When I picked up the paper in the coffee shop, I knew what I was doing. I was going to keep it out of the hands of someone who might be easily influenced. I see it as a civic duty to prevent people from reading the Murdoch muck, but I can only do it one paper at a time.
Anyway, I was drawn to an opinion piece by education expert, Kevin Donnelly. Of course, when I say “expert”, I’m using it in the sense that he knows all about education because Kennett employed him to say that it was okay to reduce the number of teachers because he was educated just fine in large classes and if we just went back to doing everything the way it was in the fifties, then everyone would be able to speak Latin and do calculus by the age of seven. Or something like that. While I’d never suggest that there aren’t many interesting conversations to be had about what’s the best way to organise our school system, Kevin’s ideas on education are a little strange if you’ve actually been in a school in the past fifty years. Donnelly fits into the category of those who think that most of what kids are doing in schools these days is useless, except on days when students miss an afternoon to strike about climate change, when the classes they miss will hamper them forever.
Of course, one of the biggest difficulties that schools have is reconciling the demand to turn kids into the best student possible, while simultaneously preparing them to be a functioning adult capable of succeeding in the world of work. These two things aren’t mutually exclusive all the time, but when people like Donnelly talk about the role of schools, there’s no real acknowledgement that some students will succeed at exams without succeeding in life and others will do badly as students but still shine when they leave the school system. Of course, schools should also be ensuring that they have an understanding of Australian values, have a strong civic pride, confidence, an aversion to drugs and a million other things that get added every time a politician needs a distraction from the latest stuff-up.
Fortunately – or unfortunately – Donnelly wasn’t talking about education. He was writing about Greta Thunberg. Apparently, we shouldn’t be listening to her because well, she’s only sixteen; we should be listening to the experts.
I suppose that I could pause here and reflect on how the very paper in which Kevin is writing has killed several million trees giving us the wisdom of Andrew Bolt who tells us that these experts aren’t worth listening to. Of course, it could be argued that Donnelly isn’t responsible for the editorial decisions and he’d be the first to tell Mr Bolt that he really should listen to the experts.
While Kevin didn’t actually mention Bolt, he did argue that there were people far more expert than that silly girl. No, not the ones talking about climate change. He informed us that there were experts telling us that CO2 is actually a good thing for plants so there’s no problem because there can never be too much of a good thing. Yes, there’s a group of experts – 46 in all – who have formed a group called CO2 Coalition and these experts tell us that, historically, carbon dioxide levels have been much higher and plant and animal life has survived just fine, so we should be trying to put more CO2 into the air, not less.
Now, I just thought I’d leave out the line which was responsible for the coffee shop owner having to come over and clean up the mouthful of coffee that finished mainly on the table and newspaper in order to ensure that none of you spit whatever in disbelief. Ok, empty mouth? By historically, they was referring, Donnelly told us, to the past 500 million years!
Well, yes, lots of species have thrived but there aren’t too many that have survived the past 5 million, let only 500 million.
Whatever, the CO2 Coalition have a nifty website and several of them have degrees in Physics, so that makes them an expert in climate science. Similarly, my degree makes me and expert in brain surgery, so if you need a tumour removed…