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The Forum > Article Comments > Focus on literacy > Comments

Focus on literacy : Comments

By Victor Perton, published 30/9/2005

Victor Perton argues Steve Bracks fails his own literacy and numeracy tests.

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This is just ill-informed political garbage. This is because :

1) Since there is a teacher shortage in many areas, there is no point arguing about simply increasing the teaching benchmark standards until you suggest a way to either solve the shortage problem or solve the the problem of getting people with greater aptitude to become teachers (Incidentally, I have no idea why you think that there is no entrance exam to teacher training, there is, its called a year 12 mark and therefore a university entrance score. In addition, for the graduate diploma, you must have an initial degree). If you simply increase the benchmark without doing either of those, you will simply have less trained teachers. What do you then intend to do with schools that cannot then get even poorer teachers ? How do you intend to create better teacher training at a state level for new teachers, when the teaching colleagues for new students (i.e., universities) are funded at the federal level ? Clearly, there are problems that need to be solved that are neccesary precursors to increasing benchmarks.

2) Literacy and numeracy has been declining through Cain, Kirner, Kennett and now Bracks, yet only the name of Bracks is mentioned.

3) Whilst funding organizations to help semi-literate parents is a good idea, the percentage of semi-literate parents is much smaller than the number of children with problems. Thus you can fund these organizations all you want, but most of the problems will still be there. Also, what evidence is there that these organizations are better than the goverment run programs ?

4) Continuing on, since many of the after school programs are already a failure (as noted by yourself), how do you intend to create ones that are not ?

5) Simply not promoting people through the grade levels is no solution. Not being able to read and write in year 10 is no different to not being able to read and write in year 12. Nor is it any different to not being able to read and write when you drop out of school.
Posted by rc, Friday, 30 September 2005 4:19:35 PM
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The point continues to be missed; or is this just convenient; or do we just like a good argument. Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

If children have low literacy standards then they must find reading and writing uninteresting; if they were interested they would naturally do more of it as a lifestyle activity - if of course they have access to the resources.

So why aren't they interested?

Maybe some of the facts to consider, rather than benchmarks, teacher training etc..., are to do with the early home environment. Are there books, and other age appropriate items around? Are parents reading to their children, developing an interest in stories and the quiet experience of reading? Are teachers making more of a chore of reading and writing than the pleasure it could be if approached with the likes and dislikes of children in mind, than with the demands of Benchmark competitions?

Don't blame politicians, they mostly had parents too, and went to institutions where teachers taught them. They can be excused for not knowing much about education; mostly having unengaging educational experiences. But teachers and teacher training academics could be looking at the latest findings of cognitive science and child psychology and realising that schooling, in general, has been using principles followed post-industrial revolution when economic urgency was pervailing.

Maybe that urgency is still with us. So be it. But with schooling designed to fit the child, rather than the economy, both the needs of economic survival and the natural growth of interest and joy in learning will start to produce more pleasing political statistics.
Posted by neil s, Monday, 3 October 2005 12:18:18 PM
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