Thursday, February 11, 2010

Belief in teaching

We have a building crisis in confidence in our teachers, a crisis coming about to deflect blame for poor government curriculum decisions and poor staff management procedures over an extended period of time.

It seems we are forever looking for magic bullets, where only hard work and dedication will bring about lasting results. It seems counter intuitive to expect hard work and dedication when your federal minister releases press on a regular basis about how improvement is needed - creates metrics to measure improvement but offers little in proven programmes that bring about that improvement.

I wonder how long it will take the penny to drop that the difference in student performance is rarely school performance but is actually the difference in parental support. This accounts for the difference across postcodes in a way that blaming schools does not. It's not parents fault either - their education level is what it is, generational change is the only thing that will eradicate the issue.

Until then, these kids need more time and instruction to succeed - yr 13, university bridging courses, after school tutoring, summer schools. To have effective courses we need a bunch of people that care about students, are motivated, skilled, nurtured and valued. These people have always been called teachers, lecturers, youth workers, aides, social workers, librarians and more recently chaplains. To continue to score political points against teachers is to shoot people that can make a difference.

Do the world a favour and encourage those making a difference. Chucking around money like confetti rarely brings this about. In fact it usually starts attracting vultures and those without community values that firmly have profits in their sights. The ABC Learning centres fiasco should have brought the effectiveness of profit driven public service firmly into the light.

We know our kids lack values, values previously imbued by parents and religious backgrounds and ethics. Today we need the people willing to set an example and do superhuman things with groups of kids that most people would fear talking to for 5 minutes, heaven forbid five to seven consecutive years.

Technology in the short to medium term can't fill this role. A new curriculum or statistical analysis will not fix the problem. Perhaps we should accept that social change is not the sole role of schooling and put the boot away for a while whilst the community pulls together and is assisted to do what is necessary in a practical, tried and accountable manner. Stop trying to make teachers and schools scapegoats.

Yes Ms Gillard, I mean you.

Updated 13/2/10: Here's another media release about a scheme to 'improve teacher quality' and improve 'teaching standards' (more than likely by those same teachers that require improvement) without details on how it will be done - but with wads of money attached to do whatever it?!? is.


  1. Technology has really become helpful to us in many ways. But sometimes, it is better if technology and also teachers will help each other.

  2. I agree, but it is difficult to integrate real time technology into environments without full time IT support. There are issues to consider.

    Coming from an IT background I looked forward to integrating IT into classes. I found it's a minefield. Have 30+ kids in a lab waiting 30 mins to log on is a recipe for disaster.

    It's also a generational problem with the average age of teachers well into the 40's. The profession lacks the short term skill to create resources in a timely manner that caters to a cohort.

    I'm not saying it can't be done (we had great use of online resources on our maths summer school), but it usually takes more effort for little (if any) reward over what a good chalky can do.

    IT budgets in schools have been cut to the bone, resulting in computer systems that cannot deliver in real time to our students.

    No company would expect remote support with 200+ users on a site. Yet this is the case in our schools with 600+ users and in many cases experimental/untried resources.

    Thanks for your comment - it's always good to know someone is out there!!


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