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The Forum > Article Comments > The Year Twelve Class of 2025 > Comments

The Year Twelve Class of 2025 : Comments

By Dan Haesler, published 6/2/2012

The changes we have seen in the education system since that summerís day in 2012 have been remarkable.

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What romantic nonsense.

Peter Garrett hasn't made a decision since he got elected and won't even be in parliament in 18 months.

What will make a difference is for the government to stop providing education and leave it to private and community-owned schools offering choice and competition.

When schools have to compete for kids because they come with per-head funding, and parents are free to choose a school based on its record of job preparation, university entrance, or whatever parents are looking for, then we'll see real change.

Until then, dream on.
Posted by DavidL, Monday, 6 February 2012 2:05:08 PM
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Sadly, the author has no perception whatsoever of the practical implications of his pipedream. Which, equally sadly, is an abiding characteristic of our politicians and academics. However attractive the theory may be, they fail abysmally every time they try to put one into practice. And for a topic as critical to the nation as education (compared, say, to pink batts, school outhouses, the NBN etc.) it is absolutely essential to have implementation skills.

But first, the throwaway line: "Brave leadership in government saw the focus of educational reform shift..."

"Brave leadership"? Opinion-poll-driven governments these days cannot even manage cowardly followership.

But what is actually offered as a solution? It seems to boil down to "the highly regarded Finnish education system", plus a couple of snipes at performance-related pay, and standardized tests.

Finnish teachers have a Masters Degree education, and are paid accordingly. Which is a very positive approach, and one that can only benefit the education process. However, it should be noted that they have taken the best part of forty years to manage the transition. Does anyone in the current Australian Education system have the vision and foresight to plot a road map that will lead us in the same direction?

Even if such a plan were produced, subsequent union negotiations alone would take forty years. The demand for Masters-Degree-level salaries would come first, of course. For all existing teachers, not just the new ones. You know how these things work.

The only possibility that has the remotest chance of success is opening the system, at a Local and State level, to competition. A voucher system will put the power into the hands of parents, and eliminate the dead hand of unnecessary bureaucracy that inhibits innovation and progress. Selecting the most appropriate staff for the needs of the kids, would drive the school management.

Leaving it to Canberra, let alone the "former front man of Midnight Oil", to make the choices on our behalf is a guarantee that no positive change will ever occur.

"Brave leadership" indeed. Pah.
Posted by Pericles, Monday, 6 February 2012 2:53:10 PM
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Must have been a good dream Dan!, perhaps a more realistic outcome will be education returning to a much greater historic norm. As the worlds finite energy resources continue to decline, more and more people will return to an agrarian type lifestyle, ergo, education will follow and future students will not reach any level of university graduation but will graduate into a garden or farming lifestyle that will permit them and their families to survive in a much more constrained world.

The 'Midnight Oil' frontman will be history just like his namesake!
Posted by Geoff of Perth, Monday, 6 February 2012 5:02:36 PM
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Geoff, if a lack of fossil fuel ever does force the population back to an agrarian life style, it won't be in our lifetimes.

Dan too many "educators" on some sort of pipe dream, or perhaps something stronger, has reduced the academic achievement of most of our kids below that required to operate effectively in a modern world.

This silly idea of teachers all leading their little group of mobile experiments, down the garden path, to your own little dream world, is the last thing we need.

Your little dream would be the destruction of the kids who find themselves moving from school to school, with different pipe dreams pertaining to each.

You are paid to teach what the curriculum tells you to teach, for the kids benefit. If you don't like the job, try another.
Posted by Hasbeen, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 11:01:36 AM
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While the article is fluffy, I think there are a few valid points. One relates to the current obsession with out-of-context data and league tables. I'm quite happy to have schools compared, but I think more care needs to be put into the modelling of those comparisons. Perhaps if we centralised the process, rather than leaving it to the Courier-Mail (as we seem to do here in Queensland), we could ensure that a clearer picture was presented. A school may produce plenty of OP1s and score well above average on NAPLAN, but turn out students without the work ethic, attitude or sense of social justice to be either a good employee or a good citizen. Another school may score more humbly on the academic front, but turn out the best tradesmen and citizens our society could ask for. I'm not sure how one captures that information.

It's also interesting, Pericles, that you rightly raise the Masters-level qualification required of Finnish and other Scandinavian teachers. I believe wholeheartedly that teachers should have expert knowledge and mastery of their subject area AND of teaching. Our various boards of registration also echo those sentiments, but do little to encourage them. And yes, salary does come into it. I have a Masters degree, which may stand me in good stead if I want to climb the ladder, but doesn't see any other reward. And, of course, those who climb the ladder are progressively removed from the classroom to do administrative duties. Too much knowledge, or too much teaching ability, removes Australian teachers from the field in which they have proven themselves.

I'd be careful before lauding the Scandinavian approach, however. When I was completing my BEd, Scandinavian students were well represented in the cohort. They attended the same lectures and tutes, they did the same practical components and were judged on the same assessment criteria. They generally wrote 500-1000 words more on each assignment, and were awarded an MTeach instead of a BEd. That degree was not available to domestic students - perhaps because it was a Masters degree in name only.
Posted by Otokonoko, Thursday, 9 February 2012 12:09:06 AM
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It was not I who singled out the Finnish system, Otokonoko.

>>I'd be careful before lauding the Scandinavian approach, however.<<

I was simply pointing out that shifting the focus of teaching recruitment from its present level, to insisting upon a Masters Degree, is not accomplished with the stroke of a pen. The teaching profession in my experience is a highly sensitive organ, and one that is notably progress-averse. If there is a hint that new pay scales would be required to accommodate the better-qualified intake, you can bet that they would demand that those scales apply to all existing teachers, too. Immediately.

But to set your mind at rest on those qualifications...

>>They generally wrote 500-1000 words more on each assignment, and were awarded an MTeach instead of a BEd. That degree was not available to domestic students - perhaps because it was a Masters degree in name only.<<

According to the published literature on the topic, the Finnish system works as follows:

"First, students take a Bachelorís degree, which comprises 180 ECTS credits, and after that a 120-credit Masterís degree. They take basic, intermediate and advanced studies (120 cr) in their major subject, and basic and intermediate studies (60 cr) in their minor subject. The complete 300-credit degree takes about five years"

http://www.oaj.fi/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/OAJ_INTERNET/01FI/05TIEDOTTEET/03JULKAISUT/OPEKOULUTUSENG.PDF

Possibly, it takes that long because they are all as thick as short planks. But more likely, it is a fairly rigorous programme.
Posted by Pericles, Thursday, 9 February 2012 11:22:59 AM
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