‘Education, Are We Failing?’ – Q and A recap

‘Education, Are We Failing?’ – Q and A recap

Monday’s (9th of March 2020) ‘Education, Are We Failing’ Q and A panel highlighted the systemic issues plaguing Australia’s education system. On the panel were:

  • Tanya Pilbersek (Shadow Minster for Education)
  • Adrian Piccoli (Director of Gonski Institute, UNSW and former NSW Education Minster)
  • Eddie Woo (High School Maths Teacher)
  • John Collier (Principal, St Andrew’s Cathedral School)
  • Vy Tran (Year 12 Student from MacRobertson High School

Airing on the ABC, key topics discussed included the current coronavirus pandemic, Australia’s slump in PISA standards, the distribution of school funding, private school masculinity, religion in schools, and the screen time censorship for students.

Here’s excerpts from our catalogue of blogs from The SeeThrough Insider. We discussed all the issues raised by the Q and A panel and much much more. Click on the links if you like what you are reading!

Are we ready for Coronavirus-related schools closures?

Perhaps, as in other countries, PM Scott Morrison and the federal government could provide every parent in Australia with paid leave during school closures, or a one-off cushioning payment to off-set virus containment measures.

We need to rally as a community to ensure that hard-working Australians are not unduly punished for the spread of Coronavirus, while balancing these considerations against essential health measures that are enacted to protect our citizens.

My Rural Teaching Placement

What can we really expect from students who do not have access to quality education and quality resources?

Teachers are offered better salaries, entitlements and extra leave to lure them to rural appointments, along with faster progression and increased leadership responsibilities. These incentives are still not enough though, these schools are still facing persistent staff shortages and high turnover rates.

It’s been determined that medical students trained in rural areas are more likely to practice in rural areas regardless of their background. Preservice teachers in theory were expected to follow suit, with many universities incorporating a mandatory placement in their respective Bachelor of Education. These placements include free housing and financial scholarship incentives all designed to increase interest.

These incentives and a push for preservice teachers to experience rural schools all hinge on these experiences being positive and rewarding. Yet for me and many of my peers, a rural placement experience firmly turned me against working in a rural school.

Let’s talk about banning devices in Schools

Joining New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria; the Western Australian State Government has banned students from using mobile phones, smartwatches, and tablets in all public schools in order to “reduce distraction and focus on learning.”

In an age where digital devices are teetering on the edge of being as vital to daily life as an arm or a leg, is this the direction we should be heading?  There are quite a few questions floating around this topic right now, and we’re going to breakdown some of the arguments and help you make up your mind on where you stand on this issue.

Private School Boys will be Private School Boys

The dark side of this within the school is traditional male bullying for anything remotely feminine. I witnessed this in various forms and degrees. Any emotion was associated with weakness and thus a reason to be chastised. Anything feminine whether it was a hair cut or outfit would have been ripped into. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be gay at my school. Gay boys were not passed the ball in lunch time and not picked for certain sports teams. This was not twenty years ago; this was after 2010. A friend of mine who was a boarder at the school said that the boarding house, with its even more extreme version of masculinity, has instilled in him the absolute inability to be open about emotions.

Moreover, these places are a breeding place for casual sexism. Now, I partly come from privilege because of second wave feminism: my mother wanted it all and in a way she did. If it weren’t for the social revolution that second wave feminism started in the mid-twentieth century, I would not have had a successful mother and I would not have been at that school. However, I cannot say that the school didn’t actually instil some casual sexism in me despite my upbringing. Fundamentally, a separation of the sexes at a time of hormones and sexual awakening means that the other sex becomes a weekend pursuit to many, myself included.

What does the fourth-most socially segregated school system in the OECD really mean?

There is no question that inequalities are partially determined by inherent poverty and disadvantage away from school. But the underlying current that will continue to push the divide further is an unwillingness to fight segregation in school. Instead of working to bridge the gap, socio economic inequalities are only being intensified by schooling. 

With the release of 2018’s results doing nothing to buck the trend, 2015 branded Australia as having the largest gap in teacher shortages between disadvantaged and advantaged schools in the OECD. The inequity of education staff allocation for all countries participating in PISA was ranked 3rd highest, with only Peru and Buenos Aires recording worse inequity. 

My Catholic School didn’t like my Research Project on LGBTQI rights

Now if you thought the Research Project was contentious, try choosing a topic issue which at the time was (and still is) probably the most heated and controversial conversation in modern Australian society. And try doing it at a fanatically Catholic secondary school. My Research Project focused on the state of LGBTQI rights in Australia and the Commonwealth at large. 

I have always been deeply saddened by homophobia and the inhumane persecution these people have forever had to endure. My longstanding passion for the LGBTQI community is firmly rooted in my unique upbringing. Despite both being brought up in religious families; my parents’ closest friends, friends who I also give great credit in helping raise me, are LGBTQI. I now also have many LGBTQI friends of my own. 

What exactly is going on with our Education System?

Whilst we may not care to admit the severity of the issue, put plain Australia’s educational standing globally is regressing at an alarming rate. With the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results released on the 3rd of December, Australia’s slide down the world rankings has slumped to its lowest to date.  

Theorised and implemented in 2000, PISA is the chief assessment tool used by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). PISA formulates statistical conclusions by measuring the Mathematics, Science and Reading competency of sampled 15-year-old students. Repeated every 3 years, the data derived is purposed to form the backbone of future educational reform and refinement for all countries participating. From 18 years of PISA data gathering, Australia has consistently fallen. In fact, since the turn of the century Mathematics, Science and Reading have fallen 7.9%, 4.7% and 4.7% respectively. In the same order, that regression leaves Australia placed 29th, 17th and 16th of 72 countries. 

If the governments education expenditure is not modernising the curriculum, what are they spending it on? It’s become abundantly clear that private schools have morphed into these enormously over funded corporations wielding significant power. A Fairfax Media investigation revealed earlier this year that not only were private schools over funded, some are receiving millions above the School Resourcing Standard. 

What private schools don’t want you to know

Many of the country’s top schools are in an infrastructure arms race for boasting rights to the shiniest STEM labs, Olympic-grade sporting facilities and luscious grounds. Attracting students from the richest families, from both here and abroad, has meant many of these schools will demolish facilities many public schools would kill for, and replace them with buildings designed by internationally renowned architects.

How is this improving your child’s education? In short, it’s not. Many of the top year 12 results each year come from motivated public students from schools where many buildings don’t even have air-conditioning, and many private school students struggle when entering the cold, hard leveller that is university.

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