi will lay the rules down in the chat room and I will boot anyone who breaks them for the duration of the exercise. No correspondence entered into until afterwards.

Chat Room Event

What is your opinion on Australia's involvement in Iraq?

On Wednesday 1st June at 9.45am, 10-15 Year 11 students will be discussing this topic in the YD chat room. They will be welcoming comments from members.

The purpose of the event is for the students to judge how effective YD is as a venue for people power. They will be asking questions about reliability of commentators as well.

Please come and witness the event or lend your expertise.

Put your money where your mouth is and help the furure generation become mature and critical thinkers.

If you have any questions please forward them to Hamish and he will pass them on to me. Or alternatively, meet me in the chat room at 7.00 Tuesday night.

wish I could in Naomi

But alas, I will be stuck in the vortex of Canberra from May 30 - June 2.

I wish you the best with this excellent idea.

Hi Len and Pegasus and all

In response you your concerns:

1. Not all students will be chatting. The main focus is for them to follow the process, explore the site and rate its validity as a source of people power. They will be taking notes etc.

2. Len, If you have such a major problem, why didn't you voice it when I posted the proposal two weeks ago for forum comment? It has also been on the home page.

3. This process has been organised in full consultation with Hamish and I am sure that any reasonable human being who understands the purpose of the project will refrain from making comments their 15 year old children would not like to hear.

4. Curriculum is schools are embracing the new technologies, and yes, students are much more capable of following the chat room.

5. They are unable to participate in a forum firstly because of time and secondly because the school server caches the forum and it is not up to date.

Hope this clears some things up.

Fantastic methodology Naomi

I was delighted to read of your aim for your Yr ll students. The ability to make informed decisions through using critical thinking skills is essential in education.



You did not say that you would go into the chat room and tell these kids what you think about killing and dying and slaughter for your country Australia.

Put your hand up Gran if you want to pull this site apart. I have already told this site about free speech and all people want to do is pull others apart and put silly notices up here. Now Gran just why did you write? If you want to write to me. I am a parent. No one has taken it on just what the parent's role is in this. They only think of what a schoolteacher's role is. The most profound point of view of any person is from the parent, then peers and then down the scale is the schoolteacher. Now you can take Naomi's side but do it properly and go into the chat room and take on these kids but don't put silly notices here without heart or honour just so other people will see Gran's name. Take your truth by the hand and do something honourable and face the kids in the chat room that they should die for their country before they are 18.


What is this media event in our chat room? This is utterly disgraceful.

Talk about children... if any adult thinks we should be in Iraq they have been brainwashed. There are millions of them that are brainwashed in Australia. There are millions of Australian childern who play wars and shoot peple with toy guns and stuff and play computer games and watch Star Wars. I disagree with the whole show that any kid should be asked questions that their parents, the people who have brainwashed them are questioned. All it will do is confuse them and turn them against the people who think we should be there, their parents.

All that will happen is that these children will get more confused if this debacle is happening.


Education and thinking

Hey Len, Naomi and all,

I must admit I too have some conflicting thoughts about this arrangement. On balance though I support such an exchange.

On one hand I think it is very challenging of Naomi to ask us to respond to a group of students. A very good challenge. It's the sort of opportunity that people from my school era (sounds like a million years ago) would never have even contemplated as I know there was absolutely no interest in current events, politics and the like amongst my peers.

As a father (I have 4 children, 3 adults and one 10 year old) I have noticed a huge difference in approach to life between my 3 eldest and my youngest who is obviously still in school. She asks and talks about things I would never have been allowed to in the 60's as a school student. That has changed since my older children finished school as well. She asks and wants to understand things for herself rather than just swallow whatever she is fed.

I know that is a result of the change in teaching from my school days to today and it is a good thing from my perspective, a very good thing. Thinking wasn't a thing my peers and I did much of really as we weren't taught that way. We mainly just recorded and memorised data rather than think about things. We each had to develop outside the education system rather than within it.

So I must applaud Naomi for arranging this as it is an opportunity for us as well as the students. An opportunity to consider what they might ask rather than just preach our views at them. It's obvious to me too Len that we shouldn't be in Iraq and I'm confident most here would strongly agree with that. If we didn't feel and think that then we wouldn't have been interested in this site as all would be well in our world. And we know it isn't.

I have little doubt that the majority of Australian voters do not want us to be in Iraq now. The majority may have thought the opposite before the war started but gradually people have learnt, yet again, that war is hell and no one wins. Even those that did support this dreadful debacle mainly did so simply because of the storm of fear created by Bush, Blair, Howard and the western media. They were conned and it's hard for them to admit that and change. But they are and have changed, not all obviously but enough to be a majority.

