Priests and religious ministers will teach Australian children how to drive under the federal government’s proposed extension to the school chaplaincy program. Men of the cloth will take over driver education and a host of other programs directed at young people under a proposal to broaden the $61.4 million-a-year program in which chaplains replace qualified counsellors in Australian schools.
Conservative politicians have demanded religious ministers and priests teach Australian children how to drive, as well as instructing them on topics such as drugs and alcohol, personal relationships, literacy and numeracy, cyber safety, gender and sexuality…and even how to shave.
“Cynics will claim this is a weak excuse to funnel more taxpayers’ money to Christian churches,” explained Prime Minister Scott Morrison, himself a devout Pentecostal Christian.
“But that form of inner-city, left-wing, latte-sipping thinking is far from the truth. Priests and religious ministers are the best people to teach Australian children how to drive – even better than existing driving schools.”
All Australian children would be forced to attend a minimum number of hours under the tutelage of religious instructors in order to qualify for the driver’s test through which they secure their L Plates, then their P’s and full licence. They will also be required to attend church every Sunday, and to go to confession every time they fail to check their blindspot during lessons. Religious instructors will also prepare teenagers for the written component of the test.
“The curriculum will change,” revealed Morrison, “…and this is an exciting change. Students will learn skills such as:
3 point turns honouring the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
How to drive during rain, floods, fire and brimstone, plagues, pestilence and the second coming.
The driver education program is one branch of the proposed scheme to help young students through the pandemic as they suffer mental health problems due to prolonged lockdown and online learning. Conservative politicians and commentators argue that the scheme, introduced by former prime minister Joh Howard, is so successful that it should be extended to other areas of life which impact upon primary and secondary students, especially those in government schools.
“God spoke to me,” claimed Morrison. ” “I am merely a vessel through which God runs this country, and he said we must replace qualified, educated, experienced professionals with priests and religious ministers in the following areas:
Personal and romantic relationships. Even though priests can’t date or marry.
Gender and Sexuality. Even though the Bible outlaws non-heteronormative identification.
Drugs and alcohol. Learn how to turn water into wine.
Literacy and Numeracy. Students can learn the three ‘Rs’ just from reading the Bible.
Creative Writing. Read the Bible.
Geography. How to part an ocean.
Science. Trace the human genome to a man, a woman and a serpent.
Cyber Safety. They’ll watch the show ‘God Friended Me’.
Critics, meanwhile, suggested the $61.4 million-a-year budget would be better spent coordinating a national vaccine rollout, which is the federal government’s responsibility, so that children can return to school and be released from lockdown.
Australia continues on it’s path to dumnation. Intellect is spurned and academia is neglected, our economy is dumb and education is disrespected.
Australians are gullible.
A leadership challenge gave us a prime minister who is nothing more than a re-branding exercise for the Liberal National Party (LNP). At the time, Scott Morrison was called the caretaker PM. Some even referred to him as the night-watchman in reference to a tactic used in cricket in which a less competent batter is sent in for the last moments of a day’s play, in order to protect the more competent batters for the following day. If the night-watchman is dismissed, it doesn’t really matter – he is expendable, a sacrifice to protect the team. Morrison was a sacrifice, a less competent politician chosen to fill a gap. Then Australians voted him back in. They fell for the PR spin of the carefully-crafted persona, a man devoid of substance who is himself a marketing man. Australians continue to succumb to the marketing spin and support a man who is leading the country on the path to dumnation.
A carefully-crafted persona has kept Morrison in office. He is successfully sold as the daggy Dad, the typical Aussie bloke who loves beer and footy. He occupies his days with endless photo opportunities. Photo opportunities that are lame, predictable and vacuous, but successful. In his latest photo opportunity, he pretends to nail gyprock into a wall. He holds a hammer and pretends to hold a nail between his fingers. Only, he’s not holding a nail. A quick zoom in of the image reveals he’s holding fresh air. The Australian prime minister can’t even pretend to hammer a nail in correctly. For a man who is nothing but photo opportunities, this is a major failure.
He is sold as a leader of the workers, a man who identifies with the construction worker, farmer and tradesman (yes, tradesman, not woman), and yet he and his PR team can’t even manage a staged photo opportunity. Does it matter? Does it diminish his standing in the eyes of his new constituents? No, they still fall for the PR spin. Many experts predict he will win the next federal election. All Morrison needs to do is appear in high-vis, in lab coats, in footy gear or with his family, and Australians love him. It’s that easy.
The gullible Australian is a political creation. The Labor Party, and especially the LNP, have created the gullible Australian through the mainstream media and the public education system.
An uneducated population is easier to control. Leaders like the Sultan of Brunei know this, and deliberately underfund their public education systems. The current government also understands this. Government schools in Australia are grossly underfunded and teachers are overworked and underpaid. The nation ranks very poorly among OECD nations for basic educational standards in literacy and numeracy. It is impossible to develop critical literacy without basic literacy, and this motivates the current government’s attack on public education.
Citizens who lack critical literacy will not see, or even look, behind the marketing spin of the government. They will not question announcements and policy decisions. They can be fooled with targeted language, numbers and statistics, and controlled with slogans. The current government is a master of slogans – and the slogans work.
Tertiary education is also suffering. Universities are poorly funded, but for different reasons. Universities foment anti-establishment sentiment and dissent. Students and professors have a prerogative to reject the status quo, especially a status quo led by a conservative government. Universities often lead the dissent and robust discussion that is central to a functioning democracy. The current government has successfully stifled the debate that traditionally emerges from universities.
Technical education is also under threat. Funding has been stripped from TAFE (Technical and Further Education) colleges. The result is a labour shortage. Subsequently, labour was sourced from overseas (pre-COVID). Foreign labour disadvantaged local workers, who found less employment opportunities. Foreign labour benefitted large corporations, who could source cheaper, more compliant workers. Ironically, the tradies, labourers and construction workers who form the new supporter base of the LNP, are directly disadvantaged by their chosen representatives. They are one group of Australians who have voted against their best interests, but they are too gullible and uneducated to realise.
While the Labor Party has not attacked public education with the same vigour as the LNP, they have neglected the system for many years and left government schools crumbling. The undereducated masses blindly follow the current government on the path to dumnation.
Cool to be a fool.
