TEACHER SCARCITY A REAL DANGER

The question of teacher supply is a problem looming on the education horizon.

Professor Barry Harper, Dean of Education at the University of Wollongong, recently raised the need for the Australian community to prepare for a looming teacher shortage. If educational systems ignore his advice, this may well result in schools without teachers.

Harper, in his paper ‘Factors fuelling the looming teacher shortage’ (Media @ University of Woollongong) advises that a significant percentage of teachers will be retiring within the next five to ten years. Educational authorities understand that a vacuum in teacher supply will create problems. He states that “ … efforts to plug the gaps left by retirees are being thwarted by two factors. … One is the attraction of teaching overseas … the other is a desire by a significant number of teaching graduates to only teach for a short period of time before moving on to other careers.”

The number of teaching graduates attracted to overseas teaching destinations runs into the thousands. As far back as 2003, British school principals had headhunted 3,000 Australian teachers. “There are also hundreds of Australian teachers working in New York schools with many more scattered throughout North America … and Canada.” (Harper)

Harper suggests that Australian teacher graduates are classroom ready because their training includes first hand practical teaching experience. They are attracted overseas by salary and the experience of living abroad. An upside for Australia is that they don’t want to stay away forever. They come back with a world view of education ready to commit to teaching in our classrooms.

“Unfortunately Australian public school systems do not recognise (their qualities). Rather, teachers returning from overseas find themselves behind their colleagues who stayed at home, both in pay and promotional opportunities.” (Harper)

Adjusting the profession to accord equity to both returning from overseas and stay-at-home educators, may help to boost overall teacher numbers.

The more significant issue is that of graduating teachers opting for short term rather than long term careers. Various studies referred to by Harper confirm that fewer graduating secondary students are opting to train as teachers, with 25% of graduating teachers opting out within five years of starting their careers. “Around 32% of qualified teachers (are) working outside the profession.” (Harper).

This issue is one that must be addressed before chronic teacher shortages become a school and classroom reality. The jury is out on whether education ministers and their departments “ … can make our schools attractive for a long term (teacher) commitment rather than as staging posts for other careers.”

TEACHING IS A REAL CHALLENGE the profession increasingly unattractive

CURRICULUM CHANGE AND TEACHING EXPERTISE

I say to those with a desire to have ‘the best’ becoming teachers of specialist subjects, “good luck in finding the teaching candidates you want.”

There is a lot that causes disaffection about the profession. Pay rates are unappealing, men are discouraged from teaching because of the threat of being accused of socially inappropriate conduct, while parents and students no longer have the level of respect for teachers that once existed.

Teacher accountabilities and responsibilities have become unwieldy while changes in curriculum and teaching focus are unappealing to older, more conservative teachers.

And remember that it is NOT teachers in classrooms who are responsible for stupid and irresponsible curriculum changes and the watering down of teaching expectations while upping data, monitoring and recording requirements Teachers and schools are the victims of nonsensical changes – along with students. Change comes from about, from the AITSL, ‘experts’ government and others. These are people who want student accomplishment statistics to look good. They are also the people who are all about political correctness and educational fashion.

Teaching is in a watershed position.

Educational Remembrances

Educational Remembrances

Good leaders and teachers learn a lot about what to do, by learning a lot about what not to do. Bad teachers and challenging leaders teach observers a great deal about how they need to go forward in teaching and leadership.

Personal and professional separation are necessary, particularly if you are a school leader. It is very hard to be a boss to one’s mates.

Remember to be on appreciator of things that people with whom you associate too well. In education we are quick to criticise but often slow to commend.

If you pick up a good idea on process from somebody else, be quick to thank them and to recognise them for their development of you in your role.

Make sure the expectations of others are practices your own personal and professional life.

EDUCATIONAL CHANGE AND SCHOOL IMPACTS

Educational Change

Content on understanding key learning rudiments in maths and language has been downgraded.

Impressionistic and interpretive learning has come to the fore.

European history and literature is being moved to the backburner.

Everything indigenous is increasingly front and centre of learning.

It seems that less and less is being taught at schools because teachers are increasingly occupied with accountability and recording requirements. More and more key learning requirements are being pushed into students as homework requirements.

Blurred learning is justified by not failing students; competition between students is discouraged, and reports are long on words and short on meaning.

Data compilation including recording, drives teaching and learning strategies. Data is the king of the educational castle.

Schools and staff seem to have less and less influence in driving educational contexts. Educational direction and priorities are set from on high. Education at school level is reactive rather than proactive.

Educational Points to Ponder

A consultation opportunity is being offered parents and community by the Education Department, to share their thinking about educational priorities. I hope this does not include loading more loco parentis requirements onto teachers and schools. The system already does a huge amount in the upbringing of children; parents have already hand-balled far too much of what should be their parental responsibilities onto staff in schools.

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Why would the CDU commission a new $1.7 million building for aged care training at the Casuarina campus (NT News 8/6)? There are SO MANY empty and unused buildings on the campus now, that a far cheaper option would have been to house the program in an facility. The new building is a waste of supposedly scarce university resources.

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There’s nothing more important than the tone, quality harmony and atmosphere which generate within schools. Atmosphere is an intangible which cannot be bought. It comes from the way in which people work together. Quality atmosphere is precious and can be so easily lost if it is not appreciated, nurtured and grown through the way in which people work together within our schools.