The wars in Afghanistan were really the USA's first blunder in this saga from my view. They could have asked the Russians. The mistake they made was not looking at history which would tell them that Afghanistan as a country has never lost a war of invasion. Yes, they have been defeated easily in initial battles but for over a thousand years the people of that country have done the same thing. Retreat into the mountains and pick off the enemy until they grow weary and leave. Regardless of that Bush repeated the mistake by invading Iraq. And we have the same situation, an unfinished war which can only result in misery for the population affected and eventual retreat of the "willing". It willl be announced as a victory of course but that won't be reality.

I guess my main concern is really about the technology of the session. I am not a fan of chat rooms if there are more than 2 or 3 people in them. It becomes impossible to follow conversations and breaks in continuity of the chat can be very confusing. My feeling is that a better way of approaching such an interchange would be by posts and considered replies.

Another reason I say that is that many of us here have strong opinions about Iraq and JH etc and may become agressive in our responses, particularly if the students have strong feelings the other way. I feel I would anyway.

The youth today of course are much more attuned to chat rooms and may have no problem with that. Just me not adapting to it as I prefer time to think before I respond these days. Thus I prefer forums.

On balance I certainly think we should accept Naomi's challenge but I doubt I will participate as I would have problems following the conversation.

Lastly, parents are the strongest influence on their children's thinking and approach to life and if a session like this can provide some balance against the home influence then that too is a good thing if we can demonstrate why war is a lose lose deal.

Year 11s

Hey Len, yeah they're kids, but they're a senior school Modern History class. I remember my Year 11 Modern History Class well, with a great teacher called Marvin Dumo. I reckon they're up to it.

My mind is clear

Well I know no one can change my mind Hamish so those year 11s better not know their one mind like I know my mind.

Iraq and thought on it and why we are there can not be changed by logic. It is emotional. It is political. It is about feeling and compassion. It is about passion for one's own country. It is about passion for different peoples of the world that are foreign to us. It is about war, about peace, about religion, about Christians and non-Christians, about family, and race, and nations, about different languages, about the United Nations, about the United States, about killing, about not being killed, about oil, about defence and attack, about world stategy, and mainly about death and dying for all that and more.

Just who can make sense or nonsense of it all anyway when we are repeating all that we suffered in Vietnam.

If I can help?

Naomi, I would also like to offer my services but please keep in mind that I have no high level of education and so most of my ideas don't come from books and may be difficult to understand. Just let me know what to do?

Sounds Great

In short Naomi, I'd love to help in any way I can. I'm in.

Facts and Fantasies

John, how come you are so interested in facts all of a sudden? I had you down as preferring fantasies. Anyway, the fact is that North Vietnam invaded Cambodia and Laos a long time before President Nixon's 'illegal' invasion of those countries. How about that for imperialism? Or in the twisted minds of the Left, is imperialism the monopoly of the west? How about the millions murdered in Cambodia (by communists, not Americans), something which was brought about by Congress forbidding aid to the beleagured peoples of South East Asia? How about the fact that America was never defeated militarily, in fact the communists took one hell of a beating, but were helped in their 'struggle' by fellow travellers in the USA who thereby condemned millions in south east Asia to a brutal death? How about the terror tactics employed by the North Vietnamese when Saigon fell? How about the fact that the North quickly established hegemony over the South, when they were only supposed to be supporting a local insurgency? How about all the boat people who tried to get out? Tell you what, how about you reading books by people other than Pilger or Chomsky? There is a big difference between real history and the polemics of the left. I learned that a while ago. My undergraduate degree was full of left wing theories, which I swallowed. When I did post graduate work, read real historians, and actually worked on documents, I saw how discredited these 'historians' who don't rely on genuine sources really are.

I'm British, not Australian, but I find it a little disturbing that public money may be being used for the purpose of indoctrination (which is exactly what Naomi is planning) rather than education. The good news is that it doesn't seem to be working. Howard had a great victory last November and I look forward to more of the same.

Ahhh, Craig!

Very sloppy remarks for a historian! Little understanding of imperialism, and as for time lines, whoa, boy! And I love the bit about America not being defeated militarily - could you please explain how it was defeated in Vietnam, if not militarily? Economically? Lost the taste for a fight? There are many ways to be defeated ... and fleeing South Vietnam in the fashion that they did, what was that again? A victory?

Almost as good is the bit about 'real history' and the polemics of the Left? So history can only be the views of those to the right of your mate, Attila? The rest is 'left-wing polemics'? Seems you didn't bother much with learning as an undergraduate. Presumably your theory of history only goes as far as reading 'real' historians, what ever those might be, and documents. If it's written, it must be true! And you managed to do a doctorate based on this rather thin soup. Well, I doff my cap for that achievement.

