If you live in Australia and read or watch the news there isn’t much chance you missed the breaking news last week that Australia’s Education System is a disaster. In fact you wouldn’t be mocked for thinking that it might be end of education with words like lacklustre, disappointing, flat line, doubt, disaster. The list goes on.
The tests were the TIMSS and PIRLS Monitoring tests and students in grade 4 were tested on Numeracy and Reading. The media and our government focussed on how Australia fell well short of Asian countries such as Singapore and Korea. Who cares?
If we want our students to be compliant robots who are capable of regurgitating knowledge we may well be in trouble and maybe we should care. If we are looking to produce a conveyer belt of learners who look and act the same then maybe we should be concerned.
Found on flickrcc.net
If we continue to look to limiting tests and comparing ourselves to other nations I do believe we will be in dire straits. We need to start thinking about what we, Australia, want to achieve in education, not focussing on where we sit in a ladder of test results.
If we start to talk about what skills we want our students to have I believe we will talk about resilience, adaptability, confidence, creative, critical thinkers and acceptance. Students, who collaborate, communicate and initiate change. Students who are curious and life long learners and can apply skills they learn in literacy and numeracy to real world problem solving. This should be the more holistic ideal we have for education in Australia rather than to follow others.
If Australian Education was a student in my class I would ask them to reflect on what they want and not worry about what everyone else was doing. I would encourage them to think about what makes them unique and what they are proud of.
Let’s stop talking about testing and start talking about learning.
Note: This was a post I wrote on Friday evening and planned to post first things Saturday morning. It was then that I woke to the news of the Newtown shootings on Saturday morning. I couldn’t bring myself to post it. It all seemed trivial compared to what was unfolding. The world was hearing about the heroic actions of teachers and how they put the lives of their teachers before theirs, something I know teachers would do without hesitation. What angered me was that in Australia we were putting down the quality of our teachers, reducing children to test scores and labelling education a disgrace and disaster. Teachers are so much more than delivery drivers of knowledge.
This morning I read a post from Sheryl Nussbaum Beach who was able to put into words some of what I was feeling. As I grieve for the teachers who gave up their lives for the safety of their children I take comfort in knowing that millions of children around the world are cared for by their teachers everyday because life is more than test results.