Many Australian school students live by this mantra. It is considered cool to not study, not care and not pay attention at school. The attitude is typical of teenagers in many countries, but in Australia it stems from a cultural disrespect for authority and intellect. A country built on convict transportation from Britain naturally carries a disrespect for authority figures, including teachers, and this partly explains the behaviour of many students in class. Disrespect for intellect runs deeper, though. Australian identity is based on the images of the farmer, the soldier, the bronzed Aussie and the athlete – all exalted for physical prowess. None praised for intellectual prowess.
Australians can revel in this image for as long as they want. Other countries won’t mind. Other countries will leap ahead of Australia is education, technology, social policy, trade and economics while Australia celebrates its ignorance. Other countries will see Australia as an opportunity to be easily exploited.
Uneducated people passively consume mass media. Discernment and critique are nowhere to be found. Driving this consumption is one man – Rupert Murdoch. NewsCorp owns most of Australia’s national and regional newspapers, and the climate change-denying, racist, sexist, bigoted news empire is a powerful propaganda tool of the LNP. Not only does the news network spread propaganda, but it publishes content which is offensive in its quality. The simplified language is aimed at 13-year-olds. The content is over-sensationalised tabloid rubbish, and the targeting of people such as Indigenous Australians, left-wing thinkers, migrants, ethnic groups, environmentalists, women and other minorities is shockingly obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence. Unfortunately, this is lacking in its readers, and the Murdoch-led mainstream media is leading Australia on the path to dumnation.
At the same time, the current government is stripping funding and influence from the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) because the national broadcaster is famously objective, admittedly left-leaning in some cases, and trusted for its history of investigative journalism. The LNP is weakening one of its critics, but in doing so is weakening an important community service. Victims of natural disasters such as floods and fires turn to the ABC for updates and information which literally saves lives. Gutting the ABC could cost lives, as extreme weather drives further natural disasters, and pandemics become more likely. Some of those who will suffer voted for the very people who are destroying this vital public service.
Australia exports almost nothing that requires a university degree to make. The country’s economy relies heavily upon mining and livestock agriculture. While intelligent, tertiary educated people work within those industries, the act of farming and mining are not complex. Mining involves digging a hole, and farming involves animal husbandry.
Such a simple economy is not economically sustainable. Especially in a globalised world in which other countries are deliberately and actively diversifying their economies to withstand changes and progress, as well as unexpected events such as COVID-19. Mining and agricultural exports suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, with border closures interrupting export activity and transport. Countries and businesses in the IT industry, in contrast, prospered during the pandemic as anyone who had access to technology used it to stay in contact, stay connected, stay employed or stay sane. Australia, meanwhile, runs on a nationwide internet service whose speeds recently placed it at 61st in the world.
Slow internet speed has no justification. There is no excuse for such a poor national internet service. It is simply the result of political incompetence. A country with slow internet speed, in a digital age, is heading towards dumnation.
Mining and agriculture dominate Australia’s economy, alongside construction and tourism. International tourism has halted due to the pandemic, and it is impossible to predict when it will resume and pour more money into Australian businesses and the national economy. Income from foreign tourists was previously considered a guarantee for Australians, but the country is now paying the price for the failure to diversify the economy.
Concurrently, the nation is destroying the very thing which lures so many international visitors: nature. Tourists flock to the country to see the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, pristine beaches, rainforests, national parks and native animals. Most of these are under threat from climate change, over-development, mining, agriculture and poor regulation. Failure to protect Australia’s natural wonders will damage post-COVID tourism as well as destroying the nation’s biodiversity.
Destruction of the natural environment is not unavoidable. It is the result of direct action by Australian people since colonisation. It is the result of actions which have given Australia the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world, the largest per capita carbon footprint of any nation on earth, and the number two world ranking in biodiversity loss.
What’s more, scientists predict the possible extinction of koalas in the near future. Only a country on the path to dumnation would knowingly destroy one of its most famous and loved national symbols. How many tourists will visit Australia in the post-COVID world if they know they can’t see a koala?
An ignorant nation does not recognise the importance of its natural environment. An ignorant nation believes the lies perpetuated in the mainstream media. An ignorant nation believes the lies told by politicians beholden to the fossil fuel industry, and the agricultural and construction sector. An ignorant population is a sign of a nation on the path to dumnation.
A useful barometer of a nation’s intellectual health is its mass media consumption. In particular, it’s free-to-air television content. Reality TV dominates this content in Australia, and every year it sinks to a new low. Scripted, manipulative shows in which contestants are rewarded for their selfishness, greed, betrayal and lies are surging in popularity and dominate the content on every commercial station.
Voting habits also indicate a nation’s intellectual standing. Fringe parties based on extreme ideologies such as racism are growing in strength in Australia. One such party is Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, named after Australia’s most famous racist.
Parties such as One Nation win support through outrageous statements. They also promise without fear because they know they will never have to fulfil the promises they make, because they know they will never form government. Of course, every politician makes promises, and most of those promises are not kept, but fringe parties can make more outrageous statements and promises, and attract more of the disgruntled voters, because the members know they will never have to deliver, and will not be voted out for failing to deliver. Members of the major parties make empty promises, but risk being voted out at the next election if they don’t deliver at least some of their promises.
Unfortunately, the people who vote for the fringe parties don’t understand this dynamic. They are ignorant, ill-informed, lowly educated or simply quick to judge and condemn, and they believe the extreme statements and policy announcements of the extreme right wing candidates. They possess the ignorance of a Trump supporter, and are a symptom of a nation on the path to dumnation.
The path to dumnation is the path to damnation. Australia will be left behind economically, socially, intellectually, technologically and academically unless it develops a respect for the enormous intellectual talent which resides in the country. Australia’s brightest minds must be recognised because they will save the nation from dumnation.
Australia demands a qualified, dedicated and capable teaching workforce to prepare its youth for tomorrow, but will this workforce comprise of long-serving, permanent teachers, or will it rely on an increasing number of casual teachers in the near future?
Teachers are quitting the workforce. Countless reports indicate that up to 50% of teachers leave the occupation within the first five years. Exhaustion, disillusionment, low pay, long hours, poor student behaviour, parental pressure and increasing administrative demands are driving many young people away from the profession.