Craig, do 'real' historians, and I assume you count yourself amongst their number, even if the sideshow was the truly historic relations between Britain and Finland - of great import to most Aussies, I assure you, so keep up the good work - do real historians simply rewrite history by labelling what they disagree with as indoctrination? For that matter, would real historians label Howard's recent slightly shabby victory as 'great'? Based on subterfuge and fear? Oh my gawd, you probably think Blair had a great victory too!

Keep the comments coming - I love Gus's cartoons, but a clown, with specialist knowledge of the Baltic, is always good value!

Re: Facts & Fantasies

Hi Craig, thanks for your warm riposte.

Your apparent readiness to disparage others with baseless assumptions succeeds only in highlighting your proclivity to prejudice & does little to inform constructive debate.

At the risk of disappointing you, I don't hold to the view that 'imperialism' is the preserve of the West, any more than I accept that 'polemics' is the preserve of the Left. Moreover, I would suggest that the ideological beliefs of someone bent on killing you is the last thing you'd be worried about.

As to interpretations of history, I'm inclined to think that they generally lack integrity when they're unpacked by members of the generation involved, particularly when they're marketed to bolster personal world views - be they of the right or left - Pilger's, Chomsky's or dare I say yours (perhaps you could let me have details of your published works?).

This shouldn't mean of course that we can't have opinions or views about events, particularly where we may have been directly involved in some way, as I & thousands of others were in opposing conscription & Australia's involvement in Vietnam.

If I understand the aim of Naomi's project correctly, it is to encourage an understanding on the part of her students as to the social & political conditions & circumstances in Australia that gave rise to those events for themselves, rather than attempting to 'indoctrinate' them as you suggest.

I see this as a constructive approach to education: one based on personal research, interpretation, understanding, conclusion & meaning: nothing wrong with that in my view. There are a good many other less worthy endeavours eating my tax dollars than this particular initiative.

As to John Howard's victory (in October), that is undeniable but hardly relevant.


Sweeping Statements

So letting people make their own decisions is indoctrination eh?

Craig, read my purpose before making grand sweeping statements about my plans.

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment. Robert M. Hutchins


Nothing like a former left-winger, a reformed smoker or a lapsed catholic to spread the message.

Re: Reformed

Hi Gus, yeah ... I wonder where our friend Craig received his particular brand of indoctrination?

Perhaps it was at the Maggie Thatcher school of social tolerance?

British lip

Craig, become Australian and join with us instead of trying to split us into splinters where we argue over nothing but semantics. We could argue over the orgininal ANZACs and the British and that John Farnham sings too commercially for New Zealanders who speak with a British accent.

really help the kids

Naomi, as a published historian, I would suggest that the best thing to do is to actually learn something about the subject. So, if you want to talk about Vietnam, don't just drone on about the activities of spoiled kids who were quite prepared to let others take their place in the draft. Instead, you could look at the enemy which America was fighting in Vietnam, the enemy which the rich kids and the Jane Fondas sided with. An enemy which was callous and brutal, which murdered local politicians in order to create a climate of fear and a breakdown of local order. An enemy which broke all international obligations to invade sovereign jurisdictions in order to spread communism. An enemy which was part of an ideology which was the most murderous of the twentieth century. You could even check the figures for this last point.

However, if you are just intersted in propaganda, then I would follow the advice of conspiracy theorist Gus. I know that is what you really want to do.

Dammit Craig

Hey Craig, I will, after all, question your facts. You stated something about the US never being defeated in a war. Does that mean they won? Surely any human being, even a historian, is aware that there are no winners with war.

If you count the World Wars as victories for the US then you must also consider the other allies won there as well. Do you think the 27 million dead Russians would have thought they won WW2?

If you actually look at wars the US has contested by themselves you will find they have not actually won any wars, if you must pursue the win/lose scenario. Ever heard of the Alamo? Or is that outside your historical range.

The only war they can actually say they "won" was the one against themselves, the Civil War, a grand victory indeed.

Spoiled kids

Hey Craig, I couldn't possibly question your facts but I was wondering if you would care to acknowledge that some of those "spoiled kids who were quite prepared to let others take their place in the draft" are and were part of Howard's "great victory".

Indeed our Minister of Defence is one such spoiled kid.

Oh that my mates and I were spoiled.

Isn't history a social science?

Craig, congratulations on being a published historian. However, that does not immediately discredit other contributors. As a social scientist I will be presenting several viewpoints and letting the students make their own decisions. I have no right to make those decisions for them.

Maybe I should clarify for anyone interested in my little project.

1. The students are studying how effective people power is by using the Peace Movement as a case study -- so the students will be learning about methods of protest, that is why...

