We Are the Best

Scandinavian filmmakers seem to have mastered the art of telling serious stories with just the right amount of humour and whimsy to prevent their films from becoming bogged down in earnestness. Of course, we can’t apply such a sweeping generalisation to every filmmaker from the Nordic regions, but there certainly has been a series of such films in recent years (Simple Simon, The Liverpool Goalie) that have been as amusing as much as they have been insightful. Furthermore, several Scandinavian films of recent times – from Lilya 4 Ever to Turn Me On, Dammit to Let the Right One In and many more besides – have placed young characters front and centre of the narrative, often relying on hitherto unknown actors to carry the film, usually with surprisingly effective results. With We are The Best, Swedish director Lukas Moodysson (Fucking Amal and the aforementioned Lilya 4 Ever) continues such traditions in presenting a bittersweet comedy that manages to effectively assay the trials and tribulations of teenage life in Stockholm in the early ‘80’s.

We Are the Best poster

13-year-old Klara (Mira Grosin) is desperate to be a rebel, even if she has no idea what she might be rebelling against. She shares a love of punk music with her best friend BoBo (Mira Barkhammar), a fellow outcast amongst the cliques and social factions of their high school. The girls are all but inseparable and, initially in an effort to spite a group of older boys at the local youth club, they decide to start a band, even though neither of them can play an instrument. Their initial attempts to write a song are farcical and they soon recruit Hedwig (Liv Lemoyne), a quiet Christian girl who just happens to possess considerable skill as a guitar player. There is a great naturalness to these characters as they react and interact with each other and the various other people in their periphery, such as their parents and two well-meaning but utterly clueless supervisors from the youth centre. The girls know that they don’t really fit in with the other kids, but they are yet to find their own place in the world. The characters seem very real; laden with the uncertainty and the search for identity that we all experience at that time in our lives. Klara’s tough exterior masks her inner vulnerabilities and insecurities, while BoBo is all but invisible to everybody except her best friend. At one point Bobo’s mother is so focussed on entertaining a potential new boyfriend that she is completely oblivious to the fact that her daughter isn’t home; it is only a phone call from BoBo that alerts her to the fact. For Hedwig, meanwhile, these new friendships lead her to question the values and ideologies – instilled by her pious mother – that have thus far shaped her life.

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Whilst the film looks a little rough around the edges at times and there are moments that, in the hands of Harvey Weinstein, would have been lost in the edit, it seems a deliberate ploy by Moodysson to linger on the awkward silences and seemingly banal conversations to reflect the everyday-ness of this world in which these girls exist. Much of the humour comes from Klara’s attempts to find an outlet for her anger through song. The problem is that she doesn’t really have anything to be angry about, or much of a talent for song writing, so it is the school PE teacher becomes the target of her ‘fury’. Despite only having one song in their arsenal – Hate the Sport – the girls are given an opportunity to perform at a local band showcase, an appearance that brings the film to a chaotic and downright hilarious end; a climax that is as surprising as it is perfect for these three clueless but utterly endearing wannabe rebels.

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As you might expect from a story revolving around three teenage girls, experiments with alcohol and the pursuit of boys form part of the story and Moodyson elicits spirited, engaging performances from his three inexperienced young leads. Whilst the film is certainly not a celebration of punk music as an intellectual exercise – epitomised by the song Brezhnev and Reagan, Fuck Off that is performed by the all-male band with whom the girls develop a relationship – We Are the Best most certainly posits the appeal of punk as an outlet for those who don’t fit in anywhere else. Delivered with a warm-hearted vitality, We Are the Best is, first and foremost, a joyous, vibrant celebration of adolescent female friendship.

Education Update #23

News

Six Things We Need to Stop Saying in Education

Teaching…

Obviously teaching is a word that gets used quite often in the education setting, but I push you to try and eliminate it from your everyday vocabulary. When we say ‘teaching,’ we are talking about what we the educators are doing or not doing….read more

The Lowdown on Longhand: How Writing by Hand Benefits the Brain

When students take notes with their laptops, they tend to mindlessly transcribe the data word for word, like speech-to-text software. But taking notes verbatim is not the point. What is lacking in their note-taking-by-laptop is the synthesis, the re-framing, and the understanding of the information. However, those who are taking notes by hand are processing the information and representing it in a way that makes sense to them. They are learning….read more

Does Late Work Deserve a Reduced Grade?

A battle that continues to rage in schools all across the globe is the battle about what to do when students turn their work in late….read more

Characteristics Of 21st Century Learning

The label of “21st Century learning” is vague. Some educators seek out the ideal of a 21st century learning environment constantly, while others prefer that we lose the phrase altogether, insisting that learning hasn’t changed, and good learning looks the same whether it’s the 12th or 21st century….read more

Effective Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom

Social media is something many teachers do not integrate in their classrooms. There. It had to be said. The truth is that most teachers are just too darn busy to actually weave the many education technology tools, social media sites, and mobile apps into everyday classroom life. That being said, some teachers are doing some pretty incredible things with social media in the classroom….read more

Don’t Fret: Free Music Continues

Are you suffering withdrawals since the finish of the SEED season at QPAC? Have you still got a hankering to catch fabulous free live music every weekend? Well, Brisbane Powerhouse can cure your craving with the Livespark program of musical performances.