Some of these teachers might take time off to study, find a new occupation, travel or simply recover from the trauma of modern-day teaching. Many of them may also return to teaching on a casual basis because they still have bills to pay, and because they wish to remain in touch with education with thoughts of returning to the job full-time.
Casual teachers earn a reasonable daily rate and are not burdened with the same pressures of daily planning, preparation and marking. Nor do they have to complete reports, deal with parents, attend every staff meeting or collect data on all of their students. Essentially, casual teachers are not requited to complete the endless administrative tasks which drove many of them away from the occupation in the first place.
The result could see an increasing number of Australian school students taught by casual teachers.
Is casual teaching easier?
No. Casual teaching may require less administration outside of the classroom, but the demands in the classroom are greater. An Aussie tradition is to ‘muck up’ when the regular teacher is away, so the casual teacher deals with more challenging behaviour from students. Sometimes it’s an absolute nightmare. Casual teachers often accept this trade off in return for the chance to do their job, get paid and do something they could never do as a full-time teacher – leave the job at work.
Why is casualisation a problem?
Casualisation is akin to high rates of teacher turnover. Students see different teachers regularly, and each teacher has a different personality and teaching style. Teachers new to the class may not know exactly what was covered, or how it was taught, in the previous class, and will spend time catching up the previous lesson – or simply learning the names of the students.
In addition, each individual teacher may not be a subject expert. Schools attempt to match casual teachers to the subject in which they are trained, but this isn’t always possible, Consequently, the students are supervised but not necessarily taught.
The greatest disadvantage of the casualisation of the teaching workforce is the loss of a personal connection.
‘Teachers teach people not subjects’
This saying reminds teachers that they must see their pupils as people before they regard them as learners of a particular subject. All teachers accept this role. It is the role of mentor, older sibling, counsellor, confidante, role model and, sometimes, parent. This connection with a student can only be established over time and after regular meaningful contact, and this connection is very difficult to establish as a casual teacher.
Also, if more and more teachers are casual, who will fill the roles of home-room tutor, year co-ordinator or subject co-ordinator? The aforementioned positions all entail a degree of personal mentoring and counselling of students which is vital for their general wellbeing and academic performance. If more teachers are casual, fewer will accept the responsibility of ensuring the emotional wellbeing of the students.
Casual teachers move from class to class, subject to subject and school to school. An increase in casual teachers across Australia will leave a dearth of trusted adults in schools and increase the pressure on primary school students who are developing the foundations of their education, and on secondary school students who are negotiating adolescence.
Students with special needs will also suffer in a casualised school system. Students with special needs require individual activities or teaching strategies, and the most effective strategies are developed over time and after consultation with support teachers, the student, parents, special needs experts and the full-time teacher. A casual teacher simply cannot cater for the individual needs of every student in a class they have never met. It’s impossible.
How can this be prevented?
The best way to prevent the casualisation of the teaching workforce is to keep teachers in the teaching profession. Fortunately, the methods required to achieve this are not at all complicated.
Pay teachers more
This demand is made and ignored year after year. Even after the enormous pressure placed on teachers during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, teachers in Australia still have not been promised a pay rise.
Teachers are lowly paid. Lowly paid in comparison to the hours worked and the pressure of their occupation. Lowly paid according to the importance of their role in society. A mid-level teacher in NSW earns around $80,000 per year; the same amount earned by some Sydney bus drivers. Poor wages drive many teachers away from the occupation.
Low wages also create problems for schools. Lowly-paid teachers cannot afford to live in expensive suburbs, even if renting. Thus, teachers working at schools in wealthy suburbs face a very long commute from more affordable suburbs, and schools sometimes struggle to find staff on a regular basis. Teachers could live closer to school, but their meagre wages will disappear before they can even dream of buying their own home or living without financial stress.
Increasing teacher’s salaries would also improve the standing of the occupation in Australian society. Teaching is a profession, but is paid much less than other professions, and is thus regarded as inferior. Australia is a capitalist society and the worth of a job is linked to its salary. Teachers in Australia are respectful, but not respected. In a capitalist society, teachers also have bills to pay and should be able to do so comfortably in return for educating the next generation of the country.
Fund schools adequately
Schools are not funded sufficiently in Australia. Government schools lack resources to provide a variety of meaningful activities to students, or even to teach the students basic skills and knowledge. This places more stress on teachers and forces many of them to buy essential resources out of their own pockets, dipping into their meagre wages.
Funding schools adequately would improve academic outcomes and in turn improve job satisfaction among teachers. This would keep many of them in the occupation for longer.
Stand up for teachers
Society as a whole needs to stand up for teachers. Not just through uttering vague statements reminding teachers that they are ‘valued’ and ‘important’. Teachers are too smart to be fooled by empty words. Society, education departments, individual schools and sometimes individual principals need to stand up for teachers.
Teachers need to be defended from parents. Many parents now attack teachers every time their child is reprimanded or punished, or when they receive unsatisfactory grades. These attacks are usually verbal, but often physical. While parents of the past would support the actions of teachers, now they attack teachers. Unfortunately, even the most ill-informed and unreasonable parents wield enormous power in schools and can destroy a teacher’s career, as well as their general wellbeing.
Principles, schools and education departments need to stop giving in to parents.
In addition, teachers need to be defended in their interactions with students. Every year, the daily behaviour of students seems to worsen. Every year, the power of teachers to deal with that behaviour is diminished. Defending teachers does not mean bringing back capital punishment. Never. It means allowing educated, trained and experienced teachers to take reasonable action to hold children accountable for their behaviour and to stop them acting in a way that destroys their own learning and the learning of other students in the class.
All of these measures would keep teachers in the profession for longer, and prevent the casualisation of the workforce.
Paperwork is a frustration for every occupation, including teaching. The administrative load is increasing and falls under two categories: data collection and self-defence.
Data collection is ‘on trend’ in modern education. It is not a trend initiated by teachers. It was initiated by bureaucrats. Teachers are now forced to collect and report data on student attendance, behaviour, exam results, assessment results, homework, classwork…on top of their daily tasks of planning, preparation, marking, student feedback, playground duty…
A great surge in administrative tasks has created an enormous workload for teachers and has not helped a single child learn. The data goes to schools, educations or government departments, and appears to exist only to bolster a politician’s press release.