2. I have invited people from this site to contribute because I believe that this is an excellent example of modern people power

3. As a published historian I invite you to participate and put your point of view across to the students. Just be prepared to answer questions like "what is your expertise?" and "what makes your viewpoint more valid than other contributors?"

4. Ultimately, the students will be justifying whether or not this site is a valuable source for analysing the effectiveness of people power.

Please feel free to contribute but be aware that I will be telling the students to consider how valid a point of view is when someone makes unsupported assumptions like 'droning' and 'if you are just intersted in propaganda, then I would follow the advice of conspiracy theorist ...I know that is what you really want to do'. You see the term they have done to death is corroboration, so you might like to ask them to back up your view point on my ability as a teacher.

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment. Robert M. Hutchins

Dear Craig,

I hope your “history

Professional detractors

Craig, all sites such as this run the risk of attracting "professional" detractors.

In America the various intelligence agencies have people who join similar sites and set about muddying the waters.

In Australia that role has largely been undertaken by organised groups of supporters of political parties - notably the Young Liberals.

Perhaps I am just cynical but your "contribution" looks suspiciously similar to what these groups are doing.

John, you're probably right

This is a guy who pops up on Webdiary from time to time, or very, very similar to their 'Craig'! And he plays the same role there - unsubstantiated 'facts' from a neo-conservative perspective. He's a non-critical thinker - strange, for the academic which he seems to be, (yes I 'googled' for his publications!) and I've seen a 'Craig' taking a very similar line in one of the BBC on-line forums, but I'd have to check that out. In my experience, as you suggest, the purpose of such folk is disruption, rather than debate.

I have to put my hand up and say I occasionally rise to the bait: often their 'facts' are paper-thin attempts to derail discussion so it's fun to uncover them, but then I'm easily amused. The interesting point about all this is their strong conviction that they 'hold' all the facts - something the neo-cons are very good at getting over to the general public, with the help of an increasingly compliant media.

I think Naomi might include an examination of how the neo-cons portray their particular view of the world, their propaganda, as 'fact' and how the success of this portrayal is part of the erosion of democracy, the smothering of any dissenting view, aided by an unseemly reliance on the politics of fear.

"agents provocateurs"

Answer to question one : there are more than 23,400 Mentions of "Alexander Downer saying "Saddam has Weapons of Mass Destruction" in the media at large... Allowing for duplication and possible omission one can assume that he would have at least pronounced these words (publicly) a third of what is recorded... Thus I estimate his utterance at 7,800 times ... Which in itself is quite amazing since it takes about 5 seconds to say the phrase and there are only so many minutes of "news" per day on the box, in the papers, etc... I remember, every time I saw his block coming into a TV frame, I used to pronounce in advance the words he was going to splatter across the microphones of a very impressed press ... Brother! On the subject of the professional spoilers like what "Craig" possibly is, in "Old Europe" I think the term used even in England is borrowed from the French: "agents provocateurs". The French actually have another name for these people but I can't remember it this minute... I have been in situations where disturbances within peaceful movements and legitimate political meetings were started by "agents provocateurs"... There are always some of these in demonstration and often they are the ones who push the crowds to do something "heroic" and daring. They are often the ones who will climb walls, cut barbed wires. Sometimes they are extreme-right nazis that come with basebakl bats and wreak the whole place apart, followed by the police who bash everyone, except the ones who started the wreckage... Should they get arrested they often slip through... There are two major kinds of AP on the ground, the freelance attached to opposed political parties (whose intentions are to make the "peaceful" meeting look like a bunch of rabid out of control people) and the more insidious ones who actually work for the police and act as "spies"... These carry some secret identification (hats, gloves, innocuous sign) which are known to the "real" police in advance as not to hit their men/women when the biffo starts... cheers

Re: you're probably right

Hi David, have you also noticed that Craig's writing style and "tone" closely resembles that of neocon journalist Andrew Bolt?

Coincidence of course. All neocons probably sound the same.

Published Historian

Hi Craig, as a 'published historian', perhaps you could help us with a few facts in support of your sweeping assertions & generalizations? Cheers.


Hi Naomi I believe it would be interesting for students to make comparisons between say the Vietnam War and the Iraq War using the structure below. Including the role of media and politics in spreading dis-information. And research for example something like, "How many times has Mr Downer claimed: Saddam has Weapons of Mass destruction."

In the Iraq War what has confused the issue was the lack of true analysis and fact reporting. What we got was porkies from politicians and media operators designed to sell the war. Media in the three countries (US, UK and Australia) were telling different stories than other media in Europe. "Old Europe" was thus denigrated for not "believing" in Saddam's WMDs.

Vietnam War

Peace Versus War

The Domino Theory

The Decision Makers
Assassination of JFK
Supporting “Freedom Ideals