I honestly dislike when something is problematised, I don’t like victimhood-fostering behaviour either.
However, no matter how I look at it – the teaching system, at least here in Australia, is completely lost.
I don’t even know where to begin.
Maybe we can start here: I do not dislike teaching, in fact I think I will always be teaching in one way or another, just not with the school system and how it treats both students and teachers.
1) The education system is completely changed now, compared to say, 10 years ago, to pander to social justice.
Everywhere I could see on my textbooks, all about focusing only on minorities and the voices of the oppressed. Whenever a topic was handled in class for the teacher to actually teach, there are 103284780234702 considerations to make about every culture and backgrounds on the green Earth. Even though minorities are..minorities.
For example, Australia’s history of colonisation. The way it is depicted in education textbooks and how teachers should handle it is all about demonising ‘white people’ and putting the Aboriginals on a pedestal. I understand, as someone from a colonised country also, that the colonisation had horrible effects on the people.
Let’s not forget that colonisation led to the modernisation of Australia, its modern wealth, economic status, healthcare and technology. These very things are now being offered to native Australians to make amends for the past. Excuse me – the rest of us, the other colonised countries, have never even got a single ‘sorry’.
Though no, in these textbooks, white colonisers are just pure evil and we might as well return to the tribal days of the past. Let’s see how many would immigrate to Australia, then, without good healthcare and a stable government.
The studies teach you Literacy is about knowing who has ‘power’ and a voice compared to who doesn’t. Literacy is about understanding the message and context of a text, not about the Oppression Olympics. Everyone deserves a voice equally, not just the minorities now just because you want some social revenge. Enough -isms (one starts with R, the other S).
2) The education system focuses on more BS programs now, than learning.
Here in Australia, according to our standardised literacy and numeracy tests (NAPLAN), our kids are sinking. The educators and academics teaching education would want you to believe that the NAPLAN forces kids to study for tests and only tests certain skills, which is too narrow to acknowledge all children’s skills. So they want the NAPLAN thrown out.
The NAPLAN tests reading comprehension skills and persuasive writing skills, which are actually both very important to have in someone’s repertoire of English.
The reality? Kids in schools, primary schools especially, have more ‘inquiry’ or insert-some-innovative-name-here lessons that focus on BS that don’t really contribute to their Maths or English skills. I’ve seen these on placements so far.
– Lessons pandering to diversity quotas/stories
– Lessons on emotions (regulating emotions, expressing yourself, particularly aimed at boys who can’t be ‘just boys’)
– Lessons on empowering little girls
These sorts of lessons happen every week, by the way, taking up nearly a quarter of some of the days. I understand about emotions, teaching students to be respectful and expressing themselves, however, a simple talk or just a single lesson from their teacher is more than enough. This is stuff their parents should be more responsible for. This precious time can be used advancing their Maths and English.
3) Teachers do less teaching and more ‘helicopter reporting’.
With less dedication and time from busy, working parents who are barely ever there, I see plenty of these same parents making more and more demands of teachers throughout the years.
Did you know that here in Australia, classes of 25 or more lower primary students have two teachers in a classroom all the time?
One is teaching and the other is filling in reports. They swap throughout the day though this is constant.
Simply because parents want to know, every 2-3 weeks, what new words their little kid can read and that teacher will go through all the kids over several days and have them read all the assigned list words and mark every word they can and can’t read, comparing it to the 2-3 weeks and write an analysis and update. Rinse and repeat.
If you make enough time at home to read with your child, you would know which words they can and can’t read. You don’t need bi-weekly updates.
That’s just ONE of the reports teachers have to make. They also have parent-teacher meetings (or smaller versions of it) every month. They have behavioural reports, anecdotal notes, reflections, more and more.
Teaching is one of the most stressful positions in Australia and has a very high turnover rate, which isn’t a surprise. Teachers who aspire to teach and connect with students, get to know them well and guide them through their learning are instead overcome with papers and buried in reports. More bureaucracy BS.
4) Education has now put children in control, instead of the teachers.
Call me a true traditionalist, though I believe in top-down teaching or a more traditional approach where the teacher is the clear authority and should be respected.
Make no mistake, I like caring for my students and getting to know them, but at the end it is my final call what goes in the classroom and what they learn. There can be negotiations, of course.
There is a new trend on the rise within education, which is the inquiry system, where students ‘follow their curiosity’ when they learn and decide their own topics and how they do their work. The reasoning behind it is that, students will be more engaged in learning if what they are doing is more aligned to their interests.
To an extent, that is fine, though I believe the teacher needs to set some boundaries and rules, allow them some freedom (for example, they pick a topic from a set of topics the teacher offers, etc).
However, I don’t agree with kids being able to pick what they work on and how they work completely – it only wanders to the children’s interests and doesn’t foster their resilience.
Not everything in life will go their way or will be interesting to them, children need to understand that sometimes what they may work in the future (in university or the workplace) will not be to their interest and they need to adapt and deal with it, even just for a short time. How will they have these skills to adapt and be resilient if they are being babied in schools?
5) Schools have stopped encouraging excellence and focuses on consolation.
As someone who did fairly well in school, I just cannot, with my values, stand with handing out consolation prizes and participation awards alongside excellence awards that emotionally tries to put students who did not show as much excellence on the same pedestal as those who did, so they wouldn’t ‘feel bad’. For the sake of inclusion or some other excuse.
I’ve seen a student participate in a debate and do so well, yet at the same time a student the same level had an obvious learning disability who did not perform as well won first prize instead since the judges did not want to look harsh. While I encourage all students who have disabilities and differences to keep doing their best, they shouldn’t be compared or even put against the rest of their cohort, to the point judges and administration are basically forced by guilt and the whining of social justice warriors/whiny parents to eschew their judgements on excellence. Excellence awards are for excellence and students who show it should be appreciated and praised to the level they deserve. Not pushed down so the other kids ‘won’t cry’.
I’ve been debating this decision for months, wondering whether it would be the best for my future to have that extra degree, a Masters, or to make my own way. I’ve worried and mulled it over. Is it better to have that extra line in my resume? Would I look unmotivated for leaving a degree? I’ve asked many people, some who have finished the degree and those who didn’t, though continued with education. I’ve discovered I can make it my own way, I have more opportunities now with my part-time careers than I realised and I want to pursue those opportunities and ideas. They’ve been bearing into fruition well so far, better than what I got out of my teaching degree, which I felt was just slowing me down and have become an unnecessary burden.
It is due to all these reasons I have left my education degree behind, though rest assured, I haven’t stopped teaching. I am working with private companies and other educational outlets and I have had enough teaching experience by myself that I do not need an education degree.
Usually only schools solidly need a teaching degree while other places are more flexible and work case-by-case.
Since I do not want or plan to work with schools, I have decided that degree would be a waste of time and money- I am focusing now on my own teaching, where I can actually connect with the students, help them improve earnestly and teach them some resilience and adaptability. I have found I could do that now on my own, instead of wasting years down the line in university.
With more time to venture into my part-time careers and domestic work that used to be taken up by my studying, I feel more balanced and attune to my aspirations and passions now than ever.
I also can’t do this to the students who would be under my wing should I become a teacher in a school. They deserve to be understood, guided and recognised, whether it be their successes or hiccups. Young children deserve to be taught how to be strong and resilient, to have a true connection and feel cared for by their teachers than be lost in all the bureaucracy and the papers.
They deserve a lot more than this.