Excerpt: Qld Education Minister, MP Kate Jones seems to have a good understanding of the over-crowding of the curriculum and genuine desire to help and teachers are very grateful for this. The review of the curriculum, however, does not address the developmentally inappropriate “benchmarks or standards” at all grade levels. These “expectations” place undue stress on children and teachers, to achieve a 1-2 year leap in expectations since as recently as 5 years ago.
“Children have not changed, only the demands placed on them. We are rushing children through harder and faster.”
Our understanding is that the amount of autonomy is often dependent on the leadership of the school and that some proactive principals do say “we’re throwing away the C2C” (Queensland’s prescriptive curriculum), though others insist on following the C2C meticulously. Kathy told of how she retired early, not because she doesn’t love teaching, but because what she had been required to do, did not sit well with her personal philosophy of education.
“We have hundreds of parents and teachers contacting us, that’s why I’ve continued. Many teachers have reached out saying ‘please don’t stop talking’ and parents are telling us their heartbreaking stories. In Prep in term 4, I’ve been told that in geography, 5 year-olds have to compare and contrast two holiday destinations and write four lines of rhyming prose. That’s unrealistic.”
Children of that age are deeply in the concrete stage of development. That means they are not yet ready to think abstractly. Children that age should not be expected to compare and contrast two places they have not experienced directly.
What if we trusted teachers and reconfigured their paper-based checklist-focused goal-setting accountability-driven jobs so they could focus on their students? What if we used new and different measures of achievement? What if we placed equal value on personal development? Social achievement? Effort? Resilience? Creativity?
What if we stopped testing the socio-economic gap NAPLAN constantly reflects and, instead, tried to build bridges of learning over that gap?
What if we focused on producing top-quality teaching graduates who understand primary teaching is all about positive relationships and bringing out the best in kids?
Listen to Gabbie discuss 'Teaching Australia' on ABC RN's Conversations with Richard Fidler. From Griffith Review Edition 51: Fixing the System © Copyright Griffith University & the author. GJStroud (Ross)
To all my teaching buddies and all my friends with school age kids, I've written a letter on your behalf to the editor of the Courier Mail: Education in Australian schools is in crisis and someone has to listen to those who are game enough to speak up. I have been a primary school teacher in Brisbane schools for over 30 years. This year, after much thought, I have decided to look for another job, not easy for a woman in her 50s. I cannot continue to do a job that requires me to do what is fundamentally against my philosophy of how it should be done. I love my students and they love me. I know how to engage children in learning and how to make it fun. It’s what I do best.
Teachers have very little professional autonomy anymore. We are told what to do, how to do it and when it has to be done by. Never have I experienced a time in my profession where teachers are this stressed and in real fear for the mental health of not only themselves, but the children that they teach. The pressures are enormous. And before we get the people who rabbit on about our 9 to 3 day and all the holidays we get, let’s get some things straight. No teacher works from 9 until 3. We are with the students during those hours. We go on camps, we man stalls at fetes, we conduct parents/teacher interviews, we coach sporting teams and we supervise discos. And of course there is the lesson preparation, the marking, the report cards. Full time teachers are paid 25 hours a week. Yes you read that correctly, 25 paid hours a week. In any other job that would be considered part time. So now that I have justified our holidays, many of which are spent doing the above, let’s talk about what is going on in classrooms across this great nation of ours.