forcing history on schools

Some News Limited papers have reported that “the Federal Government’s hand-picked panel of history experts” will recommend a new three-year, 200-hour course in history which would be compulsory in all schools for students in years 8 to 10.
The article states that “the Federal Government has signalled it could withdraw $13 billion in education funding unless the states agree to its demands”. I’d be utterly astonished if a major funding withdrawal happened, but there is certainly real potential for the federal government to make life quite difficult for state governments on this issue in a variety of ways if they wished to.
I’m actually a bit torn on this matter. I’m quite keen on giving a greater emphasis to history, but I think it’s very dangerous in principle for any federal government to be dictating to all state and territory governments what should be taught in schools. The Coalition really needs to remember that the continuing centralization of power they’re engaging in might seem like a great idea at the moment while they’re the ones with the power, but one day someone else will have it and are likely to use this precedent to try to impose their own, potentially quite different, views on the whole nation as whole.

In my view, there’s been some extraordinary tosh written by hidebound Conservatives in recent years about how Australia’s history is or isn’t being portrayed in schools and in books, with all sorts of nonsensical boogie men being contrived so they can then be attacked. This appears to be little more than a deliberate attempt by Conservative ideologues to manufacture their preferred mythology about Australia and see if they can impose it – Big Brother style – on our society.

It’s screamingly obvious that the Coalition and some of their supporters in the media have been pushing this notion of the compulsory teaching of history as part of their efforts to win the so-called ‘culture wars’ (in which the ‘history wars’ is a significant battle). See this post on Larvatus Prodeo from last July for a bit of the background.

Given this, it may surprise some people that I’m a keen supporter of putting a greater emphasis on teaching history in our schools – and anywhere that it’s appropriate for that matter. I broadly agree with this statement by Fred Halliday that “In recent decades, large areas of intellectual and academic life – political thought and analysis, economics, philosophy – have jettisoned a concern with history.

The ability of some political commentators and some federal politcians to ignore or dismiss – or get away with inventing – even quite recent history is quite disconcerting at times. I feel that the more history is taught, the more difficult it will be for ideologues of any variety to manufacture a false mythology about the past, and the harder it will be political and other leaders to get away with just making stuff up.I also do not think it will be possible for a small, narrow group of ideologues to make up the sort of ‘white blindfold’, shallow, nationalistic, flag waving cartoonish version of history that they clearly dream about injecting into every child’s head. Any efforts at narrow myth-making would quickly wilt beneath the broad array of genuine facts and inconvenient truths that would inevitably emerge in any history course.Having said all of the above, I do not accept the premise of the federal government that history is not already being taught in many schools in many states. There is a political agenda, not an educational one, being followed here, which is an extra reason why – however keen I am on putting more educational emphasis on history – the precedent being established by the federal government is one we should all be concerned about.

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45 Comments

  1. I don’t necessarily see a problem with this, so long as students are taught the necessary skills to evaluate the media that is presented to them, and actually critique and question the values that are reflected in historical accounts, and encouraged to seek out further alternative accounts, and form a balanced view of history that way.

    Of course, that depends on the quality of education – personally, I never studied history past Year 10, but we were still taught to analyse and question our sources at that level.

  2. All the people going on about the lack of history being taught in our schools either don’t know any history teachers or haven’t asked anyone in high school.

    All the aspects which people like to go on about like Federation, the Anzacs etc etc are all covered. Just have a look at the NSW history syllabus

    In fact, there’s been more of an emphasis on Australian history since about 2001 in NSW.

    A more important issue is why aren’t people interested in Australian history. Sure you can force them to endure 200 hours. Doesn’t mean they’ll remember it or will care.

    In fact, the way that Australian history was taught actually turned alot of people off doing senior Modern History at my school.

    High school Australian history focuses on the boring bits and doesn’t talk about more interesting aspects of Australian social history. I thought Australian history was pretty boring until I read Leviathan by John Birmingham and did a course about the history of Sydney .

    Trying to narrow the focus of Australian history to Federation, the Anzacs and WW2 is just going to be detrimental in the long run. Yes people should know about it but maybe we should look at the way it is being taught and actually make it seem more interesting and relevant instead of just making it some chore we must do.

  3. When I was at high school (over twenty years ago) history was not compulsory, but like the other “electives” (drama, visual art, economics, biology and music) it was a popular choice of subject. I reckon this was mostly due to the teacher’s (Mr Brian Hoepper) enthusiasm. In fact, he was one of the most inspiring teachers at Craigslea State High!

