The Guardian posted an opinion piece this week by George Monibot titled In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant. This article was first brought to my attention by my husband, who is not an educator, but has a keen interest in schools because of our son. I read the article but did not take too much notice until it popped up again, this time on my Twitter feed.
Teachers have been under attack in the media of late from articles that surmised about the transient workforce to articles co-authored by the Prime Minister, which pointed the finger squarely at educators when it comes to disengaged young people. Educators are well worn from these perversions about their work. The witch-hunt for the discipline-addicted, industrial-notion and power-hungry public and private servants prevails as society is swept along crying for all teachers to burnt for their professional actions.
In this week’s article, Monibot asserted that:
Children learn best when teaching aligns with their natural exuberance, energy and curiosity. So why are they dragooned into rows and made to sit still while they are stuffed with facts?
We succeed in adulthood through collaboration. So why is collaboration in tests and exams called cheating?
Governments claim to want to reduce the number of children being excluded from school. So why are their curriculums and tests so narrow that they alienate any child whose mind does not work in a particular way?
The best teachers use their character, creativity and inspiration to trigger children’s instinct to learn. So why are character, creativity and inspiration suppressed by a stifling regime of micromanagement?
Teachers are the villains in perpetuating the status-quo of poor performance among the swathe of recent media evidence, which was further truncated with the eloquent by-line, A regime of cramming and testing is crushing young people’s instinct to learn and destroying their future. The English teachers (and anyone who has had an academic career such as a university student) know that this type of language is deliberately persuasive and the choices of words lure the reader to emotionally connect with the premise that OUR KIDS’ FUTURE IS UNDER ATTACK AND TEACHERS DON’T CARE.
I appreciate Monibot’s attempt to calm the flare caused by the title and by-line by providing some alternatives to the current industrial-era style of education in Australia, however the summation to the Google researched plethora of options from states much different in social fabric to Australia’s education system concludes that
In countries such as Britain and the United States, such programmes succeed despite the system, not because of it.
Educators are not to blame for the failing system that is the cause of teachers leaving the profession. The system is to blame for the system.
I recall attempting to run a unit of work with a class that would take them outside for place-based learning. This class was made up of a particularly energetic group of young men, and previous experience had told me that hands-on meant brain-on. However the system was not able to cope with the needs of these students and the alterations to curriculum. I had thoroughly planned with both the (at the time) new Australian Curriculum as well as the state curriculum, however it was not enough to warrant weekly excursions. I was advised that the amount of paperwork involved as well as (what the educational leader thought) an unfounded approach to engaging energetic young men, was not worth the risk. I cannot blame my supervisor for this decision as they were merely acting within the system.
Deschooling is the approach Australia needs to take in order to redevelop, recreate and reinvigorate our listless system. Copying other states would merely perpetuate the issues we are experiencing such as burnt out teachers, disengaged young people and poor performance in benchmarking.
Teachers are not only doing the best they can within these confines but they are succeeding and excelling at growing young minds, however often at great personal cost.
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