Reinventing the wheel

This sentence caught my eye in The Australian:

The government should also fund thousands of sub-degree programs to keep poorly prepared students out of university courses until they have the ­academic skills to keep up.

That is from a report by David Kemp and Andrew Norton commissioned by Christopher Pyne.

Small problem though. The government already funds thousands of sub-degree programs – they’re called “schools”. The very purpose of these “schools” is to prepare students – some of them anyway – for university.

To be fair though, one of the reasons why so many students at university appear to be under-prepared is because universities don’t have high “entry standards” anymore. That wouldn’t be such a problem if universities maintained high exit standards.

That is the real choice – either maintain high entry standards or maintian high exit standards. If you have a system of low entry standards, however, the “price” to be paid is high drop-out rates.

This entry was posted in Education. Bookmark the permalink.

78 Responses to Reinventing the wheel

  1. conrad

    If only you could tell us how to fix schools (and just saying “vouchers” etc. won’t cut it since there’s no evidence they work, and it’s not like people haven’t tried it). The solution which is emerging, for better or worse, is that we simply end up with a US style system where people need to stay at university longer to get to the same place. The other solution, which was probably no too bad (or certainly better than university being the only choice for many), was the Tafe system, although it’s been degraded a lot in many places due to funding cuts so it’s no longer a great solution either.

  2. Sinclair Davidson

    Conrad – I’m not a great fan of vouchers (please provide links to where they have been tried). I think fees should be charged. With parental means testing to ensure children from low-income households get to school.

    I would abolish the federal department of education and impose a 90 % efficiency dividend on state education departments. Have schools run by a PTA where only fee paying parents are eligible to be on the committee.

  3. Andrew

    Great – another “no child left behind” program. But for 18yos. So poorly prepared students lacking academic skills get to have 4 years to do their degrees now (in the unlikely event that many not good enough students get that far). No wonder the world is laughing at us – we pander to the leftist education unions, wonder why HSC students aren’t ready, and come up with this. The only surprise is that Pyne666 and some Libs came up with it – I would have expected it from the Gillard term as our worst EdMin.

  4. Rabz

    Both the school and university systems have been completely fucked over courtesy of ‘regressive’ idiotology.

    Great effort, dunderheads.

  5. dianeh

    I agree with the Professor on most of his suggestions.

    The only way to improve educational outcomes is to ensure that there is constant monitoring of those outcomes at the local level. And that cannot be done by a govt bureacracy. It can only be done by the parents.

    I have recently moved my children from public to private school due to the poor standard of our local public school. I dont believe it is the teachers themselves that are the problem, rather the system they work in and the need for conformity and teaching to the average student. I have one very bright kid at the top of her class who was bored out of her brain, and another with an intellectual disability who never learnt a damn thing. The standardised public system does not cater well to either of them, as it is left up to the overworked teacher, and by overworked, I mean having to deal with all sort of social issues, behavioural issues etc instead of teaching.

  6. egg_

    IIRC Fraser hid yoof unemployment for 2 years by extending job requirements such a basic bank teller to HSC level vs SC; senior bankies then seemed to need a useless degree such as a B.A. to be directly recruited as a branch sub-Manager.
    Credentialism, indeed.

  7. Kae

    How true, Sinclair.

    The denning down of universities has a lot to do with the demolition of the old apprenticeship system, glorification of TAFEs, and the push to keep unemoyment rates down by encouraging every high school student to go on to university.

    UQ has got rid of the feeder associate and dioma BAppSc degrees.

  8. conrad

    I’m happy to see the federal department of Education demolished — this way at least states can compete against each other, although the problem there is parents don’t seem to care. I’d be furious if I lived in some of the poorer performing states, for example, but people here seem more preoccupied with cross-country comparisons. I also don’t mind your idea of having only (perhaps mainly) paying parents on the PTA.

    If I get some time today, I’ll dig around for a few reviews of voucher funding (which is, incidentally, not especially different to what we have and many other places of the world where only a few schools are strictly zoned). Most only ever report weak effects.

  9. Crossie

    The only surprise is that Pyne666 and some Libs came up with it – I would have expected it from the Gillard term as our worst EdMin.

    And they still won’t get any credit for it from the luvvies.

  10. Sinclair Davidson

    Conrad – I’m not surprised many parents aren’t angry about poor education. For many they have little choice and no option for change. Getting angry is a waste of time and emotion.

  11. brc

    Conrad – I’m not surprised many parents aren’t angry about poor education. For many they have little choice and no option for change. Getting angry is a waste of time and emotion.

    Youre also forgetting that many have been convinced that education is a state matter over which parents should not intervene. Parents turn their kids over to the school and are told to ‘leave it to the experts’ as you would for surgery. I recently heard a parent ask a teacher if she should stop her child playing math games on an iPad because she was worried it would interfere with the class lessons. Such parents don’t argue with anything the teachers or school does because they’ve been convinced that they couldn’t possibly understand.

  12. Vouchers are to change the behaviour of parents, to stop some of them spending government cash on booze and fags instead of their kids schooling.

