Schools need to lift their game

In The Australian today:
“Coming after the school funding row, last week’s Program for International Student Assessment results provided the education lobby with a golden opportunity to vent its claims. Not that those claims needed repeating, for they have become articles of religion. But that doesn’t stop them being demonstrably false.”

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas is a columnist for The Australian newspaper and the inaugural Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong. The SMART Infrastructure Facility is a $61.8 million world-class research and training centre concerned with integrated infrastructure solutions for the future. Henry is also Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia. Prior to these concurrent roles Henry worked as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Henry's previous career was as an economist at the OECD in Paris, where amongst other roles he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment and was Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department.
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18 Responses to Schools need to lift their game

  1. conrad

    Actually, if you bothered to read through PISA documents, you’d find that some of the claims made by various people but not too popular here are quite well supported.

  2. Tom

    So “Conrad” — dare we say, a teacher — expects us to believe the sun shines out of Gonski’s bum; that we should just ignore the professor’s analysis, especially the bit about the Gonski panel doctoring its modelling:

    …the still-confidential report in which the resource standard is calculated does not do what the Gonski report purports. And understandably so: for the confidential modelling shows that all else equal, “reference schools” spend significantly less than the schools which do not meet the “reference standard”. An outcomes-based approach would therefore cut spending on what are largely badly run state schools.

    But forcing such efficiencies would have been politically inconvenient; so without warning readers, the Gonski panel fudged the numbers. Moreover, the formula the panel came up with taxes independent schools, but not state schools, for any medium to high income parents. The result is a calculation that instead of being “sector neutral”, shifts a growing pool of taxpayer funds to state schools, regardless of their performance.

    Such is the morass of falsehoods and hypocrisy into which we have fallen.

    The biggest problem with education in Australia is that debate and discussion about it has to be funnelled through the Fucktard Media Industrial Complex, which is in the ideological pocket of the teacher unions. As a result Chris Pyne is going to spend most of the next three years fighting the left’s campaign to absolve teachers of their obligation to provide students with competitive teaching standards.

  3. .

    Schools are the problem. Schools are bad for education. Bloom’s taxonomy? What the hell has this got to do with learning?

    At worst, teachers ought to tutor and facilitate.

    Education is too expensive because we deliberately choose an expensive model which does not aim to have excellent outcomes.

    Homeschooling with a tutor and involvement in sporting clubs etc for socialisation and work experience would be fine. The only education option that may be superior is elite teaching as they encourage both rigour and enrichment, along with the network access they offer to people of poorer backgrounds.

  4. Token

    …which is in the ideological pocket of the teacher unions. As a result Chris Pyne is going to spend most of the next three years fighting the left’s campaign to absolve teachers of their obligation to provide students with competitive teaching standards.

    Every report on our schools comes with the qualifier about the limitations on teachers due to discipline & parent participation, yet when it comes to increase funding the money seems to go to the teachers.

    What rational person (except the teachers & their union) would keep spending good money after bad?

  5. .

    This is Brendan Nelson’s mess.

    A to E reporting? Really?

    My parents aren’t as educated as he was, but could udnerstand the 1-4 system that NSW public & private schools used.

    The real problem is that kindergarten kids have to be ranked as well…for art for example.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid fucking philistines. How am I going to “rank” a Constable against a Monet? Let alone Billy and Mary’s fingerpainting? What fucking value does the assessment of this and administration thereof do? The Liberals unwittingly gave 1000s iof jobs to highly unionised, unproductive APS and State PS staff to effectively do worse than nothing, and actively be wasteful.

    Testing can be detrimental before Year 11 and 12, it ought only be diagnostic before the final exams anyway. Then there is the debate that testing can be rigourous, it can be botched pretty badly and is bad for learning content or competence – except probably for abstract, theoretical, non applied/non CA maths.

  6. conrad

    “So “Conrad” — dare we say, a teacher — expects us to believe the sun shines out of Gonski’s bum”

    Obviously you need to read it too. I don’t think they mentioned Gonksi at all. Try starting here: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-volume-IV.pdf

  7. Angus Black

    What always amazes me about this debate is the very idea that all students can, with the best support, achieve great academic results – which seems the basic assumption underpinning the arguments of the latte-sippers on this topic.

    This is, of course, a false assumption. I, for example, have always dreamed of bowling legspin for England in an ashes test (a small enough ambition, some may say) but years of practice and the advice of numerous coaches have finally, in my late-middle-age, convinced me that Huonville 2nds would have been a more appropriate ambition :-( Even Steve Smith – now there is a guy who gets the best possible attention from the best coaches that Australia can offer – is never going to bowl like Shane Warne.

    I raise this because, unlike education, no-one is suggesting that we maximise cricket coaching opportunities for those who either have less aptitude (or are willing to offer less application) at cricket or, indeed, any sport. We accept the idea of elite sportsmen but not elite scholars, engineers, etc etc.

