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Just Wait Till Peter Dutton Hears About Student Voice!

Student voice:

“​Student voice acknowledges that students have unique perspectives on learning, teaching, and schooling, and should have the opportunity to actively shape their own education.

“Student voice involves students actively participating in their schools, communities and the education system, contributing to decision making processes and collectively influencing outcomes by putting forward their views, concerns and ideas.” (Victorian Education Website).

Staff Meeting in a Parallel Universe. Principal Albanese is addressing the staff.

Principal Albanese: Next on the agenda is the strategic plan and, as you may be aware, the Department is big on Student Voice at the moment and we need to develop a strategy to include it in our programs. Yes, Mr Dutton.

Dutton: What do you mean by Student Voice? I’m not sure that I can support something like that when what we should be doing is concentrating on raising the academic standards.

Albanese: Yes, well, of course we want to raise standards but, as part of that, we should be looking at ways to do that and, it’s felt that Student Voice is one way of ensuring that students feel as though they can actively participate in their own education and…

Dutton: Excuse me, but I used to be Uniform Coordinator and if I’d let students have a say, then there’d be no uniform at all. The idea of handing all the decisions over to them…

Albanese: Nobody is suggesting that we hand all decision-making over to the students. We’re simply looking at ways that they can be encouraged to have a greater say in…

Dutton: I think we need more detail before we can support putting this Voice thing into our strategic plan. Exactly how is going to work?

Albanese: Look, at this stage the proposal is to put a statement about encouraging Student Voice and Agency into the Strategic Plan and we’ll work out the details of exactly how that happens…

Dutton: You’re asking us to support something without giving us any detail…

Albanese: All that’s being suggested is that one of our goals is to support the idea of Student Voice in principle. Yes, Mr Littleproud.

Littleproud: But what if we don’t support the idea in principle. Personally, I think that if students want a voice then they should become teachers. Take Jacinta over there, she was a student at this school and she says that she thinks that Student Voice is just silly, trendy nonsense that won’t achieve anything.

Dutton: And that girl in Year 9 who wouldn’t stand up during school assembly. I heard her saying that hers was the only voice worth listening to. That’s the sort of tension that Student Voice creates.

Albanese: I’m sure that there’ll be a range of views across the student body but the students who attended last year’s SRC forum were all supportive of the general idea and were keen that we establish a…

Joyce: Alcohol!

Albanese: What?

Joyce: Alcohol. A lot of our students are drinking alcohol and it’s quite a problem. On the Year 9 camp, I confiscated more alcohol than I could possibly drink. What will Student Voice do about that?

Albanese: Student Voice isn’t going to solve everything overnight, but if we start a process where we listen to students then…

Dutton: So can I have more detail about how this “listening to students” would work in practice. Like would we need to listen to them even when they were wrong? Would we have to listen to them when we didn’t like them? Could they interrupt a lesson to use their voice?

Albanese: At this stage all we’re saying is…

Dutton: There are more pressing problems than Student Voice. A number of our students are homeless and even some of those that have homes have shocking home lives, take Alice.

Albanese: We know about Alice’s problems, and we intend to do something to fix them but that’s got nothing to do with the idea of Student Voice.

Littleproud: Well, I’d just like to go on record as opposing it.

Albanese: How can you oppose it when, according to your mate over there, we don’t have enough detail about what it is?

Littleproud: We’ve seen enough to know that we’re against it.

Dutton: And we haven’t seen enough to know that we’re for it. Look, it’s not that I hate students in spite of what some people are saying. I know that I walked out during the apology for what the previous principal had done, but that wasn’t because I hate students, it was because I didn’t think that saying sorry has ever helped anyone which is why I’ve never done it. And when I said that teachers were afraid to go to class because of students, I wasn’t referring to all students. Any suggestion that I’m anti-student is ridiculous.

Albanese: Nobody’s accusing you of being anti-student.

Dutton: I just believe that we could do more for students by increasing detentions and expelling the bullies. A bit of tough love never hurt anybody.

Albanese: Ok, well, we’ve got more items on the agenda so unless anyone has something important to add, we’ll come back to Student Voice later. Yes, Mr Joyce.

