Aston(ishing) Result...

Ok, a few weeks ago I wrote about how the idea that…

Ante eulogy for a political pornographer

By Paul Smith In anticipation of the day when John Howard shuffles off…

Inglorious Inertia: The Albanese Government and Julian Assange

The sham that is the Assange affair, a scandal of monumental proportions…

Victorian MLC Moira Deeming: the pretty face of…

“I can’t wait until I’m legally able to hunt you down.” This curse…

Science & Technology Australia welcomes National Reconstruction Fund

Science & Technology Australia Media Release The nation’s peak body representing 115,000 Australian…

Calculated Exoneration: Command Responsibility and War Crimes in…

Being the scapegoat of tribal lore cast out with the heavy weight…

The Voice: Remember When The Liberals Were Still…

At the moment we're witnessing the Liberal Party at their absurd best.…

Nazis on our streets: don't judge protesters by…

On some level, it is straightforward for a Neo-Nazi protest to be…


So Why Don’t We Need It For Politicians?

Ok, this is a little bit about education but it’s more about the reasons why we’re failing to move forward as quickly as we might. I mean, when Turnbull asks the Labor Party to meet him in “the sensible centre” one is tempted to ask how long he can get away for and whether he’ll be in trouble, once those he’s in a relationship with find out. You know, he’s made various commitments and when you do that you can’t just go around organising a rendezvous with somebody else.

I mean, it’s a fine idea. And while I don’t like praising Bill Shorten too much I must say that he seems to have stuck to his guns pretty well. He went to the election putting forward “positive policies” and even though he lost, he hasn’t used that as an excuse to say that now that the groan-ups are running things then all he needs to do is take a leaf out of Tony’s book and oppose everything. He’s still suggesting that there’s no reason that a discussion couldn’t include some of Labor’s ideas for reducing the deficit. On some level, he’s putting forward more ideas and sounding more like a PM than Muddling Malcolm.

Of course, Shorten’s been accused of politicking by both the Liberals and most media commentators because when the Liberals say “compromise” what they actually mean is agree to everything we say and we’ll praise you for admitting that we were right all along and that you had no idea.

But it’s education and the whole idea of testing that I’ve intended to write about for several weeks now.

I’d like to say that I’ve spent a large part of my life as a teacher. I don’t have a problem with tests. Tests are a valuable tool in the education process. However, tests are neither teaching nor learning. Tests are like a blackboard (or these days, a whiteboard, because there are very few schools where blackboards are still being even though that’s often the graphic that accompanies news stories on education); they’re quite helpful but they should only be a very small part of what you do.

First, let me remind you that the word “test” can mean a whole range of things. I can informally test kids by simply asking them about something I believe that I’ve taught them. I know, of course, that when most people hear the word “test”, they immediately think of students quietly completely a task without being able to access any other materials. While we all realise that teachers are not “teaching” during that test, the general public seem to like the idea of someone like me sitting out the front of a room while students complete such an activity.

Of course, there are medical tests and drug tests and driving tests and tests of strength, of courage, of intelligence… I could go on, but the point is that none of these have to take the form of an exam with no talking and, while formal exam-type tests may help to measure what learning has taken place, when you’re testing students in that way, generally speaking, they’re not learning anything new.

So recently there’s been a bit of concern about the NAPLAN results, which has led to the Liberals telling us that it just shows that there’s no point in spending money on education if it wasn’t going to lead to continuing improvement in this test. Now, I’m not going to get into some long discussion about how badly the data is being interpreted on that one. No, I’m just going to concentrate on the concern about the quality of those choosing teaching as a career.

The first concern is that the ATAR score for teachers is too low. All right, let’s just ignore the fact that having a high ATAR won’t necessarily make you a great teacher, any more than being a champion player will make you a great coach. Let’s accept the idea that the ATAR for teaching courses is too low. Rather than ask the obvious question of why is it low and getting the obvious answer that teaching is a less appealing career because of the HECS debt relative to salary, as well as teachers being constantly criticised for all society’s ills by politicians and shock jocks.

No, a low ATAR score obviously means that these people lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. So what’s the solution to this?

Simple: We’ll give them a test. And we’ll also give them a test on emotional intelligence. That should fix things.