    My experience in education (as an educator, at the tertiary level…but I was a schoolboy too!) suggests very strongly to me that ultimately:
    * thick kids will do worse that bright kids
    * kids who apply themselves to learning will do better than those who don’t
    * kids whose environmental matrix values learning will do better than those whose cultural matrix doesn’t

    Teachers can have some impact (particularly in respect to the third dimension), educational resources make a marginal contribution, at most – much more sensible would be to try to identify what the kid is going to do best at and to help him to achieve the best he can in that sphere of activity. We can’t all bowl like Shane Warne but pretty much all of us can do something well.

  8. Struth

    The educators against all sorts of student testing and examination know that student performance is a direct reflection on the education institution and it’s ability to teach.
    They also seem to never have studied history, or convieniently believe practices that worked so well in the past, are irrelevent these days.
    Well of course they would.
    No one likes to admit they’re wrong. Especially a lefty.
    Those that sabotaged the education system from the 1970′s are ultimately to blame for all this, and it is not going to be fixed with the radical feminist left in charge of education now.
    Just like the aboriginal industry, once parasites work out that other people will throw more money at them to fix a percieved problem, that problem will never be resolved.

  9. .

    Struth

    I did well at school, paticularly exams, but they offered nearly no value for me, except in HSC Maths 0r pre HSC Japanese (and probably in primary school for literacy).

    I would have been better off usually just reading a book, in the shop conniving to make something of questionable legality or in an interactive Japanese class.

    The education system pre 1970s wasn’t brilliant either. It was better as the curriculum wasn’t set or dictated like now.

  10. Struth

    Kids came out better educated at half the price.
    Money won’t fix it. A change of culture in education will.The left’s hold on this institution is one of the greatest threats to our country and must be dealt with firmly and soon.
    I learned things at school that I didn’t need later in life. We all do. I haven’t finished with life just yet, so maybe I’ll need “matracies” (if that’s even the way it’s spelled) one day. Of course you must just keep to the basics first and worry about diversification of education later. They are not competent in teaching our kids the basics.
    They are competent in churning out greens voters.Teachers
    get back to basics and keep your politics at home

  11. JohnA

    Angus Black #1103500, posted on December 9, 2013 at 10:31 am

    What always amazes me about this debate is the very idea that all students can, with the best support, achieve great academic results – which seems the basic assumption underpinning the arguments of the latte-sippers on this topic.

    My experience in education (as an educator, at the tertiary level…but I was a schoolboy too!) suggests very strongly to me that ultimately:
    * thick kids will do worse that bright kids
    * kids who apply themselves to learning will do better than those who don’t
    * kids whose environmental matrix values learning will do better than those whose cultural matrix doesn’t

    Teachers can have some impact (particularly in respect to the third dimension), educational resources make a marginal contribution, at most – much more sensible would be to try to identify what the kid is going to do best at and to help him to achieve the best he can in that sphere of activity. We can’t all bowl like Shane Warne but pretty much all of us can do something well.

    Of course. The latte-sippers hold to the socialist mantra that all animals are equal, or that all people are equal down among the proles (because as Alphas, they are superior to the proles, natch).

    Re teacher impact, I would suggest that the school environment can have a significant negative impact if the teachers are bad, and the curriculum is bad, on about two-thirds of the students on average.

    About one-third (the visually oriented learners) will have the best advantage because the environment suits their learning style, and they will battle on regardless of the barriers.

  12. Sid Vicious

    We know our schools are failing students because universities have had to introduce remedial classes.

    Trainee teachers need remedial classes.

    Samantha Maiden, The Australian

    REMEDIAL English lessons are being offered to university students studying teaching degrees because their literacy skills are so poor they struggle with basic grammar.
    Chairman of the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy Ken Rowe has revealed the problem is “so bad” some universities are forced to invest significant resources into helping prospective teachers learn basic skills.

    A relative (teacher) in the Hunter region of NSW informs me that being a member of the vaginaocracy trumps more significant academic qualifications when vying for a promotion.

  13. .

    Matrices are very useful – you need them for caclulus, statistics and engineering.

    I really reckon education costs are overblown by at least threefold.

    The model – focusing on schools, is very wrong.

  14. boy on a bike

    At my school, the top performers tended to be the boarders. They didn’t deliver the dux and the top in subject every year, but given that they made up about 1/4 of the school, they did well in scooping the majority of the awards. We even produced a couple of blokes who got the top marks in the entire state for subjects and the overall HSC equivalent – and they were mostly boarders.

    The biggest reason (I think) was that from year 10 onwards, 3 hours of prep (homework) was compulsory every weeknight. Those that were academically driven would do that – and more – plus further study on the weekends.

    Prep was done in total silence and the prep rooms were overseen by ruthless older boarders. Farting loudly could earn you the cane if it disturbed others from studying. No music, no headphones, no phone calls, no distractions, no games, no TV – just study. Slog, slog, slog. If your parents rang for a chat during prep, they’d be told politely to call back later.