Joyce: I’m a bit sick of all this nonsense about this school belonging to the kids. I just wish we could go back to the good old days when schools were set up to give us all a job and if you tell kids that they’ve got just as much right to an opinion as we have… I mean, they do have a right to an opinion, don’t get me wrong… but when we start treating their opinion as more important than mine then there’s likely to be problems because the important thing is not education because I remember going to school and what I really wanted to do was get teachers out of my life, because I was sick of them telling me what to do and now it seems that I’ll have students as well as teachers telling me what to do.

Albanese: Nobody is suggesting that Student Voice will give students the right to tell you what to do. It’s just a vehicle for…

Joyce: That’s not what the guy at the pub was saying. He claims that it’s just a start and before we know it they’ll be taking over the staffroom and we’ll have to eat lunch outside like the students do.

Albanese: I’d like to suggest that before we end up spending all next staff meeting discussing the misinformation that you all read the report on Student Voice and Agency which is a comprehensive 29-page document which explains it all.

Dutton: 29 Pages? We don’t have time to read 29 pages! We’re all far too busy for that.

(Murmurs of agreement.)

Meeting closes at 4.32pm.

 

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21 comments

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  1. Regional Elder

    An inspired piece of writing RossLeigh.
    Who would have thought that the droll thoughts and words of Peter Dutton, would inspire you to generate such an article. Perhaps Dutton and his motley crew have a function after all …… as a stimulus to the creative arts, which includes of course, writing good satire.

  2. Phil Pryor

    Does Peter Duckwit-Futton actually hear over the internal cacophony of assessing and editing propaganda and superstition constantly? Do the ears on each side of his boneblock do any good? Has he yet heard of the arrival of the Nineteenth century (in Queensland) and that time moves on, roughly as described by Einstein? He apparently did go to school and was noted for not colouring all the novels. Surely Maths and Science are beyond a man who thrives on inventive (if supplied) lying propaganda?? He seems strong (oh phew) and could undoubtedly do, as the stories said, get those square pegs jammed into round holes. There’s an achievement. Following Moron -the-son is a hard act to follow (as one must be totally lost) but our cuddly Pete is on track, as if in the Sahara, to do well. Navigating in politics is a challenge for anyone, especially if honest. Just bark for the Merde Dogs…

  3. GL

    Da Spud is wrapped up nicely in one song –

  4. Canguro

    Joyce mentions alcohol, and the confiscation of it, for personal use. Dutton was a Queensland copper. I’m reminded that I was a passenger in a car that was travelling from a village on the western edges of the Darling Downs (west of Brisbane) back to the station property in the mid-evening when the driver was pulled over by the obviously drunk local policeman. Dangerously so, in terms of his driving. He ordered the driver and all passengers to get out of the vehicle, searched it then confiscated the alcohol – a couple of cartons of beer and two bottles of rum – loaded the flogged grog into the police car and wished us goodnight. A role model, no doubt, for future keepers of the law in that then backward state.

  5. Ganget1959

    Jeez.
    People having input into the ways in which their own futures are being determined.
    Where will it end, Rossleigh?
    Workers at the wage bargaining table?
    Consumers having input into energy prices?
    We should start somwhere small, like pollies having input into their own pay-rises, but even that has risks, and they never all agree on anything…….

  6. Terence Mills

    As a former ink-monitor I strongly support a student collective… I think !

    My job as ink-monitor was to mix the dried ink compound with water in a jug to a satisfactory concentration that was neither too thin nor too thick : on a daily basis I would fill all the ink-wells in the class to a suitable level that would discourage spilling or slurping over – inkwells were in those days recessed into the desks.

    At periodic intervals – and certainly end of term – I and an assistant would remove all ink-wells for washing and cleaning and then replace them in respective desks.

    I was also (under supervision) responsible for doling out nibs and keeping a record of how often an individual kid had a replacement nib – if it was too frequent investigation would be conducted to ascertain if the pen and nib had been used for darts practice and if so the kid would be dobbed in to the teacher.

    Oh ! the responsibility I carried and the authority I wielded in those long gone days.

  7. GL

    Terence,

    I remember starting out using ink pens and eventually worked your way to using…gasp…a biro (you had it made when you reached that stage) way back in the early 60’s. Being ink monitor for a week couple of times a year was great. The only problem I had using ink pens was the horrible smudging and smearing from being a southpaw. I tried the broken wrist and twisted arm method of writing but the pain swiftly made me abandon that idea.

