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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.

Why?

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.”

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

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23 comments

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  1. RosemaryJ36

    Does anyone else share my problem of regularly confusing ‘neoliberalists’ with ‘neanderthals’?

  2. Baby Jewels

    I agree with you, and as the grandmother of four, I want better for them. I see wealthy private schools picking up millions and poor State schools being left with crumbs and I see the standard of education in Australia slipping further every year on the world scale. And I know why. It’s deliberate. Not the lucky country or the smart country.

  3. Michael Taylor

    I think they are one and the same, Rosemary.

    I learned at uni the Neanderthals have been extinct for over 40,000 years. Not so! Look at Trump.

  4. Brozza

    The ‘smart’ country?
    I wouldn’t be surprised to find our education standards are slipping down the scale faster than our international fraudband speed ratings.
    A dumber country, among other things, is more susceptible to the ‘news’ offerings of the msm, e.g. look how scummo’s ratings have risen due to his(?) handling of corona virus, despite it, (scummo), not actually taking responsibility for anything and it’s obvious distaste for the education and arts sector, (and ANY workers in general), with it’s gummints ‘handouts’, if your lucky, as opposed to a helping hand.

  5. Jack sprat

    If Tom Wolfe was correct when he stated that a cult is a religion without political influence ,then surely hillsong is no longer a cult but now a genuine religion .

  6. Andrew Smith

    Good article, mostly agree, especially the dumbing down and/or discrediting of maths and science over (with benefit of hindsight) recent decades; seems to resonate with the time frame since global warming due to fossil fuels became apparent, and paranoia about the challenge of empowered liberal and/or educated citizens.

    Meanwhile we have the likes of conservative (GOP pollster trained) campaign strategist Lynton Crosby encouraging hearts over heads, emergence of politicised PR and/or media, i.e. viewed through the dumbed down Socratic communication approach focus upon supposed authority or expertise of promoted sock puppets (ethos), focus upon manipulating emotions (pathos) and avoid facts or critic analysis (logos). Exemplified by panels show or interviews being ‘fair and balanced’ where the expert says 2 + 2 = 4 while the alternative view says 6, so the result is 5…… confusion and no context.

    Reminds one of an utterance from conservative MP Kevin Andrews some years ago questioning why students need skills of critical analysis……. while Victoria in the late ’70 under a Hamer Liberal govt. had ‘critical thinking’ as part of English Expression, General Studies (to replace religion, which promoted environmental measures) and linked into the Chemistry syllabus re. pollution, the Ozone layer etc.; all disappeared by the late ’80s…..

    Further, one finds it almost impossible to have a normal conversation with most Australians due to the dominance of media channels which have dumbed down discourse to preclude analysis in favour of binary issues, sound bites, glib one liners and neo-narcissism; the individual feelings and the prosperity gospel over all, if religiosity does not fit, then lashings of nationalism, entertainment and trivia.

    Fits not just neo-liberal attitudes (aren’t we all?) but the manipulative US radical right libertarianism that has infected Australia and the UK too, through Koch related think tanks and promoted by mainstream media, especially NewsCorp, which inevitably benefits the top 1-10% of society, including corporates helped along by ageing electorates (see Jane Mayer ‘not just informing what we think but how we think’ or not).

    I’d beg to differ on the ‘overpopulation’ trope which has been round since Malthus then reemerged in the ’70s with support of fossil fuel and related oligarchs’ foundations, e.g. ZPG, SPA etc. yet the likes of statistician (medico and human development expert) Prof. Hans Rosling et al. have far more of a maths and social science based insight and explanation; we are seeing the accumulation of data due to high fertility rates in the past (now in significant decline) i.e. ageing populations which will also be in decline mid century.

  7. John Lord

    Music is better than it sounds. Great read Rosemary.

  8. corvusboreus

    The biospheric environment is not suffering from an overpopulation of humans and the climate is doing just fine.

  9. totaram

    I object to the stereotyping of Neanderthals as “dumb or stupid”. It turns out they were quite smart and our ancestors interbred with them, as well as with Denisovians etc. It is time we changed our view of these other hominids.

    As for the “dumbing down” it is indeed true and there is a dangerous positive feedback loop. The dumber people get, the more they vote for conservative nutjobs, who then dumb the populace down even more. With the complete ownership of the Mass-media by the oligarchs, there is no escape, so the entire system will finally collapse or self-destruct because our species will be unable to properly handle the powerful technologies in their possession. We don’t need the disaster of climate change. Other disasters are waiting in the wings.