  4. Today’s children aren’t learning enough about the history of their own country in the primary schools in Queensland. That’s where it should start.

    Study of Society and Environment is a compulsory subject covering History and Geography in Years 8 to 10. Quite a bit of Australian history is taught, according to the household teenager.

    I’d like this to become an elective subject after Year 8, so students can study subjects that interest them and are more likely to get them a job.

    I think the education system needs to be completely streamlined across all states, so that children of people in the armed services don’t have their education disrupted in addition to their home lives.

    We now have in excess of 100,000 people moving to Queensland every year – even more reason for the education system to flow smoothly from state to state.

  5. I also tend to be torn on this issue. Fortunately, it is difficult to learn history without also learning about the historical method itself. This makes ideological frame-forming difficult from either side of the fence.

    That said, in various places now there is a definite effort to distort historical teaching now. A classic example is Imperial history (I’m a definite member of the Donald Mackenzie Shurman school myself): an example of this is that my kids have challenged several teachers concerning their nonsensical view that ‘British Imperialism was all bad’.

    And yes, it is also common for the Indian kids in the class to chime in at this point to bluntly state that the point being taught is rubbish.

    I oppose any efforts to win ideological points over history, it is far too important. I also think that such efforts will fail, if attempted.

    MarkL
    Canberra

  6. School!Attention!Stand easy.Salute by numbers 1 2 3 Cannot even get the sequence right at flag time Mondays.I will say this Senator we havent had any series of comedies based on Australian schools and the teaching of the Howard selected myths,so far.Like for example the endless little soldiers fainting in the sun whilst the Headmaster full of patriotic and Christian fervour,went on about the need to punish people about their wrongly coloured socks,as if 12 and 13 yr. olds would turn out to cut Old soldiers heads off,if they werent that disciplined.Or fainting on the asphalt in summer as of similar age was a masculinity never to be.Look they the bloody conservatives,turned anyone that wasnt an immediate medal winner to be the parents of enemies.The level of authentic Australian values federally should be enough to dismiss it,not have any say over history,and,how it is taught.

  7. ” any narrow attempts at mythmaking would quickly vanish…”
    I don’t think so. Hitler got a sort of “volkisch” history up and running that reinforced his rule in emotional times, by sentimentalising the master race at the expense of “others” like Jews and intellectuals. I beleive Howard is onto the same sort of things.
    The “Cultural Wars” onslaught on education is only one front in a greater war.
    Conside the “dumbing down” of SBS and the ABC, or use of stereotypes, of migrants, aborigines,workers, unmarried mothers etc, where the “heartland” is reinforced at the expense alien “others”. The nasty tendency of an Australian “volkisch” history asserted itelf at Tamworth most recently, but fortunately the people there woke up to it and ran the rednecks out. But the sheer onslaught of ideology from the think tanks and Murdoch/Alan Jones type media means that the reversion to an earlier era typified by prejudice, fear and illiteracy is up and running.
    Howard’s ‘fifties dreamtime, typified by Mulrunji and Cronulla, may become the norm.
    The death of history and the death of memory come together, as the historian Eric Hobsbawm said in his intro to 20th century history; “Age of Anxiety” and the “sleep of reason brings forth monsters”, as Hitler realised.Whereas democracy thrives on openness, totalitarianism thrives best in a climate of ignorance and fear.
    In essence, the thought of the people who peddled AUSFTA and IR as “reform” and are (significantly and ominously) ruining public broadcasting getting hold of “history” is disturbing for this writer.
    People reduced to ignorance are people vulnearable to the sort of giant scam outlined by Dr.Susan Hawthorne in “Online Opinion”, 15/1, concerning water privatisation.
    That much easier for corrupt influences on all sides of politics, to steal wheat from a blind fowl.

