“Let’s focus on what makes a difference to student outcomes” – YES Simon Birmingham, let’s….

“Let’s focus on what makes a difference to student outcomes”

Yes, let’s…let’s focus on the need for children up to at least 6 to learn through play. Let’s focus on the need for children to get plenty of movement in their day to develop their gross and fine motor skills, as well as social cues.simon

Let’s focus on the evidence that earlier introduction of formal literacy and numeracy tasks, such as phonics and worksheets, actually leads to lower results and plateaus by age 10.

Let’s focus on the evidence that children who start formal education and learn to read at age 7 have passed their peers by age 10.

Let’s focus on the fact Australia has one of the youngest school starting ages in the OECD.

Let’s focus on the impact that the NAPLAN regime has had on the narrow focus of teaching in the first term of those NAPLAN years.

Let’s focus on the increasing rates of childhood anxiety and depression, which many child psychologists are linking to the early starting age, the push down pressure of the curriculum and “standards” pressure and lack of developmentally required movement and play.

Let’s focus on the evidence that homework in primary school is of little to no benefit and that indeed it may have a negative effect.

Let’s focus on the fact that schools being publicly ranked on league tables leads to unreasonable pressure on teachers to “perform”, when their performance is entirely dependent on the unique set of children that comes across them.

Let’s focus on the evidence that children in underprivileged families will have less access to early education, time with their parents, are read to less, may not be adequately fed or cared for and thus are in no position to “perform” at school.

Let’s focus on the fact in countries where results soar teachers are respected and highly qualified, not subjected to corporate-style “KPIs”.

Let’s focus on the fact that the only people who benefit from compulsory iPads, apps and computers in their early years learning are the manufacturers of the devices and their applications. Follow the money.

Let’s focus on the fact that the examples we are following – the UK and US – are below us on their standards.

Why in the hell are you and the Labor party so seduced by this corporatised ideological sabotage of what actually makes up good education, and leads to, not just good “student outcomes”, but happy, creative, critical thinking, well balanced, healthy children, young adults and adults.

Simon, you are wrong. You are going down the wrong track. The Productivity Commission is treating this as an economic issue, an economic policy. That’s where this country is fundamentally going wrong.

Education is not an economic issue. The entrepreneurship, innovation, productivity and value that our future adults provide the economy is a welcome side effect of good education. But it’s not the goal. Education is about shaping our future generation. The values, the creative, critical thinkers, the problem solvers, the cultural and social fabric of our Australian society in 20, 50, 100 years time.

Absolutely nothing on NAPLAN tests contributes to that. Absolutely nothing on PISA indicates that success.

What does indicate that success – or rather, failure – is our growing youth suicide rate. Suicide is the leading cause of death for boys 15-29. Our growing obesity rates. Our growing drinking problems and associated violence.

The solution to all these problems and social issues is education.

But not by cramming their heads with content, junk to regurgitate on standardised tests.

Julia Gillard. Peter Garrett. Christopher Pyne. Yourself. ACARA. You’re all getting it wrong.

Take a step back from your ideological blindness, step away from your sycophantic educational department advisers who tell you what you want to hear based on this ideology. Look broader.  Open your eyes to what works. Open your eyes to what isn’t.

Open your mind.



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