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Is Andrew Laming in parliament today?

I’m a teacher myself but I’m not angry about Andrew Laming’s bizarre attack on my profession.

A common cliché teachers and parents use when someone fails to show the expected responsibility or maturity is to say “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed,” but I’m not even disappointed. It is not like I expect a greater level of maturity and responsibility in his social media usage. Not after Laming’s previous forays including his ill-informed comments on an outbreak of street violence in 2013 and his Facebook feud with a group called The Simpsons against the Liberals (he is pretty much following the trump playbook now that I think of it).

So I wasn’t angry or even disappointed. But I did find it bewildering, especially along with its quick retraction and replacement with a post about the importance of self-care in the workplace and teacher burnout. That’s the sort of inconsistency that David Leyonhjelm would be proud of.

All sorts of comments about the status of teachers seem to float through public discourse from time to time. Some people say teachers should be paid more. Others will argue that teachers have too many holidays. I’m just going to say I love being a teacher. It is a tremendously rewarding job, as well as being challenging and tiring. I know burnout is a problem in the profession and I think teachers who are experiencing the beginnings of this are less effective in their job. However I wouldn’t do my job any better if I was paid more.

But back to Mr Laming and some of the responses. Did I feel ‘bullied’ by his comments as some of the responses described it? Certainly not. As I said in discussing Ruth Forrest, I feel that term is often used more for impact than accuracy and would prefer to see it reserved for severe or persistent behaviours. We don’t always have to take offence at the things people say about us, even when they are unfair. It depends how much we respect the speaker. I certainly don’t have to justify myself or my profession to the man who appears intent on taking over Peter Dutton’s role as chief dog whistler for this abhorrent government and its state counterparts. There are far too many good things in life to worry about what people like Laming say about me.

It was strange and somewhat unseemly though, even for a man with Laming’s track record. Against a backdrop of expense scandals and a growing dissatisfaction over how out of touch our politicians are, he seemed to spontaneously question teacher holiday periods. And within 24 hours the post was removed and replaced with something implicitly contradictory to the connotations of his original post. I just can’t understand what he was trying to do.

Was this meant to distract us from the Centrelink fiasco or the Ley-buy scandal, which I suspect will not only be the end of the Health Minister, but will grow to focus on many others of our profligate politicians? If so, it seemed counterproductive. By questioning how many days teachers are at work, Laming begs the question of how many days politicians like himself are officially at work. I had always assumed there weren’t many sitting days for politicians, this prompted me to research the exact statistics. According to the Queensland government website, politicians like Mr Laming had to be at work for less than 50 days in 2016. That’s not a typo. The man who questioned teachers’ holidays is at work for less than a quarter of that time!

Sorry, Mr Laming, that isn’t going to shift any attention from politicians and their entitled ways. If anything, it is another moment that sharpens the focus.

This article was originally published on Quietblog.


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  1. Colin

    Sorry, Andrew who?

  2. Niall McLaren

    ” I just can’t understand what he was trying to do.”
    Try looking at this way. Mr Laming is an immature person, impulsive, self-centred, insensitive or even contemptuous, ambitious and seriously lacking in common sense. I don’t know how bright or well-educated he is but probably not as much as he thinks. He will do anything that, at the moment, seems likely to advance his own interests, regardless of the effect it has on anybody else. Thus, he will often blurt out things that don’t make sense, or are damaging to others, or of dubious veracity and so on, just because, for a few seconds, it seemed to him that he could push himself forward and get a bit more leverage over others. That’s what politicians do.

  3. Steve Laing -

    Yeah – I saw that Dave, and I thought exactly the same. He is a typical tory tw@. I’m shortly starting my DipEd and know from other teachers that its far from an easy profession and not particularly well paid, but hopefully a rewarding one professionally. But as you say, I think it was a dead cat tweet, particularly as you say, the number of days that politicians “working days” are ludicrously low in this country (check the figures in the attached article )

  4. longwhitekid

    The heat got too turned up on attacking the unemployed when it badly misfired, and then bounced back unexpectedly into MP’s expenditure. Opps! So what do you do as a government? Your next move is to get at least two MPs to start an unprovoked attack on another ‘minority group’ – this time teachers and hope others join in. It’s distracting in its freshness. I mean, they had to do something fast, because the next person who was going to have their expenditures picked apart was Christian Porter, who is up there in the top few MPs for his gross and wanton spendthrift ways.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Have a look at the publications Andrew Laming charged us for in the first half of last year

    8 Can Do: Campbell Neumann and the Challenge of Reform 16 Oct 15
    1 Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured 19 Jan 16
    1 Sounds of Wild Birds 14 Feb 16
    1 Trivia for the Toilet 14 Feb 16
    2 Fashion Angels: Head Case Dog and Deer 14 Feb 16
    1 Positively Perplexing Games and Tricks: Over 100 Staggering Tricks and Games 14 Feb 16
    1 Neurobics 14 Feb 16
    1 Outback Survival 14 Feb 16
    1 Whistling Tin Top 25 Feb 16
    1 Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must be Stopped 25 Feb 16
    5 Full Esteem Ahead 7 Mar 16
    1 The Invisible History of the Human Race 7 Mar 16

  6. Keitha Granville

    Trivia for the Toilet ? Seriously ? I know that one can claim tax deductions for publications or periodicals pertaining to one’s profession – so does that mean his profession is plumbing ? or just that the parliament is a dung heap .