    Levying fees would at least prompt parents to seek value for money.

  13. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    The German system has never dropped the idea of streaming for intellectual ability at the primary and secondary school level. They have a secondary system that streams for academic studies at a university and also for technical apprenticeships and technical/managerial tertiary training. They don’t appear to downgrade or denigrate the non-university sector (although no doubt the higher achievement is sought by aspirational parents). We put all our eggs into a university basket where poorer universities ape better ones, and we largely regard high school streaming as unfair.

    A result of this non-streaming is that all are forced into one mould: the university pathway. So, many of our universities are once-were technical colleges that have ‘improved’ themselves by becoming, at best, lower to mid service sector training grounds for white-collar and government-funded occupations (where jobs expand to fit the available graduates; another consequence). They have lost any hard science and technology oomph they once had and haven’t developed anything much more in that line. Their students are encouraged to see themselves as fit for ‘academic’ white-collar careers rather than anything else. So we get a surplus of bad lawyers. Meanwhile, the TAFE sector has become full of ‘soft’ studies of little prestige. Just a holding operation.

    It may seem axiomatic, but it needs to be said loud and clear: encourage only the obviously academically able to strive for university. Bring institutions of TAFE origins and lower traditional academic standards back into a TAFE-type orientation where the emphasis is on a useful type of credential, producing graduates with highly useable skills for ‘hands on’ career paths.

    This would mean ditching all current ‘curriculum advisors’ and the like in TAFE, and cutting the soft options and their staff, plus two-tiering the university system (which would provoke massive shrieks of outrage). At least a plan for a slow implementation of such changes might be more worthwhile than the proposal above to teach basic academic skills to those who haven’t had the brains so far to get them. Those who, like me, have had a bad family situation or bad schooling holding them back will find their own way to achieve if they have capacity. Improving high school discipline and teaching would assist them more than the above ‘remedial’ proposal anyway.

  14. Ant

    High entry standards?

    Isn’t that wacissst?

  15. Combine Dave

    Conrad – I’m not surprised many parents aren’t angry about poor education. For many they have little choice and no option for change. Getting angry is a waste of time and emotion.

    Perhaps they themselves or too poorly educated to care, or simply lack a culture that values education either primary, secondary or tertiary?

  16. craig

    Maybe universities should look at the way they grade. 70/30 or 60/40 assignment/exam split is just too easy in my book. At least make the exam a must pass test to pass the unit or subject, that way, students actually learn the core principles rather than give a half assed effort in the final and walk away knowing that failing the exam doesn’t matter.

  17. A Lurker

    Schools nowadays seem to be all about brainwashing. I doubt there exists in Australia a school that teaches the 3-R’s in the traditional, rote-learning method. In fact, I reckon the average 60-70-yr old would run rings around most University graduates in subjects such as math, mental arithmetic, comprehension, spelling, grammar, history, and general knowledge.

    The rot started way back in primary school, and it is there it must be addressed. In the meantime we have an entire generation who have fallen between the cracks.

  18. .

    conrad
    #1264093, posted on April 14, 2014 at 7:50 am
    If only you could tell us how to fix schools (and just saying “vouchers” etc. won’t cut it since there’s no evidence they work, and it’s not like people haven’t tried it).

    Absolute bullshit. Then you say you want the states to compete.

    Some people can’t be taught.

    Small problem though. The government already funds thousands of sub-degree programs – they’re called “schools”.

    Schools are the problem. Why should you have to enrol your kids in a “school” for uni prep with hundreds of other kids who are disinterested, are taught in an expensive, “job making” regimented throwback to the early 1800s?

  19. Eyrie

    Pathetic isn’t it? Teaching children to read, write, comprehend and do basic arithmetic was a solved problem 100 years ago and was still solved in Australia 50 years ago.
    Make the little bastards sit in rows at desks instead of the free form “clusters” that they have now. Start the day with spelling, mental arithmetic and written “sums”. Abolish the federal Education department and severely downsize the state ones. Ban teacher’s unions except for teachers employed by private schools. After all, if government is as good as most leftist teachers seem to believe, they really don’t need a union to protect them from it do they?

  20. Baldrick

    “We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.” Will Rogers

  21. rebel with cause

    Why is the state so intolerant of 16 year olds that want to work for a living?

  22. minderbinder of QLD

    We need to adjust our thinking to the new reality. It has taken 50 years to stuff up a good, (not great), education system, so even if our society started corrective action now, it would take at least the same amount of time to create an improved product.
    Education in Australia at school, TAFE, and university, levels has been well and truly reduced to a trivial knowledge level. To their credit, the architects, and managers, of this destruction of a once good system, did not achieve this overnight, but worked diligently at the task for some decades now.
    It would also be wrong to give the credit for this production of dross to any one organisation, for it is the actions of many hapless airheads that have created this omnivorous monster, that yields a defective product. If the Education Industry was an automobile manufacturer, they would have to recall every item of every product for repairs.
    To see a failed Prime Minister (“I have spoken about this many many times most fullsomely ), be put in charge of any Education management is frightening, but not unexpected since they have exactly zero classroom experience. Indeed, experience in the classroom delivery of knowledge is seen as a positive disadvantage in managing education systems.
    To see, and hear, the daily deceitful use of statistics, science “facts”, and the English language is very crushing. It is obvious that the populace has such a low level of general knowledge, comprehension, and critical logic, that they are reduced to a reliance on so many self styled experts for their own personal reality.
    Journalists are now the new teachers, however with some of the following recent examples of their own expertise, one soon realises that our society is in deep trouble.

