Posts Tagged ‘Education’

1864 Denmark. ABC, SBS and Coen Brothers.

November 19, 2018

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A hair-raising selfie around 1942 in Rotterdam

The Australian Broadcasting Commission or better known as ABC together with SBS are under threat by our Government. We all know they are obsessed by selling and privatising everything that’s not bolted to the floor. We know that since electricity was considered a saleable commodity and privatised, costs have blown out. Paying the electricity bill for many people is now a nightmare and fear driven. Many switch off power unable to afford it. Yet, we all use the same electricity coming down from all those poles and wires. The advice lately is for consumers to ‘negotiate’ the best deal with the myriad of companies that are re-selling electricity. The mind boggles. It is possible to save hundreds of dollars by doing that. How ridiculous a proposal that is! Are we supposed to ring around to get a good deal? What next? Negotiate our water, garbage disposal. Have you ever tried contacting an AGL or other electricity provider? You get a call centre from Shri-Lanka!

I can’t think of a single utility that the Governments has sold that actually brought better and cheaper services. The holy grail of ‘let the markets decide all’ works marvellously for shareholders and big end of town, but not for the consumers. Aged care, hospitals, education, post services, un-employment services, child-care, you name it. All are now inferior in their service delivery. Australia has one of the most unequal education systems in the world. The copying of England’s private school method has proven to have had disastrous consequences. Our education system is called a ‘A national calamity’.

https://www.theeducatoronline.com/au/breaking-news/a-national-calamity-australia-2nd-most-unequal-education-system-in-the-world–report/257471

The people of Australia at present own ABC and SBS radio and TV and are the last of the Mohicans that give pleasure to millions, and it is free from commercialisation. True, SBS does have advertising but it also provides all those programs available on Smart TVs and ‘On Demand’. This is what we now look forward to. However, our present ‘Market and US’ copying driven Government is getting increasingly stroppy with the ABC, which is seen by the present Liberal Government as biased and critical. Both the Chairman and Managing Director have been sacked. The fear now is that the position will be filled with Pro- Government stooges. Funding is being cut and all is set to sell the ABC and get the Murdoch’s News Media with Bolt and Alan Jones.

But, as I started this piece. SBS ‘On Demand’ has give us many evenings of great TV watching. We have seen 4 episodes of the 8 series of a marvellous TV series named; 1864 Denmark War.

https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/program/1864-denmarks-war

What I like about most of the Scandinavian series is the naturalness of their actors. They  look like normal people. None of that made up perfect looking actors so often featured on English/American speaking TV drama series. The American Coen brothers have made another movie. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6412452/

I can’t wait to see it. They are one of our most favourite film makers. One of their previous movie, ‘No country for old men’ is superb. But, on TV the foreign mainly Scandic series are my favourite with English subtitles. It’s so much better than studying power bills.

 

Take from the Poor and Give to the Rich.

January 10, 2017

imagesLoaves and fishes

The latest and most exciting new way of economics to hit Australia is the Government’s  novel way to re-vitalize the economy. Our PM  Mr. Malcolm Turnbull, a multimillionaire, had a flash of genius. Why not give the top-end of town much needed taxation relief with juicy superannuation concessions ?  The stroke of his insight did not stop there. He would also use the opportunity to pay for this by cutting back ‘entitlements’ to pensioners, the unemployed, the disabled and other unwanted flotsam washed on our shores of  previous care, consideration and communal empathy.

For some time now, any kind of ‘right’ has been transformed through careful manipulation by the media into an unnecessary ‘entitlement.’ Now there is the wonder of Western democracy, you can change almost anything. Rights now are unneeded ‘entitlements’ that we can’t claim to own anymore. The way to the future as determined by our Liberal National Government, in all its wisdom, is to demonise those that seek support from governments and with some deft manoeuvring, take away their previous rights and transform them into unneeded and bad entitlements.

