Home' Greymouth Star : December 9th 2013 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, December 9, 2013
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uLetters to the editor
1854 - Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem e
Charge of the Light Brigade is published in
1868 - W E Gladstone becomes British
prime minister for the rst of his four terms.
1940 - British 8th Army opens
o ensive in North Africa in World
1967 - e Cunard liner Queen
Mary docks at Long Beach,
California, after its nal voyage.
1975 - Death toll is put at 160
in two days as war rages between
Muslims and Christians in Beirut, Lebanon.
1990 - Poles elect Lech Walesa president in
Poland's rst free elections.
1992 - Prince Charles and Princess Diana of
Britain announce they are separating but have
no plans to divorce.
1994 - After 25 years of violence, the Irish
Republican Army sits down with British
o cials to talk peace.
1997 - e last Australian sur vivor who
landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, Ted
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
John Milton, English poet (1608-1674);
Clarence Birdseye, US frozen food inventor
(1886-1956); Douglas Fairbanks Jr,
US actor (1909-2000); Kirk Douglas,
US actor (1916-); Dick Van Patten,
US actor (1928-); Bob Hawke,
former Australian prime minister
(1929-); Dame Judi Dench, British
actress (1934-); Beau Bridges, US
actor (1941-); Joan Armatrading,
British singer-songwriter (1950-); John
Malkovich, US actor (1953-); Donny Osmond,
US singer (1957-); Nick Seymour, Australian
rock musician of Crowded House fame (1958-).
" e well of Providence is deep. It's the
buckets we bring to it that are small." --- Mary
Webb, Scottish religious leader. (1881-1927).
" erefore the Lord himself will give you a
sign: e virgin will be with child and will give
birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel."
--- (Isaiah 7:14).
Tragedy struck a St
family two hours
after they arrived at
the alpine resort of Arthur's Pass on Saturday,
when their ve year-old daughter plunged 60ft
from a mountain walk into a 7ft deep pool at
the base of a waterfall and was killed. She was
Wendy Annette Bodger, daughter of Mr and
Mrs D E Bodger.
Wendy, her mother and father were walking
up the track known as Avalanche Creek
when she apparently got too close to the
edge, slipped on the rock-strewn pathway and
plunged over the cli . Her father scrambled
frantically down the near-vertical cli and
recovered the body from the bottom of the
pool. e child was rushed by her parents to
the home of the chief ranger, Mr Peter Croft,
where arti cial respiration was commneced,
but proved in vain.
A group of would-be Edmund Hillarys risked
their lives in a dangerous dawn escapade on the
West Coast yesterday morning. e group, ve
youths, scaled the 150ft high derrick on the
Kumara Junction site of Shell-BP-Todd Oil
Ser vices Ltd. eir shouts and laughter as they
sat perched precariously on the peak of the
structure at 5am roused neighbouring residents
from their sleep. After a short singing session
high in the air, the youths clambered down
again and went on their way.
e oil combine's driller, Mr Bruce Adams,
said it was a very dangerous practice and
mentioned that if such incidents were going
to happen the company might be forced to
employ a watchman. e big No Entry sign at
the site apparently did not mean much to some
uToday s birthdays
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (o ce)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
Sports Editor Tui Bromley
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
Every day, Lucy Dong and
her best friend Amy Zhu
wake at 7am, munch
through their breakfast of
steamed buns and noodles,
and head o to what may
be the best schooling system in the world.
e 10-year-olds, who are natives of
Shanghai, China's sprawling nancial
capital, study in 35-minute bursts from
around 8am to 4pm, with a small break
for lunch --- and a class meeting ---
sandwiched in the middle.
Outside school hours, the girls' lives
are a blur of extra-curricular activities:
English class, ute class, drumming
class, handwriting class, calligraphy class,
Taekwondo training, modelling lessons
and choir practice.
Over the coming years, as they chase
their respective dreams of becoming an
astronaut and a poetry reciter, Lucy and
Amy's lives are unlikely to be easy.
But they will at least be part of an
education system that appears to be paying
is week, Shanghai was crowned --- for
the second time --- the champion of the
Programme for International Student
Assessment (Pisa), which compares
the maths, reading and science skills of
510,000 secondary school students around
Shanghai's students came top of the
global class in maths with an average
score of 613 (up from 600 in the last
Pisa tests of 2010). at was 119 points,
or the equivalent of nearly three years of
schooling, above the average, and placed
Shanghai 25 places above Britain, which
had 494 points. New Zealand was 22nd
equal with 500 points.
Shanghai also came top in reading (570
points), just ahead of Hong Kong and
Singapore, which joined it on the podium
in all three Pisa categories.
Britain languished in 23rd place with
499 points, while New Zealand was 13th
equal with 512 points.