But if it’s good enough for teachers, shouldn’t it also apply to politicians? I mean, shouldn’t they all have to pass a test on emotional intelligence. Actually, while we’re at it, shouldn’t we check if they can all answer the questions on Howard’s citizenship test. And surely the Treasurer should have to demonstrate, at least some understanding of economics. Otherwise we could have a Treasurer who has no idea and who suggests that cutting spending will reduce the possibility of a recession because all these people who lose their jobs will stimulate the economy. Mm, now that I remember Scott Morrison’s recent suggestions…

Ok, it may fly in the face of democracy and if the chronically stupid want somebody in Parliament to represent them then I guess they should be allowed to. But couldn’t we at least call it something appropriate like the “Dunning-Kruger Party” or “The Andrew Bolt Party” or…

Mm, I just realised the “Palmer United Party” went a long way down that path. Particularly after they all left and it became the “Palmer Disunited Party”.

 244 total views,  2 views today


Login here Register here
  1. jim

    “We could have a Treasurer who has no idea and who suggests that cutting spending will reduce the possibility of a recession because all these people who lose their jobs will stimulate the economy”.
    Hey, there’s no “we could have ” its “we do have” it’s like; teachers that are paid less will produce smarter kids. Great post.

  2. John

    “..some of Labor’s ideas for reducing the deficit.”
    Reducing the fiscal deficit increases private debt and unemployment. Setting it as a goal justifies privatising public assets. Labor needs to leave Turnbull’s bipartisan ‘centre’ to the dinosaurs.
    See ‘Australian Treasurer Embarrasses Himself’

  3. guest

    Speaking of education in the Parliament, Trish Corry and others have been educating some of us this week about Modern Monetary Theory. Given that MMT gives us ways to tackle deficit (as well as matters such as unemployment) and Turnbull is now telling us we all have a “moral imperative” to tackle deficit, would it be possible to educate Turnbull and others about the merits of MMT?

    Or is the suggestion that some of this MMT would be a good thing to implement just too unspeakbly difficult for the proponents of the failed Coalition (and Labor) policies?

  4. metadatalata

    “No, a low ATAR score obviously means that these people lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. So what’s the solution to this?

    Simple: We’ll give them a test. And we’ll also give them a test on emotional intelligence. That should fix things.”

    ‘And while we’re at it, the emotional and intelligence tests should be mandatory for politicians elected to parliament. That would weed out the RWNJ’s destroying this country..

  5. Carol Taylor

    I have an idea, let’s pay teachers loads and loads of money, then teaching will become a very desirable career with people ditching the doctor, lawyer, vet options to become highly paid professional teachers – up go the ATAR scores needed, due to demand.

    On politicians, I believe that there should be a quota system, with only X number of lawyers permitted into Parliament..we might then start receiving some straight answers.

  6. paulwalter

    Oh Carol, have you been watching that Sir Michael Marmot fellow on QA, calling for something better, a bit more ambitious for our politi cs than heads down, ears blocked, eyes shut, nothing beyond the moment dismemberment market ideology?

  7. Anomander

    If politics was a competitive market where people had to apply for the role, they would need to demonstrate a wide array of skills, experiences, abilities, competencies and leadership.

    I would hazard a guess that most of our current crop of pollies wouldn’t even qualify for an interview.

    EQ and psychometric testing should be a prerequisite for those who seek to represent us all.

  8. wam

    High school teachers, as individuals, affect about 150 kids a term and pollies make decisions in parties rather than as individuals. As for tests almost all maths taught is arithmetic and science is general both have a majority of non maths/science trained teachers indeed for many high schools the majority are primary trained.
    The bums on seats unis are as culpable as the education system for teacher training(nursing???)

  9. jimhaz

    “groan-ups” nice wording. Exactly what they are.

  10. helvityni

    paulwalter, what a man, Sir Michael Marmot ! We could do with few more of his ilk in Oz politics. Otherwise a lacklustre Q&A, oops, that Sandra girl is also worth watching…( sorry can’t remember her surname)

  11. paulwalter

    The panel was smarter than the usual panel and tended to talk in the understated, considered tone of academics…all professors. Mundine had a hard night, finally having to confess that the Coalition doesn’t listen to his group anyway. As for Cassandra Goldie, social policy is her metier, What was surprising was that there was no loud rightie denialist spoiler to break peoples’ concentration on what these other, well educated types were telling the audience. Perhaps they realised that for the topics discussed a yob would only create adverse responses in the audience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

Return to home page
%d bloggers like this: