Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Critics of teachers turn people away

Well it's been a while between posts and I must say a very enjoyable holiday at the beach in Airey's Inlet. I rarely thought of teaching at all but mid-January one article caught my attention.

During the past couple of years I noticed that there seems to be a prolonged systematic attack on the teaching profession by politicians and columnists, particularly in Rupert Murdoch's newspaper 'The Australian'. Every problem in society seems to be the fault of teachers and in the case of the Federal Education Minister, Julie Bishop, it's left-wing ideologues who have hijacked the curriculum with some themes "straight from Chairman Mao". We've heard it all before: a drug problem - introduce drug education; road accidents - introduce driver education; racism - get rid of multi-culturalism; rude behaviour - introduce values; and literacy and numeracy levels - get back to phonics. However for teachers one academic made a statement.

Professor Sue Willis, Dean of Education at Monash University and president of the Australian Council of Deans of Education, rode to the rescue in an article in The Sunday Age which was reported in a related article 'Criticism endangers teaching.

"The capacity to attract our brightest and best young people into teaching, and to keep them in teaching is directly related to the way (the profession) is constructed both in the media and by politicians," Professor Willis said.

"It's absolutely clear that we have downturns in applicaton rates for university courses), and an increased loss of teachers from the professon, when they are constantly being slammed.

"Why would people want to go into a profession where they're treated like shit? Where they're treated as though no matter what they do, everything is their fault. If there's high unemployment, if kids are rioting at the beaches, schools are the problem.

"if we really want to attract the brightest and best into state schools, we've got to start talking them up - and the constant talking them down is actually causing the problem it's supposed to be pointing to."

As I remember some teaching colleagues saying out loud in New York, "go girl!"

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