Every Sunday afternoon on the Turbine Platform, some of the best indie, pop and rock artists from Brisbane and beyond grace the stage for a free all-ages double bill program. The two-hour Livespark sessions showcase a diverse collection of music and performance styles amid the atmospheric surrounds of the Powerhouse complex.

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This week (August 31) will feature a unique double with solo performances from two members of Brisbane indie rock royalty Screamfeeder. Switching from bass to guitar for her solo shows, Kellie Lloyd will kick things off at 3:30pm, while bandmate Tim Steward will hit the stage at 4:30pm.

Artists featuring in the weeks ahead include the likes of Jac Stone, Hailey Calvert and the fabulous Sahara Beck. The full Livespark schedule through September is as follows:

August 31: Kellie Lloyd / Tim Steward
September 7: Jac Stone / McKisko
September 14: Presented by QUT
September 21: Hailey Calvert / Roz Pappalardo & The Wayward Gentlemen
September 28: Sahara Beck / Cat Canteri’s Electric Band

LiveSpark

The Church to Rock Bulimba

Australian rock legends The Church are headlining a huge day of free music, markets and fun this Sunday (August 31) at the annual RSL Bulimba Festival. One of Australia’s most enduring alternative rock acts, The Church is responsible for iconic songs such as Unguarded Moment, Under the Milky Way, Almost With You, Reptile, Metropolis and many more. Formed in Sydney in 1980, The Church has carved out a very successful career without ever compromising their sound or integrity for commercial interests.

Bulimba Festival

Despite several line-up changes over the years, the band has continued to record and tour with founding member and principal songwriter Steve Kilbey at the helm. Often outspoken and unapologetic, Kilbey is a charismatic figure who has steered The Church to considerable critical acclaim and industry recognition, including their induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2011, the band played a special 30th anniversary concert to a capacity Sydney Opera House crowd accompanied by the Sydney University Symphony Orchestra.

The current line-up, which includes Powderfinger’s Ian Haug on guitar, will hit the Bulimba Festival Westpac Main Stage at 3:00pm on Sunday. Supporting The Church on the main stage will be The Cairos and The Sunburys. Meanwhile, the Live and Local Stage will showcase some more of Brisbane’s best home grown bands, with The Creases leading the charge. Also featuring on the Live and Local Stage will be Little Odessa and The Empresarios.

Little Odessa are one of the bands playing Bulimba Festival this Sunday.

Little Odessa are one of the bands playing Bulimba Festival this Sunday.

In addition to a fantastic music program, the 2014 RSL Bulimba Festival will include a festival fun park with carnival rides and amusements, along with 170 market stalls offering a wide range of products, including:

Boutique tea and coffee;
International cuisine;
Organic food;
Natural beauty products;
Handmade fashion and jewellery;
Furniture and home wares;
Art and crafts;
Health and fitness;

There will also be food tastings, cooking displays and entertainment throughout the day, including Mexican wrestling.

The RSL Bulimba Festival takes place in Oxford Street, Bulimba from 9:00am to 4:00pm on Sunday, August 31. Whilst admission is free, patrons are urged to make a gold coin donation to assist the RSL in continuing their great work supporting service personnel and their families.

To download an event program or find out more information, head to RSL Bulimba Festival website here.

Time is Running Out

If you haven’t yet visited the QUT Art Museum to see their current exhibits, then time is running out. Both Carol Jerrems; Photographic Artist and Agenda are absolutely free and absolutely worth seeing, but they both close very soon.

Anybody with an interest in photography, and portraiture in particular, should definitely check out the collection of photographic images from Carol Jerrems. This extensive display features a significant number of images taken by Jerrems throughout the 1970’s, with a strong focus on those involved in the campaign for justice and recognition.

The exhibition features images of identities such as tennis champion Yvonne Cawley, actor extraordinaire David Gulpilil and musicians such as Red Symons and Shirley Strachan as well as various key players in the arts community and counter-culture movement of the time.

Jerrems, who died from a rare form of cancer in Melbourne in 1980, was the first contemporary female Australian photographer to have work acquired by the National Gallery of Australia.

Carol Jerrems: Photographic Artist continues at the QUT Art Museum until Sunday, September 7.

Also featuring at QUT Art Museum at the moment is Agenda, an exhibition that brings together artworks from the QUT Art Collection that have an agenda of some kind, whether it is addressing issues such as Indigenous recognition, gender inequality or politics and government, or simply providing a voice for the disenfranchised. The works featured are shaped by the social, political and historical influences of the artists, often challenging oppressive individuals and ideas.