Data is also a necessary weapon of self-defence. Teachers are forced to justify every action they take in dealing with students and parents. Teachers are filling out endless forms and databases to justify every action they take at school in fear of criticism from students or parents. Data entry allows teachers to pre-empt complaints from students or parents which could see them reprimanded, suspended or even sacked.
If a secondary student refuses to read the set text in their English class, the teacher must make a note. The teacher must prove that they have advised the student to read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, because the class if studying ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. When the student proudly and publicly states that they are never going to read the novel, the teacher must create written evidence that they did everything possible to encourage the student to read the novel. When the student flies into a mad panic three days before the due date of the assessment task for ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ the teacher must provide yet more written evidence that they offered support to the student to help them pass an assessment for a novel they refused to read. The teacher must then use this written evidence to defend themselves when the parents complain to the school that their child is not able to complete the assessment task. The teacher must use the written evidence to defend themselves when the parents demand extra tuition for their child in the teacher’s lunch time or free period, so that the student who refused to read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ can pass the assessment task about ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. One wonders if this is what Harper Lee had in mind when she wrote the classic?
Australia faces the real possibility of a casualised teaching workforce and further erosion of overall academic standards. Teachers must be enticed to stay in the occupation, and this can be done through increasing teachers’ salaries and school funding, standing up for teachers, stripping parents of the power they wield over schools and removing the administrative load forced upon modern teachers.
The drums of war are beating. Australia is preparing for war with China as politicians and senior bureaucrats warn of armed conflict with the emerging superpower. Citizens are stockpiling weapons or boycotting their local Chinese restaurant and the tabloid media is disseminating fear to increase sales.
But would China ever invade Australia militarily? Would it ever need to?
China’s global ambitions are undeniable. Its construction of islands in the South China Sea and its actions in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang indicate plans to expand its influence. Counties throughout Africa, the Caribbean and the South Pacific are also being heavily courted, and China watched on with glee as its major rival self destructed under the disaster of Trump’s presidency. Boris and Brexit must also have pleased Xi Jinping.
China will not need to launch a military attack on Australia because the land Down Under is following Britain and The USA down a path of self destruction. China simply needs to wait and pick off the weakened state when the time is right.
China can dominate Australia numerically. Millions of Chinese people comprise the diaspora which has created entrenched communities in Australia, as in other countries. Chinese people came to dig for gold in the 1860s, and since then to seek better opportunities for their families. Chinese influence will continue to grow as the number of migrants, students and tourists from China continues to grow.
Economics and trade
Chinese dominance of Australia will be achieved primarily through economics and trade. China is Australia’s biggest trading partner – and statements from Beijing remind Australia that it is the junior partner in this relationship. Indeed, when the Australian government made ill-timed and thinly-veiled racist comments towards China recently, Beijing imposed restrictions on Australian exports, and many Australian businesses suffered significantly. Some of the comments mirrored those of former US president Donald Trump, and were deliberately designed to appeal to the same demographic: ignorant, racist, narrow-minded, bigoted, lowly educated citizens whose influence has grown in Australia in recent years.
Australia has itself to blame for this situation. Australia has a ‘dumb’ economy. The nation exports almost nothing that requires a university degree to make, and its exports consist mainly of natural resources from mining, and the products of agriculture. Australia’s refusal, inability or reluctance to diversify its economy has made it dependant upon China, and this grants China economic control. It is also another reason that China does not need to invade Australia militarily.
One economic opportunity Australia continues to squander is renewable energy. Intelligent countries, including China, recognise the future economic as well as environmental opportunities inherent in renewable energy, but Australia remains fixated on fossil fuels which will destroy the environment and the economy.
The abundant sun light which attracts so many tourists to the land Down Under each year, especially from China, could be captured as solar energy and even exported for profit, but the fossil fuel industry controls the current government, and the semi-literate Australian mainstream believes the government’s rhetoric about the need for fossil fuels in Australia’s energy market. This is a situation entirely of Australia’s making, and one which weakens the country and makes it susceptible to Chinese dominance.
Academia and intelligence are not prized in Australian culture. This is the reverse in China. Public education is poorly funded in Australia and more money appears to be stripped from government schools each year, especially under a conservative government. There are young Chinese people, studying at Chinese schools in China, with higher standards of English literacy than native-speaking Australian students studying at schools in Australia. Many Australian students don’t read, and won’t read. Their parents don’t appear concerned, the students are not concerned, and both major parties continue to strip money from public education and to further damage literacy rates across the country. Numeracy rates also continue to fall in Australia, and without succumbing to national stereotypes, China’s prowess in mathematics is well known.
In addition, many young Australians lack resilience. Too many primary and secondary students are diagnosed with stress and anxiety disorder, ADD, ADHD and myriad other academic or behavioural conditions. Some students genuinely suffer from these conditions, but many don’t. Australian society has allowed the over-diagnosis of these conditions, and a generation lacking resilience will inherit this country, making it ripe for the picking from a country that does not allow the same exceptions for its students.
A solution to this problem is to fund schools adequately, and to increase wages for teachers – as a starting point.
In a globalised world, Australia is weakened. Young Australians now compete for careers with youth from across the globe, including China, and need to form habits of resilience and dedication in their daily lives in order to protect their own futures and the future of the country.
Disrespect for academia extends to tertiary education in Australia. Public universities are inadequately funded, and this has further weakened the country. Universities are subsequently forced to operate as businesses and chase international fee paying students, most of whom come from China. Lecturers are pressured to award qualifications to international students even if they fail, because universities rely on their continued income. University staff tell tales of students from overseas, and from Australia, who lack the necessary English literacy skills to pass a course, but are awarded qualifications regardless because the universities need the money. The result is a decline in academic standards which will eventually devalue the qualifications international students have paid a fortune to receive. Soon, international students will seek degrees in other countries, and another lucrative source of income to Australia will be lost. This is a situation of Australia’s making.
Poorly funded tertiary education creates another problem for Australia – brain drain. If the country’s best and brightest are denied opportunities for research in Australia, they will take their intelligence overseas.
