Bullies and Australian education counter reform

Bullying is the topic of two articles in the Australian Education Union, Victoria Branch News, March 2009. The problem of bullying is a timely one as it is an issue that dominates many teachers’ concerns, both personally, and across whole school communities. Schools are microcosm of society and consequently the problems that beset our communities are also present within our schools.

Australian society’s political and economic system, like most, is based on the exploitation of many to profit the few. To do so inequality must be enforced to ensure ‘social cohesion’. This is most evident in the federal governments repressive industrial relations legislation that deliberates against any reasonable democratic action to defend wages and working conditions by workers generally, but especially those who are organised in trade unions.

In regard to education Julia ‘Gradgrind’ Gillard apparently must appreciate that many teachers strive to be the embodiment and promoters of democratic values. It is no accident her ministerial responsibilities are education, social cohesion and industrial relations. Let your own internal ‘Big Brother’ make the connections before the development of our imaginations and emotions are outlawed totally. The ‘Gradgrind’ view of education is one directed by bullying business managers manipulating data, and micromanaging the life out of teachers and teaching. Trevor Cobold, national spokesperson of Save Our Schools argues that this “toughness masks their ignorance of curriculum and teaching.”

June Factor (The Age 23/3) too makes a number of critical and salient points to challenge the ‘Gradgrind’ view.
“… this reductionist virus, as is evident from the Federal Government’s recent enthusiasm for a local variant of the No Child Left Behind approach. Every school must adopt a “performance reporting regime involving constant standardised testing and the naming (and shaming) of schools where the children don’t perform as required.
The Bush government’s Orwellian-titled No Child Left Behind policy has forced many schools, especially the poorest, now dependent on test results for their survival, to diminish or omit subjects such as music, drama and art.”
There are now whole school districts in the US where children’s play time is reduced, adult-directed or simply eliminated. This trend was visible even before George W. Bush. According to the superintendent of schools in Atlanta in 1998, “we are intent on improving academic performance. You don’t do that by having kids hanging on the monkey bars.”

Educators know that their student’s suffer when they are involved in bullying. We know that bullying is a complex of social behaviour that involves those who are perpetrators, victims, and as well the ‘innocent’ bystanders. The methods being proposed by the Federal Government are tantamount to bullying for the social and personal harm that they perpetrate on teachers and their students. The enforcement of Gradgrind’s system of joyless education can only work by making a Louisa of us all.

One Response to “Bullies and Australian education counter reform”

  1. Australiantvonline Says:

    I have to say that this is one of my favourite sites. Great job moderating, And well written articles. Rarely does a website causes me to bring it up in coversations at the dinner table. Good luck!


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