Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Back of the class

but apparently not quite bottom? The "education ranking" tables came out yesterday and this morning much is being made in the media about Australia's poor performance.
In the state I live in it is claimed that a third of teenagers are not sufficiently literate to handle the basics of the everyday world and that almost half of them "failed to reach the baseline" in mathematics.
I have no idea what the "baseline" in mathematics is or just what they expect in the way of literacy skills. The media is not interested in such details and the teachers I have consulted don't seem to know either.
I know that schools are not going to revert to being the sort of places I attended or worked in but I do think they need to go back to being places of learning.
Just putting more money into education is not the answer to what is (not) going on in schools. They need to cease being childcare facilities for working parents and become the places where children go to work. School should be boring sometimes. It should not be a place of constant entertainment. Work should be the primary requirement of those who go there. School is not the place for teaching "political correctness" or a particular political view. Teachers should not be seen as substitute parents with respect to the teaching social and moral values.
We also need to teach children to read, really read. They must learn to read with comprehension and We also need to acknowledge that there are many ways of learning to read and that children need many reading resources. Forget the computer screen as the primary source too. Children need real books and a lot of them. All schools need libraries.
Children need a wide range of high quality fiction and non-fiction and teachers who will enthuse and encourage them to read those books. They need to move on from vampires, killing "games" and inaccurate "activity" sheets.
I suspect none of this will happen. There are too many educators out there who think quite differently even while paying lip service to the need to "raise standards". They want more money. They want smaller classes. They want to do less with more rather than more with less.


Helen Devries said...

Too much empire building by people who build careers on unsubstantiated theories....and no care whatsoever for the future of the children in their charge.

Judy Edmonds said...

I agree with everything you say about what should be happening in schools. But what worries me is that the countries achieving higher than Australia are (as far as I can tell from news reports) the Asian countries which really overcram their children and do not really allow them to have much outside life or freedom. I am personally in favour of the Finnish model of late school starting age and a more relaxed regime - and they do extremely well in all testing as far as I know.

catdownunder said...

I suspect Asia often goes to the other extreme. Neither is desirable from my point of view.