15.1.03

One of Sydney's Universities has approved the licensing of a program to catch students cheating on assignments by cutting and pasting from web pages. Turnitin.com intro uses web crawling bots and focuses on sites that students might make use of. Only assignments submitted electronically can be checked at the moment.

For several years I tutored a group of first year theology students. All the western students grasped the fact that to cut and paste or to quote without referencing was plagiarism. Cultural differences raised their heads with the Asian students. To them, this is a matter of showing respect to an author, who must know much more than they did, because he had published a book! Lecture notes were rehashed too as the lecturer had respect shown too. They just could not understand the principle and were bitterly disappointed with low marks and then warnings.

Annotated bibliographies were usually required and this caused problems for all students. A very good idea which cuts down tremendously on students adding books they had perhaps seen but certainly not read, to their bibliographies.

I enjoyed those tutorials. Many times I ended up doing far more work than just the scheduled class. Counselling sessions developed from them. First year theology is a culture shock to many, and worse if this is the first time away from home. I have counselling training, although there are many other things I would choose above this. I also found myself as a tutor in English grammar. For some years the teaching of grammar in this state basically disappeared. Emphasis was put on actual writing and if the meaning could be understood, who needed nouns and clauses? Thankfully the wheel has turned and young students again learn such things. Those who had no idea of them struggled when confronted with NT Greek. I often took extra classes to teach basic grammar and terminology.

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14.1.03

Another one from - The Sydney Morning Herald. Sledging opponents is a regular feature of many Australian sports. Light hearted banter is one thing, but some of this is really quite ugly. One cricket team, Manly, has banned the practice altogether. They are finding that their opponents are more rattled by the silence than by the sledging!

By the way, Manly is a seaside suburb of Sydney, not a description of the men on the team.

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The Sydney Morning Herald also has a piece this morning on workplace values and company mission statements, although I cannot find this on their website. It speaks of "your call is valuable to us" type statements which are obviously negated by the length of time taken to attend to such calls. It suggests that the bottom line is really money rather than service. The article then questions business "mission statements" which in some cases cost a great deal of money to develop. There is talk of the value of customers, an emphasis on service, suppliers. Staff are valued and to have their skills developed. What really mattered was the money but they can't very well say that on their letterhead. It was also pointed out that to say that customer service is a focus and then to cut back on staff training in that area was to give a conflicting message to staff.

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Some of the findings into the collapse of the insurance firm HIH are being made public. A major international accounting firm cops a blast from the counsel assisting the Royal Commission for their auditing of this firm. The report suggests that false audit certificates were issued and that in every instance of controversy with the company, the auditors backed down and yielded to management view of the accounting principles to be adopted. The firm has issued a rebuttal of the accusations.

More here at The Sydney Morning Herald, although I am not sure how long the Sydney Morning Herald keeps these links before they disappear into archives which require a payment before searching.

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YUK!! The body of a man was found last night in the street less than 200 m. from where I live. He had been bashed around the head and police are treating the death as suspicious. What is happening to my quiet little backwater of an inner-city suburb?

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A post on plagiarism can be found here at JoshSargent.com Thou Shall Not Steal, (link originally from Bene Diction.) At the conference I was at last week, my friend commented that one talk was almost identical to one he had on tape at home by a totally different speaker. This was right down to identical illustrations and pauses and inflexions in delivery. He had kept this tape from some years ago as an example of bad theology and was amazed to find it being aired again. Absolutely no reference was made to the original presenter.

As a student, I would expect to be heavily penalised for the first instance of plagiarism. I would be warned by the faculty of the danger of being expelled if there was a re-occurrence. I am very careful to always give references to others when needed. Sometimes, I have thought of something and then read it elsewhere. I also footnote this sort of thing, as well as using footnotes to further argument in an essay. I feel that I can never be too careful about this sort of thing and I would rather be safe than sorry. Another consideration...one comment to the post already quoted points out that referencing and linking is nothing more than plain courtesy. Surely that is the least we can expect from each other.

Give credit where credit is due.

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13.1.03

Another great old hymn, thanks to link from Cyberhymnal

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely yet His mercy flows.

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish
Our God lives unchanging on,
Praise Him, Praise Him, Hallelujah
Praise the High Eternal One!

Angels, help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

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Sarge at JoshSargent.com commented on my post about attending a conference that it would be interesting to see what I had learned. Herewith, some comments.

The week was good but tiring. Being out reasonably early and not returning till quite late added up to my having trouble keeping my eyes open on Saturday.

