Australian education ranked poorly

An international study has seen Australia perform badly

The results from the 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) undertaken to rank children’s reading skills at a year four level has seen Australia perform rather badly, coming in at 27th place out of 45 countries studied internationally.

Results from the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) also saw Australia ranking poorly – 25th in science and 18th in maths.  

Federal School Education minister Peter Garrett admits that the results are “a wake up call”, while chief executive of the Australian Council for Education Research, Geoff Masters labelled the results as “disappointing”.

Julia Gillard has committed to Australia entering the top five countries by 2025 and has allocated $6.5 billion annually to improving our schools after the recommendations set out in the Gronski review.  She has also indicated that new measures such as performance reviews for teachers and higher enter scores to secure a university teaching course position will form part of her education plan.

Find out more
Read Australia’s disaster in education at The Age
Read Government delivers response to Gonski review at the ABC website

Opinion - Education has gone soft

Classrooms these days are vastly different to when I was at school.  Back then the teacher was in charge of the class, we had a structured curriculum and we had to concentrate on the job at hand.  If we didn’t knuckle down and focus on our work and complete our assignments, there were consequences.  These days the teacher’s role is that of facilitator with the child directing his or her own learning.  Children are not failed as it is seen to be bad for their self esteem and a number of children are moving up from year to year without meeting the curriculum benchmarks .

Our children have all the latest gadgets available to them in their classrooms such as interactive whiteboards, iPads and laptops.  They can install the latest software on the home computer, download an app in the blink of an eye, sent text messages at the speed of sound and know the use of every single icon on their smartphone.  Why then are they achieving poor results in the basics of reading, science and maths?





    COMMENTS

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    Rod63
    13th Dec 2012
    12:57pm
    "These days the teacher’s role is that of facilitator with the child directing his or her own learning."
    That is not true. Still, most learning is directed, although teachers always try to encourage children to be responsible learners ie care about what they are doing and do it to the best of their ability. Also children can't be held back for not "passing" a year. Imagine the mix of ages you would end up with in a class!
    The main reason, I believe, for the results is the increase in children coming from homes where education is not valued (multi-generational now of the "unemloyed" and "unemployable"), and more children from non-English speaking backgrounds.

    To deal with this schools need more resources - "things", staff, time. That is why it is so imperative the the Gonski recommendations be implemented as soon as possible.
    Troubadour
    13th Dec 2012
    1:08pm
    I am appalled at this Education Report - what has gone wrong?? I do think perhaps that Teacher's hands are tied with the new 'we mustn't discourage the children or upset their self-esteem/ etc Their self esteem is going to far more upset when they get out into the work force and find they cannot cope with those demands, as they do not have the literacy skills to do so. It will even deny them jobs.
    We did not just rely on our children's teachers - but read with them at home, did arithmetic, geography and spelling regularly, even going up to the School when one of our children got a mark we felt was above what it should have been as their were one or twol spelling mistakes in the essay - only to be told by the Teacher that she did realise that, but the context of the essay was fine, the spelling did not matter. Oh YES it does we informed her. SO please parents do that little bit extra with your kids to give them that edge, and let's see our Education values improve much earlier than 2025 - that's far too late Julia.

