Ready for Teaching beyond Training

READY FOR TEACHING BEYOND TRAINING?

Ready?

Ready for the classroom misbehaviour and the management of ill-disciplined children.

Ready?

Ready to teach children as young as five about the meaning of ‘consent’.

Ready?

Ready for the NAPLAN tests which for many are an annual educational abomination.

Ready?

Ready to deal with an increasing number of parents who have no respect for education and educators.

Ready?

Ready to be weighed down by a curriculum to which elements are added and added without anything ever being deleted.

Ready?

Ready for endless exercises in professional development, which often seem to be purposeless and trite – indeed after hours time filling exercises.

Ready?

Ready for hours and hours and hours of educational input where teaching is more about data collection for systemic justification than it is for children.

Ready?

Ready for a career that so many teachers find to be disappointing and fruitless and so disenchanting that up to 70% of those graduating from pre-service into our schools, leave within five years.

Ready?

Never ready for what education is becoming.

WAR IS COMING AT US

With each passing day, I feel more and more that war in our region is just over the horizon. Your editorial today points toward a catastrophic situation happening within the next 18 months. I can sense that within a very short period of time after the conflict starts between China and Taiwan, America will cut in on the side of Taiwan. Maybe just with weapons support, but more probably with air and sea engagement on behalf of Taiwan. Australia will dutifully come in on the side of America, and could well attract retaliation. First it will be by economic embargo and then physical response in the form of missile, rocket and drone retaliation. For Darwin and Cairns, it could be a cause of revisitation to the second world war takeout of these cities of the north, during those months by Japan.

I may be accused of pessimistic imagination, but I think not. It is not hard to imagine our northern cities and towns, thousands of kilometres closer to China than our southern counterparts, being decimated as China pressures the Australian government to demur from even more drastic action by the land of the Panda.

Regardless of pros and cons, there is a certain irony about what is likely to transpire in nearing future: Taiwan, under the ‘One China Policy’ is not recognised by either America or Australia, nor for that matter by very many countries and governments. In the broadest sense, if China takes physical action against Taiwan, under the terms of the policy of recognition, the action would be tantamount to civil war.

Those close to the heart of action within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) refer to Taiwan as the “Treasure Island of our Motherland”. It will not be long before they CCP goes all out for what’s they define as reunification through a process which, more and more likely, will engulf Australia.

We have every reason to be concerned about the unfolding months ahead. As Australians, we will certainly be involved.

UNIVERSITIES EMBRACE SLIPSHOD STANDARDS

I am gobsmacked that some of Australia’s universities, supposedly led by thoughtful intellectuals, would contemplate lowering entry requirements for admission to courses, so critically important in preparing future contributors to major industries. That tertiary institutions would set the bar low “… to take subpar students” (“Weekend Australian 6,7/8) is making a mockery of the standards that should be expected of higher education. Sacrificing quality (course calibre) for quantity (increasing numbers of students admitted to courses) can lead to only one conclusion; that universities are more interested in income from students and government funding, than they are to maintaining reputations based on course standards.

Many students who are admitted to degree study under these conditions, will be drafted into remedial and ‘catch up’ programs, saturating bridging courses. Student drop out rates will skyrocket – but not before exiting students have been responsible for generating dollars into university treasury coffers.

The motivation for attracting students to university courses at degree level must be based on a valid ATAR score. To water down standards flies in the face of common sense. If universities are determined to lower entry level requirements, the Federal Government should take responsibility for enrolment processes by prescribing entry level requirement that cannot be diluted.

Teacher Training is up the Creek

Natasha Bita’s story “Radical fix for teacher shortages” expressly and by inference, raises issues deserving earnest consideration. Most point toward issues that have challenged the profession for many years, indeed from the time prospective teachers commence training.

I worked as a part time lecturer, tutor and marker within the Education Faculty at Charles Darwin University from 2010 until 2016. Teachers in training during those years regularly gave me feedback on a number of concerns.

Many felt hampered because student behaviour (which they could not control) distracted them from teaching.

There was concern because subject teaching methods had not been taught during university lectures.

There was a belief that they were often ‘used’ by schools to babysit classes.

Visits by lecturers during practice teaching periods were increasingly infrequent as university staff used student time away from university for their own research and sturdy purposes.

A constant distraction was the need students had to work at jobs order to earn money for food, transport and accomodation.

The burden of accumulating HECS debt confronted many students.

If training is founded on a regime that causes teacher disaffection to grow right from the start of training, it is no wonder school education faces its 2022 quandary. I only hope that our new federal education minister Jason Clare can help right the wrongs that have been accumulating for far too long.

“LISTENING” IS A FORGOTTEN SKILL

I recently conducted two simultaneous online polls which asked two important questions about literacy and oracy. The first posed the question “Which is the most important literacy function, listening, speaking, reading, or writing?” The second survey asked respondents to consider “Which is the most neglected oracy or literacy skill, listening., speaking, reading or writing?”

Half the respondents (50%) indicated that listening was the most important of these attributes. In terms of neglect (the second survey) 61% responded that listening was the most neglected skill in the literacy repertoire.

Listening is foundational to the emergence of other literacy competencies. Following birth, children acquire an understanding of the world through listening and speaking, followed in time by reading and writing. To overlook the importance of listening lessens the capacity of children (and adults) to think cognitively, reflect upon and comprehend what is happening around them. At home and school, children should be taught to listen so this becomes an ingrained habit.

EUTHANASIA SHOULD COVER MENTAL ISSUES

People who have the onset of dementia, should be able to opt to euthanise at a future point in time when they are no longer cognitively aware of their circumstances and situation. They should be able to write this into their wills while still of sound and understanding mind. There can be nothing more awful than living as an empty person without mental capacity.

77 NEXT BIRTHDAY

I AM HEADING TOWARD 77

My next birthday will mark my 77th year on earth. Physically, I am aware of my limitations but hope my my mental acuity is still intact.

In both physical terms and mental capacity, I want to retain my independence. The thought of being dependent on others, fills me with apprehension. I believe that euthanasia or the allowable extinction of life should be available to me in advance of my ultimate deterioration. I do not want to become a burden on others, a physical wreck or a person of vacuous mentality.

Once as a younger person, I was apprehensive, indeed frightened, about dying. As a aging septuagenarian, that is no longer the case. I have lived a full life and have given to family and community.

My wish is to pass over with my independence intact. Surely that is not a sin.