The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Teachers pained, strained and performance paid

Melbourne teacher, Peter Hodge paints a picture in The Age today of what the staffroom/classroom of 2012 might look like under Julie Bishop’s vision for education – and it ain’t pretty.

The new system, that has sown mistrust from the outset, has gradually eroded collegiality within faculties. Where sharing of resources was once routine, teachers now prefer to hoard their intellectual property for their own use and students are the losers.

Rather than leading to improved standards, analysts discover that standards have actually fallen. There is no longer any incentive for teachers to challenge students.

National curriculum induced mediocrity, record number of teachers on long-term sick leave and higher staff turnover are suggested consequences:

But this is exactly what the Howard Government wanted when it proposed these changes in 2007, isn’t it? The teacher unions have been effectively neutered and schools have become competitive workplaces. That irksome egalitarian attitude, once so characteristic of teachers, has been crushed once and for all.Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market place — that’s what rules in most schools now. For teachers, the pie never increased in size, it was simply carved up differently.

With further changes to the education system, the impact will be severe:

It’s difficult to credit that Ms Bishop truly believes the rhetoric about teacher performance that she has spouted in recent months. A more plausible explanation is that, having ticked off the ABC and IR laws (among others) in its ideological war, education and teachers, in particular, are next on the Howard Government’s list. Teachers — with all their “holidays” — are a soft target for any government, much easier to tackle than dealing with problems such as resourcing schools.

And finally, the much reviled Victorian Institute of Teaching comes under fire for failing to promote the profession of teaching to the wider community. VIT is the Victorian teacher registration board with compulsory membership at $65 per year. Previously, the Registered Schools Board provided the service and was funded by the State Government. The Kennett Government foisted the VIT upon teachers, justifying its compulsory fees on the grounds that the VIT would be an advocate for the teaching profession. In four years, it’s managed to come up with a draft code of teacher conduct (which will be non-binding and non-enforceable), a draft policy for professional development as a precondition of maintaining registration, and four glossy A3 ‘news’ letters per year. Not once have they publicly spoken out on behalf of the teaching profession throughout the barrage of politically-inspired main stream media denigration of teachers.

Peter Hodge concludes with common-sense:

As it is with most spheres of work, there are teachers who work harder and demonstrate greater aptitude than others. That’s life. However, in the world of education, I’m yet to learn of a scheme capable of measuring performance in a fair and equitable manner, and of rewarding teachers without causing a divided workforce.

Both state and federal government need to seek better ways of remunerating teachers, without adding to the burden of tasks they already complete. In the meantime, education ministers should switch tack and focus their concerns on raising public awareness about the vital role teachers have played for decades.

Filed under: Education, Ideology, Politics

2 Responses

  1. […] Andrew Leigh blogs his umpteenth (well, fifth actually) post about merit pay for teachers, and Graham Young weighs in on the same topic.  Both think a model being tried in Minnesota (which mostly rewards teams of teachers rather than individuals) might have some promise.  Slim Bollocks also has his tuppence worth. […]

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The Dog’s Bollocks

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The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

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