Wednesday, 14 December 2016

NAPLAN is back in the news!

Shock! Horror! Our little darlings are not doing as well in school as the authorities would like. They should be doing better! All that money schools have been given and they still aren't doing well! It's terrible! They need more money! The last two years of Gonski funding are absolutely essential! It will make all the difference!
Okay everyone, calm down. You see there was an absolutely delightful story of a young man who came to Downunder two years ago. He didn't speak English then. Now he not only speaks English but he came dux of his school. 
He worked.
I have seen this happen myself. One of my English language students at  university was a Chinese woman. She was a scientist in a field which meant nothing to me but when she arrived her English was limited. Her "social" English was even more limited. At 7am in the morning, hail, rain, wind or shine Xi would arrive on my doorstep and we would make tea and I would give her an English lesson. It was hard work for both of us but Xi worked so hard that I never regretted those early mornings. Six months later she was, by some miracle, able to bring her husband and two girls out from China - and they stayed. She taught them as I had taught her. I gave them a bit of extra help. Her husband went to just six weeks of intensive English classes - just as Xi had - and then found a job in another laboratory. No, I didn't need to help him too. Someone else did that.
And the girls? They started at school. They worked. They worked some more. Three years later the older girl was dux of her school too.
Yes, they were intelligent but they also worked at it. I saw that for myself. I went to a meal at their almost bare little place not long after the rest of the family had arrived. They went out and bought me a knife and fork because they weren't sure I could use chopsticks - which was typically thoughtful of Xi. I was feeling very nervous. Eating with strangers is an ordeal in itself but when they don't even speak English it seems even worse. But...the girls kept trying to use their English. The entire meal was one long English lesson. They listened intently. They tried - and tried again. 
They had come to live in a new country. The classes were smaller. The opportunities were much greater. They were going to make the most of it. 
They've both been through university now. They are professional women. They have married and have families. People would say they are a "success" story. I'd say they were an example of intelligence and consistent effort.
I don't think pouring more money into education is necessary - unless you want to pour it into renewing the school library service.
If we stop thinking of schools as places of "social engineering" and think of them as places of "learning" then I don't think anyone will need to worry about NAPLAN results.  They will just be good anyway.

2 comments:

virtualquilter said...

It would help if the teachers concentrated on the basics, and then encouraged the students to work! Too much school time is spent in activities other than basic learning.

However, it doesn't matter how good the teachers are if the students don't work at it, and they need parents to encourage that.

Jodiebodie said...

Teachers are fighting losing battles when parents do not value schooling or the school system. Teachers can only do their job if they have support from parents and the education system.

Research has shown that the biggest influence on a child's education and success in life are not whether they go to a private school or public school, not the teacher (although that is a large contributor) but the PARENTS!

Australians take our education system for granted, sadly, and do not value education as the privilege that it is.

The blame can be shared by successive governments who expect teachers to do their jobs with increasing responsibilities and professionalism yet teacher salaries are not in line with those of other professions. It they want professionalism, how about offering professional conditions and also expectations for entry into teachers' colleges. How can parents value education when the very governments that run the system don't?

I was astounded when I attended teachers college to discover trainees who had no grasp of spelling or grammar and these were people expected to teach the next generation? How can one teach without adequate communication skills and literacy levels?

There is a widespread negative culture in a large segment of Australian society where anyone working hard to succeed in their education (or any field) is mocked and attacked - the famous 'tall poppy syndrome'. This is a dangerous thing to the future prosperity and happiness of this nation in my mind. It frustrates me that there are national holidays to recognise sporting events but not to recognise academic excellence. That alone says a lot about Australia.

Maybe it is an attitudinal thing - near enough is good enough, anything goes etc., laziness - but like anything in life, success is less about talent and all about application.

Instead of blaming migrants for 'taking the jobs' and 'dominating the educational awards ceremonies' perhaps people should just pull their heads in and 'do the hard work'.