    So even Johny Thickpants, the farmer’s son from woop-woop with an unhealthy interest in tractors and sheep would be driven to the point where he could at least pass every one of his exams at the end of year 12 because they were getting 5 hours of teaching per day (23 hours per week, once sport was subtracted) plus another 15 hours of study at night. Need I add that teaching was done in silence, with socks pulled up and ties properly tied and shoes polished etc. Distracting certain teachers would earn you a well hurled wooden duster between the eyes. You were simply not allowed to interfere with the learning of others. If you acted up, you stuffed up those around you. Bad behavior in the class was stomped on so hard, it very rarely had to be stomped on. Actions had very severe and immediate consequences.

    The bright, highly motivated kids would be doing perhaps 35 hours of study per week. When you are putting in that amount of skull sweat, results will follow. Academic success was celebrated, and you wouldn’t get picked on if you wanted to spend Saturday afternoon studying history instead of goofing off at the local shopping centre.

    This is the simple formula that every Chinese mum knows. Somehow, it seems to elude even our “brightest” academics.

  15. .

    It works Boy, but only for certain disciplines.

    The bright, highly motivated kids would be doing perhaps 35 hours of study per week. When you are putting in that amount of skull sweat, results will follow. Academic success was celebrated, and you wouldn’t get picked on if you wanted to spend Saturday afternoon studying history instead of goofing off at the local shopping centre.

    This I like. Even better than ruthless prep!

  16. Piett

    In my Anglican school, the boarders were brutal, moronic thugs. Remember the uruk-hai from The Lord of the Rings — the particularly fierce Orcs bred up by Saruman. Boarders were just like them, except uglier and with worse personal hygiene.

  17. HK_Brother

    The bright, highly motivated kids would be doing perhaps 35 hours of study per week. When you are putting in that amount of skull sweat, results will follow. Academic success was celebrated, and you wouldn’t get picked on if you wanted to spend Saturday afternoon studying history instead of goofing off at the local shopping centre.

    This is the simple formula that every Chinese mum knows. Somehow, it seems to elude even our “brightest” academics.


    As Chinese-Australian, my study regime for high school (not just HSC) was:

    * Monday to Saturday, 6 hours per day => 36 hours per week. (Sunday is a day of rest).
    * I always had 1 hour of exercise per day. (Weights, jogging, etc).
    * Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Geography, Economics, etc.
    * The only time when I studied a useless course was because I was one unit off to meet the necessary 12 unit HSC requirement. So I picked a 1 unit course called “General Studies”.

    => General Studies was nothing more than one big Leftist garbage of Feminism and Environmentalism. All we did was write essays of how great these “-isms” were for the world. The trick to this subject was nod your head dumbly and agree to everything. Parrot what they chant out. Then once the test is done and you’ve got the marks, throw out the material. You will NEVER use this BS in your life again!

    The above approach was similarly applied to my younger sister. (She didn’t do General Studies, but 3 unit English instead.)

    When any Chinese mother speaks about this approach to study in Western society, they are talked down by others. Not in a belittling way, but more in a way to excuse how children should have more fun. (You can have fun after when you’ve accomplished a stable economic backbone. ie: The pain of study and self-education beats the pain of regret and facing the consequences of poor choices.) …It freaks out Western mothers.

    This is why us Chinese folks no longer say anything and let your kids fall on their faces. If you don’t value education like we do, guess who’s kids will be working for our kids in the long term? Its simple logic. Logic and common sense that escapes Leftists and their academic advisors.

    In our culture, we don’t just value education. We treasure it. We often select subjects that offer some practical value in return. That’s why we do Medicine, Engineering, etc. Our stars and role models include competent tutors and educators. (See Hong Kong and media from China).

    I agree that Western education Academics will never understand this. Just like how they don’t understand when you take the father away from the home, and the young boys grow up into thugs because they don’t have a good male role model to follow. Anyone notice this happens with the Black American Community as well as Australian Middle Eastern males involved in Criminal Bikie gangs? Always ask this question as the media does not: Where are the fathers?

    Anyway, why do they care? They’re just following the exact pattern as the USA and UK. Spend more. Spend more. Spend more. Money going straight to the teachers. Which trickle down to annual union subscriptions. As the grades either don’t improve or go backwards!

    Asian countries really are smiling at such shear stupidity. Sometimes, we are amazed that most of the Western public agree to this without seriously demanding what the heck is going on!

    The only solution is to create a parallel education system that rips the ownership of education itself from the unions. Its the only way. This could be in the form of home-schooling or some other non-conventional private schooling system that groups kids/students by ability, not age.

  18. Struth

    Your exacctly right HK.
    At least they’re trying to get the kids to learn Mandarin, Cantonese now in preparation for the not too distant future.

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