    13th Dec 2012
    1:14pm
    I am somewhat surprised that this question is a shock. The "Nanny State" is winning. Both Federal & State Education authorities want to, as far as possible, have every child go to University, so, they have removed the basic entrance requirement of Mathematics & English. At the same time, they have lowered the TER to a point where our entrance requirements are an International joke. Teachers in primary & secondary education have had their authority removed by law. How can you expect students to attend school when the only punishment for not attending is suspension from school? They are actually removing all the fun out of truancy. The teachers have not got time to teach the 3 Rs. They are way too busy teaching Aboriginal culture & history, Gay rights, Women's rights, students' rights against teachers & parents as well as the fact that they can now quite legally tell a police officer to get F**cked with complete immunity. At the same time, they have to teach students that heterosexuality is NOT normal.
    Boof
    13th Dec 2012
    1:17pm
    Ove the last 30 years i have seen a decline in the BEHAVIOUR and RESPECT of school childen.
    I lived at Lakemba. I've seen kids from other countries come here. Their parents. (Not all of course but a significant number), have no manners, to pass on to the kids. Their kids go to school and know do not respect disipline from teahers. Teachers' hands are tied because of all the DOOO-gooders AND THE BANISHMENT OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT. BRING IT BACK AND YOU WILL SEE A CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. The trouble is that our kids (Australian born) ( Not all but a sifnificant number) see the new kids getting away with, and disregarding teachers, who try to pull them into gear and they sy. "H'mmm this is too easy, let us give it a try." Where there is ANARCHY, learning goes out the window and disruption, leads to the undoing of the ones who want to learn. J.A.
    Nan Norma
    13th Dec 2012
    1:42pm
    This is so bias. Many children coming from overseas have far more respect for their perants than Aussie kids do.
    Nan Norma
    13th Dec 2012
    1:43pm
    parents, Gosh my spellings not the best either.
    Rod63
    13th Dec 2012
    1:27pm
    @innes "the teachers have not got time to teach the 3 Rs. They are way too busy teaching Aboriginal culture & history, Gay rights, Women's rights, students' rights against teachers & parents as well as the fact that they can now quite legally tell a police officer to get F**cked with complete immunity. At the same time, they have to teach students that heterosexuality is NOT normal. "

    That's rubbish. You are letting yout prejudices get in the way of comon sense. There would not be one teacher in Australia "busy" teaching children "students' rights against teachers & parents" (as upi imply it), that they can tell a police officer to get f**cked, with or without immunity, nor that "heterosexuality is NOT normal".

    However, I have no doubts that there are parents teaching their children such things, adding to the difficult job that teaching is.
    Watto
    13th Dec 2012
    1:51pm
    Spot on Rod63 .I remember in the 80's , my boys coming home from school and telling me that they have "rights" and they do not have to listen to parents . I set 'em straight on that one .
    But you are right about all the rubbish "add ons". We were taught the basics, called the 3R's and this gave us the foundation to learn and teach ourselves . That was important as one cannot expect any teacher or system to teach us everything we need to know to get through life .Seems that every time we get a change in government they have to stamp their mark on the system ...it aint working !!!
    Rod63
    13th Dec 2012
    1:29pm
    Sorry "upi" should have been "you".
    lauren
    13th Dec 2012
    1:49pm
    We migrated from Nth.Europe in 1950, My education was good here for a 4th Grade Primary, however, I was put into 3rd Grade, even though the equivalent was 2nd grade in the country of my birth. I found then that reading and writing, even then in W.Aust was not the best, many children came from homes, where parents had not had the opportunity of an education, so the system here was very backward. I think also, having four terms instead of the three terms we used to have, plus teachers having meetings in school hours, so that students have many breaks, maybe is not all that helpful either. I certainly feel the education system here in Australia needs a good overhaul, "the she'll be right mate" attitude won't cut it. I feel for the teachers in our nation, there is a lot of decision making by people sitting behind desks in govt. departments, maybe they need to get out and teach and see what the teachers have to put up with.

