Have you heard lately, all the stuff about how children in Australia are taught and how they are assessed?
I have, too. And it is interesting because just last week, I put up on my FB Author Page, a video discussing something along the very same lines – teaching and assessing children. From this video, came my thoughts about my son’s ability to do maths using the current taught method and how that is essentially setting him up for failure because he can’t understand it. He is not maths-stupid. He is method-disadvantaged. As the sums get harder, the less he understands, the further behind he’ll go.
The Gonsky Report has yet again confirmed Australian children are slipping further and further behind the world in Education. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many teachers that the NAPLAN Test has been called “a waste of time”. I think just as many parents are thinking “about time!” along with the teachers.
The NAPLAN test has fast become a way for schools to out-perform other schools in order to show they are the better school for children to attend. All schools want a good reputation and to be known to have the brightest students in the area/state/country. It is not unusual to hear stories from parents stating how their child had to do a practice run for the upcoming NAPLAN. I remember being told the NAPLAN isn’t really a test, but something which shows how your child is doing in relation to age, subject etc. It has always been of my thinking that’s what teachers do – assess your child’s ability and then report to you what they observe. They’re the experts on your child’s ability. So, I’ve never liked the NAPLAN.
Now, because Australia has been trying to improve these results since the original Gonsky Report, all sorts of paper work have been added to the tasks a teacher must complete. This involves the evaluation for teacher performance by having to video themselves teaching a class. And this isn’t a once-every-three-years thing. This is a yearly thing. It MUST be done, or they can lose their job.
The other thing the Gonsky Report talks about is how Australia’s student assessment is in the dark ages. The current A B C, or low, sound, high procedure isn’t accurate. The Report has suggested individualised teaching program for each student.
When I heard this, I immediately thought of a friend of mine who is a Kindy teacher. She has been doing that sort of thing her whole teaching life. Her students, and parents love her because the children leap and bound in their progress. I’ve read some of the notes and cards she has received from thankful parents who can’t say thank you enough.
One story which sticks in my mind is when a child with a disability came into her class mid-year. The child came from a background of severe abuse and would sit under the table making dog noises. If anyone tried to bring him out, he would growl, bite and scratch at the person. Somehow, she managed to eventually have him sitting on the mat listening to stories, then onto reading, and by the time he went to year 1, had caught up with all his class mates.
And all due to individualising the way she taught him.
And the letter from his carers was nothing short of tear-jerking. The result for this child was not what had been expected due to the disability diagnosis. I’ve never forgotten this little boy’s incredible story of how good education changes lives.
So, upon listening to this revolutionary idea towards teaching Australian children, I know it is truly a life-changing thing and many teachers already use this method. In the news yesterday, one school told how they implemented this way of teaching to its 1000+ student school for a number of years and were seeing amazing results.
There is definitely something grand going on with individualised teaching methods which needs to be heeded.
Admittedly, I haven’t spoken to any of my teacher friends to get their opinion on all of this yet. But I will be because it is interesting how many other changes which have been implemented (according to some of my friend’s opinions) which haven’t been made in conjunction with actual teachers on the battle-front, but by someone in an office who has never taught a class in their life.
As with any field, the experts should be the ones who are approached about solutions. One of my teacher friends even told me once that things only started going downhill for students when the Government stepped in and started telling them how to do their jobs better. The epidemic of parent’s lack of respect for teachers also stems from this move because they lost credibility.
The Government can’t run themselves at the best of times. They can’t do a better job! So, maybe, it’s time they give the reigns back to the experts who know what they are doing…….