Parents want more than jobs out of education for their children.

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The Australian Newspaper features an article by Chris Mitchell “Parents want education system to prep kids for jobs, not political activism”. In the article he makes a number of claims and offers solutions which I think need a response. Mitchell’s claims include:

  • Journalists are left of centre and rely on the leftist social media like Twitter to form views that most of us disagree with (citing ABC journalists visible disappointment on TV at Aust Prime Minister Morrison’s election as an example of leftist journalism) as we continue to vote right of centre politicans like Trump.
  • That leftist academics (citing two media personalities) support Islamic State actions like the tipping of statues
  • Social activists, like a former Victorian premier Joan Kirner, control the curriculum in schools with the result that young protestors have little nuanced understanding of historical figures (e.g. Churchill who also defeated Hilter’s Holocaust ambitions).
  • His solutions include: teachers being trained at colleges not universities where they rather learn theories of knowledge, teachers insisting on class discipline, academic class steaming and valuing winners.

Journalism is a form of writing that tells people about things that really happened, but that they might not have known about already.” It has a responsibility to explore the background and pose questions around what we see, read and hear. If that exploration and questioning provokes discussion and debate I would think that is a good thing. When journalists don’t fulfil these expectations we don’t get nuanced understandings of things like his second point of academics in the press supporting Islamic State actions. People on both sides of debates have tore down and defaced statues throughout history and I would add to our detriment as it doesn’t allow us to measure our progress or otherwise, for one thing.

Whenever I taught history, and that was for many years, I used differing thinking tools to explore e.g. famous people and to try and understand in those times circumstances around people’s actions and then apply these to ourselves so that we may discover our biases and prejudices.

However, his solutions seem either simplistic or a possible reliving of his past for some of them didn’t work or had a negative impact on learning (academic streaming) and are at best simplistic for discipline starts in the home and through parent teacher cooperation not in isolation at the school. Discipline it seems is what everyone wants as long as it doesn’t happen to my child or perhaps that’s my biases for as a principal of over 20 years I was constantly having to prepare like a lawyer for discipline meetings with parents.

As for valuing winners perhaps Chris needs to reflect a little more on valuing people and their successes and efforts rather than the suggested “winners and losers” idea.

Hold on! Chris you started a discussion that makes you a journalist.

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