    13th Dec 2012
    2:02pm
    I am sorry Rod63. You don't know what you are talking about. One of the first things that children are taught in first class (in NSW) is that their parents cannot hit then or shout at them (that is technical assault). In NSW, it is on the record, as a legal precedent, decided by Magistrate Pat O'Shane (I think 2008) that an 18 year old that told a Police Sergeant to "get f**cked" was only using everyday acceptable language & was not guilty of offensive behaviour. In NSW, it is being trialled in 4 Metropolitan & 4 Country Schools that students be taught as part of the new sexual education that heterosexuality is NOT NORMAL. It is expected that this corriculum will be in all NSW schools in 2013. You are 1/2 right. It is rubbish, but it is factual rubbish.
    Smee
    13th Dec 2012
    2:03pm
    Cast you mind back to the mid 70s. Some bright spark thought it was a good idea to teach math to young kids using coloured blocks. That's when the rot started with our collective education systems effecting most subjects and unfortunately our current crop of teachers, through no fault of their own, are now suffering the consequences and passing this lower standard on to our kids. A snowball effect.
    Forget all this 'nanny' state rubbish about self esteme, social awareness and political correctness in young kids, let them make up their own minds when they achieve adulthood thru a self disciplined and active mind which has been nurtured by a disciplined and mildly regimented educational system.
    It has taken 30+ years to lower our standard and it will take that long to raise it back to an acceptable level again. Forget the PM's 2025 wish list and university qualifications; just get back to basics. At primary school 'you learn to read'; at secondary school 'you read to learn'.
    Andrea's last paragraph sums it up when she refers to all the latest gadgets. In essence; they do not have to think for themselves. This is the easy way out. Unfortunately, I sometimes think that this is exactly what some governments (big brother) want.
    seth
    13th Dec 2012
    2:04pm
    In my day truancy 'wagging school' was a required subject or initiation. Many of Melbourne's underground drains were explored in those days.
    savannahrose
    13th Dec 2012
    2:05pm
    In days gone past kids were kept down ... most only needed to be kept down one time, then they got the message they'd better knuckle down and actually learn, instead of being totally out of control or gazing out the window all day. The can should be bought back and abusive parents should be banned from school grounds and their brats along with them. I can't think of a worse job than teaching. You have some really good kids that try hard, only for their efforts to be sabotaged by the hooligans and disruptive elements in the class. But look at the way kids have been given the idea their word is law, that they can do as they like without consequence. Their idiot parents hover over them and excuse poor behavious - even encouraging it in some cases. Now some school has asked parents if homework should be banned and the majority of parents say "yes". Heaven forbid the little darlings should have to give up Facebook or computer games in order to do school homework for an hour or so. Other countries that are doing so well regarding education are actually inhabited by parents who encourage learning, manners and respect for teachers. More money being thrown at education will not change anything, unless and until children and their foolish parents realise that learning is a must. Also schools have to be allowed to teach the basics, rather than all the latest faddish and social engineering rubbish.
    Nan Norma
    13th Dec 2012
    2:27pm
    I remember some years a go when phonic reading was first introduced into schools. The idea being that instead of exploring the sounds of the letters to arrive at a measured guess what the word might be ,the students had to look at the word as a whole. My daughter, and I'm sure she was not alone, really struggled with with this and her reading fell far behind. The teacher couldn't help as she had to teach the way she was instructed. I remember saying, bugger this, and started to teach my daughter how to sound out the letters. But I had to tell not to do it out laud in the classroom. Her reading started to pick up. In fact I had learnt a wonderful method of actually get her to read a whole book and enjoy it without a struggle. Yes it did mean me as a parent sitting down every night.
    Regarding the behavier of students in class: maybe everyone should read the book Lord of the Flies and see what happens when you take way adult supervision . . . children turn feral. And that is very much what is happening in sociaety today. And please don't everybody jump up and down telling not all kids are like that. I know not all kids are like that, because they have parents who have managed to keep control. But the goverment is making in every increasinly difficult when it is slowly erroding adults aunthorily on ever leval.
    Actual Cat
    17th Dec 2012
    8:55pm
    Phonics IS the teaching of individual sounds and letter combinations - it was 'whole reading' which taught a child to LOOK at a word and supposedly learn it. That scheme was a failure Nan.
    Children are 'feral' because they aren't taught (or shown) manners by their parents, pop stars, politicians and TV idiotic shows.
    Wader
    13th Dec 2012
    3:14pm
    The good old days..ah yes. When student teachers were selected by suitability and aptitude, not just by academic standard, and when, as teachers, they were backed by their education departments and suported by their Principals. When children were expected to learn and were expected to behave in class.When children with severe learning difficulties were taught by specialist teachers in environments suited to their needs (sometimes). When post-war immigrant children with sketchy English language skills were immersed in school populations where english speakers were in the the majority and Aussie culture was dominent.
    It wasn't perfect. We could address some of these issues better today. However the load put on many teachers today is ridiculous. It would be satisfying to take the "education" pollies and beaurocrats, lock them down for approximately 6 hours every day with 25 or more "clients" ( some with severe learning difficultes,with emotional problems,or inadequate language) and expect them not only to manage, but also to teach a full and varied curriculum. We may get some realistic discussion after that and hopefully a saner view of what to expect from teachers, students,parents schools and planning authorities.

    Teachers these days who last more than five minutes are heroes. The "Excellent" teacher awards are a joke and an insult to every teacher who turns up for work day after day.

