Environment ministers should be sleepless over the plight of koalas

I was shocked when I read some reports from Dr. Stephen Phillips, Australia’s leading koala expert, read in his interview with Peter Fitzsimons (‘Is it too late to stop koalas from going the way of the dodo?’, 21 May). In 1934, koalas were massacred in Queensland for their skin. There were thousands of koalas in the Pilliga Scrub in the 1990s, but by 2014 they were “quite gone”. However, we continue to clear native forests and take the koalas’ favorite food trees like tallowwood and gray gum. It’s hard to understand how environment ministers can sleep at night. Ray Peck, Hawthorn (Vic)

gerund anyone?

Teachers who know little about grammar will find it difficult to “brush it up,” let alone teach it. (“Teachers Hurry to Brush Up Grammar,” May 21) We used to learn grammar by heart, through parsing and analysis, and through repetitive practice. Learning math spreadsheets was the same process.

This optimism about teachers filling in the gaps suggests to me that those who wrote the new English curriculum have little understanding of grammar themselves. Gerund or gerund, anyone? Jenny Mooney, Karuah

As a student of the 1950s and 1960s, the most important and useful parts of the English curriculum were the art of ‘precise’ (finding the essence of an article and cutting out unnecessary phrases) and clear thinking (what does an article really mean). – watch out for double negatives). It has covered the basics of what a noun/adjective/adverb is and the structure of sentences to ensure the reader gets the idea you were trying to convey.

I believe that they should get back to basics and learn the beauty of the English language from scratch. What the heck are “elaborated noun and verb groups, positioning of adverbial phrases, etc.”? Teachers would teach obscurity, not clear thinking; and may poach students who write the terms and conditions of insurance policies or smartphone apps; and, heaven help us, lawyers and politicians. Let’s not forget that English is a means of communication and should be taught as such. Eve Colley, Coffs Harbour

I’ve always loved grammar. As an English teacher in the early 1970s, when I was told not to teach grammar, I lamented the instruction. Luckily, requests from some of my students for a better understanding of the foreign language lessons led to grammar lessons, which I and they really enjoyed.
Lyn Langtry, East Ryde

I am one of those retired teachers who taught basic grammar in the 1960s. There is no need to panic about how the uninformed young teachers will fare. Just give each student a stage-related textbook and each teacher the appropriate manual. Less stress. Eve Burden, Tinonee

wisdom of Roth

Jacqueline Maley summed it up when she noted that Philip Roth has a firm grip on the future by writing about “breaking culture” in his 2003 novel The human flaw (“Roth said fiction readers will die out,” May 21). However, Roth goes one step further and predicts the coming of Donald Trump The Conspiracy Against America in 2004 he wrote that Charles Lindbergh, as a right-wing fascist allying the US with Hitler, wins the presidency and begins rounding up America’s undesirables john maltby, Hunter’s Hill

Justin Scaccy

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