China is not a coloniser. Not traditionally anyway. History reveals China’s focus on establishing trade and extracting resources from other lands instead of colonising those lands. Colonisation requires the invading power to manage the lands they invade and to manage the government, as well as transport, health, education, communications and other public services, which all require personnel, money, time and effort. China knew it could still enjoy the economic benefits of dominance over other lands without having to deal with the mess of governing the country. It is likely to do so with Australia.
Imagine there was no religion taught in Australian schools. Imagine removing religion from the curriculum of every school and thus removing the primary justification for the existence of private schools.
Private schools are detrimental to the Australia education system, and almost all private schools are faith-based.
Ban compulsory lessons which teach students a particular faith and allow schools to only teach about religion, the way government schools currently approach the subject. Students at government schools currently receive instruction in their chosen faith only in lessons taught by religious specialists from outside the school, and only if their parents have chosen that option. The remaining students participate in other subjects. In contrast, religious education lessons at faith-based schools are compulsory.
Teach about religion.
Religion underpins Australian society. The Judeo-Christian world view informs our parliamentary and legal systems, so religion cannot and should not be ignored. History and Humanities subjects can still examine the role religion played in events such as colonisation and the Stolen Generation in Australia. Students can study, and even join, religious volunteer organisations like Vinnies and the Salvation Army. They can also research the Crusades and the Reformation, the conflict in the West Bank and Northern Ireland, and even the convergence of major religions in the court of Kublai Khan.
Is it possible to teach about religion without teaching religion?
Government schools do it. Steiner schools do it, so do the small number of independent secular schools. I’ve done it. I had to explain the term BC to secondary students at a government school in Brunei, a country under strict Sharia law.
A module entitled ‘Belief Systems’ or ‘Faith’ could also present the broad principles of the world’s major religions, without instructing students to follow any of these systems of belief.
Would any fee-paying schools survive?
Yes. Non-religious private schools exist in Australia and include the following:
Steiner, Waldorf and Montessori schools.
International schools, such as International Grammar School in Sydney.
National schools, such as Japanese, French, German schools…
Schools such as Reddam House and Ascham in Sydney.
What if private schools dropped religion?
Many may survive. Reddam, after all, is famously non-religious and is entering its 21st year, while Ascham is one of the most prestigious girls schools in the country – for families who can afford it.
How are private schools detrimental?
Private schools continue to receive substantial government funding as well as contributions from the religious organisations which run them, plus fees from parents. The same religious organisations receive additional government funding – for being religious organisations, and enjoy tax concessions – for being religious organisations.
This reduces the funding provided to government schools, which are poorly resourced and struggle to offer a strong education to their students. An underfunded public education system produces an undereducated population, and this is bad for most of the country – most, but not all. A weakened public education system strengthens the private education system and offers an automatic head start to the students of private schools. So much for an egalitarian society.
Studies have indicated that the single biggest determinant of academic success in Australia is wealth. Thus, it is not surprising that the following attitudes exist among everyday Australians:
Private schools are better than public schools
People only send their children to public schools because they can’t afford private schools.
Private schools, especially Catholic schools, have better discipline.
Private schools are great for networking, which helps students secure employment later in life.
They’re not learning anyway.
Most students at Christian private schools know very little about their own faith. I can’t comment on Islamic or Jewish schools, because the majority of my teaching has been in government schools or Catholic and Protestant schools. Despite up to 12 years of instruction in one particular faith, most students will leave Christian schools with very little knowledge about the teachings of their own faith. So why should these Christian schools exist?
Australia is a secular society. Most students are not practising Christians, neither are their parents. Some students don’t belong to the faith of their school, nor do some of the teachers. Religious education is seen as the ‘bludge’ subject and very few parents ever book appointments with teachers of religion during Parent/Teacher interviews – but they all see the Maths teacher!
In fact, the dearth of religious knowledge among students at Christian private schools prompted a previous article on this site. The article proposes an independently administered exam in the faith of that school, to be sat by every student at that school (except K-2 students). If schools do not score an average of 80%, across the entire school, then they do not receive any government funding in the next round of funding distribution. They can only regain their funding when they score an average of 80% in the exam.
I am certain most Christian schools in Australia would not pass such an exam.
In addition, most Christian churches are largely empty during weekly church services, and Christmas and Easter are now a celebration of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Most children are sent to private schools because they are ‘better than the local public school’. Furthermore, the religious education subject is often given to (or forced upon) young teachers or new teachers at Christian schools, who can only ‘off-load’ the subject once they’ve proven themselves in their core subjects.
Australia is a secular country, and yet almost all of its private schools are religious.
Most private schools are still single-sex. In 2021. Some have become wholly or partly co-educational, but most cling to their single-sex traditions. This can be beneficial to some of the students, depending on which educational theorist you read, but is it beneficial to society?
Students at single-sex schools miss the opportunity to mix daily with members of the opposite sex, but are suddenly forced to do so when they enter the real world. Moreover, some exclusive private schools still provide boarding. Thus, students study and live among their own gender, for up to 12 years. This informs their world view, and many of these students, especially boys, become leaders of society and make decisions which directly affect the lives of every Australian.
We are still suffering the results of this phenomena.
Attorney General Christian Porter was recently accused of historical rape. He was never found guilty, but was exposed for infidelity and sleazy behaviour with young female members of his staff, in a public bar near Parliament House. Porter attended Hale School in Perth. He and the remainder of his party have refused to allow an independent inquiry into his behaviour, which many Australians see as a disregard for the victim of the alleged rape and to women in general. The revelations prompted widespread protests throughout the nation calling for greater gender equality.
The response from the government has been appalling, and continues to inflame the conflict. Most of the politicians responsible for the response are male, and most attended single-sex, faith-based, private schools.
This follows the very public and misogynistic behaviour of students from two of Melbourne’s most exclusive boys private schools, Wesley College and St Kevin’s. It also follows allegations of a culture of rape and sexual abuse of girls by boys from Sydney’s most exclusive private schools, which was recently revealed in the mainstream media. An online petition signed by thousands of former private school girls alleges sexual assault by private school boys, and calls for greater focus on consent in sex education lessons delivered to boys. The creator of the petition, Chanel Contos, claims the culture of rape in Sydney is the worst she witnessed, despite having lived in two other countries.
Recent articles by Mike Seccombe in The Saturday Paper, and from respected child and adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, do not blame private schools for the toxic masculinity that pervades Australian society. They do, however, concede that they are a contributing factor.