ALCOHOL DESTROYS PEOPLE. Northern Territory’s Sad Saga

Paige Taylor’s story (‘Woolworths sorry for Dan Murphy’s site near dry Indigenous communities’, The Australian, 10/6/2021) confirms that sense and sensibility about the establishment of liquor outlets can win out. The Dan Murphy liquor store would have been built within easy walking distances from nearby Indigenous housing establishments.

The decision not to proceed with this project is a small win within the context of a significant problem. Many Indigenous communities are dry (do not allow alcohol), so those wanting to drink, come to Darwin in pursuance of their desire to imbibe. This gives rise to literally hundreds of people relocating to Darwin in order to drink. They are supported by charities providing food and accomodation so these are not costs they have to manage. That leaves more money to spend on alcohol. Darwin and the NT have more liquor outlets per capita than any other state or territory, so alcohol is not hard to find.

I worked with Indigenous Australians from 1970 until retirement and retain a deep interest in the development of our First Australians. There are many wonderful and upstanding Indigenous people including many, especially in the NT, in leadership positions. Sadly, the drunken, alcohol impacted behaviour offered by so many, so often in highly visible public places, detracts from the perceptions held for our country’s first citizens.

BREACHERS BOIL MY BLOOD

My blood boils and I cannot utter the words reflecting the thoughts I feel for people who deliberately violate border closures when there are lockdowns and limitations placed on people because of the inroads of Coverd 19.

The most recent case of breach illustrates my point. A man and his wife, who both subsequently tested positive to COVID-19 when they arrived, apparently left Melbourne travelled through Victoria, through New South Wales and on into Queensland. They kept on travelling until reaching Caloundra and were believed to be on the road for something like five days.

During the whole of this time they were COVID-19 positive, and the woman became reasonably unwell two or three days before the end of the journey. Both were highly infectious.

Their violation has created emergency situations for testing in New South Wales towns through which they passed, especially for people who were in premises they visited in and around the times of their visitation.

The same applies in Queensland!

Because of arrant selfishness a situation that will cost authorities in both states substantial money – it could run to the millions – has been created.

Just one example! But you also have people trying to get to W.A. from Victoria by skating up through South Australia and into The Northern Territory before crossing over to W.A.

These people are not ignorant of the restrictions under which they should be operating in the living. They are deliberately violating the the securities put into place by their governments. It is not enough for them to be given some sort of small punishment by way of a fine.

These people should be named, photographed and shamed they do not deserve anonymity for what they’ve been up to; they need to be revealed for what they are; selfish , uncaring, wilful individuals!

COVID EDUCATION WILL BE A ‘FOREVER’ NEED

THE DIMENSIONS OF COVID

Covid 19 and its variants have taken the world over like no disease that has gone before.

There have been other diseases which have had great impact on large areas of the world. Possibly the Black Death takes the cake when it comes to impact.

That was until up to now. While SARS, Ebola , and other various bird and animal flus have had disastrous impact, their regional and geographical spread has been limited.

COVID-19 is the exception. Together with its variants, this is disease is ravaging the whole world. Some countries are dealing with Covid better than others but all have been impacted. That impact has been social, economic, cultural, and has and is tearing at the heart and the fabric of the world as we know it.

While control through vaccination is happening to a greater or lesser extent, the ability of the disease to sidestep immunisation impact through variant development is playing a large part in causing this disease to be well and truly into its second year of world domination. And vaccine optionality is a major part of prolonging the problem.

In terms of cost on everything from research and development of immunisation through to economic loss, Covid 19 has without doubt being the most expensive disease to raid the world. No one knows when that will end. Covid 19 continues to dominate and that domination is set to continue into the foreseeable future.

This disease above everything else is the number one occupant of world thinking: The command of this insidious disease does not look like ending any time soon!

MY WISH FOR WADEYE

MY WISH FOR WADEYE

I am disappointed by what is happening yet again at Wadeye. My wish and hope for the community is shared below.

May Wadeye get good.

May peace and harmony be restored.

May children go to school (each child every day).

May substances abuse cease to be an issue.

May all weapons including knives be handed in during an amnesty period on surrender of these objects.

May alcohol in all its forms be forever dismissed from the community and may there be a resolve that people will become teetotallers.

May the community become a jewel in the crown of community management and good will.

May rancorous conduct be no more and may thoughtfulness of all residents toward each other prevail.

May the community become a model of everything that is good, decent, harmonious and upright.

May children come to respect parents and elders.

May parents nurture their children and lead them in the way they should go through the example they set.

May elders imbue children and young people with heartfelt desire top forsake all that is wrong and to walk a better way.

May Wadeye become a transformed community and a desirable, attractive place.

ON EDUCATION

EDUCATIONAL POINTLETS TO PONDER

Darwin and Palmerston schools have been misinformed on the issue of returning school based constables. It’s temporary. SBC’s are to be replaced in urban schools by untrained police auxiliaries. Their annual cost of employment ($3 million total) is apparently being met from the Education Department budget. Some deal!!

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With NAPLAN over for another year, teachers and students can now get on with real teaching and learning. The tests are a distraction from what should be key focus issues for schools. The testing program is a distraction.

No wonder students’ results in key learning areas are unceasingly in the mediocre to catastrophic range (NT News 25/5). Hungry, tired and downright bored students (boredom often the outcome of sloppy teaching methods) can never excel in key subjects. This story should be a wake-up icall to parents about the importance of the eating and sleeping habits of their children.