    Hooray for biros.

  8. Canguro

    GL, given we’re on an anecdotal roll here; I’ll predate your ink pen experience by saying that the first time I got caned in school was in Grade One, as a not yet six-year old child, in a little village school in the Adelaide Hills in 1958; caned by the headmaster whose name was, I kid you not, Mr Payne (or was it Pain?), for the crime of signing my name on the plaster of a kid who’d broken one of his forearm bones. I’d used school ink. Caned on the hand. Can’t remember if it was one or more. Do recall that the caner was a sadistic bastard, just what little children needed to encounter as they set out on their journey of education and the impact of adults in their lives.

  9. Clakka

    The children will lead and the leaders will fall on their swords.

    Grade 5. We used a lot of ink. We had a particularly obnoxious and brutal teacher, or should I say shouty man. We weren’t learning, he couldn’t get a point across, and resorted to red-faced shouting until foams of spittle developed, eventually becoming stringy projectiles that went showering upon the good kids in the first few rows. For protection of his Bermuda shorts and long bone socks he would wear a long white dust coat, summer and winter – just where was he coming from, we wondered. Anyway, we (at the back) divised a plan. The ink monitor was engaged to ensure the wells were kept full all and every day, and for the others (especially the front rowers), it was required that nibs would be fashioned primarily so that they could hold maximum ink. Whenever he turned to chalk or dust the blackboard, it was revenge / attack on the back of his soon to be polkadot dust coat. Ah, justice!

    Practice had been organised to refine aim, so that stray indigo splodges could not land on the blackboard giving him opportunity to pivot and capture the sniper. But one day the gorgeous and feisty redhead, Sue May, was off target, and got caught. In a rage he retrieved the strap from his drawer, and gave her 3 of the best – she howled and ran away out of the class. That night, little Johnny Rush, freckle-faced progeny of the shire president, devised yet another plan – he was very keen on Sue.

    The next day, little Johnny riled the shouty man to point that he was commanded to get front and centre to receive 6 of the best. Out he went, hands behind his back, upon order to stick his hand out, he presenting it dressed with brown woollen mitten. The shouty man bellowed for the other hand, and out it came with mitten – little Johnny Rush was fast becoming our hero. “Get back to your desk and get those off and come back for your punishment” fumed the shouty man. Johnny returned to his desk (paired with me), up went the lid, off came the mittens, and on went a thick coating of clag – he was so fast. Back out he went, offered the hand to the now purple spittling shouty man, and thrashing down from on high came the fearsome strap – we all gasped. It glanced of Johnny’s hand, clag flying, with the follow-through searing into shouty man’s thigh just below the knee. Little Johnny scarpa’d, and left the rest of us to witness the rapid development of a very angry red-blue whelp on the hobbling shouty man.

    The following day little Johnny came in early, found the strap, cut it into pieces, put it in a shoe box and hid it up behind the p.a. speaker, ha ha. But we never saw the shouty man again. Goodness knows what had happened behind the scenes, but that didn’t matter, we had ‘mission accomplished’

    If only they had sought our counsel earlier.

  10. Terence Mills

    Clakka

    The memories come flooding back and not in a nice way.

    We had a shouty man too – this of course was just after WWII and the teachers were all male and with a couple of exceptions were very damaged people after their war time experiences.

    Our shouty man caned on the arse and in his fury on one occasion he allowed the rattan cane to strike the backs of a boy’s legs several times – next day the lad had red and blue open wounds on his legs. His Dad came to the school to remonstrate with the Head Master and shouty disappeared to a teacher re-education course – he was not missed, he invariably ducked out of classes midway to have a smoke in the yard.

  11. Andy56

    I had to laugh at the satire. Dutton wants to fuck it up and then blame labor. Thats his end game. Blame labor. Albo is well aware of the ” howard ” trap and well aware of the ” abbott”” trap.
    Lets see if we , as a progressive group, can spring our own ” teal” trap on the liberals for the next 20 yrs.
    Liars and spoilers, wilful sabators. Lets drag their agenda out into the open. Lets highlight their lack of ideas and ” solutions”. Calling them fuckwits just wont do anymore, i am on a mission , i am playing hard ball, i want to destroy them.