Shanghai was also victorious in science
(Britain came 21st and New Zealand
18th) and excelled when it came to "top
performers". Twenty- ve per cent of its
students were placed in that bracket, the
Pisa results showed.
Some experts question the value of
comparing cities and countries. Others
point out that Shanghai's relatively well-
funded schools and well-paid teachers
are not representative of the Chinese
education system as a whole. Average
pay for a Shanghai teacher is 4400 yuan
($880) a month compared with 2000
yuan in some cities in the southwestern
province of Yunnan.
Professor Kong Lingshuai of the
College of Education at Shanghai Normal
University has studied the city's Pisa
He says that the secret is a mix of
"traditional elements and modern
elements". e former relate to the high
expectations of "tiger" parents, and a belief
instilled in Chinese children from a young
age that e ort is crucial to gaining a good
"Chinese parents pay great attention to
their children's education in the hope that
their sons will one day become dragons
and their daughters phoenixes," says Kong.
e modern elements include Shanghai's
willingness constantly to adapt its
curriculum and teaching practices; its
focus on improving under-achieving
schools by pairing them with those that
excel; its openness to foreign ideas; and
the introduction of performance-related
An obsession with training has also
been key, says Kong. As of last year, new
teachers have to undergo a standardised,
one-year training course before starting in
Once quali ed, they are required to
complete at least 240 hours' training in
their rst ve years. Teachers are also
encouraged to attend each other's classes
to promote a culture of "idea sharing,
exchanging and positive competition".
Outsiders often dismiss China's
education system as a pressure-cooker-
style frenzy of exams that places too much
emphasis on rote-learning and does little
to stimulate creativity.
But in Shanghai at least, that may be
starting to change.
Authorities are attempting to move away
from testing that relies too heavily on
memorising facts and gures, and some
schools are also giving students more time
to play, rather than just study.
Gao Xinhong, a Shanghai student who
became a minor local celebrity after
getting the highest marks in this year's
"gaokao" university entrance exams, says
the schooling system is becoming more
" e greatest part of Shanghai's
education system was that it gave me
a broad perspective compared to other
Chinese cities. Shanghai's education is
good because it does not treat grades as
the only thing for a student," she says.
Zhu Yi, the father of 10-year-old Amy
Zhu, agrees. "It is much better than before.
Schools in Shanghai now focus on the all-
round development of students," says Yi, a
He points to an ancient Chinese
dedication to learning when asked to
explain the city's Pisa successes, but warns:
"Education is cultural. It can't simply be
copied or borrowed."
Kong says cultural factors have been
central to Shanghai's Pisa glories but
suggests western students hoping to catch
up with their Asian peers would do well to
take on some extra homework.
" e number of hours Chinese students
put into homework is several times higher
than their western pals," he says.
Lucy Dong's mother, Wang Huichun,
says that even Shanghai's over-achieving
students need to work harder if they are to
"My daughter's school is more interested
in the arts than it is in academic
performance," Wang complains, in true
"tiger mother" fashion.
" ere is not enough homework. It
worries me a little."
--- New Zealand Herald
All work, no play
Students in a Shanghai classroom.
A roadblock in the brain makes
reading hard for people with dyslexia, a
new study suggests, contradicting long-
e ndings in the United States
journal Science add to an ongoing
debate over whether the inherited
neurological disorder is caused by faulty
brain wiring or the brain's inability to
understand the interaction of sounds
and symbols that form language.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that
a ects about 10% of the population and
occurs among people of all economic
and ethnic backgrounds.
e ndings were based on brain
scans of 23 people with dyslexia and 22
without, showing dyslexics understand
the sound units ne but lack the brain
connections to process them.
"Quite to our surprise, and probably to
the surprise of the broader dyslexia eld,
we found that phonetic representations
are perfectly intact in adults with
dyslexia," researcher Bart Boets, a
professor of psychiatry at the University
of Leuven in Belgium, said.
Boets said his team's research counters
the predominantly held opinion that
somehow people with dyslexia have an
inferior ability to recognise the distinct
sounds of language.
Instead, they found impaired
connections between the right and
left auditory regions, where phonetic
representations are processed, and
Broca's region, where higher level
phonological processing takes place.
"Our ndings indicate that the speech
sound representations themselves are
intact, but a dysfunctional connection
between frontal and temporal language
areas impedes e cient access to the
representations," Boets said.
Study subjects listened to a sequence of
four partial words, followed by another
sequence in which a consonant or vowel
had been switched, such as ba-ba-ba-ba,
en they were asked to identify what
e team used advanced functional
magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
techniques to measure the unique
ngerprint of each sound in the brain,
and found the quality of impressions was
the same in normal readers and dyslexic
In other words, their brains were
identifying the sounds and their changes
just like normal readers. However, the
dyslexic people took 50% longer to make
their responses, according to Science.