    “some person must have efforted to change the plane’s direction” ABC Journalist
    “A search area of 2000 square thousand kilometers” ABC journalists
    “Lara Giddings has a feeling of dauntedness” journalist
    “We want to greenify this space” Greens spokesperson
    the serious report of a 13 year old schoolboy who created a controlled nuclear fusion reaction in a classroom.

    and the list goes on and on, however there is no relief in sight.
    So we end up with 300 first year Marketing students; University degree courses in Golf course, Hospitality, or leisure management, university Science courses with 50 % of the content of 50 years ago, where non attendance is the only failure criteria and too many other examples to relate.

    So maybe just take the medication and watch the chaos entertainment.

  23. Driftforge

    The only way to improve educational outcomes is to ensure that there is constant monitoring of those outcomes at the local level.

    The only way to improve educational outcomes in the long run is to breed more intelligent children. Unfortunately, we have a society that doesn’t believe that breeding matters.

    In terms of doing the best with what you have, well first you have to be honest about what you have. The current process tries to push everyone through the same cookie cutter, so that you end up with an nondescript, interchangeable product at the end.

    And yes, universities need to be a little harder on entry, and a lot harder on letting students past year 1.

  24. Driftforge

    13 year old schoolboy who created a controlled nuclear fusion reaction

    Yeah, that has been done. Look into ‘fusors’.

  25. MACK1

    All problems in all organisations are due to bad management until proven otherwise. My expericience as a public primary school council president led me to the conclusion that the public education systems are managed by politicians and public servants who are simply not up to the job, with a big reason being the malign influence of the teachers’ unions. A carefully regulated private system with vouchers for the poor, with better managers, is the only solution.

  26. conrad

    “Conrad – I’m not surprised many parents aren’t angry about poor education. For many they have little choice and no option for change. “

    I don’t see how you come to that conclusion Sinclair. If you want to pay the extra for a private school that teachers, say, the IB, you can. Just many people don’t want to pay for it. There may be some low SES groups that can’t, and that needs to be considered, but most people in Aus are well off by any stretch of the imagination (excluding often their own).

    [Dotty]. Absolute bullshit. Then you say you want the states to compete.

    Dotty, there’s no evidence vouchers have any big effect (and it’s not like this hasn’t been measured — it has a number of times). If you can find any evidence with any decent effect size, please share it with everyone.

    As for states — of course I want them to compete. Would you rather they didn’t and stay with the status quo? That’s one of the problems of the great national curriculum, this lack of information problem becomes worse.


    Why should you have to enrol your kids in a “school” for uni prep with hundreds of other kids who are disinterested

    You can enroll you kids anywhere dotty.

  27. Angus Black

    I can’t understand why you would believe that high exit standards would be maintained. Grade inflation has been consistent during my academic career; those academics who tried to make a stand for quality have steadily become “wastage” as University Administration sought to appear successful to external eyes (particularly those able to influence funding).

    It is quite humbling to review HSC papers in mathematics (or anything else, actually, but maths offers less scope for confusing ” objectivity”) over the years. Work back at intervals of, say, a decade and you will be astonished at the expectations of the past. There is little difference between what has occurred in the schools and the universities.

    How did it come to this? Well like boiling a frog: imperceptible changes over a long period (the frog never jumps out of the steadily heating water). Comb-over hairstyles, just the same, of course: first a careful comb over a thinning spot, then…and 10 years later you look like THAT!

  28. rebel with cause

    At least nowadays, a bright kid with an internet connection has access to the greatest library of knowledge the world has ever known. I went to uni, but most of the valuable knowledge I have comes from learning on the job, or stuff I have learnt reading blogs and watching YouTube videos. The formal education system might be in the doldrums, but the informal education system has never been healthier.

  29. Up The Workers!

    Hardly a fair comment, Sinclair.

    Look at the University of Adelaide, for instance. They charged a certain bent, sacked ex-solicitor some $100 million when they sold her her “plastic professorship” recently.

    That sound to me like they were setting the bar pretty high.

  30. Up The Workers!

    Surely one of the world’s great ‘oxy-morons’ is that of being Minister for Education in a Labor (sic) mis-government.

    How could you keep a straight face when being introduced as the Minister for Education in a Party too dumb to spell its own name correctly, despite having had a century in which to get it right?

    It’s almost as comical as “Wayne Swan – World’s Greatest (innumerate) Treasurer”.

  31. Turtle of WA

    Dead right Angus Black. We are getting dumber. I remember looking back at old exam papers at Uni, and feeling relieved that I wasn’t doing the paper from ten years before. The change in standard was such that had I done my degree ten years prior, I would not have been able to bullshit my way through those subjects I was not interested in.

