once were schoolies

I really didn’t like my last three or four years of high school, so much so that I literally counted down the days throughout the whole of my final year at school. For that reason, the date of 20th November has been burned into my brain ever since, as the date I was freed from school back in 1981. That year seemed to take forever to finish, and it’s a bit disconcerting to think that 25 more years have passed since then – probably put on that many kilos since then too. Yesterday I got together with a few other people from that period in a local park some of us used to hang out in back then. Interesting how divergent people’s lives can be.

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  1. This makes me feel old. Twenty years ago I was allowed to go to schoolies for two days (mid-week) and stayed in a room at The Pink Poodle with about 20 other kids. We drank Island Cooler from a cask and fretted about our TE scores.

    One thing that stands out is that after the valedictory speech and presentations at the school hall, Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s chauffeur drove all the cool kids to our school formal at the Sheraton in a limo. If my memory serves me correctly my friends and I went in my Dad’s Falcon.

  2. Andrew Bartlett:

    I really didn’t like my last three or four years of high school, so much so that I literally counted down the days throughout the whole of my final year ….

    What is it about the school system that crushes enthusiasm, curiosity and fun?

    Surprised you kept a short-timer’s calendar; thought it was only prisoners and US military personnel who did that …. :-)

  3. Graham Bell:

    Schools are mainly into gamma cloning these days (used to be beta).

    It’s the best they can do – with the lack of discipline, kids taking on too much part-time work, and a shortage of intelligent teachers.

  4. CORAL:
    Mine was a genuine question, not a rhetorical one.

    But yes …. and you can add to that sorry list – university gate-keepers who ensure that only clones become teachers; dumbing-down and the extermination of real challenges in learning; perverted expectations pumped out of TV; overworked and overwhelmed teachers; intolerance of difference; etc., etc.

  5. Graham:

    I didn’t think your question was rhetorical.

    I have found the worst problem is not educating children at the level they are at. Even an excellent Year 1 teacher starts the year with children with intellectual abilities ranging from 3 to 10 years.

    When your child is a mental 10-year-old, being in a Year 1 classroom is akin to a prison sentence. The government should test all children from the age of 3 to find out what they are capable of.

    I find that schools don’t even know what a gifted child is. They think it is someone who can regurgitate everything they’ve been taught.

    Yes, there are plenty of overworked and overwhelmed teachers. There are also lazy teachers who don’t obey the school rules themselves – mostly among the younger people.

    Since there has been plenty of empowerment of children in the primary schools in recent years, without an equivalent degree of discipline, high school teachers are sometimes resorting to using MP3 players to keep the students quiet.

    In my son’s school, the use of MP3 players is banned in the classrooms, but plenty of teachers still allow it.

    There is a shortage of intelligent people available to teach Maths and Science in high schools throughout Australia.

    The Federal Minister for Education said she was looking at ways of correcting this. More money for those who excel in teaching was one of the proposed (and intelligent) solutions.

    The intelligent people go for the highly paid jobs in Medicine, Engineering, Information Technology etc. That’s what my older sons did as well.

    Teaching students in today’s society is fraught with frustrations caused primarily by lack of societal discipline and the various problems which radiate out from it.

  6. CORAL:
    You are absolutely right about not having a clue about what is a gifted child – gifted in which of seven or more ways?

    We have had two decades of “money buys any dimwit a degree” so your chances of getting honest, reliable and consistent testing of all three-year-olds is three-eighths of zilch. Excellent idea though.

    Sadly, the problems you mentioned are not confined to Maths and Science: the learning of foreign languages has been well and truly dumbed-down since that cane-toad of education, L.O.T.E., hit Australia …. and anyone who criticized it was vilified as hankering for a return to the bad old days of grammar-translation and of School Latin. The natural talent so many students have for acquiring and learning another lamguage is crushed out of them …. it’s sad.

  7. Yes, Graham, I think LOTE is a cane toad in our primary schools, except when applied to the top 20% of students who need something extra to learn.

    Kids need to be proficient in their own language first. By the end of Year 7, most kids still can’t spell or use grammar correctly. Their standard of numeracy is also poor.

    In my son’s high school, people put their kids in the German Immersion Program for the wrong reasons. When I asked one dad why his daughter was in it, he said: “It keeps the riffraff out of her class.”

    It definitely does. The students also have access to the best teachers in all subject areas.

    The government would not need to test all 3, 4 and 5-year-olds – only those who were brought forward by their parents. Unfortunately, the testers probably wouldn’t understand the answers a gifted child might give.

    My youngest son could tell the time when he was 2. He learned Maths by watching “Sale of the Century” and could read a thick novel at 5. I’m not sure how he learned to read.

    By the time he got to school, he wanted to know what was the very last number and where the universe ended (trying to understand the nature of infinity).

    The Year 1 teacher said he had a better vocabulary than most adults, but the Principal refused to accelerate his learning by even one year level.

    This caused significant headaches for my son, his teachers and his poor Mum!

    My advice to other parents is this. If you have children like this boy, don’t ever send them to school.

    It will shut their innovative thinking skills down and they will be ostracised by other children until they dumb down to fit in.

  8. CORAL:
    The downside of home schooling and correspondence schooling is the lack of learning about social interaction – though in some circumstances that might be a very good thing.

    Most kids have natural curiosity and imagination; love experimenting and trying something new or different; can turn anything into fun and play – and learn from all of this. It is a real shame that in the Clever Country all of this is crushed and cramped by the lousy school system here. Teachers alone are not to blame …. more often than not, they are victims of the same stultifying system.

    We should start looking around the world for ideas on how to make our school system work again. How do Hungarians educate disabled students? What can we learn from Japan and Korea? How do the Danes, Dutch and Singaporeans encourage multilingualism? How do the Russians and Ukrainians teach maths and science? Maybe we can learn a lot from South Africa and Cuba? Who knows …. but let’s start looking.

    The time has come to put the cleaners right through the whole education system …. what we have to put up with right now is far too ineffective, destructive and horribly expensive.

  9. These days, lots of people home school their children. They get together with other home schoolers for interaction. A lot have private music lessons and plenty of sporting and cultural opportunities.

    Most people home school because their kids don’t fit the education system (gifted students) or because the parents can’t stand the bad attitudes and behaviour that is learned from other kids.

    Both of these are excellent reasons.

    There is a woman trying to force the government to pay for her daughter’s private school education, since the public system would not educate her at an appropriate level. More power to her. I hope she succeeds.

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