I particularly enjoyed the prayer time for the hour before the conference started. There were not many of us there but the time was good. We came from a diversity of backgrounds but I found it encouraging to pray together. On the first morning, I felt as if I was being told that I would not agree with every speaker, but would gain something from all of them. That was certainly true.

There was a plenary session in the morning, another very short time in the afternoon. Then we went to various "theme" times and there was another main session at night. There were three main speakers - Winkie Pratney, Bishara Awad and a New Zealander currently working in Melbourne.

I did not enjoy either what this man said or his presentation which seemed to be a poor copy of some American televangelists. His content was about on a par with them too. Quite a few people were disturbed by his talks and I think there will be some more severe vetting of future speakers. What did I learn from him? A reminder that God uses all of us, even those I do not agree with. At the end of his talk at night, quite a few responded to a call for prayer. We are all sinful, yet God uses us.

Jeannie Mok, from Brisbane, spoke about the challenges of church in a multicultural environment. This was one of the themes. I did not attend these talks but they were well recieved by those who did. I went to the theme Going with Christ to the nations which was presented by Ian Pennicook of New Creation Teaching Ministries. Ian is to be the next principal of Tabor when Barry Chant goes to Wesley Mission. I have had Ian as a theology lecturer and would rather hear him than many others. An Anglican ordained minister, he delights in making people think. He has a very extensive knowledge of the Bible and how it fits together. He is blessed with the ability to be able to give a "big picture." He takes a bit of getting used to to understand the way he operates and those who had not heard him before found his first lecture puzzling, I think. He started with Psalm 2 - God is over human history and God's anointed, (Christ) will reign despite what the nations think. While I think the original talks were supposed to be some sort of encouragement to "witnessing" etc., they really were more of our seeing God at work in the world and the final consummation. We are not so much to go "for" God as to go along with what he is dooing. Unfortunately, this sounds very lame when I recount it. There was a rich tapestry of themes woven together. NCM's website is a wealth of riches if you take the time to dig around in it.

For me, the highlights of the whole week were the talks by Bishara Awad. His integrity was obvious and God's love radiated from him. He gave simple talks based on such topics as the good Samaritan and New Year resolutions and so on. However, these touched my heart as he spoke of the love he had for Jews and Muslims which had increased in the troubles in Bethlehem. As a Christian and a Palestinian Christian at that, he was at the bottom of the pecking order in Israel. There was no bitterness or hatred shown by him at all. Very challenging, when I consider my own circumstances and relative comfort here.

There was little that was "new" to me. However, the week was challenging to me to review some attitudes which were not in line with God's word. It was encouraging to be with others. The singing was good and I was thrilled to be reminded of the supremacy of Chrsit.

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12.1.03

In my volunteer capacity with Scripture Union, NSW I have been the main speaker for two years at their week long conference for senior high school students. I love this opportunity to be able to teach from God's word and gain a tremendous amount myself as I prepare and present these talks. We have looked at Colossians and Ephesians, or rather at selected passages and how they tie into the book.

My friend who is the director of this conference and I have both been approached by many people about the need and desire they have for more teaching than is being given in the churches they attend. I know what they mean. The church I attend is pastored by a trained journalist. He is a very good communicator and motivator, but week after week of this is a poor diet. Cell or home groups do not meet the need either. Fairy floss all the time is not good as a balanced diet.

At the end of the month, we are holding a weekend away for some teaching. Our conference team will be coming, as well as some who want to learn more. I am giving a few talks and some practice sessions on exegesis. This is a passion of mine and I see the lack of it everywhere. Verses out of context, strange interpretations of prophecy etc. I am going to be giving a few basic guidelines and we will have a go at some passages. There will also be a couple of talks on other subjects.

In a weekend, we can do little more than scratch the surface, but it is a start. I am a trained teacher who loves teaching and does it well. (I was originally a language teacher and taught Latin, French and English.) I really long for others to have a passion for the Bible too.

I would greatly appreciate it if any reading this could pray for the weekend and for my preparation and presentation. I am very concerned every time i read James 3:1 -...not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged by God with greater strictness. What an incentive to pray for God's help in this! We all read the Bible with a filter of our own thoughts, ideas and judgments over our minds. It is all too easy to read into the text what we think it ought to say. I include myself in this. We are told to renew our minds. I want to present tools to help in this, but I do not want to push my own thoughts and ideas. A very fine line to walk indeed.

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