education, buddhism, politics and parenting

by josephzizys

Yesterday I went back to school. I am attending the local technical college to complete a Diploma in Community Welfare Work. The Diploma is ‘competancy based’ which means that the industry (i.e the welfare and social services industry) sets out the areas that the student must become competent in. I have finsished one year of the three year, part time, course.

So far I have learnt nothing. I mean I have learnt less than if I watched a national geographic documentary on whales. I could learn more reading women’s magazines. The content of the course is all useless filler, student generated bullshit. I mean every single class starts with some idiotic getting to know you exersize, every single topic is brainstormed by the class and stuck up on the wall without any actual teacing or instruction or information not plucked out of some students head.

The workbooks waffle on about hippie sounding crap without ever citing sources. The one time I can remember seeing a source it turned out to be for a book that didn’t cite it’s sources.

The tables are not adult size. All the teachers insist on the class (of adults, including at least two grandmothers last year) sitting ‘quietly at their desks’ until closing time if they run out of idiotic excersises before they are supposed too.

It is without doubt the most demening, offensive and boring institutional situation i have ever been in, and I have been arrested and held in a police cell!

I enrolled because I believed that I wanted to work in the community welfare sector,but now I am not so sure. The community welfare sector is basically code for outsourced government departments. All the workers in te sector derive their wages ultimately in the main from the government, all the programs are government approved and organised. The only difference between working for a welfare agency and being a public servent is that public servents have job security and career development options.

The area that I would really like to work is in multifaith chapliancy. I strongly believe that many people could benefit from a non sectarian religious counsellor. But welfare is a government area, and government and religion don;t mix well. In fact I would say that here in Australia there is a deep taboo about religion outside of the context of your specific church.

So I am at the moment gritting my teeth and sticking it out. I have to do two hundred hours of unpaid ‘placement’ work this year to pass my course, so that is another slap in the face, at least I will get an opportunity to look for something interesting.

If it turns out I love my degree course, and the time commitment to do both courses is too much, I will attempt to exit from my diploma with a certificate qualification, if that is possible. Then I won;t have to work for someone for nothing, and I will be able to concentrate on the course that actually interests me, and my writing.

The other thing that has been on my mind this morning is an idea that has been pricking at me for a long time, the idea of starting a discussion club for english speaking buddhists in my local area. There are several buddhist organisations in my area, the Kagu E Vam centre, the Pitt St Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, the Vietnamese temple at Resivour, but they are all either non english focused, or they concentrate on running meditation groups and don’t cater for disscussion.

I prefer to meditate alone. It is a struggle sometimes, and I know that a group can strengthen ones practice, but I have a practice and it develops slowly and I am content. However, as the only practicing buddhist in my family and circle I miss the opportunity to discuss buddhist ideas and concepts with others, what the Buddha called ‘good friends’. Uni will I am sure go some way towards alleviating this lack, but I still yearn for a regular opportunity in my neighborhood to talk face to face with other english speaking buddhists about their practice, their understanding of the Dhamma and so on.

I regularly decide to visit the places I mention above and ask permission to post a flyer for my group on their notice boards, hire a hall and see what happens, but I have not yet managed to pluck up the courage to actually do it. One day I will.

Elliot and katie are up now and we have had breakfast, Elliot looks closer and closer to crawling every day. He is facinated by our cats, they are in for a time of it when he gets mobile, I guess they’ll learn.

I have had another thought about my story, I could have the little girl run in to ticketing cops on the train back towards the flats and have to flee into the burbs, maybe the burbs are wher she is introducecd to the child services people.

I guess I will leave it there, I have ordered a couple of books form Amazon the other day, one on Buddhist Archeology and the other a collection of articles by Gregoray Shopen, a controversial scholar, who gives me the impression of being something of an iconoclast in the field. I like to have books by people who kick against the pricks.

Wisconsin and Hawaii have their primaries today, I hope Obama does well, although in Wisconsin he could lose some of the independent vote to McCain, so Hilary is in with a shot. My impression is that Texas has tightened a lot for the Dmes in the past week or so, so if that trend can continue in Ohio and then in Pensilvania I think Obama can probably end up the leader, as I think that in the smaller states he is doing much better and I expect him to win Missisipi and North Carolina.

I also think that Obama can beat McCain in a general election, and that will be a good thing.