3. Increased mandatory curriculum
There are so many things the Education Department wants us to teach! So much so that, in the 2000s, the Federal Government wanted to address the increasing mobility of Australian families who followed work interstate, and the Australian Curriculum was born.
I know you can hear the weariness in my voice as I talk about how many curriculum and reporting systems I’ve had to learn over my career … the CSF, VELS, VELS v2, Australian Curriculum, Victorian Curriculum (that’s the current one, now being overhauled to v2, because every state and territory immediately started cherry-picking their favourite bits of the Aus Curric, which was, incidentally, first reviewed before it was even fully implemented) … and that’s just in one state I’ve taught in, in secondary levels 7-10! The other state and territory I’ve taught in had their own systems, and senior secondary years of 11 and 12 have a completely different system of (in Victoria) VCE, VCAL, VET in VCE … the list goes on.
The only thing that’s constant is change.
Doesn’t the education sector LOVE its acronyms? I’ve been teaching long enough to have seen ‘best practice’ systems — which teachers are trained to implement in their classrooms — change regularly. Usually every two to three years. Much as it’s painful to have to move offices (which also seems to happen every two to three years), it’s a great way to look through paperwork of ‘innovative teaching practices’ and ditch anything more than two years old … because the reality is, yesterday’s approach is superseded already, and all those trees which became glossy handouts won’t get used again: in fact, there’s more trees being cut down right now, to provide the paper for the glossy handouts we’ll get tomorrow! Who says the Education Department isn’t allotting their funds in the most suitable way? Hmmm……
So now, as an old-timer, when an acronym comes up that I don’t understand or which seems out of context, I break the meeting’s ‘listen don’t talk’ rule to ask what it means. Too many times have I made the assumption that what that acronym reflected ten years ago, is what it means in this incarnation. And I’ve been wrong. So I risk the death-stare from the speaker who doesn’t like to be interrupted in my attempt to keep up with the volume of information that crowds my brain, and only ever gets more overwhelming. Much of it leaks out, my mind just can’t hold that much at once … how much is missed and how much is noticed is an interesting reflection that will never be accurately measured …
4. Increase in our needing to assess our students
Additional to the need to learn the scales and continuum data of the many curriculum types I and my colleagues align lessons to, schools need to incorporate the annual NAPLAN, On Demand testing, PAT testing for reading and writing, and a plethora of other external tests — so we not only have data to base our individual lessons on and with which to cater for each child, but also for each school to be judged against other schools in their own state or territory, the country, and the world. Adding significant stress to the students’ mental health, as well as stealing time away from when we can present our (already overcrowded) curriculum, this demand for testing also reduces the time we can all Just Be in our classrooms, enjoying each others’ company and building the vital relationships we’re constantly urged to build … Suffice to say
Weighing the pig doesn’t make it any fatter.
5. Vastly increased administrative load for teachers
As you can no doubt imagine, the effects of the changes to education over a generation or two has vastly changed the role of teachers. The increase in Papierkram is phenomenal! It’s no wonder that teachers struggle so much with keeping up, doing hours of unpaid overtime, and that so many choose to go part-time (if not quit altogether), just to retain some sanity.
In the end, we are human BEINGS not human DOINGS …
how did education lose its way so much, getting so far from (what should be) its core principles …
whatever happened to schools embracing FUN?