  8. Correction: the “Eric Hobsbawm” citation I mentioned in an earlier post referring to a particular book of his as “Age of Anxiety” was a bungle.
    “I am thity-two times an idiot”, to quote Hercule Poirot.
    The book sitting in the bookshelf is of course “Age of Extremes”, his last big work; from the ‘nineties.
    He mentions how the past informs the present. He notes the importance of a historical date or name, eg 25/4 or Anzac Day, in terms of symbolism and the information about say, national identity, gender politics, wealth distribution in the context of social relations and so on, that can be borne in such a simple phrase.
    Perhaps an old sparring partner- Darlene- who is better acquainted with theories of linguistics and culture- may feel moved to explicate better where I fail, concerning personhood, symbolism and language, if she reads this thread?
    The symbolism (in this case dates), Hobsbawm discusses relates to whathe calls “historical memory”:
    “The destruction of the past, or rather the social mechanisms that link one’s contemporary experience to that of earlier generations is one of the most characteristic and eerie phenomena of the late twentieth century purposes. Most young men and women at the century’s end grow up in a sort of permanent present lacking any organic relation to the public past they live in”.
    Which he reckons is a good argument for retaining historians, “whose job it is to remember what others forget”.
    So, if you are only told that Australia’s history is of heroic sun-bronzed colonisation of abig land only inhabited by inferior pritives you will miss nuances you gain if you also read say, an Aboriginal history of Australia, or a womans history of Australia, a’la Prof Marilyn Lake.
    History courses surely should not recite a single unchallenged metanarrative that reinforces old sterotypes and prejudices and (thus, by way thereof) unquestioning acceptance of the social status quo, as I fear is John Howard’s aim

  9. i have a serious problem with ‘subject’ based education systems. the key issues for ALL education in oz is that courses are, for the most part, NOT useful e.g., economics does not apply to the real world.

    all people in any nation, state, family etc must have a common basis for the exchange of ideas, whatever their ‘status’. i have looked at the frame work of education systems from many english speaking states. i reviewed the senate report on education.

    the core ‘subject’ in any ‘family’ is literacy & numeracy in business ethics. thus, the idea of FAIR GO & “have a go” are the things central to oz & other states, at a global level.

    whose history should we ‘debate’? the history debates seem have a focus on VALUES – i listen to pollies who seem to no idea of HOW to define ANY value in a social or science sense of the word.

    do refugees CARE about the ‘anzac’ tradition?

    this is the usual sort of fluff from pollies & groupies who want to go back to the convict tradition. john coward is from a very narrowly defined social group & who seem to want to block the social evolution of people.

    the key idea to define is FAIR=just social trade. elites around the globe DEFINE the agenda for the masses – this means that a select few control the flow of ideas & resources at a global level.

    cheerS.

  10. Paul said

    “So, if you are only told that Australia’s history is of heroic sun-bronzed colonisation of abig land only inhabited by inferior pritives ”

    thats pretty much howe I remeber the teaching of Australian history was during the early 70’s wqhen I was at High Scvhool.

    Probably why i went on to Eurpoean and Russian histroy at Uni, Aust history was exceedingly dull. Roger Taylor was a far supwerior wtriter and historian than Hobsbaum – who would be better classed as a political historian cum Op-ed writer at best.

  11. Hercule abounds – Roger Taylor is wrong and should be of course AJP Taylor, a fellow traveller of Hobsbawm, but with a significanlty greaetr critical analytical bent

  12. Do we honestly believe that the Hilltop Hoods generation is going to be ideologically swayed by a history course?

    IMHO this is more about scoring symbolic points against the perceived left than about the nation or its history.

    The really scary part is, as Andrew pointed out, the precedents this government is setting for some future possibly total nutter who decides to use this kind of power in a more sinister way.

  13. Ken, I was not so much talking of the quality of teaching or quality of texts quality and interpretation; something might be written lousily but be an original interpretation and vice versa)within a subject. I meant the need for as many readings of, say, a given event in history, as are or should be available for a balanced, complete understanding. Hence I welcomed Dr. Kakala’s summary.
    But you’re right in saying that unless teachers are reasonable and texts accessible, it will be difficult to pass on skills that students need, to think round the ideas latent in a given topic both at school and later out in the real world.
    I suppose ultimately it depends on whether students want to learn, anyway. I did Aussie history in the seventies and found it interesting.
    As with Lynette, this blogger also must be one of these curmudgeons who automatically respond mistrustfully at the mention of the word “politician”. Is it experience that teaches these things?
    I think of what politicians did to CSIRO, Unis and AQIS, for example. These were neutered on the basis of being components of a wicked thing called “big government” and a hindrance to “market forces”, “individual rights” (to do what?) and “trade” as unquestionable and unquestioned priorities.
    Why? Because vested interests saw quarantine and enviro impact as inimicable to the quick buck.
    If students are only taught social studies of the Ricardian sort, they are not going to be exposed to arguments that foreground enviro sustainability, for example, as impacted in the situation presented involving the importing into the country of costly things like cane toads or fruit contaminated with mould. Things that demonstrate the positive side of government mediation are seen as irritating irrelevent intrusions into the “freedom of the individual”.
    I just find the tendency of ALL politicians and most corporations to ignore or suppress inconvenient facts a bad reference for their intrusion into education

  14. i like the idea of history being compulsary.

    i also think that students of today are more intelegent than those of my school days in the 50s and 60s .

    if howard thinks that he can feed them history and not be challanged like my school day then i think he will get a suprise

    mabe they could start with political history

  15. I think that the cultural warriors of the Right are storing up big trouble for themselves, if we grab the opportunity they are giving us.

