Monday, November 17, 2008

Idiot of the year award (IOTY)

Chris Sarra you are my idiot of the year. You are a candidate for idiot of the century.

Calling those unfortunate souls that get country postings "White Trash" for their efforts in bringing education to the outback is nearly as bad as the Australian publishing this sensationalist tripe.

The article is here.

It takes a special sort of person to go to the outback and teach. Even in hard to teach metropolitan schools it can be difficult. At my school there are at least two people that put their careers aside to teach students like we were, and hopefully we make a difference.

I would suggest that if Chris Sarra feels so strongly about how indigenous students are being poorly treated he should get out there and encourage aboriginal students to become teachers in the outback.

"If I'm an incompetent principal of an Aboriginal school, lacking in courage to challenge parents about why their children are not attending school, it doesn't matter. Aborigines get the blame."

Teachers and schools cannot control whether students come to school. They can encourage students, work with elders in the community and implement government programs. If Chris is seeking to alienate all of us trying our best to help these kids, involved with tutoring and mentoring, policing and medical services, he has succeeded. If Chris thinks making schools into community policemen, reporting who should and shouldn't get welfare, I would suggest that he is attributing the wrong role to the wrong organisation. To do this would increasingly make schools a negative influence in family life rather than an enabling one. The whole ethos of schools is to advise and empower parents and students, not enforce community will onto the unwilling.

"They should tell the parents, 'If this goes on, I can refer you to the authorities because you're in breach of the Education Act. "

Chris clearly has a strange view on the ability of truant officers and community police. My understanding of what the authorities are empowered to do is check that students are OK and encourage parents to return students to school.

If a community does not value education and resists attempts to engage with education, they will become second class citizens - some elders understand this and drive their communities - schools can help but cannot be the driver.

"Dr Sarra says his success was due to challenging students to be strong, smart and act like 'Aborigines' instead of delinquents."

I feel for Chris in some little way as he has been successful in one community, I think his mistake is attributing his success to schooling rather than his ability to act as a community leader - by my reading of the article it was by encouraging students to be aboriginal and proud. It would be great to see this tempered with Australian and proud too. Connection with the community needs to become an increasing goal - with both sides reaching out to make our nation proud.

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