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The Problem with Education


serc.carleton.eduApparently, the Australian Curriculum – a decade in the making, written by a panel of independent experts, peer-reviewed by dozens of educators – needs an overhaul. It’s left-leaning. Not Judeo-Christian enough. The content is too heavily biased towards Indigenous perspectives and too focused on engagement with Asia. There’s too much science and not enough economics.

In other words, schools should be modelled more on banks and less on think-tanks.

Perhaps it’s not the content of the Australian Curriculum that needs an overhaul. Perhaps we need to entirely rethink education’s place in our society.

Imagine, for a moment, that we had an education department that was independent of the government.

An independent education department with the autonomy to design and implement a curriculum that is free of political bias and personal agenda.

An independent education department with annual federal funding that is then distributed equitably to schools according to individual student needs.

An independent education department accountable not to a government that aims to shape the national curriculum in its own image, but rather to the young people for whom our education system exists.

Imagine what we could achieve if we had a depoliticised, independent education department that was run by educators for educators.

The problem with education today is that there is no problem. There never has been. The problem lies outside education: in the reporting authorities that constrain it; in the administrative structures that imprison it; in the state and federal governments that impose on it; in the national assessments that divide it.

Education is not a problem to be fixed, nor is it a business to be managed. Inequitable distribution of funds is the product of a worldview in which every useful component of our society must rest on an economic common denominator. Creativity, compassion and innovation cannot be easily measured, which is why industries such as the arts, science and teaching are seen to contribute less to our economy than commerce, business or mining.

It has been said that “teachers are children among men, and men among children”. Sentiments like this are often spoken with derision by those who believe themselves to be the more equal animals in our society. But what these people fail to realise is that the more they push us down, the more we rise up. This is what we as educators are trained to do, and what we inspire in others to achieve: to see opportunity in failure, and learn through taking risks and making mistakes.

We encourage our students to become more than what they are, and we cannot do this without first rising to the challenge ourselves.

It’s not just our job; for many of us, it’s in our nature. It’s in our nature to listen, encourage and inspire. It’s in our nature to create spaces where optimism, equality, curiosity and compassion are valued. It’s in our nature to question everything; to seek answers; to find possibilities; to deconstruct, analyse, and recreate the world over and over again, each time discovering something new and fascinating.

We understand how we learn; therefore, we can teach. We’re not afraid to imagine; therefore, we can inspire. We know how to rise up; therefore, we also know how to incite.

As is the case with all problematic businesses, the fault lies not in education, but within its management and board of directors. Only when we disentangle education from politics and economics will we begin to find meaningful solutions.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 03.11.2014 8:56 PM

    One can only dream.

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