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21 December 2013


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I do voluntary tutoring at a local primary school, variously in comprehension and maths from Grades 1 to 6 as needed.

Almost exclusively it involves kids in the bottom ranks of the class, some with dyslexia or other reading difficulty of differing severity. Sometimes I can see an improvement in reading and comprehension but too often its barely discernible.

With one kid of 11 years, who regarded himself as "dumb", I mentioned to him how recently a successful business man in provincial Queensland had donated $50 million to a hospital charity.

I said how this man had left school at around his age but had still achieved success. We spent the rest of our time talking about how life skills and doing your best could give him a happy and successful life.

On the lighter side, and with a PNG connection, when a Kiap at Olsobip WP in 1966-7 I organized a breakup-day for the some 30 children attending our new bush materials school. Gave lessons in the three-legged race, wheelbarrow race, egg and spoon race, sack race and tug-of-war, as well as normal races for different age/sizes.

Had my mother send up a bucket of small toys (cars, dolls, whistles, yo-yos etc) and lollies tossed up at the
end. The police Sergeant's and Corporal's wives organized the toys as prizes.

I particularly remember one boy of around 6 who, when refused a doll as his prize, burst into loud and continuing crying. He got his way. Every child got something. It was a great day.

In January I'm planning to send up a lot of my books on PNG to the National Library. I hope they will be made available to PNG people through this library and other smaller regional libraries.

Phil, What a lovely story. I feel for someone like Merve who would like to read one book before he dies. I take it for granted and enjoy reading very much.

In PNG I am beginning to see a trend where young people are reading less than ever before. When I was in Medical School 30 odd years ago most of us were reading and exchanging books.

When I ask the students nowadays you would be lucky to find one student who reads a book other than the bible or textbooks. I find it severely limits their worldview.

Keep up the good work and I hope Merve gets to read his book in the not too distant future.


You have written an excellent article and it seems you are doing a "different" work very, very well.

Lovely story about your work of teaching "different" oldies how to read and write.

Awhile back I taught at Pacific Hills Christian School where they integrated people like Toby and Merve into each class. Often when the bright bunnies finished their work way ahead of everyone else, they would come down and help the Tobys and Merves with their work.

At times they would go off for special help from the man in charge of these students. He taught them "life skills" and they developed into wonderful young men and women.

The school had been started by a man whose son had a nasty sickness as a baby that spoilt his brain.

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