Several years ago during my second last year of teaching In 2010, I went to a breakfast meeting of the Northern Territory Principals Association at Wagaman Primary School in Darwin’s northern suburbs.

NAPLAN had been in place for two years and we were about to go into this testing mode for the third time.

This was during a period when the Federal Minister of Education Julia Gillard and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd were concerned about failing standards in schools. (Failing standards are not new.)

Like many school leaders I was starting to feel pressured by the fact that all sorts of criticisms with being thrown at schools for the alleged failure.

Following the breakfast meeting I sort to have a conversation with the President of the Australian Primary Principals Association. She was our guest at this breakfast meeting.

I asked her whether or not our political leaders and others in high places of decision-making were aware of the fact that we were confronted by a most challenging circumstance.

We were having to deal with and motivate an apparently increasing number of deliberately disinclined and apathetic students and non-caring, disinterested parents. Where are those in high places aware of this major confronting challenge faced by schools and staff.

The president told me that indeed they were aware of this issue but didn’t want to know about it! To me, that meant that metaphorically they were like ostriches hiding their heads in the sand. They didn’t want to be aware of what was facing us in our schools – but they wanted us to fix the problem and with caustic in the remarks towards us because of the issues we confronted that weren’t being fixed on this attitudinal front.

It was at that point in time that I decided that the following year would be my last as a full-time educator and school principal.

That disinclination, apathy and accompanying passive or aggressive attitudes of non-compliance and non-support by students and parents exist to this day. If anything they are becoming more pronounced.

It is small wonder the Australian education is in the doldrums when confronted by this particular issue as a major this disincentivising plank.

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