    School children studying history need to write essays and assignments, and where are they going to find the resource material they use? I reckon they’ll be turning to the interweb, where people can write all sorts of different interpretations.

    We should agree – in fact, insist – that more history is taught in schools, and then take it far beyond where the Right feels comfortable.

    Strikes of the early 1890s?

    The Great Depression?

    “Pig-Iron Bob”?

    Aboriginal disposession and slaughter?

    Just 4 reasons I would love to have school students being forced to look around for info about our history.

  16. Well we already get taught so many lies, a few more won’t hurt I suppose. F’rinstance you’d never find out in a school history course that the Anzacs mutinied on a large scale in 1918 on the Western Front and in 1919 in Russia (how many people even know that we intervened in the Russian civil war?), that the heavily outnumbered and outgunned Japanese threw them most of the way back along the Kokoda trail, that they tortured people in the Vietnam war, etc. Not that the diggers in general don’t deserve our gratitude – my point is that Howard et al seek to perpetuate a particular view of history that serves a political agenda.

    And the actual syllabus aside, what are we going to teach 200 hours less of? Reading and writing? Maths? Science? The concept of opportunity cost seems to be lost here.

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  18. derrida derider:

    Yes, you’re right. Today’s students are doing relatively poorly in English, Maths and Science. A television interviewee commented that even medical students are in need of Grammar lessons.

    Instead of concerning himself about what’s being taught, John Howard would do well to re-evaluate just who we have teaching these subjects in our high schools.

    He needs to push for increases in wages for all high school teachers, so the job will attract a higher echelon of INTELLIGENT people, who are also willing to put up with the increasingly ill-behaved students produced by our laissez faire society.

  19. Coral

    Those comments are extremely insulting and ignorant. I can see his diversionary tactics are working a treat on the likes of you.

  20. Donna:

    These comments reflect the reality of what is going on in our high schools.

    When the federal Minister for Education gave the National Press Club address not long ago, her comments reflected my own very recent experiences.

    She discussed ways of making improvements in Maths and Science throughout Australia.

    It is a well known fact that Queensland is producing Science students whose knowledge and achievement are well below what they used to be.

    The primary reasons for this are the relatively low rates of pay for this important work, and very poor behaviour management policies.

    There are some excellent teachers, but there are also an increasing number of incredible dumbclucks who don’t understand the subject material themselves.

    In addition, a lot of teachers are using MP3 players as a behaviour management strategy – breaking the school rules themselves – in this and other ways.

    This is the reality of it, and has nothing to do with “diversionary tactics”.

    No, we don’t live in a lower socioeconomic area. My son attends what is arguably one of the best public sector high schools in the state.

    I have previously had two children go through the same school between 1987 and 1992.

    I feel sorry for modern High School Principals. The “softly, softly” approach used in homes and primary schools doesn’t help them at all.

  21. Coral

    Although you speak with much authority on the ‘reality’ of issues in education, the reality of your comments is that it reflects nothing more than over the school fence gossip.

    Julie Bishop is merely repeating the simplistic perceptions of less than astute commentators. She is doing this to win your vote. Don’t be so gullible.

    This is the very government that has hung you out to dry as a single mother. The ones that said you were a lazy, ‘self-entitled’, parasite on society, that raises lazy, dole-bludging, dysfunctional children.

    Because they said that’s true, and because the ignorant red necks of the world want to believe it’s true, does it make it true?

    Further, when you hear gossip on what goes on in a classroom, accept it for what it is … gossip. Because that’s what Australians like to do … they like to gossip about teachers. And they teach it to their children,who pick up on the disrespect of their parents towards teachers, and follow their example. They come home and lie to their parents about what happened at school because it’s a sport in many Australian households to teacher bash.

    Your perception of a ‘great’ teacher may merely be someone with a Julie Bishop personality … a charmer that says what you want to hear.

    And by the way, Australia ranks high amongst The OECD countries in educational outcomes. The Liberals are, once again, lying.

