‘F’ for Failing to Train Our Future Teachers Properly

Written by:
20 December 2023
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The majority of Australia’s Year 9 students use punctuation at a Year 3 level.

The Australian education system is in crisis.

It is failing at a most basic level, which is to teach young Australians how to read and write.

All you have to do is look at this year’s NAPLAN results to see how bad things really are in Australian schools.

One-in-three Australian students are not meeting the basic standards of numeracy and literacy. In contrast, just 15 percent of students are exceeding expectations.

The majority of Australia’s Year 9 students use punctuation at a Year 3 level. To put that into perspective, 15-year-old teenagers have the writing ability of 8-year-olds.

It renders them unable to perform simple tasks such as accurately filling out vital forms, following maps, or reading instructions on a packet of medication.

An illiterate and innumerate society is a non-functioning society.

These are truly shocking statistics. And it’s not happening because of a lack of funding for schools.

Every single Australian should be asking why, given state and federal governments are throwing more money than ever at the problem, the 2023 NAPLAN results reveal a system in steady decline.

Each year, all levels of government spend around $120 billion on education.

Since the implementation of NAPLAN testing, a whopping $662 billion has been spent, yet students have been going backward.

Teachers Taught Ideology Rather Than Skills

Australians should know that one of the central causes of this decline is what future teachers are being taught during their training at university.

A new report by the Institute of Public Affairs, “Who teaches the teachers?” has found that—instead of being taught how to master core academic curriculum such as reading, writing, mathematics, history, and science—teachers are being trained by their university lecturers to be experts in identity politics, critical race theory, radical gender theory, and sustainability.

The teaching of woke ideology accounts for 31 percent of all teaching subjects, which is equivalent to one-and-a-quarter years of a four-year Bachelor of Education degree. Meanwhile, fewer than 1-in-10 teaching subjects are focused on literacy and numeracy.

Future teachers are spending far more time talking about gender fluidity, climate change, and how racist Australia is, than they are things like phonics, mathematics, and grammar. It is no wonder that young Australians are hopelessly lacking in basic skills but very good at going to protests.

Universities are not only failing to equip teaching graduates with the knowledge and skills required to effectively teach core curriculum subjects, but they have replaced core skills and knowledge with woke ideology and political activism, which in turn produces legions of poorly educated child activists. And it looks like a lot of trainee teachers do not want this either.

Currently, the average completion rate for students in a teaching degree at universities is 50 percent, while the average attrition rate across all courses is 17 percent. Moreover, 20 percent leave the profession in their first three years as a teacher.

The system is clearly failing both trainee teachers and the students they go on to teach. It is a system in urgent need of reform.

Under the federal government’s “back to basics” plan, there will be a new accreditation regime for teaching degrees.

This means that it will be mandatory for universities to instruct trainee teachers in evidence-based reading, writing, arithmetic, and classroom management practices, based on the proven educational science about what works best to promote student learning.

While the “back to basics” concept is a step in the right direction, it will not solve the related problem of teachers being schooled in woke ideology.

As long as these subjects continue to dominate teaching degrees, the nation’s teachers will continue to be ill-prepared for the classroom.

This does a disservice both to them and their future students.

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