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The Forum > Article Comments > For a real revolution we need reform > Comments

For a real revolution we need reform : Comments

By Jennifer Buckingham, published 6/2/2008

Curriculum reform and computers will be spectacularly ineffective without good teachers and responsive schools.

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While I don't generally agree with CIS right-wing guff, this particular article makes a lot of sense.

I am one of the old two-year trained teachers, and I believe we learned more in our two years of intensive training and three years of probation, than is achieved these days. That said, I also recognise that educational expectations have moved on from the 1960's.

Syllabuses need national continuity - over to you Ms Gillard.

We also need an agreed standard starting age for schooling, and an agreed ending age for compulsory schooling - another one for you Ms Gillard.

Teacher training needs perhaps three years intensive degree work and at least one year compulsory, supervised, in-class "apprenticeship" or "team-teaching" training.

There needs to be more guaranteed employment opportunities with bonded scholarships to both get and, more importantly, keep skilled and enthusiastic young teachers.

Technology has a significant part to play, but let us not forget that there is a lot of "art" and "craft" to teaching that requires people with both the knowledge, but also the relationship skills to lead learning teams, for that is what a class should be.

All too often, we have politicians and education bureaucrats who seem to try to plan to eliminate the teacher's personality in the learning relationship. A pox on all their houses.
Posted by jimoctec, Wednesday, 6 February 2008 10:31:08 AM
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It does Jennifer Buckingham no credit to misuse Leigh & Ryan's report, which did not "prove" anything at all about the intellectual calibre of incoming teachers.

University entrance marks are more indicative of the relative level of demand for courses, rather than the intellectual level of enrolments. Would anyone care to argue that chemical and electrical and mechanical engineers are not drawn from the "top of the intellectual heap", by comparing their entrance marks with dentists and lawyers?? And let's not forget that marketing and communications consistently attract amongst the highest entrance marks of all. I guess those marketers must all be geniuses.

Leigh & Ryan's study purported to make an apples-to-apples comparison of entrance marks across 30 years and no less than 4 system-wide changes in the manner by which entrance marks are calculated, at a time when the proportion of school-leavers enrolling at university approximately quadrupled. It "proved" nothing at all.

Besides which, the entrance mark at the beginning of a four year course says nothing about the quality of graduates at the other end.
Many such courses include 18 months of specific subject training, a semester of special needs education, up to 100 days prac teaching, a year of educational psychology, 2 compulsory semesters ICT training and research subjects.

Initiatives such as the NSW Institute of Teachers have under legislation since 2004 mandated standards which all graduate teachers must demonstrate competence in-class, and must continue to meet higher standards throughout their careers to achieve higher levels of professional qualification. Maybe Jennifer Buckingham should check those standards before asserting what Leigh & Ryan "proved".
Posted by Mercurius, Wednesday, 6 February 2008 1:50:07 PM
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The Right has been pushing two contradictory lines on education for a generation. On the one hand, its commentators say that standards have fallen over the last 30 years. On the other hand, they say that education must move further in the same direction that they have pushed it in over the last 30 years – towards schools as market competitors. The failure that they claim has occurred has occurred over the time that governments have implemented the reforms that the Right has called for. Yet, they want even more.

Victorian government schools are funded on a voucher system of c$5,000 per student (depending on the level of the student). There is no longer a staffing formula. Principals can decide their own proportion of promotion positions – and have therefore cut them to save money - and hire whom they like. Despite Jennifer Buckingham’s claims in The Australian yesterday, they cannot fire teachers – yet. If they had such power, they would misuse it. Giving teachers the power to sack incompetent principals would be much more effective, but it could also be misused.

The Victorian experience of local selection has created hundreds of thousands of hours of work by principals, teachers and applicants and led to no improvement in student learning at all. It is a highly inefficient and ineffective way for the system to act as it denies the advantages of economies of scale in large organisations.

The lower entry scores for teacher training will not rise until teaching is made more attractive overall. More power for principals, heavier workloads for them and their teachers and performance bonuses for the chosen few are not particularly attractive.
Posted by Chris C, Wednesday, 6 February 2008 4:04:45 PM
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A teacher is a humanitarian to the bone!, and thanks to all that try to make this world a better place. Reform is needed, and revolution, well, that will take time. Don't we move so slowly. Given the fact, that all people( young or old) can help, with where we are up too.
Thoughts are the spice of life! Don't let this stop you.
Posted by evolution, Wednesday, 6 February 2008 11:44:20 PM
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