Woke Ideology Trumps Core Literacy And Numeracy Teaching Skills

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22 November 2023
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“We are setting Australian students up for failure by spending so little time teaching our teachers core literacy and numeracy skills, while university courses focus on woke issues and activism,” said Dr Bella d’Abrera, Director of the Institute of Public Affairs’ Foundations of Western Civilisation Program.

Today, the IPA released a comprehensive analysis of the content in every education faculty of the 37 Australian universities that offered teaching qualifications in 2023, titled Who teaches the teachers? An audit of teaching degrees at Australian universities. The research found:

  • The equivalent of just 10 weeks of classes across a four-year Bachelor of Education degree, less than one semester, are dedicated to the teaching of core literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Nearly one-third of all teaching subjects relate to ‘woke’ concepts and ideology.
    • Of the 3,713 subjects currently offered to teaching students, 1,169 subjects teach issues related to Critical Social Justice.
  • Fewer than one-in-ten teaching subjects are about literacy and numeracy.
    • Of the 3,713 teaching subjects taught, 371 subjects are concerned with developing core mathematics (218 subjects), phonics (43 subjects), and grammar skills (37 subjects).

“Instead of being taught how to master core academic curriculum such as reading, writing, mathematics, history, and science, prospective teachers are being trained by their university lecturers to be experts in Critical Social Justice, identity politics, and sustainability,” said Dr d’Abrera.

The 2023 NAPLAN results show that one in-three Australian students are not meeting basic standards of numeracy and literacy. In addition, the latest OECD Programme for International Student Assessment results showed that Australian classrooms ranked among the unruliest in the world, at 70th out of the 77 countries surveyed.

“Despite the record amount of money being spent on education by all levels of government, it should come as no surprise that student performance is deteriorating because our teachers are not being taught the skills they need to impart critical knowledge on to students,” said Dr d’Abrera.

At present, the average completion rate for students in a teaching degree at university is just 50 per cent, while the average attrition rate across all courses is 17 per cent. Moreover, 20 per cent leave the profession in their first three years as a teacher.

“The warped priorities of Australian university faculties are having a detrimental impact on the career prospects of our teachers. The system is clearly failing both trainee teachers, as well as the students they go on to teach, and it is in urgent need of reform,” said Dr d’Abrera.

“Many teachers struggle to manage disruptive behaviours and maintain a conducive learning environment. It is unsurprising that students feel empowered to disrupt when our teachers are not given the professional development they need, and when the National Curriculum has activism at its core.”

“Initial teacher training, notably woke and notoriously lacking in evidenced-based preparation for the realities of the classroom, leaves new teachers floundering and vulnerable, which in turn contributes to burnout. Our teachers and students deserve better.” said Dr d’Abrera.

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