The Australian education system isn’t doing so well at the moment. Actually, it’s been broken for a while now.
Our kids’ results across maths, literacy, and science have plummeted. Despite packed curricula loaded with high-stakes testing, basic skills are flatlining.
But now educational changes are finally set to happen in NSW. It may be one out of six states, but it’s a start, right?
Last week, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a full reform of the state curriculum to be completed by 2024. The new curriculum will take us “back to basics” by culling subjects such as Coding 101, Puppetry, and Drone Essentials (yes, they’re a thing) and making sure kids can read and write proficiently instead. Year 12 exams are on the chopping block, and we’re even talking about scrapping conventional year levels so kids can learn at their own pace.
Back to basics always sounds good to the electorate. But as a teacher, I’m not holding my breath. We don’t need a "back to basics" approach in a world that is moving faster than any time in its past. We need strong foundations and students who have the capacity to learn and be agile with that learning.
After more than 15 years in schools, I’ve seen enough curriculum revolutions to be sceptical. There was a similar curriculum change that I drove students through in Scotland, which translated to less than excellent results across the country. In Australia we’ve had to sandwich social skills and robotics classes between core subjects already struggling for time. The end result is always the same: students lose out on learning in an educational experiment that’s quickly dropped come the next election cycle.
We can’t do this to our kids again. They deserve better.
If we’re going to fix our education system, we’ve got to understand that education is about more than just curriculum.
It’s about learning.
And that takes place a world away from educational fads, and political pencil-pushing.