Australians are now paying the price for undervaluing education!
After fighting a losing battle in relation to action on the climate emergency, against a government which appears to have no respect for, and therefore ignores, science – except when it involves medical science – the next step in dumbing us down is denying any support to the arts!
Why do I think we undervalue education? This is my perspective.
After completing an honours degree in mathematics at Imperial College, and, having always loved maths and felt teaching was my vocation, I went straight into teaching maths for 5 years, 4 of them in UK Grammar Schools.
These selective high schools took students through a primarily academic syllabus, from year 7 to 13, designed to lead straight in to 3 year university honours courses, so having the option for highly specialised course offerings in the last 2 years. I believe that comprehensive education has now significantly altered the structure which I experienced.
Because maths teachers were always in short supply, after a five year break having my first two children, I was able to find employment at a private school with a crêche when my third child was 4 months old.(As an aside, in those days in England, the rich had nannies and the rest, without family close by, had no one to help look after the children on a regular basis!) I care deeply for my children, but living with irrational little beings is murder for me!
Coming to Australia 3 years or so later, I rapidly learned that when I was asked what I did, I replied “teach maths”, because, if I said I was a teacher, I was instantly asked ” do you know … ” who was invariably a Primary school teacher.
I apologise if that makes me sound like a snob, but I still cringe when I hear people talking about ‘chalkies’ and ‘schoolies’ week, which sounds so immature, while I also found it sad that sporting heroes were paraded across the stage in assembly when winners of certificates in the national Westpac Mathematics Competition were ignored.
You can be both academically bright AND athletic, but Australia values your athleticism more!
I was horrified by the way that Australian education authorities see teachers as being qualified to teach anything! That is almost acceptable at Primary levels, but when you are a secondary school teacher of English plus one of the social sciences, and you are required to teach Phys Ed and Biology, it does nothing for the teachers efficacy or – and more importantly – for their students’ education!
So – having endured so many years with a government which has no understanding of scientific research methods, quotes terms like ‘exponential’ and ‘logarithmic, without any real understanding of what those terms mean when spouted endlessly by politicians during the COVID-19 crisis – we now move on to the next area scorned by the current brand of Neoliberals.
Art is, for many, what makes life bearable. Whether it is the visual arts, music or drama, pub gigs or massive stadium pop concerts, live or recorded, there would be few people who do not find pleasure and entertainment out of one or more of the available options.
But during the Covid-19 crisis, those who had given their services for free for fund-raising for bush fire victims – remember our absent Prime Minister who was so pleased to know we missed him that he came back from Hawaii to tell the states it was their problem – were completely overlooked.
Whether you are a singer, instrumentalist, portrait photographer, actor, stage hand, choreographer, choir member – the list goes on indefinitely – you need an audience or a venue, an employer or a patron who will pay for your services or your products, because even royalties, if your particular specialisation provides those, do not provide adequate long-term support for life.
Despite spending years rubbishing Labor policies during the GFC, Labor’s debt, their pink-batt disasters leading to a Royal Commission (which essentially concluded that some employers took on the job without taking the trouble to properly train their employees) – the list is endless – now – SURPRISE – the Morrison appointed National Cabinet has approved a stimulus policy which goes way beyond Labor’s excesses!
Morrison has spruiked it but I bet he had to be dragged, kicking and screaming to do so!
But how well-thought out was it?
It was highly reactive, so leading to constant adjustment, and it excluded a mass of people who, because of their profession or because they came here at our invitation but they are not Australian (or maybe because they would never vote for the Coalition – like the sports grants rorts!) and virtually all those whose income is drawn from their artistic skills!
Now just to stick the knife in a little deeper, the Arts will now be part of the Roads and Transport portfolio.
The only links I can see would be being transported by pleasure in some art form or maybe I’m on the road to nowhere.
They have recently discovered that the Neanderthals did not die out but live on the DNA of many who are still classified as homo sapiens.
Make of that what you will!
Australia is close to unique in the extent to which it subsidises education for those who choose not to use the state school system.
I remember one quote which caught my eye – and my fancy –
“I have come to the conclusion that one of the truly bad effects religion (any religion) has on people is that it teaches that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.” John Lord, AIM Network
I know that the Roman Catholic Church has had an influence on governance in Australia which is much closer to what was experienced in Ireland (Eire) than in England. For example, abortion was legalised in England in 1967, Eire has pretty much broken the links between church and government quite recently, while NSW has only just fallen over the line, more than half a century after England!
The world is over-populated, in large part because women are treated as less than equal in so many parts of the world that they are denied control over their own bodies!
Between capitalism and religion, the world is becoming a positively hostile environment, and without better education, it will cease to support life.
Because people are not taught critical thinking. They accept authority without question and we have government policies which have been progressively removing our rights as individuals on the pretence of protecting us from terrorism!
Personally I would rank Peter Dutton high up on my list of terrorists and trouble stirrers!
Do you honestly support this?
Wake up, open up your mind, oppose the progress towards a total loss of our democracy – too much has already been taken away from us!
CLIMATE CHANGE IS A REALITY.
WE ARE UNLIKELY TO REVERSE IT BUT WE DO HAVE A FLEETING CHANCE TO SLOW IT IN ITS TRACKS!
I care deeply for the future of our young people – I have 3 great grandchildren – and that obliges me to fight for them to have a prospect of a viable life.
Please join me.
I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”
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Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!