Year 12 apathy, the private school epidemic

Year 12 apathy, the private school epidemic

Culture in Australia’s private schools is an undeniable beast. Multi-faceted, full of benefits, and two-fold detriments.

The prop up that private school systems provide in the final two years of schooling a benefit the student, in marks, in prestige, is the simple way that it smooths the entrance into the desired degree.

And it is inherently selfish in nature. Schools like every institution battle each other in marks all in the race to win over parents, and they are indiscriminate in their efforts. Often choosing to speed up the process by which a student achieves a certain understanding through the simple way of telling, not teaching.

In the majority of private schools, a huge emphasis is placed on how to cheat the system. Which books are preferred in your comparative essay, which research essay questions are moderated easier, and for the love of his almightiness, ‘do not opt for drama as a subject, you will be moderated down.’

In the same vein, teachers will give you an intense level of attention with one key missing factor, the actual element of teaching.

Imagine a teacher sitting by you, reading through your assignment and investigating every single sentence, every single word and speaking out loud as they change the text to what will impress moderators.

I know this for a fact because I received an A+ in that subject, alongside every other subject I completed in year 12. Submitted late, after numerous drafts and without feeling the all-encompassing stress that everyone is warned of pre the final year of schooling.

Like my teachers, I had cheated in the most honourable way possible. I checked everything over with them, made changes accordingly and received their approval. The most puzzling part is that I didn’t put an effort into any of these actions. I simply said yes when they were not only offered, but resources that I was begged to use.

Finishing with a 99.1 ATAR which acted like covenant in getting me into a Bachelor of Law at the University of Adelaide was an easy mark to get. The longstanding repercussions, however, were confronting to say the least.

You see, I was never taught how to learn. I’m lucky I have a passion for reading and consuming media which did a lot of the job for me. The rest of my good marks I left up to my friendly teachers. Once I entered university, having the complete onus on myself left me with two bare passes and two major fails. Not to mention a complete disintegration of what I had been so sure would be my career.

It’s no surprise that I didn’t write this as a lawyer but as a journalist.

I found university to be quite aimless, like an open plain and myself within it having no direction. It didn’t help that I hated what I was studying; but I found the complete lack of repercussions left me with no motivation to submit assignments on time, or even to attend lectures and tutorials.

That lack of consequences and the definitive lack of so called ‘hand-holding’ meant that I had learnt to apply my high school study methods to an institution which had no place or patience for it.

Private schools do not benefit quick learners, but they really do not benefit lazy learners.

The methods of teaching at private schools, and I am sure by proxy public schools receive the same treatment to a watered-down degree, is invented by quick and lazy learners. Inspirational teaching, inspirational teachers, are few and far between.

The result of this is the private school’s systematic pressure for students to aspire to become lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, even journalists and artists, but not teachers. Becoming a teacher is perceived as a failure, and it’s a notion perpetuated by the very people that teach you.

It’s no surprise that the Programme for International Assessment (PISA) results from OECD indicate a consistent lowering of performance by Australian students in mathematics, reading and science.

The 2018 PISA report has students from Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (B-S-J-Z) , and students from Singapore taking the lead. Whether or not this is a result of differing teaching style, it simply highlights the magnanimous problems in the Australia’s teaching industry as our scores continue to drop.

Partnered by the fact that incredibly dismal scores by prospective teachers are waived to allow students entrance. These students are evidently misled by the opinion that they need higher learning despite having no attraction to the degrees on offer and to ensure that money keeps rolling in. They are bracketed in the teaching degree, the very same job that is painted to be for those who do not succeed in their original goal. Further perpetuating the idea that being a teacher is the ultimate failure.

Whilst pressure exists to raise entry grades for teaching degrees to ensure those accepted have a desire to teach, the current model accepts students with terrible marks into the degree who then enter the work force and proceed to fail to teach. 

Singapore is renowned for its education sector and administration particularly in regards to teaching students accountability and this often reiterated statement best describes their fantastic global standing; students are taught to ‘learn how to learn’. 

Instead of looking at putting a metaphorical band aid on the issue, schools and universities in Australia would benefit from departing from vocational education as it often teaches outdated models in a climate of changing industries. Let’s look to our better counterparts for inspiration.

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