Religious schools present a restricted curriculum. Religious doctrine determines their teaching of science, gender, sexuality and other social issues. Future leaders carry this particular world view into politics and make judgements based on that world view. Our government and business leaders have also grown up in a world in which religious chaplains replace qualified counsellors at schools.
Where will students learn religion?
Place the onus on parents to provide their children with a religious education, either entirely at home or at institutions like Sunday School. The classes would take place outside of school hours and receive no government funding.
How can students learn morality?
Religious devotees of all faiths often argue that a non-religious person cannot learn morality. The boys at St Kevin’s, Wesley College and Hale clearly did not learn morality. The male politicians in the LNP, most of whom attended faith-based, single-sex private schools, show no evidence of moral learning. It is clear that notions of gender, class and racial superiority took precedence over values such as compassion, morality, respect, tolerance and service, for students of these private schools.
Is this article just religion bashing?
Religion bashing is certainly on trend in Australia, but this article is not targeting religion per se. The article cites religion as the primary justification for the existence of most private schools in the country, and nominates private schooling as the problem.
Private schools are rare or non-existent in countries such as Finland, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Scandinavian countries. Singapore does have private schools, but these cater mostly for international/expat children. These same countries consistently top the rankings in international standardised exams. Experts suggest there is a correlation. When almost every child is forced to attend their local government school, every parent has a strong vested interest in the quality of that school. Thus, parents put pressure on the government to maintain high standards at local government schools, and hold the politicians and schools accountable. In addition, the people who make the decisions about school funding and educational standards, politicians, also send their children to government schools.
In Finland, apparently it is illegal to charge fees for a child’s education.
One must also point to the culture of these countries, not just the lack of private schools. Academic achievement is highly regarded in countries such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore, and this explains their success. The countries themselves are also far from perfect. Enormous pressure is placed on students in some Asian countries and this can have disastrous effects on young people That said, Australia can learn something from these countries as literacy and numeracy rates continue to fall throughout the nation.
What happens next?
What would happen if schools were prevented from teaching religion in Australia? What would happen to the schools?
Schools could drop religion and remain private. Many parents would not remove their children, because we’ve already established that most parents don’t send their children to private schools for a religious education, but for a better general education.
If private schools are not religious, religious organisations have no reason to fund them. They may run into financial ruin, at which point they would be taken over by the government and become public schools. Parents could leave their children in that school, or seek another private school and compete with other parents for limited spaces.
If existng private school parents were forced to send their children to a public school, they would put more pressure on the government and educational authorities to adequately fund and resource the school and to ensure strong academic outcomes. More parents would have a vested in in quality public education, just as they do in countries such as Finland, Japan and Singapore, and governments would have no choice but to allocate more resources and care to public education.
Not only would parents demand adequate funding for their child’s school, but children from different social backgrounds would attend the same schools, and this has been found to create greater empathy between all groups in society, including those who formulate laws.
Where will they find the money?
The money to fund public education exists. Much of it is currently being directed to private schools, some of it is sitting in government coffers waiting to be spent on projects which will win votes at the next election. If there were fewer private schools in Australia, public education would become one of those central issues which could determine the outcome of an election.
The main obstacle to adequate funding of public education is political will, and religion.
A private secondary school in Sydney recently banned the mullet haircut. The controversial move provoked news articles and comments throughout Australia, most of which failed to address the effect on one group in particular – teachers. Waverley College became the latest private school to ban its students from sporting the iconic hairstyle because it was deemed inappropriate, and this move will simply create more stress for teachers.
What’s a mullet?
The mullet is ‘long at the back and short at the sides’ and is also described as ‘business at the front, party out the back’. It is a distinct hairstyle that was hugely popular in the 1980s and is trending once more. Boys at the exclusive school in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, as well as other private schools throughout the country, are following the fashion of the day as well as emulating their footballing heroes who have sparked a resurgence in the hairstyle.
How will teachers suffer?
Rules have to be enforced, and teachers have to enforce them.
How are rules enforced?
Teachers usually give students a verbal warning. Many teenagers ignore these. Teachers then give a written warning. Students often ignore these. Already, a situation of conflict has been established between the student and the teacher.
Teachers then contact the parents, to ask for their assistance in enforcing the school rues. In the past, most parents supported schools and teachers in the management of a child’s behaviour and school work, but not these days. Many parents not only fail to support teachers but always side with their children, some even go as far as verbally, socially or physically attacking teachers.
Remember, parents know their sons have mullets. Parents also know the school rules, but sent their sons to school with a haircut that the school deems inappropriate. Parents also sign up to the rules of the school when they enrol their children, and are fully aware that strict adherence to grooming and uniform standards is a tradition these schools inherited from the British public school system.
Teachers are not likely to find much support from parents. If parents fail to support the school, the onus for removing the mullet thus falls entirely upon the teacher.
It’s not a mullet
When is a mullet not a mullet?
When the student tries to argue their way out of a haircut. Students are likely to argue that their hairstyle is actually called something else and on that technicality, they cannot be forced to cut their hair. They will find proof on instagram, from a barber or another source to prove their particular hairstyle is not a mullet, and thus they cannot be forced to cut it off. Private schools are breeding grounds for lawyers and politicians.
Teachers will have to listen to this argument, before preparing lessons, before marking exams and assessments, before writing exams, before attending meetings, before writing reports, before counselling students, before protecting students from cyberbullying, before teaching students road safety, before keeping students off drugs and alcohol, before doing playground duty, before coaching a sports team…
Furthermore, the school will be forced to write a definition of a mullet. Teachers will be forced to draft legal-style documents outlining precisely what constitutes a mullet and how it differs from other hairstyles. This all takes time.
All of this while solving the literacy crisis in Australia.
All of this while solving the numeracy crisis in Australia.
Come back when you’ve cut your hair
Another disciplinary technique is to suspend the student until the hair is returned to an acceptable style. Many teenagers would see this as a reward rather than a punishment. Parents won’t be happy, because they’ll have to supervise the child at home, and because they’re not getting what they paid for. Teachers also suffer. Teachers will still have to modify and send work home to that student, as well as providing feedback and ensuring the student does not suffer academically. Thus, even though the student knowingly breaks the rules, and the parents knew their child was breaking the rules, the teacher is still expected to ensure the student learns as much as they would have if they had not been suspended.