  32. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Comb-over hairstyles, just the same, of course: first a careful comb over a thinning spot, then…and 10 years later you look like THAT

    Angus, that’s why we need a number 1 clipper over the whole system.

  33. Ellen of Tasmania

    Public education isn’t about the children. It’s a jobs programme, created and sustained for Labor/Greens voters. If you really want your children educated, you go somewhere else. If you want them indoctrinated, you feed them to the system.

  34. Boambee John

    “To see, and hear, the daily deceitful use of statistics, science “facts”, and the English language is very crushing.”

    “Surely one of the world’s great ‘oxy-morons’ is that of being Minister for Education in a Labor (sic) mis-government.”

    One of the various Ministers for Education under the Great Gough once pontificated along the lines “I shall not rest until every Australian child gets above average results”.

    I suspect his insomnia continues!

  35. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    the informal education system has never been healthier.

    Yea!! I was a school-escaper at fourteen and became an autodidact gleaning knowledges from everywhere. Then I put myself through matric and into uni when I was 21.
    These days, it’s long live the internet. So much easier due to advances in this.

  36. stackja

    Ellen of Tasmania
    #1264228, posted on April 14, 2014 at 10:35 am
    Public education isn’t about the children. It’s a jobs programme, created and sustained for Labor/Greens voters. If you really want your children educated, you go somewhere else. If you want them indoctrinated, you feed them to the system.

    Public education is union-run. Private education is parent-run.

  37. Driftforge

    It is quite humbling to review HSC papers in mathematics (or anything else, actually, but maths offers less scope for confusing ” objectivity”) over the years. Work back at intervals of, say, a decade and you will be astonished at the expectations of the past. There is little difference between what has occurred in the schools and the universities.

    I came across another little tell a few weeks ago; apparently there is a strong correlation between reaction time and intelligence. Since this was first noted in around 1850, the reaction time of the (English) population has dropped by an amount that infers a drop in IQ of 15 points.

    Now while that may have occurred, and while the correlation still holds, I’m not entirely convinced that a regression over time wouldn’t show we’ve gotten slower as a group but not dumber. But it could well be both.

  38. Spiro

    universities don’t have high “entry standards” anymore

    Sorry, Sinclair. This should read: secondary schools don’t have high “exit standards” anymore.

  39. RodClarke

    Why is the state so intolerant of 16 year olds that want to work for a living?

    Apparently you have to be 16 to work at McDonalds now.

    The Libs lifted the child part time work age from 14years 9months to 16years.

    I think that 12 is the ideal age to learn that money comes from work.

  40. Squirrel

    “The government should also fund thousands of sub-degree programs to keep poorly prepared students out of university courses until they have the ­academic skills to keep up.”

    What a pathetic cop-out – as others have suggested, why not point those who are not suited to university (such as it now is) in the direction of other opportunities which might prepare them for real jobs (doing things which other people are prepared to pay for with their own money, not just publicly-funded activities).

    If we do enough of this, we won’t need to import quite so many people (and their extended families and the resultant decades of welfare costs) to meet skills shortages which we have created and allowed to develop through stupid, craven policies.

  41. .

    Conrad you are shifting goalposts.

    Is there an effect? Are the results better than the alternative? Is it cheaper?

    If yes to all – rejecting vouchers out of hand is just plain dumb. How can you want the states to compete but not schools within a city? You then say we are free to enrol anywhere. Even if the competition of hundreds of kilometres (except for the very wealthy, and with no vouchers) away.

    Make the little bastards sit in rows at desks instead of the free form “clusters” that they have now.

    Up to a point. Beyond literacy and numeracy, no one learns like this. Not effectively for useful things. You can’t teach programming, creative writing or metal work like that.

  42. thefrollickingmole

    Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Im with you on the German system. It did seem that we had a bit of that going on in the 80′s with the TAFE colleges, not as good as it should have been but getting there.

    Also for those who think maths is immune from the tentacles of PC/feminist/marxist claptrap..

    Moving towards a feminist epistemology of mathematics
    There is, now, an extensive critical literature on gender and the nature of science three aspects of which, philosophy, pedagogy and epistemology, seem to be pertinent to a discussion of gender and mathematics. Although untangling the inter-relationships between these three is no simple matter, they make effective starting points in order to ask similar questions of mathematics to those asked by our colleagues in science. In the process of asking such questions, a major difference between the empirical approach of the sciences, and the analytic nature of mathematics, is exposed and leads towards the definition of a new epistemological position in mathematics.

    I have actually read a free version of this paper and you know one of the main methods used to critique maths?
    A Play.

  43. Ellen of Tasmania

    Private education is parent-run.

    ‘Private’ schools still have state-accredited teachers, state funding and state mandated curriculum.

  44. conrad

    Conrad you are shifting goalposts.

    Is there an effect? Are the results better than the alternative? Is it cheaper?