    Sorry to rant. The state of education is truly dreadful but it won't be fixed by bashing teachers and rewarding show ponies.
    FrankC
    13th Dec 2012
    3:39pm
    Myself and my children started primary school at the age of 4 and 1/2. There was not any "kindy" after the war for me. And only one of my children went to a preschool at 3 and 1/2., the other was already in primary as she was 2 years older. When he went to school in NZ, we were told he had a "blase attitude". When we asked him why, the answer was that he had already done 'all that stuff' in Guernsey a year ago. NZ was on par with Oz back in 1976 , since that was the year we moved to Tassie. When I went to a boys grammar school in London, I one day answered the teacher back. for which I received 6 strokes of the cane on my bottom. I never answered back again. When I mentioned this to my parents , I was told that I should not have answered back, that's the punishment you get, after all , he is your teacher and you should show respect. Any child showing disrespect for a teacher would have a backing from a parent that also showed disrespect from any form of authority if this 'punishment' was handed out here. My sister in law teaches in the UK, and she says that since corporal punishment went out the window, (yes there as well ) It is becoming increasingly difficult to control the class sometimes, and the language some of the kids use. Reminds me of the phrase, " If you lie down with dogs, you will get fleas", if you follow my drift. Kids copy what they hear.
    Actual Cat
    17th Dec 2012
    9:00pm
    My sixth class half-yearly report said "She's lazy". My mother coached me for the next six months and I went from near the bottom to 5th in the A class.
    It didn't damage my 'self-esteem', my mother believed the teacher (who was right) and I learnt something about myself - work hard and you can achieve.
    Sylvia
    13th Dec 2012
    3:59pm
    I feel so sorry for teachers today, they are expected to teach everything, I think going back to basics is the only way to go, parents should be responsible and do their part, and not keep making excuses why their offspring are not learning and blaming schools, it is no wonder that those children grow up blaming everyone else but themselves for their failures, it is never their fault, so many parents expect some one else to bring up their children, the children have no respect for their teachers , parents or older relatives.....the police , no wonder society is degenerating, when we were young if we whinged about something, my parents usually agreed with the teacher, and would point out why they did so, and if we had been in the wrong we were told and expected to lift our game. I think if my children were young now, I would be in big trouble because mine got a smack when they deserved it, (never beaten though) they were punished if they were rude or misbehaved, I guess i was a bad parent?? but my kids say different, and Thank me. I can remember when my son said "Hi Jim" to a man at a bus stop, I asked who it was, it was his maths teacher, I thought then, if things go on like this it is the beginning of the end, that was about 40 years ago. Bring back discipline and respect, and maybe some teachers will be able to get on with what they want to do, , teach the fundamentals. They are indeed heroes.We are all being socially engineered, and society is degenerating.
    Innes is right.
    Actual Cat
    17th Dec 2012
    9:03pm
    I'm saddened and concerned that out society is degenerating into a mass of ill-educated, ill-mannered, coarse and ignorant dolts.
    aquatrek
    13th Dec 2012
    4:44pm
    Soon we will have the dumbest kids on the planet - politicians wouldnt know their arse from their elbow and the rot set in with the ALP Wynham scheme in NSW in 1962. In addition:

    quote 'Three-quarters of Australian children in their final year of primary school believe cotton socks come from animals and 27 per cent are convinced yoghurt grows on trees'.

    source - http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/cultural-cringe-schoolchildren-cant-see-the-yoghurt-for-the-trees-20120304-1ub55.html
    SheilaFrances
    13th Dec 2012
    6:36pm
    I am a primary teacher and have been teaching for well over 30 years. You are correct when you say that teachers' authority is undermined, that there are few consequences for inattention and disrupting others' learning. It is also correct that many Australian parents do not support their children's school learning, and that children are not taught that sometimes you have to keep quiet, concentrate and listen. Today's children have many distractions that prevent them from concentrating and thinking for themselves. I try very hard to keep up with modern trends and technology, but the bottom line is this: if there are constant interruptions, a crowded curriculum, no consequences for inattention and poor behaviour, then nobody learns anything.
    Nan Norma
    13th Dec 2012
    6:44pm
    I agree with you 100%. So what will these children be like as parents themselves.
    lasaboy
    13th Dec 2012
    6:54pm
    As a child I was encouraged to read by my parents, then by my teachers, reading was a passion (still is), I encouraged my son and then my daughter to read, my son is 35 and still an avid reader, my daughter is 16 and I have trouble getting her head out of a book she is interested in, a lot of this goes back to the 70's when the Government changed the way education worked, but most of the responsibility rests on the parents for not reading to the kids and then encouraging them to read for themselves, basic reading levels are just not good enough, as to the teachers I know many and most are dedicated to teaching our kids, but most parents do not even listen to these people when they say something about our kids, let alone help them, this in itself is very disappointing from my point of view.
    jaywalker
    15th Dec 2012
    5:14pm
    I was a high school teacher of English, History and of Special Needs students for 35 years before becoming full-time president of the teachers union (AEU) for seven years. I have taught overseas in England, France and Sweden and done a great deal of reading and research on this this issue.