Human rights abuse
Students will argue that it is a violation of their human rights. This is not a joke. Modern-day school students invoke their human rights in response to the most minor incidents at schools, and it is not fanciful to predict that a boy at Waverley College will argue that cutting off his mullet is a violation of his human rights.
In the past, teachers could have told the boy he was being ridiculous, and to stop complaining and accept the consequences of his actions. But not anymore. Accusations of human rights violations, even regarding a haircut, must be taken seriously. This means more time, more meetings, more paperwork and more scrutiny for teachers. Meanwhile, the boy retains his mullet.
Teachers will be forced to refer to the definition of a mullett, which they drafted, in order to protect themselves from the very real consequences of being accused of violating a child’s human rights.
Many would argue that fashion is the biggest loser every time someone sports a mullett, but when that mullett is worn by a school student, teachers are the biggest losers.
If you’ve read this far, you might hink this is ridiculous, that this is exaggerated, that this would never happen. It does. This is what teachers are forced to tolerate on a daily basis in Australian schools. Creating another rule in response to a fashion trend is simply dumping more work on overworked and underpaid teachers.
Throughout this entire process, the private school is protecting its image, the parents are protecting their children, and the students are protecting their hairstyle. Who is protecting the teachers?
Thousands of NSW school teachers have been issued with fines on the eve of the summer holidays after being caught committing heinous acts of treason.
Every registered primary and secondary school teacher has received a fine of at least $100 from the NSW government, which must be paid in order for teachers to keep their jobs in 2021. It is believed similar fines have been issued to teachers throughout the country.
The penalty must be paid to a branch of the NSW government calling itself the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA), which then issues teachers with something called Accreditation. Without Accreditation, teachers cannot work in any recognised educational institution in the state.
NESA stated the fines were issued in retaliation for teachers committing crimes against the nation.
“Teachers are being punished for educating the next generation of Australians,” announced a spokesperson.
“They have done so willingly and ceaselessly, and against the wishes of the current state and federal governments. An educated population is harder to control. An educated population would never have elected a failed marketing man as prime minister. An educated population would never fall for Scott Morrison’s marketing spin. An educated population would not swallow Murdoch propaganda, and an educated population would never excuse the corruption of ‘poor Gladys’. For their continued insistence on educating the populace, teachers have been issued with fines.”
The punishment does not end with fines, however.
Once the fines are paid, teachers must then participate in mandated professional development sessions throughout the year. Most of these sessions will take place during teachers’ free time, and while some of the sessions are free, many also incur a charge. Thus, on top of their annual fine, lowly paid teachers are also forced to spend their hard earned money on work-related training with little or no tangible benefit to them or the children they teach.
NESA rejected claims that Accreditation simply adds another layer of paperwork to an already over beauracratised occupation.
“Without the processing of mandated fees and professional development sessions, our staff would not have any boxes to tick, and without boxes to tick, they would be at a loss.”
NESA also argues that Accreditation brings the teaching profession in line with other occupations such as law, medicine, and finance, which all have membership organisations upholding professional standards. Excited teachers then asked if teaching salaries would now be commensurate with those professions, but the government replied,
The occupation of teaching is respectable but not respected in Australia. The nation’s teachers are considered to be law abiding, trustworthy, patient, kind, reliable, dedicated and altruistic, but their profession is not afforded the same status as other professions.
Australians collectively adhere to the adage,
If you can, do, if you can’t, teach.
There is an underlying assumption that English teachers are all failed writers, Maths teachers are failed engineers and Art teachers are failed artists. PE Teachers are failed athletes, and none of the teachers could ‘hack it in the real world’. Teaching as a profession, especially at primary or high school level, is perceived to be well below other professions such as medicine, law, finance and IT.
Academia and intellect have never been highly valued in Australia. The country’s national heroes are athletes, farmers, soldiers and lifeguards, despite the fact that Australians have been behind inventions such as WiFi technology, the cochlear implant, the black box fight recorder, spray-on skin, the electronic pacemaker and permaculture…
Better you than me…
Australians constantly remind teachers of the challenges of their profession with remarks such as these. Aussies tell teachers, ‘I don’t know how you do it’, or ‘what you do is so wonderful’ – but underneath all of these statements is the message,
I’m glad you work as a teacher, so that I don’t have to.
Parents themselves will tell teachers,
‘you must have the patience of a saint‘ to put up with teenagers, even when it is their own teenager who most tests the teacher’s patience. These are all nice things to say, but none of them convey any sense of respect.
The land Down Under also has a famous disrespect for authority, including teachers. Secondary school teachers understand this and know that earning the respect of their pupils in the early stages of the school year is imperative. This is forgivable – students are children. A lack of respect from adults indicates underlying cultural issues in Australia, in which a profession so vital to the prosperity of the nation is severely undervalued. It is, however, possible to transform the respectable profession into a respected profession, in order to benefit teachers and the nation as a whole.
Pay the teachers or pay the price
Australian teachers need to be altruistic, because they earn so little. In NSW, the average, experienced teacher earns about $80,000 per year. This is a decent wage when compared to other occupations, but not when compared to other professions such as law, medicine and IT, and not when considering that a public bus driver in Sydney can earn the same amount.
Salaries must increase in order to attract the best and brightest graduates to the profession. Society complains that many young teachers lack basic numeracy and literacy skills, and that criticism is often justified. The best way to attract more capable graduates to the profession is to raise salaries. Don’t forget, Australia is an expensive country, and a capitalist country in which income determines the worth of an occupation, and in which income determines a person’s ability to enjoy a decent standard of living.
The country is already paying the price for a lack of respect for teachers. Literacy and numeracy rates among children continue to fall, and the country trails other comparable nations on standardised education outcomes. University undergraduates display poor command of literacy and numeracy, and Australia’s youth will be competing with young people from all over the world for employment in a globalised world.
What’s wrong with a country in which those educating the next generation will struggle to buy their own house?
If Australia is to compete as a nation at international level, it must give more money and more respect to teachers.