  10. M

    They say those Neanderthals were great kicks on either foot and had Cable like handpasses.

  11. RomeoCharlie29

    Golly RJ, you stirred up a hornets nest of depressive thought there. And not a little contempt shown for the sheeple. Mind you, the elections of Abbott and Morrison, two of the worst PM’s seen since, and probably including Billy big-ears, the populace has shown itself to be infinitely malleable by the forces of ignorance, aided by a liberal ( sorry) dose of misinformation as evidenced by the efforts of Clive Palmer.

    That an apparent majority of the eligible citizenry is prepared to vote against its own interests astounds me but given that such as the arselicker Ray Hadley is prepared to tell Scummo he is one of our greatest Prime Ministers, one has to wonder how many will see that his apparent generous economic response to the Covid 19 emergency goes so much against his ideological grain that it’s clear ( also from his statements) that his heart really isn’t in it and given the first opportunity he will revert to type. Will those who briefly benefitted from taxpayers largess, and those who missed out, remember that when the time comes?

  12. Khaled Elomar

    Great article RosemaryJ36

  13. JudithW

    Your comment about religion in politics is spot on – just look at the religious backgrounds of most of our politicians. Most are Christian, and of these, so many proclaim to be Roman Catholic. Hardly representative of the population as a whole, and pretty poor representatives of their religions as well, IMO.

  14. New Bruce

    The Neandarthals were not intent on world domination.

    As a Forklift (and sometimes truck) driver, I know that there is an enormous skill-set involved. As there is in Screen-Printing, which I have been doing since the age of 12. Beyond the need for concentration, the two have not much overlap.
    Arts, Roads, and Transport all as one portfolio. Hmmm.
    The only hat I can think of with that shape is a jesters’.
    Nominations please.

  15. Clem

    Being a Pentecostalist means that the bible and only the bible is to be believed? Forget science, arts etc. However, money – mammon – is very important, too. VERY.

  16. Jon Chesterson

    Peter Dutton is a terrorist, he terrorises the Australian public, threatens, bullies and attacks large numbers of sub-groups in our population and uses his power to inflict illegal surveillance, detention, imprisonment, harm and death. He dishes out punishment with no legitimate authority or evidence on a whim as if he were police, judge and jury. We have to listen to his hatred and muck raking almost every day This makes him a terrorist and by definition his department, staff, government and party are accessories in his criminal activities and corruption. Worse he is not held to account by anyone, not his government, the PM, the AFP, Commissions, the judiciary or the mainstream media – So what does that tell us about Australia and our government, about the party in power, the Prime Minister, about justice and democracy?

  17. Brozza

    John Chesterson –
    I hear that when dutton was on the force in Queensland, he used to find cans of dogfood on his desk, as left by colleagues.
    I guess he wasn’t held in high regard then, as now.

  18. paul walter

    Dumbing down of education and media is all about the entrenchment of neo-feudalism and a sort of command master slave economy.

    The ideas are reactive and bear no relation to reality, as the thread starter cogently reveals. What they are about is irrational fear within an ossified ruling elite’s knee jerk reaction to a paranoid fear that progress is threatening, including a contempt prior to investigation response to science, logic, human interpersonal communications and transmission of knowledge and ideas.

  19. leefe

    Many of those performers and writers are also producing masses of free content on various digital platforms, to help people through the lockdown. They’ll get no credit for it from the misgovernment.

    The LNP – particularly the religious nutjob contingent – do not want an educated populace. Critical thinking makes it too hard to get away with their lies, theft and corruption.

  20. Ian Bersten

    Well written and to the point.

  21. Carina McNaughton

    Well written. Australia sadly has always put sports above academic achievement. We worship the games which are played and are only so because of the advertising dollars attached. Universities have withdrawn courses which are not seen as profitable. Since when is education only about money. How about learning for broadening our minds and critical thinking.So we understand history and cultures.
    The arts in Europe are valued and loved by the common people. Wish it was so here, rather than just kicking balls, hitting balls, throwing balls. When will we truly value the arts?

  22. Roland Flickett

    Brozza

    It’s my understanding that his nickname in the Qld wallopers was ‘Thumper’. Who’d a thought a lout like Dutton would be a fan of ‘Bambi’…

  23. RosemaryJ36

    Carina – when I was about 14, living in England, our school French teacher did an exchange with a teacher of French from Gosford. We all got penfriends, and mine – who swam, played tennis but also played the piano and learned ballet – bemoaned the lack of interest in the arts in Australia. That would have been about 1950! Margaret Court era!

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