    I'm so pleased to see so many people understanding that it is not the teachers who are to blame. Most teachers want to do their best for students (may be a few exceptions but not many) BUT they are controlled by their employers, public or private, and they must teach what they are told to teach and in the way they are told. This usually comes down from on high often from those who have never taught.

    Rod is right but has probably expressed it poorly - the curriculum is hugely overcrowded with the many things that parents used to take responsibility for but now don't - behaviour management, sex education, health education, road safety, driver education, gun education, drug/alcohol education, social skills etc etc - it is not possible to invent time. When teachers' time is taken up with all this there is less time for the basics - that's not rocket science.

    We have experimented with education far too much in the last 30 years and very little of it has been worthwhile. I could elaborate but it would take too long but comprehensive high schools and outcome based education spring to mind. Constant change is a mantra and education has become politicised to a ridiculous degree to make people's careers.

    Children are MUCH worse behaved, generally speaking, than they used to be and it's true that teachers have no effective ways left of punishing bad behaviour. New society attitudes to punishment and new attitudes of parents to bringing up children have changed dramatically and not for the better. Children know and demand their "rights". Behaviour is probably the biggest problem teachers face today. While you're dealing with even one seriously badly behaved student, the rest are being neglected.

    Society decided 30 years ago that disabled students shouldn't be institutionalised and should be included in mainstream schools. While this is laudable it has NEVER been properly resourced and teachers now have to deal with severely disabled children, both intellectual and physical, among a class of 25-30, with little or no help. It is a task beyond most humans' ability. This is probably the second biggest problem in public schools.

    Teacher training is poor compared with the past in terms of content. Trainee teachers get a lot about theory and classroom practice but their own standards of literacy, numeracy and general knowledge is becoming worse and worse but Unis must keep bums on seats and so lower the entry standard. Our children are being taught by young teachers who know very little.

    Technology has had a huge and not always good impact on schools. Children know they don't absolutely need to be able to read as they can watch TV and play video games and with PCs. They know how to use a spell checker and calculator so why know how to do these in your head? Answer - because it is teaching concepts and how to learn! But many object to being taught that way.

    We have increasing poverty and a growing underclass who have never been employed for several generations and see no use in education. There are very few jobs for unskilled pople (and unfortunately a significant proportion of humans are less than highly intelligent) so they see no other future. We once provided jobs for these people in factories, shops, offices, but those jobs no longer exist.

    We do not spend enough on education compared with many other countries. We do not respect teachers, learning and education as much as some other countries. Teachers are not paid as well as in many other countries. And in this societal climate teachers need every day of their holidays to recover, rejuvenate and stay sane.

    Is there an answer? Well, not a quick one. Perhaps we have to just accept that civilisations come and go, societies change and some periods of history are better or worse than others.
    Nan Norma
    15th Dec 2012
    6:52pm
    Thank you for that. It was most informative. Wish more people could read it.
    aquatrek
    17th Dec 2012
    2:27pm
    Jaywalker: so well analysed and simply summarised - thanks. The spiraling dumbing down of western style societies as more and more is provided by technology is a worrying trend. Even to the extent that fears of homo sapiens not even mentally evolving further have been put forth. Change is ubiquitous and where societies are heading is anybodies guess - especially where teaching youth is concerned.
    Nan Norma
    17th Dec 2012
    4:13pm
    Jaywalker, is it possible that parents have been lead to believe they are not capable of teaching these things as so many things are referred to the 'experts' these days, and also because society has sent mothers out to work leaving very little time to spend with their children. I don't know. I'm asking your opinion.
    Actual Cat
    17th Dec 2012
    9:18pm
    You've explained it well in a nutshell, Jaywalker.