    There is more or less no effect. If you look through reviews of it, you find mild positive effects and mild negative effects reported (often only qualitatively) — and so the sum total is more or less zero on any fair analysis. I.e., it’s something that won’t increase or decrease the efficacy of your school system. Thus claiming it will fix the school system isn’t true. This is orthogonal to whether you want it or not (and, in Aus, we pretty much have it given all schools are subsidized, including private ones).

    How can you want the states to compete but not schools within a city

    I’m happy to have both. Did I ever say schools shouldn’t compete? All I did was agree that federal control of schools wasn’t a good idea.

  45. MT Isa Miner

    Ellen of Tasmania

    #1264298, posted on April 14, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Private education is parent-run.

    ‘Private’ schools still have state-accredited teachers, state funding and state mandated curriculum.

    You all have nailed the problems but no-one is listening. The socialist equality troops have won on over the last 50 years. Ellen points out the elephant the needs an elephant gun to deal with.

  46. hzhousewife

    Apparently you have to be 16 to work at McDonalds now.

    Co-workers youngster just started at Maccas at 14 yrs 9 mos, just one shift a week, she is saving money to help pay for soccer trips ( excellent junior player, tournaments cost her parents heaps in travel expenses)(NSW).

    Self-directed and disciplined people can educate themselves, BUT, they still cannot get JOBS
    without multiple pieces of paper. They can also self-employ, but often need capital to start doing so.

  47. Coles will take them at 13, I was told yesterday by the mother of a 13 year old in search of a job.

  48. Self-directed and disciplined people can educate themselves, BUT, they still cannot get JOBS
    without multiple pieces of paper. They can also self-employ, but often need capital to start doing so.

    The alternative is to train on the job, or while working, which is often what happens in the carer/support worker industry. You can get a Cert III without half-killing yourself, if your employer is willing.

  49. .

    How can you want more competition between schools and not want vouchers and claim they don’t help the efficacy of the system? We know the private system is cheaper per student with and without “subsidies” anyway.

  50. The Libs lifted the child part time work age from 14years 9months to 16years.

    I’m very very clued up on IR stuff, but am near enough to clueless once you get outside the areas I am forced to deal with. For the mandated raising of employee’s minimum age was the doing of the ALP, via the Fair Work Act.

    Before that staff could be down to 14yo, or 16 if they were handling grog.
    Yet another anti-worker piece of legislating by the ALP. It is almost as if the ALP wanted kids to go on the government teat, instead of learning to be self-reliant.

  51. Senile Old Guy

    Education in Australia at school, TAFE, and university, levels has been well and truly reduced to a trivial knowledge level.

    Oh, please. This is absolute nonsense. I guess it was getting boring so the Doomlord decided to stir the pot.

    By all means, discuss the situation but these ambit, over the top statements are just plain silly.

    Things have changed over 50 years. Go figure!

    The entire landscape in which young people now operate has changed in extraordinary ways. My kids grew up learning to read and do math using entertaining computer games. When I was their age, computers were large cabinets which filled a room. There was no internet, no laptops, tablets and smart phones.

    We could sit around for hours learning our times tables because there was sod all else to learn. My kids can access more information, more quickly than I could get from the main shire public library. And, due to various bits of lobbying and injection of “other stuff” in the curriculum, they waste time doing things that are not useful to many. On the radio this morning: a proposal to mandate that all students do the package of learning that was developed by the Moorcombes. Put that in, everything else gets squashed or something goes.

    Many of the occupations today’s primary school, middle school and high school students will work in didn’t exist when I was doing my PhD. And I’m not rubbishing the trades. There has been too much emphasis on a university education, to the detriment of some professions.

  52. Senile Old Guy

    SatP:

    It is almost as if the ALP wanted kids to go on the government teat, instead of learning to be self-reliant.

    You say this like you were surprised. Union/ALP changes in recent years seem designed to ensure that young people cannot be profitably employed (i.e. as in “profitably” for the business).

  53. You say this like you were surprised.

    Didn’t mean it to seem that way, hence the italic emphasis of “wanted”.
    I’m up to my ears in some of the stupidest compliance rigmaroles known to the ALP. All designed to do one (or both) of two things:
    1/. Make small business unviable.
    2/. Make the population reliant upon the government for everything.

    I’m with rancher Clive Bundy, start shooting the representatives of the govt.

  54. JohnA

    I am SO glad I am not alone in thinking that it’s not the structure but the content that is the problem with education. (Hi Ellen of Tas, Mt Isa Miner frolicking mole et al).

    Senile Old Guy, you hyper-ventilate over the hyperbole of others, and yes – the knowledge base over the last 50-100 years has changed of course. But I suggest that you go see a restored school in an historical village somewhere and compare the level of skill demanded at say year 8 with the level of skill required these days at tertiary and be prepared for a shock.

    When my wife and I were running an educational curriculum supply business, we were asked by a frustrated Uni lecturer for stuff on grammar and comprehension, because his students were handing in totally incoherent essays which took him too long to assess: now there’s a productivity problem.