  22. donna:

    There is a significant difference between gossip and what has transpired or been discussed between a school principal, teachers and myself.

    When most of the students are scoring a “D” in Maths at the Year 9 level, someone(s) have to take responsibility.

    Julie Bishop knows exactly what she is talking about. I don’t need to share her politics to agree with her on this.

    BTW, I am not a “single mother”. I am a divorced parent who has done a lot of work in the Scouting Movement and in primary schools over a significant number of years.

    I have a great deal of respect for most of the teachers I have worked with.

    Instead of treating an intelligent, well informed woman as if she is stupid, I suggest you get your facts straight and stop belittling other people.

    I shudder to think what can be going on in other countries, if what you are saying is accurate.

    In Australia, we have lowered our standards to make learning outcomes appear better.

  23. Coral,

    I’m divorced too. I am a Mother. That makes me a single mother. According to the Fed Gov you are one too.

    Julie Bishop is not a teacher. She’s a lawyer. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about… most important of all, she is using the blame game to divert attention away from education issues neglected by the Liberal Gov i.e. Federal funding.

    Below is the ‘reality’ written up for you. The source of the information is: “Education at a Glance – OECD Indicators 2006” (OECD), AFR, PISA (OECD)

    Among 15-year-old students in 23 largely OECD countries, Australia ranks 4 in reading literacy, 5 in science literacy and 9 in mathematical literacy.

    Australian teachers ranked second highest in OECD countries in relation to the number of weeks each year teaching, and was ranked 8 on the pay scale in comparison to teachers from other OECD countries.

    Australia is ranked 20 in the OECD for education expenditure, with only 7 other OECD member countries ranking below Australia in education expenditure.

  24. … I forgot something…

    Australian classroom sizes are larger than most other OECD country classroom sizes.

  25. Coral.
    Can I ask you a question?
    If Bishop reckons training is the solution to modern education, as you claim, why is the federal government, keeper of the purse for tertiary education and ultimate source of most funds, not ADEQUATELY funding training?
    The more so since history- a “new” arts/humanities subject, requires both general knowledge and skill in the transfer of both ideas and thinking (eg, objectivity), to prepare those being educated to operate as to values and meaning in an often-superficial world.
    I for one, after doing uni as a mature aged student, wonder why history of ideas has never been presented as a basic for younger people. One could start, as to course matter, with a brief take on anthropology, then the Pre Socratic philosophers, then the contrasting Socratics. Foundational ideas involving origins, nature, substance and ultimate matter of being; value, meaning and purpose (if any) and the meaning and context of free will v determinism etc were established here and inform all that has followed.
    Dr. Victor Kakala’s comment ran true as to a establishing the idea of education as training rather than mere inscribing “tabula rasa” or clean slate minds and thus the problem of training technologically adequate people who can’t relate to the themselves or others, or understand the wider world.
    Don’t you see, Coral?
    If politicians genuinely cared, the money for education would be available. If they had a different mentality and set of priorities education would get money not the rubbish bought with our money on instead; both federally and at state level.
    As Dr.Kakala said, it’s not the teachers so much as the deranged idiots who run things, including but not least individuals like Bishop, who are only trying to explain away real-world comparative funding cuts and lack of action, for often shabby motives.

  26. Most of the anti-Iraq war supporters were the ones who had no idea of history… Which was what made it frustrating. I had many conversations with people along the lines of ‘what? You didn’t KNOW that Saddam Hussein has engaged in chemical and biological attacks on his enemies and even own citizens?’

    We can’t let dictators sit up in their ivory towers slaughtering civilians. For me, Iraq was our attempt to right the wrongs of Rwanda, rather than sit back and watch another country die.

    It’s a shame the issue became torn down left-right politics. Also a shame that GWB was running the campaign.

    Because of the feral opposition to Iraq (now history), the USA’s hands are tied over Darfur now.

    History, history, history..

  27. I am basing what I have said on real experiences in a real high school.

    When I saw Julie Bishop doing the National Press Club address, she reiterated what I had experienced myself.

    Part of her plan was to reward excellence in teaching by giving pay rises to deserving teachers.

    I felt she needed to go one step further and suggest increasing the starting pay to encourage more intelligent people into Maths and Science.

    She spoke of bringing outside specialists from various scientific fields into the schools to teach.

    A young friend of ours was interested in studying Medicine. Teaching Maths and Science in high schools was his second choice, probably due to the comparatively low rate of pay. There are no prizes for guessing where he is now.