    And Nan, yes, parents have lost confidence. I am reading questions on the net from expectant mothers like "Is it safe to have a pedicure/drink milk/breathe while pregnant?" Totally ridiculous fears!
    Truly,
    motaleon
    17th Dec 2012
    6:41pm
    Yes, Boof, The absence of corporal punishment is at the heart of poor teaching/learning. The magistrate in his court could not dispense justice if the defendants were able to behave towards him as modern kids do to their teachers.There has to be an ultimate penalty. Broadly speaking, there are no or paltry penalties applied at home,the school, and the children's courts.
    There are 3 educational agencies; the school, the home, and the community.
    1. Community. The peer group that sprays 4 letter words ad infinitum is "educating" the child. The reticence of the general public to upbrade when it observes outrageous child behaviour means that an educational opportunity is lost.The attendance at church is so minimal that educational opportunity doesn't even arise.
    2. The Home. So seldom does one see a child do as it's told immediately - if at all! In how many households is TV rationed and supervised at that? How much time is spent on playing computer games? - the most disgusting device for mental masturbation the world has ever seen. How much of the home responsibilities does the home try to shift onto the schools?
    3. The School. The catalogue of what is expected of the schools beyond academic subjects grows wear by year. There are calls for drug ed., sex ed., alcohol ed., driver ed., religion ed.,.....
    Why do the Chinese perform so well? Their parents see to it that their homework is done, that their kids are respectful of authority and courteous; in fact, they probably err too much on the work ethic and deny opportunity for chilhood pleasures - but the educational runs are on the board!
    Don't know what I'm talking about? I am a retired secondary teacher and very glad to be out of it. It was very different in the early 60s.
    aquatrek
    17th Dec 2012
    7:48pm
    Given that these blogs are mere 'snapshots IMHO your stratification is correct but misordered in relevance. Home 1, School 2 and Community 3. That is if we talk only about minors. Basic lifestyle values from our era seem to be 'missing'. So generational change is the underlying causation factor and 'somewhere' along the way 'someone' has not acted quickly enough to acknowledge and incorporate the changes. Lets take the analogy of sport: some team games have straightforward rules and they are universally accepted and enforced - therefore the game continues to be successfully played out no matter where it is played. Education used to have similar basic game 'rules': Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Yet in Oz other 'rules' have seemingly superceded these. So IMHO the big question ? is how to reinstate those previously successfull rules into the education game.
    Nan Norma
    17th Dec 2012
    7:33pm
    There is a book out now called ME & HER a memoir of madness by Karen Tyrrell, a primary school teacher. Karen loved her job until a child was moved into her class. It didn't take long before her parents started complaining that she wasn't treating their daughter right and started to accuse Karen of causing the bruises on the child's legs etc. They talked of suing Karen.They bullied relentlessly to the point the Karen broke down and landed in hospital. The worst part was nobody seemed to have the power to stop these people. The education dept just expected Karen to cope. later Karen found out she was not the only teacher bullied by these people. These people had done the same thing at other schools.
    Actual Cat
    17th Dec 2012
    9:25pm
    A parent complained to the principal that I'd hit her daughter and caused bruises. My classroom was open plan with two others and we all worked with an assistant, so there was plenty adults to witness any physical assault!
    Fortunately, the principal knew that bashing was not my style!
    It turned out that the mother had beaten the little girl. Many children have crazy parents.
    Actual Cat
    17th Dec 2012
    9:26pm
    'there were' - pity we cannot edit out our errors ;)
    jaywalker
    18th Dec 2012
    12:37pm
    You can if you do it quickly enough. It says "edit" where it says reply straight after you've posted but it disappears after a certain time. I noticed typos in my post below but too late to correct them. I was in a rush this morning.
    jaywalker
    18th Dec 2012
    10:44am
    nNan Norma - it's probably a mixture of things. I don't think you can generalise about working mothers. I and many of my age group (born in the 40,s and 50s) worked while we had children. I taught part-time and full-time before, between and after having my three sons. But somehow we all had time to still sit at the table, do things as a family and teach manners and respect. I suspect that my generation brought up children who have never known hard times, plenty of labour saving devices, it all seemed pretty easy to them, and they have become somewhat lazy at bringing up their own children. I don't see why working automatically means you are neglecting your children - IF you are putting plenty of your own time and energy into it.