  12. Gift of the Gab

    You deserve an A+ for this article. I haven’t been so entertained (laughing my ass off) in ages. A very clever piece of writing. Cheers. I

  13. RomeoCharlie29

    I would like to diverge from the shouty bully teachers to a man who showed some sensitivity. Mr Lowe was my grade 5 teacher, I was 8 and had just been prescribed glasses for which I copped all the ‘four-eyes’ and other crap so I refused to wear them, to the detriment of my work and concern of my mother. One day Mr Lowe sent me on an unexpected errand to the head teacher. When I returned he asked me about glasses in a way that meant I had to reveal them hidden in my desk. He suggested I put them on and there was no laughter, sniggering or ridicule..he had used my absence to advise my classmates of my problem thus ensuring their revelation wasn’t traumatic. I soon went to the top of the class and though I was still ridiculed in the yard it was never my classmates.

  14. Canguro

    RC29… good story, and it just demonstrates that not all teachers were acting against the best interests of their juvenile charges. On that theme, and given I’d been born into the gifted environment of an extremely dysfunctional set of parents who’ve taken me a lifetime to forgive them the damage they inflicted on all three of their offspring, by the time I was approaching mid-teenagehood I’d turned into a seriously useless lout with an attitude.

    In my second year in high school we had a geography teacher, a man in his early thirties who was, objectively, useless as a teacher; prematurely balding, he wore the nickname ‘Chrome Dome’, and he had a nervous habit of pacing the front of the class, side to side, reciting or lecturing, but never making eye contact with the students. One this singular occasion, I wrote on a piece of A4 paper, in texta caps, ‘I AM A FOOL, KICK ME” and while he was mid-stride in his nervous presentation, I walked out to the front of the class and got into step behind him, and when judged the moment, slapped this piece of paper on his back – it had sticky-tape attached – so it stuck and flapped and he continued and I returned to my seat and the class was in uproar at this ridiculous sight of this poor fool so comprehensively gulled by this idiot student desperate for attention and acceptance.

    The school’s science teacher was passing by, he heard the commotion inside the room, and came in. He assessed the situation, the paper, the humiliation of the geography teacher, and he said, ‘I suppose the person who did this hasn’t got the guts to own up.’

    A moment’s hesitation, and I put my hand up. ‘I did, sir,’ I said.

    ‘Come with me,’ he said, and I followed him down to the science lab, where he pulled out a metre rule and said, ‘Give me a reason to not use this on you.’

    I was speechless, but somehow he understood he was dealing with a damaged child.. he didn’t cane me, and not too much longer after that incident he and two other teachers banded together to form a Field Naturalist group and invited students to jump on board… which I did, and he and those two other teachers selflessly gave their weekends over my following two & a half years at the high school to mentor the fifteen of so kids who’d joined up; bushwalking, bird-watching, fauna, snake-catching and venom extraction, schooling on the native flora and more. They three collectively set me in train for a lifetime’s interest in the natural world, and possibly saved my life.

    So, some teachers are objectively damaging and ought not to be in the profession, and others are gifted and worth their weight in gold.

  15. leefe

    Clakka, Terrence, Canguro, GL:

    Oh, you make me feel young. We went from pencils straight to biros – inkwells and nibs were a thing of the past when I started school.
    Unfortunately, corporal punishment was not. Canes in high school, rulers in primary. It’s amazing how much a well weilded ruler on the Achilles stings.

    Rossleigh:

    Someone needs to send this article to Duttolini. Perhaps read it out to him in person, because I question whether he has the capacity to wade through it without assistance.
    Though even that would likely be insufficient to wake him up to the obviousness of his hypocrisy and inconsistency.