  55. Leigh Lowe

    The government already funds thousands of sub-degree programs – they’re called “schools”. The very purpose of these “schools” is to prepare students – some of them anyway – for university.

    It is not just the gap from schools to first degrees where this is apparent.
    Some years ago I did an MBA at a University I prefer not to name for fear of permanent moderation. Early on in that course we were asked to do a “Research Project” on Leadership where we were asked to list as many references (papers, books, internet) on Leadership as possible. I asked the lecturer what we do then … pick one and critique it?, write about Leadership styles? ….what?
    “Nothing” was the reply, “Just list them”
    When I said this didn’t make sense, I was told that many of the students didn’t have a first degree and needed practice on resourcing material for other course work.
    I told this clown that this was a post-graduate course and learning the Dewey decimal system should be “catch-up” summer school work, not part of the core studies of a post-grad course.
    My protests fell on deaf ears.

  56. Leigh Lowe

    Coles will take them at 13 …

    So did Robert Hughes, unfortunately.

  57. Leigh Lowe

    When my wife and I were running an educational curriculum supply business, we were asked by a frustrated Uni lecturer for stuff on grammar and comprehension, because his students were handing in totally incoherent essays which took him too long to assess

    Wot do u mean, took 2 long 2 r8 & ass-s?

  58. …many of the students didn’t have a first degree and needed practice on resourcing material for other course work.

    Better story than mine.

    All of my sisters are schoolteachers. Several times each day I receive an sms, or hushed phone call: “Psst.. I’m in the middle of a lesson, how do you spell byootafull?” Or “Quickly, I’ve got a class asking me, what is the meaning of ‘antonym’?” or something.

  59. .

    Old Guy and Steve:

    Here in NSW, so called Liberal Premier, Spazza d’Barrell has effectively opening up new private schools.

    A good teacher may not compete with their incompetent boss.

    When my wife and I were running an educational curriculum supply business, we were asked by a frustrated Uni lecturer for stuff on grammar and comprehension, because his students were handing in totally incoherent essays which took him too long to assess: now there’s a productivity problem.

    I couldn’t agree more. I wanted to pass people. If they wrote stuff that made sense, they either backed up with credible references or could prove on their own, I’d usually pass them, as is fair and the usual standard.

    I got to the point where I couldn’t read an essay just once, unless they were mature age students.

    They were lucky I took the time to read what they wrote, but some still failed because it was either incorrect or still didn’t make sense after several passes. Generally, those who struggled nearly always failed on aggregate. The older, more heartless would fail them in an instant just on the final.

  60. Senile Old Guy

    But I suggest that you go see a restored school in an historical village somewhere and compare the level of skill demanded at say year 8 with the level of skill required these days at tertiary and be prepared for a shock.

    Why is what happens in a historical village relevant to what happens now?

    “by a frustrated Uni lecturer for stuff on grammar and comprehension, because his students were handing in totally incoherent essays which took him too long to assess: now there’s a productivity problem.”

    And I understand but the curriculum must have more now because there is more to learn and be competent in than in a historical village. Some of the teacher training is, or at least was, inappropriate (whole word approach to reading instead of phonics). Useless stuff stuffed into the curriculum due to various lobby groups (I include academics in this).

    Plus your “frustrated lecturer” will be dealing with the worst students in his class, who wouldn’t be there (probably) 20 years ago due to standards.

    I’m not hyperventilating. Just weary of people harking back to “the good old days”.

  61. Eyrie

    Dot, without the literacy and numeracy they won’t learn much of anything else.

  62. .

    I’m with both sides.

    I’d like everyone to be able to pass the “Year 7 leaving exam, 1895″ and also be able to find information for themselves, have a much broader knowledge of the world and have learnt at school by the structure used by free schools.

    I’m telling you the less rigid structure is better (see Sir Ken Robinson etc on Youtube) and lot of the rubbish is because of the curricula. I am in the age cohort which was taught that grammar does not matter. I struggle to keep up with classically educated, elite privately educated or simply older people (not in context or flow, but in terms of writing what I mean without flaw quickly enough). This forum has been helpful though. We know the curricula is rubbish. The HSC economics course has been a joke for a long time and stage II history teaching kids that moving to agriculture from hunter gathering was a mistake…we all know that these fruity ideas, methods and courses ultimately warp people. It doesn’t matter if you learn good content from a tutor, from a learning web or in a regimented military school classroom, as long as it works.

  63. conrad

    “How can you want more competition between schools and not want vouchers and claim they don’t help the efficacy of the system? We know the private system is cheaper per student with and without “subsidies” anyway.”

    That’s just the empirical evidence. If you look at why, it becomes unsurprising because factors like distance from school and so on are especially important to many parents and these trump the benefit vouchers might bring. In places like Aus, it would be even less surprising because being given a voucher that you can then spend only on education (including private providers) and being given some part of your education for free that you would otherwise spend a voucher on is more or less identical.
    There are a number of reviews (e.g., http://www.jstor.org/stable/3216912) and they all more or less say the same thing.

    So the best way to make schools competitive is really to make them good (indeed, it’s not really “competitive” in some sense because many don’t operate like businesses), and vouchers are not one of the things that increases how good they are measurably.