Researcher Hans Op de Beeck likened
the experiment to having his daughter
call from the landline telephone at their
house to say she was home from school.
at, he could verify, but what was she
doing at home? Was she doing her
homework or playing a game? He could
not know for sure.
With this experiment, researchers
were able to see that "the regions
containing phonetic representations in
adult dyslexic readers are doing their
homework, that's for sure."
Boets said he hopes the research
could lead to better ways of improving
the brain circuitry, perhaps through
noninvasive brain stimulation
However, the ndings were questioned
by neuroscientist Michael Merzenich
at the University of California, San
Decades of "very extensive and
compelling" evidence show that
people with dyslexia process phonetic
representations with lower delity than
normal, he was quoted as telling Science.
"You can't just ignore this literature,"
he said. --- AFP
Dyslexia may be due to 'brain wiring'
Beth J Harpaz
New York City's holiday traditions
include the tree at Rockefeller Centre, the
Radio City Christmas spectacular show,
origami decorations on the tree at the
American Museum of Natural History,
the Neapolitan Baroque creche and tree at
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and of
course windows decorated with Christmas
themes in stores around the city.
In the Bronx, the New York Botanical
Garden hosts its annual train show, with
model trains winding around miniature
replicas of New York landmarks made
from plant materials like bark, leaves
and nuts. At Grand Central Terminal,
there are real trains, along with a light
show each evening through to December
26 and at the Children's Museum of
Manhattan, an interactive exhibit called
e Grinch's Holiday Workshop is up
until December 31, along with a synthetic
ice rink where kids can skate in their
Le Parker Meridien hotel is hosting a
display of gingerbread creations by local
chefs depicting city sights like Coney
Island. Visitors can view the display for
free but voting on a favourite costs $1.10,
with proceeds going to City Harvest, a
local food bank.
In Florida, Universal Orlando o ers the
Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular show
and re-enactments of New York's Macy's
parade with balloons and costumed
characters, until January 4. At Walt
Disney World, festivities include Mickey's
Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic
Kingdom, the candlelight processional at
Epcot, and the Osborne Family Spectacle
of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood
ere is no snow for Santa's sleigh in
Florida's coastal cities, so he arrives by
water, with Christmas boat parades held
in harbours and on waterways around
the state. Most take place the rst two
weekends of December.
In Virginia, the Ice Palace, a 9m ice
dome with falling snow, a light show, huge
snow globes and a 360-degree interactive
exhibit on the Arctic, is on display until
December 24 at Norfolk's MacArthur
Center. e Dominion Garden of Lights,
a 3.2km drive-through light show at the
Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Hampton
Roads, is held nightly
until December 31.
Elsewhere in Virginia,
one of the largest light
displays in the country,
with six million lights
covering the park.
In Honolulu, the
Kaiulani hotel hosts
a gingerbread village
with creations depicting
world landmarks like
the Ei el Tower and
the Sydney Opera
In Las Vegas, the Bellagio Resort and
Casino's winter display includes more
than 32,000 fresh poinsettias and a 14m
tree, along with a chocolate reindeer and
life-size candy house. e Las Vegas
motor speedway is hosting a nightly light
show with 400 animated lights along the
e Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has
turned its Boulevard Pool into an ice rink,
and there is also a rink above the Grand
Canal at e Venetian and e Palazzo
Las Vegas. And while real snow is highly
unlikely, Town Square Park hosts a show
of arti cial snow akes falling.
One of the tallest decorated trees in
the country is a live r at the Coeur
d'Alene Resort in Idaho. e tree stands
more than 49m tall and is festooned
with 40,000 lights. e resort's holiday
o erings include other lighting displays
and animated gures.
In Western Massachusetts, Spring eld
hosts Bright Nights at Forest Park, a
drive-through experience with nearly
5km of lighting displays depicting
characters from Dr Seuss, Jurassic World
Gaylord Opryland in Nashville
hosts A Country Christmas with 2m
twinkling lights decorating the resort's
gardens and waterfalls. Holiday shows
include the Rockettes at the Grand Ole
Opry reprising Radio City's Christmas
In North Carolina, the Biltmore Estate
o ers 56 decorated trees in the main
house, 1000 red and white poinsettias
in the estate's Winter Garden, and
evening musical performances, along with
classes on building gingerbread houses
and caring for Christmas plants. e
National Historic Landmark is located in
In California, the Legoland theme park
in Carlsbad has a 39-metre Christmas
tree created from 245,000 green Duplo
bricks. Finally, the Mission Inn Hotel
and Spa in Riverside is illuminated by 3.6
million lights and also hosts 400 animated
characters, live reindeer and an outdoor
skating rink. --- APNZ-AP
Top US Christmas attractions
Christmas decorations in New York.
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