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The exhibition, which includes works from the likes of renowned Queensland artist Gordon Bennett, closes this Sunday, August 31, so you need to be quick.

The QUT Art Museum is located at the QUT Gardens Point campus. Admission to both exhibitions is absolutely FREE.

Fabulous Fiesta

Wow! Valley Fiesta 2014 is over and what a fabulous two days of live music it proved to be. The Valley rocked to some great bands and musicians and the atmosphere was terrific with great crowds on both days. On Saturday night, the rain failed to dampen spirits and both Dan Sultan and The Preatures played rousing sets to close the main stage.

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In the battle of the rappers it was REMI came out on top, his enthusiasm and crowd interaction on the Brunswick Mall stage was a far cry from the somewhat aloof and less polished main stage performance from Allday, although the myriad screaming girls in the front rows didn’t seem to mind one bit.

Also featuring on the main stage on Saturday were Inigo, The Royales, The Creases and Jordan Rakei, while the likes of Sampology, Safia and Motez also hit the Brunswick Street Mall stage.

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On Sunday, the mall stage was the focus for the Q Music QMA Showcase that included great sets from Georgia Potter, Amy Shark, MKO and Mosman Alder before Jeremy Neale rocked and rolled his way through a typically rambunctious set to bring the festival to a close.

For more photos from both days of the 2014 Valley Fiesta, click here.

Valley Fiesta 2014

Education Update #22

Education News

Myth-Busting Differentiated Instruction

As educators, we know that learning is not one size fits all. Yet differentiated instruction (DI) remains elusive as a major part of formal planning. Myths about DI persist despite work by respected advocates such as Carol Tomlinson, Susan Allan, Rick Wormeli, and Gayle Gregory. What follows are prominent misperceptions expressed about DI, presented here so that we can separate myth from truth….read more

Research-Based Tips for Providing Students with Meaningful Feedback

In recent years, research has confirmed what most teachers already knew: providing students with meaningful feedback can greatly enhance learning and improve student achievement. So what exactly are the most effective ways to use feedback in educational settings?…read more

Supporting LGBT Students in Your School

Research has continuously shown that LGBT adolescents and teens face higher risks for depression, anxiety, self harm, and suicidal behavior than their heterosexual peers. There are a handful of factors that may contribute to these statistics, including: discrimination, bullying and harassment, family rejection, lack of representation, and isolation. Educators know that in order for meaningful learning to take place, students must feel safe and supported at school….read more

Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding

What strategy doubles student learning? According to 250 empirical studies, the answer is formative assessment. Unlike summative assessment, which evaluates student learning according to a benchmark, formative assessment monitors student understanding so that kids are always aware of their academic strengths and learning gaps….read more

25 Critical Thinking Strategies For The Modern Learner

Critical thinking is the engine of learning. Within this complex process are so many other relevant themes that contribute to learning: creativity, analysis, evaluation, innovation, application, and scores of other verbs from various learning taxonomies….read more

How They Get It: A New, Simple Taxonomy For Understanding

How can you tell if a student really understands something? They learn early on to fake understanding exceptionally well, and even the best assessment leaves something on the table. (In truth, a big portion of the time students simply don’t know what they don’t know.) The idea of understanding is, of course, at the heart of all learning, and solving it as a puzzle is one of the three pillars of formal learning environments and education….read more

249 Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs For Critical Thinking

Bloom’s Taxonomy’s verbs–also know as power verbs or thinking verbs–are extraordinarily powerful instructional planning tools. In fact, next to the concept of backwards-design and power standards, they are likely the most useful tool a teacher-as-learning-designer has access to. Why? They can be used for curriculum mapping, assessment design, lesson planning, personalizing and differentiating learning, and almost any other “thing” a teacher–or student–has to do….read more

Scaffolding Strategies to Use with Your Students

What’s the opposite of scaffolding a lesson? It would be saying to students something like, “Read this nine-page science article, write a detailed essay on the topic it explores, and turn it in by Wednesday.” Yikes — no safety net, no parachute, no scaffolding — just left blowing in the wind.
Let’s start by agreeing that scaffolding a lesson and differentiating instruction are two different things….read more

How to Minimize Digital Classroom Distractions

Classroom technologies such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and wireless internet access offer exciting opportunities to enhance and deepen the learning process. However, using technology in the classroom can also bring multiple distractions to students. Here are some proven techniques for keeping students from using digital devices inappropriately in your classroom….read more

Prison School Teacher Achieves Excellence with Victorian Award

Given she was sitting within the walls of Parkville College, a school which operates within Victoria’s highest security youth justice centre, perhaps it was something akin to the slamming of cell doors or loud buzzers and alarms going off. I do know that I didn’t expect to hear what Katherine Tsagaris had to tell me….read more