  64. .

    Australia is urbanised with widespread mass transit. Distance to school rarely matters. A drive from a country town to a big centre with an elite private school is often not far.

    Public funding in Australia does mimic vouchers, but you’re dismissing empirical evidence with an explanation you’re not quantifying. Parents and principals are not controlling or subject to the same market forces they would be under a voucher system. The school system decides where go to school in the public system by what is effectively a zoning system.

  65. Senile Old Guy

    I told this clown that this was a post-graduate course and learning the Dewey decimal system should be “catch-up” summer school work, not part of the core studies of a post-grad course.

    Entirely understand and I see similar problems. It is, however, important to remember that the “clown” probably has no control over who is let into the class and if the “clown” fails too many*, they will be getting summons from on high. There are, however, better and worse ways of dealing with this issue.

    * “Too many” here is often arbitrarily defined and in ways which little educational sense.

  66. .

    I was once reprimanded for writing on moderated exam papers, that “these people” (by then, second to third year students) shouldn’t have even be admitted to undergraduate courses as they lacked adequate language skills.

    Eventually, the value of an undergraduate degree will approach worthlessness or journal articles and post-grad student quality ultimately will fall precipitously.

  67. Senile Old Guy

    Eventually, the value of an undergraduate degree will approach worthlessness or journal articles and post-grad student quality ultimately will fall precipitously.

    Check here: it’s already a problem.

  68. conrad

    Australia is urbanised with widespread mass transit. Distance to school rarely matters. A drive from a country town to a big centre with an elite private school is often not far.

    Distance does matter — ask anyone that lives in places like Sydney. Also, if you’re saying distance doesn’t matter you’re wrong, just look through any literature on the matter, and not just for vouchers. It’s one of the big problems, especially in low SES areas where there often isn’t good transport.

    “Public funding in Australia does mimic vouchers, but you’re dismissing empirical evidence with an explanation you’re not quantifying. “

    I’m willing to bet that if you did a meta-analyses of meta-analyses the overall effect of reported studies would be approximately zero (since no-one reports big effects, either positive or negative) — or at least so small other factors are vastly more worth thinking about/implementing. As far as I”m aware, there is no meta-analyses on meta-analyses, and since I don’t want to cherry pick things, I’m not going to just pull one out that fits a story. I can if you really want.

    “Parents and principals are not controlling or subject to the same market forces they would be under a voucher system.”

    Yes they are. If they don’t get enough students, they get closed down/amalgamated etc. . or their funding is diminished.

    The school system decides where go to school in the public system by what is effectively a zoning system.”

    Most public schools arn’t zoned in Australia to the extent that they don’t take people from other zones (rather they must guarantee people within their own zones get a place). In addition, if parents really wanted their kids to go to a zoned school, they can simply rent in those places. I live in one of these zoned areas for a prestigious public school, and there are definitely places you can rent if you really want your children to go to a good school including reasonably cheap apartments. In addition, I don’t see how vouchers would change this anyway — even with vouchers, I don’t see why schools would drop zoning.

  69. Senile Old Guy

    Most public schools arn’t zoned in Australia to the extent that they don’t take people from other zones (rather they must guarantee people within their own zones get a place).

    So they are zoned. And, if you are out of zone, it can be very hard to get kids in.

    In addition, if parents really wanted their kids to go to a zoned school, they can simply rent in those places. I live in one of these zoned areas for a prestigious public school, and there are definitely places you can rent if you really want your children to go to a good school including reasonably cheap apartments.

    Not exactly a realistic proposition for a lot of people.

    In addition, I don’t see how vouchers would change this anyway — even with vouchers, I don’t see why schools would drop zoning.

    Because, if the money follows the student, and the students can go somewhere else, there goes your funding. Have you looked at how this operates in the US? But the government has to remove zoning and/or allow private schools.

  70. Driftforge

    Why bother with vouchers when the government can just fund the schools directly? The idea of ‘paying’ for schooling with little torn off bits of paper is so 19th century.

    Oddly, I think one of the most under-served areas in schooling is low cost education. The public education system results in no market for it. Left to the private system, you’d see offerings for less than the current cost of public education.

    Of course, the overbearing requirements for curriculum and staffing have to be tossed for it to work.

    Just prescribe the exam at the end, and leave the curriculum required to achieve that to the market.

  71. .

    Conrad

    You are just wrong. All low SES areas in Sydney have very good transport, the high SES places have none. They refuse to have trains explicitly so the riff raff don’t go there. The best schools are in neither areas.

    You’re willing to bet…that incentives don’t count. Don’t you find this a bit hard to say with a straight face?

    Schools are not operated rationally. Schools may take decades to close down or being investigated for either poor performance or very low enrolment. This is part of why the funding system only mimics, not replicates vouchers.

    Schools are zoned. You are saying being low SES is a problem (and erroneously think time and financial cost of transit is unaffordable), and we don’t need vouchers, people can “just rent” in a higher SES area. I don’t think you’ve thought this through.

