Solution to third world educational issue

We tend to bang on a lot about problems in our own personal worlds and I know the whole “it’s a first world problem” can become tiresome as a whole lot of issues do need discussion and debate. However, below is a link to something that will make you smile – and maybe tear up a little (or perhaps that’s just post-meno me!) – a simple solution to a third world problem in education.

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Rape case in US college

This article tells of a young woman carrying her mattress around because her college has done little to address the issue of her rape last week by a fellow student. It is sad that such issues for women continue to be a problem and I think this woman is doing a fabulous job to bring attention to her problem. A whole movement has started.

Women have been fighting against this issue forever. In third world countries women are raped repeatedly and we women in the west are shocked but rape is still an issue for us. In our universities there are problems with rape being swept under the carpet as is also the case in our defence forces. This is a huge problem that we need to all be mindful of and support those in need of our support.

I am appalled that gender issues for women are still almost as bad as back when I was a young budding feminist in the 70s. Little has changed with women still being paid less than men; women being called bitches if they achieve well in business and are assertive; women levels of casualised employment higher than that of men… and so the list goes on.

I do love Jane Caro’s group – Destroy the Joint –

She is one feisty feminist that I love to listen to.

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Educating for a civil society

Over breakfast this morning my friends and I discussed schools and what was happening in them. One friend has two students at the local high school. Her son was asked this week “if he could get that through his thick head”. Guess who asked that – yes a male teacher.

I was horrified that a teacher could talk so disrespectfully to a student. What I loved was that one of the boy’s friends retorted later in the day when the teacher mispronounced the boys name yet again if he “could get that through his thick head.” the teacher could do nothing as the child gave him back his own way of talking to students. Love that boy!!!!

I am constantly shocked by the was some teachers lack respectful ways of working with their students. Some teachers feel that they deserve respect because of their position of authority as a teacher. I used to say to my staff that respect is a two way process. You cant scream at children in class and them expect them to talk respectfully to you. You have to earn children’s respect.

We all have stories of the wonderful teachers who had our children eating out of their hands – loving the subject, engaging with the topics. doing homework and keen to attend class. I was always excited when my children had such experiences. This should be the default position, not a wonderful surprise.

I am sorry to those I may offend but if you don’t like children, it you think they should just shut up and listen to you, if you think that you are a fabulous teacher because you have been doing it for thirty years, if you think you know all there is to know about your teaching then you should rethink your career.

Good teachers are expert in what they do. They teach all children, not jsut the quiet, bright girls. Good teacher care about their students. Good teachers actually like their students – even the ADHD child. Good teachers are passionate about their own learning and take professional learning as a responsibility. Good teachers reflect on their part in the learning process – they do not operate from a deficit model that blames the child for not learning.

I salute all the good teachers – you are wonderful!

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Shortfall in Public Education Funding

Interesting article in the SMH today about the shortfall in public education budget. perhaps if there was no public funding of private schools the government could afford to properly fund the state school system. There is a lot of rhetoric around 21st century learning but try doing that well in a 1950s classroom where students are crowded in, there is only room to sit in rows or tightly grouped arrangements with no room to move. When I was exploring open class spaces as a principal I visited a beautiful newly renovated Catholic school that had used their Federal Government BER funding to create open plan classrooms. The students had room to decide where and how to sit, technology at their finger tips and places for collaborative learning.

My money was used to build a very boring assembly hall, which we needed but I had no choice about the style – the Department of Education decided what I needed most. A colleague of mine argued for something different to the portable classrooms that were offered but she wa not allowed to decide what her school needed.

When I was trying to raise funds to fix a leak in a classroom I attended Riverview College and was stunned by the purpose built classrooms, pools, beautiful lawns etc that my tax dollars were supporting. If we have a private system I believe that those that choose to use them should pay for them. I can catch the L90 bus into the city. If I want to go privately I have to pay – the government does not provide a private car for me. In Finland where the students do so well there are no private schools because public schools are well-funded, teachers have masters degrees and it is expected that they can actually teach well!!!!! This country has a long way to go to improve what should be an excellent public system.

It would be good if teachers were able to decide what their classroom spaces looked like – not departmental architects who are limited in what they are allowed to spend!

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Home schooling – what happened to quality schools?

Below is a link to an article in today’s SMH on home schooling. What a pity that our schools are so poor at catering for the needs of all students that so many people in this country feel the need to leave the school sector and educate their kids at home.

We have all experienced teachers who failed to meet the needs of our kids whether they be bright, talented in some are or struggling to meet expected outcomes. What is wrong with our education system?

In my experience within the public system as an educator and parent there are teachers doing a fabulous job – they are passionate about teaching; they know how to teach all kids; they actually like their students. Then there are some teachers who do no harm despite their mediocrity and then there are those who should not be allowed to enter a classroom. These teachers do damage to fragile self-esteems and just seem to be in the system for the pay, holidays and short days – almost running over their students as they leave the car park after the last bell of the day!

I have hoep that teacher accreditation may improve this but unfortunately that does not include principal accreditation as compulsory at this stage. The principal of the school must be a leader of learning, not just a figure head. She needs to inspire her teachers to explore how they can best meet the needs of every student in their care and how they can make school fun, interesting and challenging as well as a safe place to be where we learn about living in a civil society.

Private education is not the answer as there is mediocrity here as well though you do have a littel more say as you are paying huge fees that should guarantee your child the best. I am a proud ex-public school teacher and leader but I am ashamed on my system.

I have hope as the upcoming teachers I am teaching at university are wonderful. But my concern is they may not be able to maintain their idealism in the face of poor teaching they find in many schools.

To those teachers do a great job I give your my respect – to those sitting around having a coffee in the staffroom waithing for the bell – please leave our children to experts!


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Aboriginal community takes control

Below is a link to an excellent article about the Aboriginal Women of Fitzroy Crossing, WA who have taken control of the issues within their community and the research agenda regarding the community problems and are directing university support for solving the alcohol issues. I intend using this article with my pre-service school teachers to explore ways that communities are improving outcomes for their children. These women are making a difference is big, meaningful ways.


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Boys’ expert

I have just finished reading Tim Hawkes’ latest popularist book on boys – Ten Conversations … Once again this so called expert on boys had failed to address homosexuality. In his book which professes to support parents to talk with their sons about all sorts of issues Hawkes says that if your son is gay have a chat and give him hug. He then goes on to scaffold a very heterosexual conversation to have with your son, ignoring the fact that his book is about conversations and his advice about homosexuality is not.

I am concerned that parents of gay boys will find absolutely no advice in this book for them and in fact their issue is dealt with dismissively. This man is interviewed on the ABC every time there is an issue about education and much of his advice is sound but his stance on homosexuality is from a Christian standpoint and as such is not useful for parents dealing with a son finding out about his sexual orientation. 

Given the high levels of suicide amongst young gay men and the issues boys face due to our heteronormative society, this book is not a balanced approach to supporting boys to become good men. A better book is Martino and Pallotta-Chiarolli’s What’s a Boy, written as the result of research undertaken talking to 1000s of boys. This book is based on research not mere opinion. It is expensive as it is written by academics in the area of gender studies but provides a balanced approach that takes real boys’ opinions into consideration.

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