    I wasn’t discussing funding – but now that Paul mentions it – a hell of a lot of money is being pumped into the private sector.

    Private schools are snapping up a lot of the best teachers of Maths and Science – now that they have the money to buy them.

    I agree that the Howardship is primarily interested in education for the rich.

  28. Coral, until you’ve worked as a teacher in a school, your ‘real’ experiences are limited, and Julie Bishop is parroting regurgitated rhetoric.

    ‘She spoke of bringing outside specialists from various scientific fields into the schools to teach.’

    Many teachers in high schools were once accountants, engineers etc… ‘Specialists’ are teaching in schools already (state and private) and doing a dam good job. What these teachers will tell you, including myself, is that it takes many years to become a competent teacher. You don’t just walk into a job and know how to teach because you were once a professional in another field. That’s just ignorant thinking.

    Just as your friend chose medicine over teaching, many, many teachers chose teaching over a number of different choices. I chose teaching over economics … if you’ve got a couple of degrees, as teachers frequently do, you can and do move from one occupation to another.

    ‘I wasn’t discussing funding – but now that Paul mentions it – a hell of a lot of money is being pumped into the private sector.’

    Actually, it was me that first mentioned funding Coral. Australia, as a prosperous OECD country, only invest approximately 30% of our GDP. Of that 30%, approximately 65% is funding the private sector. A bit of an imabalance there. And that is where the disparity in educational achievement is occuring in Australian schools. There’s nothing a teacher can do about that.

    ‘Private schools are snapping up a lot of the best teachers of Maths and Science – now that they have the money to buy them.’

    That’s actually not true. Except for Anglican schools, state schools pay higher salaries to their teachers. The independent schools pay the lowest salaries. It is much, much harder to get permanency in a state school than it is to get permanency in a private school. State school teachers are quite sort after in private schools because they have highly-developed behavioural management skills.

  29. Australia is a non entity to some who would criticise those who would,for thinking they own the entity.So a little point about Coral and the Bishops,I have this phonetics colouring book about human physiology and anatomy ,which goes into a lot of detail on body matters only.This approach can be expanded ..it likely processes of mathematics and Science generally are already attempting this but not in a pupil to student developmental process that just adds deeper sets of predetermined exposure to subject requirement.There are other ways,including pulling cars apart have all parts and products labelled and the various manufacturing and science behind every functional and potential process.That is, what are the manufacturing and science derived matters..going even back to mining..history.An aboriginal in hard hat to bring some relevance to circumstances today..Phonetics to computer use is aleady well established,yet,regretably,even my English, to me, appears a second language.I think however that excellent teachers are talked up to sell a education brand and not neo-Montessoris..so the old question remains,I believe,is it the presentation of the subject matter requirements,or the teacher!And science which essentially is dominated by mathematics,is hard work,and the Bishops not as yet,made much contribution there,at least as public knowledge.

  30. donna:

    To say that state school teachers have highly developed behaviour management skills is ridiculous.

    By the age of 10, most students ignore adults and start talking about suing them.

    By the age of 12, they are almost completely unmanageable, even by the “toughest” teachers.

    Due to the ineffectiveness of behaviour management policies, students are failing to learn because they don’t obey their teachers.

    I once accompanied a Year 7 class to the Magistrates’ Court at Petrie. They wouldn’t even behave themselves in a courtroom.

    By Year 7, the majority of students still can’t spell or construct a decent sentence. Their skills across the board are fairly low.

    I know this from working in classrooms alongside teachers.

    I feel you have a vested interest in discrediting Julie Bishop. I can only infer that you must be one of the people who would NOT receive a pay rise for excellence in teaching.

  31. I notice the censor has removed two of my postings,one that said Jonk wasnt talking much sense,wondering what Feral opposition to Iraq meant and the twins Bob and John when it comes to the Peaceful atom.. I added some colour like them running through Lucas Heights together and working there nude. I guess there was an undercurrent that got too joggly. So would a left wing or Right wing teacher point out this similarity about their feral sameness? I thought Jonks opinion should be given the treatment…apparently the censor likes him…lucky devil…and I guess I must of thought he was a Koala.And teaching about Darfur would seem Darfur history,rather than our own.

  32. Coral

    Have you ever considered you may have behavioural problems? Do you always get so personal when your ‘knowledge’ is questioned and resort to making rediculous accusations?

    The kids in the outlying northern suburbs can be hard work, but they’re normally not nasty. Why not attempt to develop good relationships with them Coral rather than treat them as the enemy.

