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The government is in a rut so deep that they can no longer see the signposts of where we are going

Deloitte’s economist Chris Richardson gave an interesting speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday which policy makers would do well to take heed of.

He said the government’s fixation on jobs and growth had had some positive outcomes – higher company profits combined with tax concessions mean investors have done well, and jobs growth has resulted in more people being employed – but the glaring hole is the forgotten middle who have not seen commensurate wage rises. This is placing a drag on the economy and financial stress on wage-earning households.

Richardson also pointed to the inadequacy of unemployment payments, pointing out that we are all in this together. If unemployed people are given adequate assistance, firstly to survive, and secondly to prepare for and find a job, we all benefit.

We all know these things to be true and that the government has no plan to address them.

But of even greater interest to me were Richardson’s comments about skilling and reskilling to better meet employment trends and employer requirements.

The rapid rise of technology is changing the job market and, by trying to hang on to the jobs of the past, we are ill-prepared for the jobs of the future.

“The new trend will increasingly be jobs that use our hearts, use our uniquely human skills – the stuff that computers aren’t good at – caring, creativity, design, leadership.”

As a teacher, this really struck the nail on the head for me.

Teachers have, for years, understood the value of fostering these skills but have been hamstrung by bureaucrats, conservative think tanks, politicians and parents who are fixated on Naplan results and who think we need more standardised testing, direct instruction, and a focus on the basics, especially phonics.

Of course the basics are important – you have to crawl before you can walk – but if we want our children to fly then we need to stimulate creativity, foster initiative, provide opportunity to work as a team, promote leadership and communication skills, encourage intellectual risk-taking, the confidence to try, and the resilience to try again.

We need to instil a love of learning, not a fear of exams. We need to encourage curiosity, not slavish regurgitation. We need to teach the skills and provide the environment for students to research rather than lecturing to them all the time.

We need to help children understand their place in the broader context of the world, not just in their small corner of it. That helps to promote both empathy and co-operation in problem-solving.

Acceptance of diversity brings a security that no amount of Bible-quoting or police raids can ever provide. The Respectful Relationships program was a great tool available to teachers and did not deserve the hysterical reaction it has received.

Teachers need the flexibility and resources to cater to the individual student’s needs. People learn in different ways. They express themselves in different ways. They have different emotional responses. They have different pressures and help outside of school.

This doesn’t mean one-on-one tutoring but moreso individual programming and support with the emphasis on personal improvement rather than comparison with peers.

We hear a lot about the academic quality of those accepted into teacher-training but they never mention the psychological suitability of candidates or graduates. That is perhaps even more important than test results. A student should not be limited by their teacher’s knowledge so much as enthused and supported by them to learn.

Richardson’s speech reinforced my view of this government.

They are stuck in the deep ideological rut of an oft-driven road – lower taxes, less regulation, smaller government, jobs and growth, national security. Trouble is, they have dug in so deep that they can no longer see the signposts of where we are going.

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  1. Keitha Granville

    They are not looking for the signposts, they don’t care about them. They are all right, everyone else can just bugger off.

  2. Matters Not

    Also heard Richardson and other panelists on The Drum deliver what was a very optimistic view of what the future might be like BUT also completely ignoring what recent trends suggest. Re:

    about skilling and reskilling to better meet employment trends and employer requirements … ill-prepared for the jobs of the future.

    Yep the world of work has changed and the trends are clear. Now it’s possible to be employed and yet work one hour a week on rather poor pay. Whereas 40 hours of work once meant one fully ’employed’ person with sick leave, holiday pay, maternity leave etc, 40 hours of work can now mean 40 ’employed’ persons with none of the benefits outlined above. Thus this new ‘gig’ economy translates to each person with many part-time jobs in order to survive. And any company bucking this trend is courageous.

    Talk about looking through rose coloured glasses. Perhaps Richardson might consider this and other productions that highlight there is a problem. (This is not to say we should continue with an ‘industrial model’ of schooling appropriate to times past. But let’s get real.)

  3. New England Cocky

    I agree Keitha. KL you are an optimist.

    When governments of all persuasions pay teachers a proper wage then you will get the competent academic students enrolling in education training courses. Since about 1988 when the teaching profession became female dominated,bureaucrats and politicians have promulgated the fantasy that women teaches are “just earning pin money” to “supplement the wages of their woking husband”.

    You pay peanuts you get monkeys! That has been the rule for all time ….. and too many decades surviving the chalk face has done nothing to change my opinion ….. yet!!

  4. Michael Taylor

    Kevin Rudd had the right idea.

    He initiated programs for migrants that helped make them “job ready”. For example trade skills, computing skills, job-hunting assistance etc. These were compulsory. A migrant with a job was better for the country.

    Surprise surprise. These were abolished under Abbott.