    Do they believe they can't teach their children things like we did? Maybe the family structure has broken down somewhat and parents aren't consulted or offering the advice like my mother did for me. Maybe there is just so much more "stuff" to do and so much time just goes sitting in front of TV, computers, video games etc both by parents and children. I guess parents are bombarded with media, advertising, confusing messages, Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms etc and seem to have somewhere along the road lost a lot of their own basic commonsense. Life is much more complex than when we were parents.

    You are all quite right about the bullying by parents who don't even realise they are doing and passing it on to their kids as a way to operate. And you are right about lack of punishment or restraints or even useful sanctions. Rules and their consequences sem to have gone into the ether.
    aquatrek
    18th Dec 2012
    11:11am
    Societies, like the climate and languages, change constantly over time. Since the 1900's;
    Transport: mules and horses along dirt tracks > cars on bitumen highways and aeroplanes > ?
    Employment: large local industries [steel factories] > fragmented small service industries [fast food] > ?
    Arithmetic: written > sliderule > calculator > ?
    Personal communication: written > telegram > telephone > SMS > Skype > Facebook > ?

    My point is that what was essential for success in the past is no longer the case for the 'now'. To measure everything against past values is a false premise for success e.g. the impact that the 142 characters limit for SMS texting is radically changing the way that written messages are compiled. Many simple acronyms like 'lol' are used. Therefore the 'written' language is rapidly changing. The electronic age has arrived so quickly with so many gadgets that affect virtually all aspects of life it is almost impossible to 'measure' what is actually relevant.

    That Oz kids cannot read or write like kids from 30/50 years ago might have no relevance to the 'now. Just a personal thought.
    jaywalker
    18th Dec 2012
    3:23pm
    You are right to some extent and certainly about things like transport and employment but personally I think it is still important that our more able students have the ability to read and write to the highest level they are capable of because despite modern technology, the past is still recorded in standard language or has to be decoded and if people don't retain these skills they will not be able to fully access the cultural legacy of past times. That eventually makes for narrow thinking people who have nothing to hang their new knowledge on and nothing to compare it with. That makes them egotistical and ignorant.

    Also, the best of our world literature is in standard language (complex standard language)and if kids stop reading good literature and stop studying history and politics etc because they don't have the ability to read and/or write at that level, society will be the worse for it.

    Much the same thing applies to mathematics and science. If you don't continue to turn out highly skilled mathematicians and scientists, there will not be the thinkers and innovators of the past because they must be able to understand what has gone before to move into the future. If you work in high level IT such as data programming you need to have extremely high literacy levels.

    It probably will be fine for many average or below average kids not to be able to read/write at that level as it always has been, but it will eventually have a negative impact on civilisation if all our kids become less literate. Illiterate people are less able to express fine nuances of thought or emotions or be precise and accurate. Meaning become less clear and information less precise, all of which can be used to keep the illiterate masses under control. Which reminds me of all the science fiction writers who have said much the same thing - Orwell's 1984 for example.
    aquatrek
    18th Dec 2012
    4:07pm
    I fully agree with your descriptive comments - the projections that we both make are that there will be more markedly those who intellectually naturally [more able to] maintain and aspire to that credence of science; ' we stand on the shoulders of giants', yet all of that 'success' is riding on the proviso that the basic RRR skill subsets are adequately delivered and tested from an early age to that elitist cohort - meanwhile the educated knowledge divide will widen as the masses succumb to not being taught adequate amounts of 'quality' education. Selective elitism versus commonality - well entrenched and extensively highlighted existential human traits that pervade all societies. Yet it is these country/national measurements that are upsetting those who think that Oz should rank always near the top. A truer measure would be the number of elitist/common bands per capita.
    Pommy
    19th Dec 2012
    10:53am
    Our education system will not be fixed in a hurry. Our teachers are coming through the same system that we are complaining about. There are less and less of the older teachers who were educated in the days before children had calculators, laptops etc. and they are considered "out of touch" by the younger teachers. I remember my grandson saying to me last year (he was then 18) that education is about teaching people how to find the information they need, NOT to learn it. Seems to me that is where the problem starts.
    aquatrek
    19th Dec 2012
    11:40am
    That is the crux - uni students dont go to lectures as rigorously as in the past - they Google and search for the information that will enable them to address the assignment at hand. They do this will high skill levels and get the passes. We all know that academia does not prepare one precisely for the real world. It is the real world that shapes and teaches the younger generations therefore the education methods of the past have less and less meaning when applied to the 'now'. The debate conundrum is how does a systemadequately educate the elementary levels prior to the secondary and higher academic phases.
    Nan Norma
    19th Dec 2012
    12:38pm
    Putting it simple, it sounds to me like students (Who later become teachers) are just copying what others have done but if that's all they do its a bit like learing to play others music without ever writing anything yourself. There is no progress in doing that.
    Abby
    19th Dec 2012
    8:48pm
    If they do not return to testing through examinations - it is unlikely people will learn through copying assignments and given a pass.
    aquatrek
    19th Dec 2012
    9:09pm
    with due respect @Nan Norma and @Abby - plagiarism [purposely copying] is a criminal sin in the uni level of academia [and elsewhere in the scientific real world] and uni and professional expulsions do take place if direct copying is discovered and has not been properly acknowledged. Anyone responding to a particular question can freely acknowledge anothers idea if properly done. That test is constantly applied at the higher strata of academia and the real world.