    Goodness only knows what you’re doing in the classroom if you don’t like kids and you haven’t much respect for teachers.

    The kids can be exceptionally hard work, but your contempt for them is concerning.

  33. Donna:

    Facts are not contempt.

    I have a long track record of getting excellent results from children – even the worst behaviour management cases.

    As a Cub Scout leader, I was referred children from Child Guidance. Before long, I was receiving “thank you” letters from teachers stating that the boys were finally learning to read.

    I don’t live in an outlying northern suburb.

    You need to re-read your own posts to see how offensive they are – including the latest.

    Nearly all students have behavioural problems these days, due to inadequate discipline. These problems interfere with their ability to learn.

    I agree with Steve Biddulph that children need to know:

    Who is in charge.
    What the rules are.
    That the rules will be fairly enforced.

    This is what makes children feel secure, but it isn’t happening in our primary schools any more.

    Now the rules are being “marketed” to little children as suggestions.

  34. Coral,

    ‘Who is in charge…What the rules are…That the rules will be fairly enforced’

    That’s pretty basic knowledge Coral. The way you’re talking you’d think school administrators are clueless.

    I didn’t say you lived in the outer Northern suburbs either Coral. But if you took kids to Petrie Magistrates Court, then the kids most likely are.

    I will disagree with your ‘facts’ that ‘nearly all kids have behavioural problems these days’; that ‘rules … [aren’t] happening in our primary schools anymore’; and the positioning of yourself as the ‘expert’ with the ‘facts’.

    I think you’ve got a few behavioural problems of your own that need addressing.

  35. donna:

    We took two trains to get to the Magistrate’s Court. The children we took there were being educated in an above average school in a working/middle class area.

    School administrators and teachers have their hands tied by ineffective policies.

    At no time have I claimed to be an expert. I have government policy documents which back up what I say.

    I have written to policymakers about problems affecting a high school which is arguably one of the best in Queensland. For this, the Principal thanked me.

    I have become quite tired of your “parent bashing” and putting words into my mouth.

    I think most Principals are doing their best, using behaviour management policies that are ineffective.

  36. Philip Travers,
    “…teaching about darfur history would seem to be darfur history rather than our own”.
    Brilliany irony!
    Philip has expressed in very subtle terms why we need history, as a catalogue of passing human events. If such an entity as darfur history was extant, we should discover a possible fate in store for ourselves, in the events that led up to the downfall of the darfuri people. Like wise, for comparison, we could follow the downfall of European Jewry and ponder at the factors at work behind the phenomena of “anti semitism”.
    We would consider the effect of say, industrialisation, in creating new social (im)balances within a society and a new balance between nations as some get weaker, some stronger ( even the concept of “nation”, itself! )
    We would wonder why some nations had taken up on science and others not?
    Why, if a society is changing, do people become confused and politicians respond by exploiting the situation by creating power for themselves through fear of subversive “others” like negroes, lebanese, jews, aborigines, or even women, and so forth.
    Yes. Darfur history is part of the fabric of human history; the writing on the wall that can tell us how we are travelling and help us detect our fate ( rather than just a collection of stories we tell ourselves to ease our fears and hide from reality ) ; whether things like apathy and censorship of the truth are factors in a people’s downfall, or what grounds then exist for “salvation”.
    BTW Coral, why would those here suspicious of Bishop express our reservations concerning her sincerity and ability, if we were at all confident that she was part of an education solution. She has to convince us; not the other way round…

  37. Coral

    Now that is quite a sensible post, except for accusing me of ‘parent bashing’, which puzzles me.

  38. paul:

    The answer to your question about societal change is fairly simple. People fear change, and some fears are well founded.

    When I listened to Julie Bishop, a lot of what she said reiterated what I had already found out for myself in relation to achievement in Maths and Science.

    The OECD figures provided by Donna bear out more problems with Maths than with English or Science.

    Another issue I have is with the people who write the Maths textbooks. They seem to do their level best to make simple concepts as complex as possible.

    In some instances, there is so much process work involved, it completely muddies the waters.

    When my son was moved away from the “D” grade teacher, his results came up to a “B” within a matter of weeks.

    Then he achieved a Distinction in the Financial Literacy Test – with the highest score in his class.

    I have asked the Principal to stream the Maths students straight out of the primary schools, just as she does with English.

    She has done her best to stop the use of MP3 players in the classrooms, but there are still teachers who don’t co-operate.