  5. Aortic

    Surprise Surprise indeed Michael. Old Tony Nullius, whose assertion that the country was nothing until the White bwana arrived, is indicative of the conservative thinking whether they overtly admit it or not. I often wonder how different things would be if Julia Gillard had not been hounded out of office by Abbott, Bishop and the ratbags of the right like Akerman Jones et al. They must be so proud of their man in office, a prime example of tha vacuous thinking it takes to succeed in Adveritisng 101, and if things go pear shaped, don’t worry Jesus will fix it when he returns. As Bill Maher asks,” what’s he waiting for?”

  6. Kaye Lee

    I agree I am an optimist but that is because I listen to what very clever people are telling us. The solutions to many of our problems are available, or at the very least, improvements. We know what we should be doing. I admit that maintaining that optimism through nine years of the most self-serving incompetent government in history is not easy.

    “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” Mahatma Gandhi

  7. Stephengb

    Kaye Lee, I reckon you are a fantastic teacher.

    I was taught that I was dumb ( yes that word was actually used) I was classified as fit only for menial tasks, like a bricky, I was actually taught at school how to lay bricks.

    I was fortunate I met a teacher after secondary school who lifted my horizons and gave me the impetus to keep learning. I did, I am not the man that the boy was supposed to become.

    Your article raised the question in me – just how different my life would have been had I a teacher like you at the time of my primary and secondary schooling.

    Yes I watched Richardson’s speech and yes I thought at last someone who is thinking beyond the standard neoliberal frame. (Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the next chaps speech)

    Not the sharpest knife in the drawer but still pretty sharp!I

  8. Jennifer Demas

    It’s brand democracy of, for and by the invisible empire, euphemism called “…. economic reform to sustain our standard of living…” there never ever was an “…our..” in that equation, poor getting poorer rich richer, unravelling of the social fabric, viscerally angry people divided and prejudiced to the nth against it self, not that hard just connect the dots rear vision mirror, UK, US and elsewhere those that were/are most hammered by ever widening socio-economic inequality voted in droves for Trump and will probably again, then Woodrow Wilson, “The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy”, and FD Roosevelt, “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of power to a point where it becomes stronger than democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism ownership of government by an individual, by a group or any controlling private power”, and the rest is history, ever widening inequality, a people dis-empowered, disengaged and disenfranchised from the political sphere viscerally angry and prejudiced to the nth divided against each other and an unravelling social fabric and a 4th estate so indentured cannot see the trees from the woods continue to advocate brand democracy of for and by the invisible empire. And would you believe their 4th estate is not half as indentured as over here.

    So does anybody really honestly still believe the media tsar hoovered up print, screen and radio for an informed democracy, really?, nah really, Gore Vidal “the corporate grip on opinion in the US is one of the wonders of the Western world. No first world country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity -much less dissent” and Carl Bernstein, “The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and contempt for the truth or reality of most people’s lives – has overrun real journalism. Today ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage” and crime against the 21st century Alan Rushbridger, “…. journalism has failed climate change…” then as now the 4th estate folded like a snot filled tissue and caved as Australia was stuffed to the rafters with misinformation, disinformation mis-truths and was Australia well and truly snookered out of any semblance of a 21st century, price on carbon, digitised Australia educating for 21st century, better deal for natural resources as the empire also came after all hard fought gains that held together the civil and social fabric, yep brand democracy of the invisible empire.

  9. Kaye Lee

    The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.

  10. Aortic

    Gore Vidal also commented thus on life for the lifters and leaners in the good old USofA. ” The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept the majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.” It might have been Joe Bageant who wrote Deer Hunting with Jesus who said there are no poor people in the US only temperorary millionaires in waiting.

  11. Kerri

    And we need to teach children to question, think and understand so that their comprehension of concepts and facts allows them to speak with confidence rather than simply parroting rote learned garbage.

  12. David Bruce

    I get the impression our illustrious leaders are steering the ship of State by looking backwards at the wake. A nice straight wake behind, icebergs and storms ahead be damned!

  13. Aortic

    The sole purpose of economic forecasting is to lend some credence to astrology.

  14. Jennifer Demas

    Kerry, our indentured journalists definitely skipped English comprehension e.g., they all went gaga when the loquacious Turnbull (15/09/015 “… The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative. We cant future proof ourselves blah blah blah…” I went wtf, is this guy for real, as he unravelled and binned any semblance of the 21st century digitised Australia NBN FTTP and price on carbon, education etc etc, he really has no idea about any idea let alone one of his own even incapable of, his words “.. plagiarise an idea..” and what constitute 21st century Australia as for the journos so many words it sounded, operative word sounded smart, brilliant and they caved like the proverbial, once journo said “.. he has gravitas of the 21st century blah blah” they really had/have no idea as long as It sounds smart. Suppose cant blame them after the monosyllabic Abbott, now just hooked on rhyming slogans journalistic intellectual rigor left the paddock as the media tsar treats Australia like the family farm, he decides the who what when for the farm.

  15. Josephus

    In my experience schools do not permit people who criticise the official line to speak to the young. Not a personal beef here, but what others have told me who have tried to present a critical, alternative view of history for example.

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