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The Forum > Article Comments > Australia the clever country? Hah! > Comments

Australia the clever country? Hah! : Comments

By Peter West, published 26/8/2005

Peter West argues education is no longer valued among our youth.

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I can empathise with Peter; I was educated by the Nuns and Brothers. They beat me and the brothers beat me with passion; I was an ugly child so I was spared the buggering.

Peter is right. Many kids don't want to learn. For many there is no point. A good HSC/VCE result for many of them amounts to nothing; more and more are denied entrance to universties. For others the costs is prohibitive. We have engineered a very un certain future for them. Education was once a ticket to prosperity and some security. Not so any more

Ours was the last generation where it was likely for children to end up being better off than our parents. A good education was likely to lead to employment and or further educational opportunities. KIds now know that equation now no longer holds water for many of them. Very early on they have been taught that animal cunning based on self interest is the way of the future. If anything that will be the legacy of the Howard years.

It is all too easy for Nelson to spruik about values and the competetive nature of life - kids no all to well how competetive things are - and they know values - they're the things the community used to have; they where the things that saw Nelson et al get a free education and one augmented by the public health system that allowed him to practice his craft as both a student and a young doctor on willing patients at no charge to him. Values under pinned policy decision rather than ideology and revenge. Values were those things that saw Ministers resign when they stuffed up and restrained Prime Ministers from lying. For young kids these days values are a remnant of yesteryear.

Education is an investment; It was once an investment measured in effort and now it is simply measured in cash. And many sensible kids will not pour too much energy or shrinking amounts of cash into an investment that offers highly questionable returns.
Posted by sneekeepete, Friday, 26 August 2005 10:14:53 AM
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Peter West has marred an otherwise excellent and accurate piece by referring to an “informed critique” from Henry Reynolds on “wars” between aborigines and whites. He apparently has not read Keith Windschuttle’s “The Fabrication of Aboriginal History."
Posted by Leigh, Friday, 26 August 2005 11:00:32 AM
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In the Golden Age the academic and pundit precursors of Dr West or Steve Biddulph complained that children didn't want or learn - or merely weren't taught - the eternal verities. They were disrespectful, they didn't look up to their dads, didnt wear clean underpants or do the right things by their mum, didnt study hard, weren't intellectually adventurous, didn't value non-vocational knowledge, were soft ....

As to where have all the seminars gone, gone like flowers every one ... look around you! My generation is busy with newsgroups and blogs and F2F conversation ... it's possible to be politically engaged or curious without attending a seminar. The word 'seminar' smells because it often means sitting in a stuffy room being hit over the head with incomprehensive pronouncements by Virilio or Derrida or Spivak or Negri. 40 years ago tenured totalitarians such as Queenie Leavis sucked the marrow out of Eng Lit - and education. If Dr West's students aren't fazed by the thought of his classes being cancelled, perhaps that's a response to woolly ahistorical thinking rather than a failure on their part
Posted by Amoskeag, Friday, 26 August 2005 6:18:05 PM
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Yes, education and parenting has changed in the last fifty years and it's clear that both are failing society. What is needed is an option that does - and is - producing results. I suggest home education, or as it's also known, homeschooling.

Homeschooling can be whatever you, the parent, wants it to be. Often you start out with one idea, and then after a little bit of research on the topic, you realise just how vast the educational world is. You can chose from a plethora of approaches and methods and the range of resources is simply staggering.

You get out of it what you put in. For those of us that like control, home education is paradise. We only have ourselves to blame if our children don't learn what we teach them. We only have ourselves to blame if discipline becomes a problem. And if our children fail? Then we're accoutable to them for a life time. That is one powerful motivator to do well! In this way quality is slowly, but surely, built into the educational programs in homeschools.

Homeschoolers are reclaiming the concept of "family". Children and parents spending time together - at the dinner table, in the evening, on weekends. Parents playing with their children, learning with their children, sharing interests and hobbies. Community begin with strong families. Parents are sacrificing income to ensure that their children receive a quality education and a great start to life. They sacrifice careers, knowing that childhood lasts a couple of decades and that this kind of full-time parenting will enrich their own lives immeasurably.

It's not the solution to the ailing education system, but it offers a real choice for parents disatisfied with what their taxdollars are buying.

Subscribe to the FREE bi-monthly Homeschooling Australia Newsletter, or sign up for Daily Homeschooling Tips
Visit for a great range of homeschooling, unschooling and books on natural learning!
Posted by anaturallearner, Saturday, 27 August 2005 3:22:13 PM
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If your tutes suck Peter, of course people will want to go home. They're also going to want to go home because they've probably had to work all night and need a rest. Did you have to work all night when you were at uni Peter? Oh that's right, the shops weren't even open on Sunday.

As for the whole poorer foreign students work harder because they have greater respect, give me a break. Education affords them huge status and guarantees of high income and fantastic lifestyle on their return. My university degree gets me laugh from my builder/carpenter mates and even my 17 year old sister; who earns more than I do - she didn't even complete her year 10 certificate.

It's really rather pathetic when people start returning to "lack of respect" line of argument to explain the problem (and there always is one) with today's youth.

Uni's boring because people know they're there because they're inevitably going to have to get a job. These prospects are no longer something to look forward to, the sacrifices of studying to work are outweighing any benefits and the benefits just aren't good enough to look forward to.

I finish uni at the end of the year. Basically the next 10 years of my life will be working for no reason but to buy a house. I don't need the money for anything else besides food, drink and clothing. Anyone with any type of job and any type of income can afford those things. The only difference is that I'll be able to buy a house 5 years before someone else. Big deal - and I say that because what's 5 years when we're talking decades anyway.

Really Peter, what part of uni is there to be enthusiastic about? All it does is bring you closer to the inevitable.
Posted by strayan, Sunday, 28 August 2005 2:23:29 AM
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Good on you Peter !
Most of what you preach evidently soared over the heads of your detractors i.e forum poachers.Tis a crying shame because Brenden Nelson for all his claim to fame through the Educational portfolio will eventually end up in 'nowheresville'. His penchant for putting his size 10's in his proverbial facial oriface is one of his many failings, but then it's excusable. He is part of the pro-Bush jaggernaut JH's team. Yes, the mealy mouthed Vanstone, Bronwyn Bishop, Jackie Kelly, and mss Coonan, all with secular agendas focussed on earning brownie points every chance they face the Press council or media outlets, but with particular emphasis for the Top job, numero uno, the LODGE..says it all.
It's all so disquienting for us hoi palloi. The frantic, maddening, no hold-barred quest to topple all contenders, just to preen, prance and pout, as your Nation's PM. C'est la vie.
Meanwhile,the children of today have never had it easier. Totally dysfunctional, they have to be taught how to tie their shoe laces, board the bus, buy coke in a Supermarket ad finitum. As for the Ed Sys, why would you put in the hard yakka, when we have dumb-wits like Shane Warne being remunerated $10,000 a game, and all the ass he can accomodate with a vocab that stretches beyond a 4 letter profanity ?? Can you blame kid's aspirations when AFL, NBL, and NFL clubs furiously vie with each other to secretly commission top players well beyond the salary cap, and with mangified contracts that even Russel Crowe only dreams about ?
As for our Asian new comer's, all the Education and University status wont get them past the New Frontier of Federalism. They make smart Doctors, surgeons, and nurses, but where it counts in the real World, their futures are limited.The proliferation of Resturants, Estate Agencies, and suburban corner stores only proves my point.
Posted by dalma, Sunday, 28 August 2005 2:37:04 PM
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