  7. Kaye Lee

    He’s a shithouse politician?

  8. Matters Not

    Laming had to be at work for less than 50 days in 2016

    Here’s a clue, when Laming and other backbenchers are in Canberra all they have to do is to turn up when divisions are called and then vote along party lines. They don’t have to listen to ‘debates’ (most don’t), they don’t have to evaluate same (most don’t), they don’t have to make speeches (most don’t) because they are all optional activities. Indeed those in safe seats don’t even bother with that bullshit. What they must do – to continue their comfortable life – is to raise their hand when requested to so do.

    The truth is, their ‘job’, as understood above, could be done via SMS. And save a motza.

    In many ways, the time they are in the ‘House’ is leisure time, relatively speaking. Their real work is elsewhere and unrelated.

  9. Kaye Lee

    I was commenting on Andrew Laming’s facebook page one day and he was answering me (very childishly as his wont). I realised that he was actually in Question Time when answering me so I said….hang on, shouldn’t you be paying attention? He responded by saying there is nothing in the standing orders prohibiting the use of electronic devices during QT.

    I think most workplaces would take a dim view of you spending your ‘work’ time on social media.picking fights.

  10. wam

    Good luck, Steve with the Dip Ed(much of today’s problems stem from BEd)

    My first class was full with the last of the pre-baby boomers. Each subject (math sc, eng) had a senior master who told me what to teach and he/she tested the kids at various times during the terms. Some written and some by coming into my class. Plus, an inspector observed my classwork annually to allocate ‘skill’ marks.
    There was a main staff room and experienced teachers ready and willing to help. with discipline problems. Teachers and the kids worked from text books and were backed by an exam system for excluding students at rough intelligence points.
    Teachers commanded respect automatically and the few lost it, had a lousy time in class. It was a rewarding job and very collegial.
    I entered Aboriginal education in the mid 60s and by the mid 1990s was physically and mentally burnt out with the hard work in reacting to 5 new classes every 10 weeks and frustration at the system (and many of the teachers) that had no interest in recognising the Aboriginal educational skills and the need to learn from before you can teach,(and armed service kids shunted from different school systems every two years)
    Fortunately, my former workmates were in the office and I hid quietly in an office till retirement.
    Off and on I have been invited to my grand children’s classes and am in awe of today’s young teachers and in the expectations of the system.
    Lamming is the lowest common denominator who thinks expanding a 10 minute meeting to 3 hours with a long lunch is working hard.
    In parliament he takes individual credit for collective decisions.
    The proof of the work load can easily be seen by the empty seats when speeches are made.

  11. crypt0

    Never heard of him …
    Who is Andrew Laming anyway ?
    Why doesn’t he just go and get a real job like everybody else ?

  12. Matters Not

    Steve Laing – had some experience with mature aged Dip Ed students over time. The Bell Curve doesn’t seem to apply. Those who were good were very, very good – while those who were bad were … you know the story.

    It’s a new ‘culture’. It’s a new ‘common sense’. Some of which is worth adopting but many aspects should be rejected. The trick is making the right selection. Keep an open mind.

    (Another probably useless piece of advice.) Good luck.

  13. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Dave Chadwick,

    teachers’ hard work and high stress job deserves much better pay and conditions no matter what anyone says, including foolish Andrew Laming..

  14. guest

    When people come up with the kind of rubbish Laming has written, just ask them if teaching is such a cushy job, perhaps they would like to be a teacher? See their eyes glaze over and their silly grin on their embarrassed faces…They give themselves away for what they are every time.

  15. Judith W

    Teachers are at the coal face 40 weeks, and generally teach 6 hours per day including 1.5 hours preparation per week. Add to this two half hour sessions of yard duty and 2 1.5hour meetings per week and the average week is up to 34hours, not including any extra time spent with students or informal meetings over lunch. 1360 hours over 40 weeks.
    Now add a couple of parent teacher nights (2×5=10hours), a school camp (2x15hrs), school reports for 120 children twice a year (10×120/60=20hrs) and we’re up to 1420hours. Now, lets assume teachers spend around 1.5hours a day on average, at home, on correction, preparation, reading, research or personal development (10.5×40=420), and maybe teachers average one day per week on school related activities during all those weeks of holidays they have each year (8×12=96) Our total is now 1936hours.
    Compare this with a normal working week, 38hrsx48 weeks=1824hours. On these conservative estimates teachers are working 112hours (2.9week) extra each year unpaid.
    Is Andrew Laming working today?
    I’m reading a book on bibliotherapy for young adults…

  16. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Judith W,

    your quantitive calculations are very useful to illustrate the basic case for why teachers are worth much more than what they have ever been given credit for.

    Add to that the bureaucratic bullying and student/parent intimidation because everybody thinks they know better than the teachers, then you have a real recipe for heightened stress and institutional abuse that does nobody any good, especially the talented teachers and the students.

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