Parents used to support teachers, now they attack them. This paradigm shift has been great, but recent. Modern parents will almost always side with their children and will blame teachers for their child’s poor behaviour, poor work ethic and poor grades. Some of the treatment of teachers is shocking, and it points to a diminishing respect for the teaching profession.
Data collection is the new fad in education. Politicians and bureaucrats demand more and more data collection from teachers. It is mostly unnecessary and adds more paperwork to overworked teachers, who then can’t concentrate on teaching their students.
Data collection implies a lack of respect for teachers. It implies that teachers don’t know the individual and collective strengths and weaknesses of their students. NAPLAN is a classic example. It is a very time consuming task designed to show teachers and schools where their students are succeeding and failing. The bureaucrats ignored the fact that teachers already know this. Furthermore, excessive data collection provides no educational benefits, and exists primarily to provide politicians with statistics for their press releases. Most other professions would have an administrative assistant to carry out the same administrative tasks.
Ironically, Australian society shows little respect for teachers, but charges them with enormous responsibility. The curriculum encompasses everything from English and Maths to driver education, drug and alcohol education, cyber safety, anti-bullying, and so much more. On the one hand, it is natural to deliver these lessons in a place where young people are assembled en-masse, but how much of this can, and should, be taught by parents? To understand the enormous scope of the modern curriculum, look at the topics covered in the PD/H/PE subject.
Politicians and bureaucrats must take blame for this also. When a teenager dies of ecstasy, a new drug education program is demanded. If a child drowns in a backyard pool, a new water safety program is demanded. When a new educational program is demanded, it is implied that existing education programs are insufficient, and that teachers are not doing their job.
Bleeding heart lefties
Another criticism of teachers is that they are now all bleeding heart lefties, and that a left wing ideology has taken over Australian schools. Conservative voices love to make this claim.
If you want less left wing influence in schools, pay teachers more. People enter teaching mainly through a sense of altruism – to serve children, to serve society and to make the world a better place. Altruistic people are not motivated by money or wealth and their world view is thus likely to favour the common good and the health of the society, and not the individual. If conservatives want less left wing influence in schools, they could pay teachers what they are worth, and perhaps attract graduates who are currently chasing money in other professions and have a different world view.
That said, most secondary teachers would be very surprised if any of their students listened to them long enough to become ‘bleeding heart lefties’.
Australia now belongs to a global community. It must compete with other nations like it never has before and it’s prosperity depends greatly on the health of its education system. A strong education system is comprised of teachers who are not only respectable, but respected.
The Prime Minister of Australia has appointed former AFL player David Dench as Education Advisor in a move that has shocked the nation. Dench will advise the prime minister and the federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan in matters of education pertaining specifically to universities.
“My government is committed to education and to providing world-class facilities and services to the people of this great nation,” Morrison stated.
“Education will make this nation great again and it needs to be properly funded. For this reason, I have personally appointed Mr Dench as Education Advisor with special responsibility for funding.”
Political observers were left stunned by the shock announcement, and questioned the credentials of someone with no political or educational expertise, who made their fame playing Australian Rules Football.
Mr Morrison justified the appointment by referencing Dench’s unique and specific experience with university finances.
Dench spent four months in jail in 2008 as punishment for his role in a scheme to defraud Victoria University out of millions of dollars. The former North Melbourne fullback and captain was charged specifically with nine counts of obtaining property by deception and aiding and abetting the receipt of a secret commission.
“Mr Dench is exactly the person we need advising our government,” said Mr Tehan.
“His interaction with the university sector reflects the funding priorities of the LNP for tertiary education in this country, and his invaluable advice will inform our policies relating to this industry as long as we are in government.”
“Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted upon universities in Australia, particularly as many have lost their overseas students and are struggling financially. The manner in which universities and tertiary institutions are managed in the near future will go a long way towards determining the academic and economic prosperity of the nation, and that is why we are so excited to bring Mr Dench into our ministry in an advisory capacity.”
The prime minister and Mr Tehan refused to be drawn on the exact sum Dench will be paid in his advisory role, but explained that he will share an office with TV host Scott Cam.
The Great Public Schools athletic association is set to introduce the greatest revolution in Rugby Union since William Webb Ellis picked up the ball, after the organisation of Australia’s wealthiest schools granted itself permission to complete its sporting season during COVID-19 restrictions.
The GPS sporting association, which includes The Scots College, Sydney Grammar School and Sydney Boys High School, will play the first ever series of socially distanced rugby in the world. Spokesperson for the association, Richie Power, outlined some of the monumental changes to the sport and their likely impact.
No contact – Players may not pass within 1.5 metres of each other, even their teammates.
Rolling mauls will subsequently resemble an interpretive dance, and every line out will be won by the boy with the longest wing span. There’s no chance of hands in the ruck and scrums will become even more farcical than those in the NRL.
The game they play in heaven will revert to its roots and tries will be worth 0, but earn the scoring team the right to ‘try’ for a conversion.
“If we awarded points for tries, we’d end up with cricket scores every game, and we know Rugby players can’t count,” explained Power.
Essentially, players cannot touch the ball or any other player with their hands, and can only advance the ball up the field with their feet. The end result will be…soccer.
Parents and Old Boys can follow the Rugby Revolution from Bellevue Hill to Parramatta. While spectators are prohibited from standing on the side lines, they can chant war cries from the comfort of their Range Rover, Rolls Royce or Bentley, or from their private yacht moored in Lane Cove River, after it has been collected from the Seychelles or Turks and Caicos.
Old Boys of The King’s School are exempt from any COVID-19 restrictions as the school has declared its sizeable territory a sovereign nation not subjected to the laws of Australia.
Critics have slammed the decision to allow the GPS schools to continue their regular sporting fixtures while others schools must still abide by COVID-19 restrictions, but Power defended the move.
“We paid a fortune for our scholarship athletes, sorry students, and we demand a return on our investment. If not, we’ll have to send them back to the western suburbs or an island in the South Pacific, or simply let them study, learn and improve their academic and employment prospects”
“In addition, we need to be able to channel our considerable government funding into extravagant sporting facilities and specialised coaches. Otherwise we’d be forced to give our Teachers such an enormous pay rise that they could finally afford to live within an hour of their workplace.”
“Without Rugby, we would just be public schools, and that’s not great.”
First published in The Beast Magazine, October 2020.