  72. .

    Oddly, I think one of the most under-served areas in schooling is low cost education. The public education system results in no market for it. Left to the private system, you’d see offerings for less than the current cost of public education.

    Spazza d’Barrell has recently and effectively banned this.

  73. Boambee John

    “Moving towards a feminist epistemology of mathematics”

    As long as this course is taught only to feminists, they can fill their boots.

    However, i suspect that the real aim is to downgrade the national understanding so that feminists can avoid having to make the effort to understand some basic principles.

  74. Big Jim

    “We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.” Will Rogers

    Baldrick is right, but the self effacing little fellow lacks the gauche to spell it out. That is where Big Jim comes in.

    Design any school system you will, and you shall find: Some people are as bright as buttons, many people are reassuringly bovine, and some people are as thick as fence posts. That is the natural order of things.

  75. conrad

    “You are just wrong. All low SES areas in Sydney have very good transport, the high SES places have none. They refuse to have trains explicitly so the riff raff don’t go there. The best schools are in neither areas.”

    Dotty, if you look at any literature on this issue, one of the big problems is many people arn’t willing to travel. You can call me wrong all you like, but please read some of the stuff. I find it somewhat surprising (especially in the smaller cities), but in the end perhaps some are just lazy and this is what they report.

    You’re willing to bet…that incentives don’t count. Don’t you find this a bit hard to say with a straight face?

    Dotty, the first article I linked will give you a fairly neutral perspective (i.e, no great effect). I can link others and you can make your mind up if you want. Alternatively, go and speak to someone who grew up in the Soviet union about what they think of their children’s education in Aus or the US is like. The ones I’ve spoken to are horrified at how little they learn (there’s a reason the USSR kept up in physics and maths and their fighters work well). This was despite their school system, and indeed their entire social system, having nothing to do with free choice. This shows that even at the extremes you don’t have big effects in the schools system (I know, it’s surprising, but that’s just what the empirical data is). Even today, there are European countries that give parents more or less no choice, and they still get good outcomes. The favorite left wing example is Finland, and advocates will point to it being a strong factor in why they are good, but of course you can find the opposite too. All this is saying it is not a thrilling factor and people are trying attribute a big effect size to something that is not.

    “Schools are not operated rationally. Schools may take decades to close down or being investigated for either poor performance or very low enrolment. This is part of why the funding system only mimics, not replicates vouchers.”

    My school was closed down :-) .

    Schools are zoned. You are saying being low SES is a problem (and erroneously think time and financial cost of transit is unaffordable), and we don’t need vouchers, people can “just rent” in a higher SES area. I don’t think you’ve thought this through.

    Schools are *not* zoned to stop people coming in from outside, they are zoned to force schools to take people *within* a district. For example, here is the South Australia policy which I can find quickly: http://www.decd.sa.gov.au/locs/pages/default/pszoning/?reFlag=1 . The reason no-one cares much about not being able to move is most people don’t want to move.

    Also, I’ve thought about it. If people want schooling in higher SES districts, it is quite possible for them to move if they are willing to rent (possibly excluding Sydney). For example, the house prices in my suburb in Melbourne are probably getting close to 1 million but you can rent an entirely acceptable place (better than mine) for about $400 per week. Clearly people like 3.5% return on their rental properties, and that makes it great to be a renter, including in suburbs with zoned schools that really don’t let others in.

  76. .

    You framed your answer around the transport being unavailable, in the literature. This was wrong. Now you are framing it now on the notion that people are unwilling to travel to school, even though they travel 2.5 hours for work from the West. If people are unwilling to travel, then cities shouldn’t exist. Sure very small kids are problematic, but they’d still lose funding on kids old enough to travel.

    Yes I agree about curricula and teaching methods. Hence why I say

    1. No curricula and
    2. 1800s style regimentation beyond learning basic literacy and numeracy is generally poor.

    You cannot teach chemistry, coding, caprentry or aural foreign langauge skills in such a way with any acceptable degree of success.

    Schools are *not* zoned to stop people coming in from outside, they are zoned to force schools to take people *within* a district.

    I’m sure you’re smart enough to see how this stops people easily moving between schools now.

    If people want schooling in higher SES districts, it is quite possible for them to move if they are willing to rent

    The remaining 80% of the populace outside of Sydney just might if they weren’t zoned into schools they didn’t like.

  77. Old School Conservative

    Whilst many school leavers are entering uni these days compared to the past, I’m not sure their pathways are efficient. I wish the 1960′s Wyndham Scheme’s goals had been sustained. He expected most students would leave after 4 years of high school, with an external exam under their belt. Entry to the work force and jobs training would be their pathway.
    The remainder (about 25%) would go on for 2 more years as a test for university entry. Only 20% would make it.
    This system would only work today if people valued trades training and entrepreneurial endeavour, neither of which are taught to any great degree in the final 2 years of school.

  78. .

    Trades are valued. The market certainly values them! Schools still tell kids they’re better off to get a a B Sc and get a government job. The mindset of schools is stuck in the 1970s somewhere.

Comments are closed.