Monday, July 19, 2004


The Australian example -- but much like the USA

"Before the mid-1960s, each of the State education departments issued clear syllabi for each subject, which detailed knowledge and skills that students were expected to attain at each year level. Teachers had to teach to the syllabus and students were examined on both their knowledge and skills. Inspectors were employed by the various departments to ensure that this process was observed.

Students who failed to meet the minimum required standard had to repeat the year level, and testing was used as a means of monitoring the effectiveness of instruction. This approach was abandoned for one in which the emphasis was on listing the competencies students should develop during certain blocks of years in their schooling (e.g., Years 9 and 10). The teacher is given a wide latitude in writing the syllabus. Accompanying this change was the introduction of a range of educational techniques such as open classrooms and whole-language approach to teaching English, many of which have since been discredited.

These changes, according to Donnelly, have been integral factors in the decline of standards. Research conducted in 1996 indicated that in Year 3, 27 per cent of students did not meet the minimum standard and 28 per cent the minimum writing standard. Students with poor skills were allowed to be promoted to the next year level with the result that foundational literacy and numeracy difficulties were not addressed....

Given the freedom allowed by the curriculum approach, some students will still leave school, having read significant works of English literature and with a fair knowledge of the narrative of world history. Others, however, will leave school having studied little more than pop culture such as Neighbours, The Simpsons or reality TV and with little knowledge of the key events in history, thus leaving them culturally illiterate.

Too many students are presented with an education that is pervaded with left-wing ideologies, such as Marxism, feminism and postmodernism. For example, Australian history has become a deprecatory litany of the evil deeds of white settlers, and geography a thinly disguised promotion of extreme environmentalism. This is consistent with a left-wing view which sees education, not so much as a means of developing individuals and preparing them for their role as adults in society, but as a catalyst in the struggle for equality and social change - or, at its most extreme, as a means of "smashing the capitalist system".

Perhaps one of the clearest indicators of parental dissatisfaction with government education is the significant rise in the numbers of parents who have abandoned government education for independent schooling, with many citing a lack of values in the government system as a significant reason. Perhaps it would be more accurate to argue that in many cases parents object to the approaches to education that are taken, for example, prohibitions on teaching Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet because it defines heterosexuality as the normal sexual orientation, thereby marginalising gay and lesbian students."

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