  16. Wanderer

    What about having a teacher voice? Teachers have a unique knowledge and understanding of students’ needs and how they learn, but have been ignored for decades.
    The national curriculum was written with absolutely no consultation or input from actual teachers, until the end when what little was done was very limited and trite.
    Teachers need to be listened to and acknowledged as a group. Their workloads have been increased to unmanageable with irrelevant reporting, bumf and tick boxing, whilst classrooms are places where teachers are denigrated, harassed, verbally and physically attacked by students with poor attitudes engendered by parents, media and governments.
    The challenges involved in battling through classroom disruptions to provide education is causing teachers to leave in droves from frustration, ill health, stress, etc.
    And many excellent teachers are being forced out using inequitable rules and regulations because they don’t fit narcissistic, sociopathic principals’ agendas.
    It’s hard to understand why this group of professionals are not being listened to, at the very least because crime rates go up when students are not in school and students are disengaged by the national curriculum in underfunded, under resourced public schools.
    Did you know that students with special needs now frequently make up the majority of class members, but previous Federal governments have changed classifications so that funding for support for these high needs (and often highly challenging) students has been mostly removed? For example, student with 75% disability due to autism and ADHD is ineligible for support, leaving a single teacher with 30 students to try to cater for not just that studeno, but all the other needs as well? No matter how hard the teacher works or tries this does not lead to overall quality teaching. It leads to dumbing down and frustration for everyone involved.
    Especially now ‘inclusion’ is the byword.
    It’s simply not working.

  17. Clakka

    Wanderer, indeed, and what about a combined teacher / student voice? But I digress.

    Despite my initial comment / yarn (above), I too have been taught by and known many excellent teachers. Albeit my recent experience doing a Masters (after 30+ year high level experience in the related industry) was to at times a debacle, with teaching staff’s coursework seemingly not very well co-ordinated and over time, apparently staff’s ‘left hand’ not discerned from ‘right hand’. Of the many very high-fee-paying international students, other than the most disciplined and studious, many were left ‘flapping in the breeze.’ To an extent it was like a profiteering work-house. And upon the advent of the pandemic, many of the excellent non-professorial assistants and supervisors (‘the glue’) were let go.

    But perhaps more meaningfully, some 30 years ago, upon moving to inner Sydney, we enrolled our lad in the local high school. He hated it and complained that a high proportion of class time was taken up by teachers having to attend to misbehaviour, acculturation of immigrant kids, and attending to bullying and etc. It became distressing for him (and us), until finally we enrolled him in a private international school to complete baccalaureate – he calmed and succeeded.

    It seems since then, environmental issues have seen a dramatic increase in autism and ADHD and the like, and at this time, that does not appears to be something that is set to diminish. Accompanying that, of course, is the rise and rise of social media, its addictions and perdition upon the less discriminating young mind and psyche. Yet another challenge upon both family and teachers.

    In this uber-competitive computerised world, it is understandable that there is collection of statistics for the purpose of wrangling successes and to hopefully provide background for guidance. However, it seems in the education sphere to have gone way over the top, and pushed a huge burden onto the classroom teachers. And I suspect, to a large extent it has been introduced not as an academic aid, but more so as a tool in the ‘corporate privatisation’ model for merely bureaucratic and political purposes.

    The entire shebang is an absolute disaster wrought on teachers and their students and their beboggled and demanding parents, in all but the hugely expensive elite private schools.

    In my opinion, the entirety of it needs to be deconstructed. Private schools eliminated and the outrageous OTT statistical reporting burdens upon teachers removed. Get the notions of ‘elitism’ out of it. A system more like that of Norway has some appeal, and seems to get much better academic / vocational results.

  18. leefe

    Clakka:

    “It seems since then, environmental issues have seen a dramatic increase in autism and ADHD and the like … ”

    It has no more to do with environmental issues than it has with vaccines. Knowledge is greater now. Diagnosis is better now. People who would not have been diagnosed in the past are now being properly assessed.
    In my chiildhood, autism and ADHD weren’t diagnoses. Once they did begin to be accepted as reasons for certain types of behaviour, they were considered to only exist amongst boys. And white boys, at that. A number of very large demographics – well over half the population, in fact – were not included as potential possessors of the conditions. That is slow to change – many professionals, including mental health professionals, still do not accept that AFAB people can be autistic or have ADHD.

    “In my opinion, the entirety of it needs to be deconstructed. Private schools eliminated and the outrageous OTT statistical reporting burdens upon teachers removed. Get the notions of ‘elitism’ out of it. A system more like that of Norway has some appeal, and seems to get much better academic / vocational results.”

    Agree entirely. The system as it stands is broken. It’s time to rebuild, from the foundations up.

  19. Cool Pete

    Obviously, there was no Student Representative Council at Potty Boy Dutton’s old high school.

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