Rather than being straightforward, modern education has become a kaleidoscope of confusion. Many graduate teachers are quickly disappointed by the realities of a teaching profession that fails to meet their preconceptions.
Rather than finding that teaching is about “teaching”, they discover there is a huge emphasis placed on testing, measurement, assessment and evaluation, often in areas outside their teaching fields. It seems the children are forever being monitored and confronted by batteries of tests.
It quickly becomes obvious to teachers that education is being driven by data. Teaching and teaching methods are dictated by data requirements.
Academic competence is important. However holistic education (the social, emotional and moral/spiritual elements) seem to be given scant attention. Graduate teachers have a strong desire to work as developers of children. Many are quickly disillusioned because education seems to be about a fairly narrow band of academic outcomes.
For many graduate teachers, the gloss of teaching soon wears off. They find themselves unable to cope with the ‘teaching for test’ emphasis that now underpins education. The brief years many spend in classrooms before resigning, are disillusioning. In turn, they may share their perceptions of the teaching profession with others, negatively influencing their thoughts and opinions.
The discounting of their observations is a hard reality for classroom practitioners to accept. Unless verified by formal testing, teacher evaluations are considered to be invalid.
Preoccupation with the formalities of testing and examination are not always priorities generated by schools. Rather, requirements are set by departmental administrators and schools have to comply. In turn, these priorities are not necessarily what administrators want, but are compelled by the demands of politicans.
Sadly, Australian education is deeply rooted in the art of comparing results at primary, secondary and tertiary level with those achieved by students in overseas systems. Often those students are from countries totally unlike Australia, but that is not taken into account. The fact that educational objectives are dictated by comparison to overseas systems is a weakness of Australian education.
Education should be about the needs of children. It should not be influenced by the desire of political leaders and key administrators to brag about how good Australian education is, compared to other systems.
Many graduate teachers find themselves caught up as players in this approach. They quickly wise up, and quit the profession. Our students are the losers and perceptions of education in schools become sadly discoloured.