  39. Yes Coral

    Thank goodness you’re there to advise the principal to stream the classes. I wonder why it’s not already happening across Qld? Thank God you’ve come to our rescue, saving us from our ‘D’ grade professionalism.

    Now if schools were to stream all students, this will mean smaller classes, and extra teachers. It might mean extra classrooms, and therefore; extra buildings. A bit of an extra expense do you think? Has the Fed Gov been willing to fund schools thus far to implement these practices?

    Then you have the problem of successful achievements in streaming students. Sounds great for the A grade students, but what about all the D grade students being banded together in the one classroom?

    If the students end up with a D on their report card for Maths, does that make the teacher a ‘D Grade teacher’? What if that same teacher is also teaching the A grade class? With an A grade class and a D grade class, what grade does that make the teacher?

    What about a D grade student, who exhibits a lot of D grade behaviour (prevelant in a D grade streamed classroom) being removed from the D grade environment and placed in a higher streaming, where students are cooperative and engaged?

    The D grade student suddenly demonstrates engagement and cooperation within the new classroom, without need for teacher intervention, because the other students would rip shreds off any student that dared disrupt their learning.

    This student ends up achieving a result of C, maybe even B, in this new classroom where teacher behavioural intervention requirement is minimal. Does the teacher get the credit for the student’s sudden engagement and achievement?

  40. donna:

    My son has an IQ in the top 2% of the population. He could tell the time when he was 2 and read a thick novel at 5. No one taught him to read.

    He represented his primary school in Maths competitions and was the open winner of the speaking competition in Year 5.

    The teacher was not with a “D” grade class. The students were unstreamed.

    In the previous year, he got an older teacher with some kind of psychiatric condition for both Maths and Science.

    You don’t need extra teachers or classrooms to stream students.

    Whether you like it or not, there are “D” grade people teaching Maths and Science in our high schools – a few teaching other subjects as well.

    I took the time to take part in the Triennial School Review. That has been my main communication with the Principal – in answering her questions by email.

    As much as I would like to rescue both students and teachers from “D” grade professionalism – only improvements in salaries and behaviour management strategies can do that.

  41. ‘You don’t need extra teachers or classrooms to stream students.’

    Why do you say that? Because there’s 6 hours in a school day. Take two lunch breaks from that. There’s only so many teachers designated to a school of certain student populations. If you’re going to stream a population, of say 100 year 10s, that may have once neatly fitted into three classes, then you will need one extra class at least for each subject streamed.

    Teachers have a maximum teaching load. They are entitled to three spares a week. Who will teach those extra streamed classes in a school where teachers are already teaching on a full load? You don’t normally see teachers walking around with extra spares. Most schools are scrambling for relief and contract teachers once the school semester begins.

    And with only four lines a day, where will these newly developed classes take place, given a school comes with only so many classrooms.

    ‘I took the time to take part in the Triennial School Review. That has been my main communication with the Principal – in answering her questions by email.’

    This is what I mean when I say you position yourself as the ‘expert’. When you’ve had a number of years teaching experience, then get back to me. For now you’re just a know-it-all with minimal education and too much to say on a range of red neck hot topics you’ve little knowledge on.

    As much as you consider your ignorant suggestion of increasing salaries for teachers will ‘rescue’ students from D Grade teachers, you will get the chosen A grade teachers that will tell you, ‘I teach a streamed year 8 class that are all high achievers, and I also teach a senior vocational class where the kids are disengaged’.

    And given I don’t know your son, and I’m sure he’s a smart boy, he also appears to have a Mother that ‘talks up’ (as my students would say).

  42. donna:

    I find your comments extremely insulting. When the Principal asks for input, it is up to the parents to reply. At least she respects parents and their opinions when she asks them to participate.

    In this high school, students were streamed in English at the beginning of Year 8. There were no extra teaching hours or classrooms required.

    It seems to me that you’re just one of a number of people who aren’t happy unless they are engaging in personal attacks on others.

    You haven’t the faintest idea how much education I’ve had in any subject area, which may be more than yours.

    I’m glad most teachers don’t have your disgusting attitudes.

  43. This reads to me like there’s been personal attacks flowing backwards and forwards in both directions, which is not what this blog is for. I’m interested in reading peoples’ views, seeing different perspectives and ideas, and sometimes responding to questions on the topic at hand. I’m not really keen on having this blog so it can just be a vehicle for people to conduct arguments with each other.

    In addition, the comments on this thread have been mostly off-topic for quite some time, so I think I’ll close comments on it now.

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