    The big Q is how to structure teaching education at the elementary/primary level ? What are the skills to be taught / what criteria need to be set / how does one measure a young brains development rate ? All very seemingly difficult big Q even though humans have been teaching humans for hundreds of thousands of years !!
    Nan Norma
    19th Dec 2012
    10:24pm
    aquatrek, I'm sure Abby, like me was not talking about plagiarism but learning rather like a parrot, repeating the words without any understanding what they mean. We need to have be able to read well and have a good understanding of what we are reading. I think digital watches disappeared partly because although they displayed numbers but they gave no concept of acually time. Each generation must learn a little more than the generation before.
    aquatrek
    20th Dec 2012
    9:27am
    @Nan Norma - they will have to remove my digital 24 hr watch from my 'dead cold hand' haha
    Abby
    20th Dec 2012
    10:57pm
    With the use of a computer it is quite easy to plagirise - they do not have to even learn like a parrot after all there is no exam to sit for.
    jaywalker
    20th Dec 2012
    9:21am
    The National Curriculum, which will be in full implementation next year, will go somewhere towards some of the points above which I completely agree with. One of the major problems is exactly that younger teachers have come through an inferior education system themselves. As an older English teacher I was constantly having to explain grammar and help with spelling of younger teachers. Many had no knowledge of parts of speech, or analysing sentences or the correct use of punctuation because they had not been taught it in school.

    The National curriculum now sets out exactly what must be taught in each grade in each subject and teachers will have to follow that because the SATS testing will be based on it. While I do not support testing for the purpose of league tables and comparing schools, I do support it for measuring individual learning and teacher assessment. Prior to this what each school chose to teach was fairly flexible and whole areas could be missed out or neglected.
    aquatrek
    20th Dec 2012
    9:28am
    then there is hope that the train will get back on track ?
    Abby
    21st Dec 2012
    10:43am
    Yes the train will get back on the track
    Gillard's new innitiative planned to commence 2020 should do great things
    aquatrek
    21st Dec 2012
    1:11pm
    @Abby - wishful thinking as 1st the states have to agree as they have educational jurisdiction and then there is the Gonsky 6 billion that the government doesnt have.
    jaywalker
    23rd Dec 2012
    6:49pm
    Exactly, aquatrek. Teacher unions are lobbying the govt for the money for the Gonski report but unlikely to get it because, as you say, the states have to come to the party too.
    It will take a while but I think young teachers will eventually have to become better educated in order to deliver the national curriculum. Previously each state had its own curriculum and some had gone down the track of child-centred, outcomes based curriculum which, in a nutshell, sets only the outcomes you want and not the content, so in Tasmania for instance, it was possible for kids not to study chronological history or formal science as long as they could be assessed on things such as : can understand that ancient civilisations have contributed to our knowledge. Or not ever read any classic literature as long as they can "understand an author's purpose". I think an awful lot of parents have had no idea that this was going on for several decades.


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