The government has now taken away pensions  or reduced them away from the most needy. Unemployed are investigated and letters of demand send to return over-payments. There are no explanations of why our revered model of economics is constantly seeking ways to maximise profits by doing away with workers.  The way to profitable businesses is to employ less workers, preferably by paying them ever diminishing wages.  Combined with taxation cuts by successive governments given to the rich, the rows of those needing support is growing.

Increasingly, health and education are seen in the same light. We no longer can hope to see those as a ‘right’ of a country as a people that sees itself at the forefront of civilisation. Both Australia and the inventor of modern western democracy, the US, are falling behind in educating their young. Australia is way down the ladder in teaching language and math skills with the US  35th on the ladder. In Australia it is not much better.

So, where will we end up? Looking at Turnbull and Trump I am driven to despair. Once we are fattening the porkers and baconers of our societies and neglecting the vulnerable I suspect ‘Western Democracy’ is under threat.

Finally, here is one person’s view on the future of the US and I suspect this applies to Australia as well.

“Johan Galtung, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated sociologist who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, warned that US global power will collapse under the Donald Trump administration.”

“The Norwegian professor at the University of Hawaii and Transcend Peace University is recognized as the ‘founding father’ of peace and conflict studies as a scientific discipline. He has made numerous accurate predictions of major world events, most notably the collapse of the Soviet Empire.”

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/us-power-will-decline-under-trump-says-futurist-who-predicted-soviet-collapse

Almost There

 

 

 

 

 

Finland.

March 27, 2016

http://www.smh.com.au/national/this-is-why-finland-has-the-best-schools-20160324-gnqv9l.html

Please read the above article in the link.

“The Harvard education professor Howard Gardner once advised Americans, “Learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States.”

Following his recommendation, I enrolled my seven-year-old son in a primary school in Joensuu. Finland, which is about as far east as you can go in the European Union before you hit the guard towers of the Russian border.

OK, I wasn’t just blindly following Gardner – I had a position as a lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland for a semester. But the point is that, for five months, my wife, my son and I experienced a stunningly stress-free, and stunningly good, school system. Finland has a history of producing the highest global test scores in the Western world, as well as a trophy case full of other recent No. 1 global rankings, including most literate nation.

In Finland, children don’t receive formal academic training until the age of seven”

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/this-is-why-finland-has-the-best-schools-20160324-gnqv9l.html#ixzz449PgXci6
Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

A re-blog on Australia and its failing education system

September 5, 2015

Six ways Australia’s education system is failing our kids

March 16, 2015 6.26am AEDT

Declining test scores, dwindling participation in maths and science, and too few in early learning: just three of the ways Australia is failing in education. AAP

Amid debates about budget cuts and the rising costs of schools and degrees, there is one debate receiving alarmingly little attention in Australia. We’re facing a slow decline in most educational standards, and few are aware just how bad the situation is getting.

These are just six of the ways that Australia’s education system is seriously failing our kids.

1. Australian teens are falling behind, as others race ahead

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey tests the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in more than 70 economies worldwide. And it shows that Australian 15-year-olds’ scores on reading, maths and scientific literacy have recorded statistically significant declines since 2000, while other countries have shown improvement.

Although there has been much media attention on falling international ranks, it is actually this decline in real scores that should hit the headlines. That’s because it means that students in 2000 answered substantially more questions correctly than students in 2012. The decline is equivalent to more than half a year of schooling.

Our students are falling behind: three years behind students from Shanghai in maths and 1½ years behind in reading.

In maths and science, an average Australian 15-year-old student has the problem-solving abilities equivalent to an average 12-year-old Korean pupil.

An international assessment of school years 4 and 8 shows that Australian students’ average performance is now below that of England and the USA: countries that we used to classify as educationally inferior.

The declining education standards are across all ability levels. Analysis of PISA and NAPLAN suggests that stagnation and decline are occurring among high performing students as well as low performers.

2. Declining participation in science and maths

It has been estimated that 75% of the fastest growing occupations require science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills and knowledge.

The importance of STEM is acknowledged by industry and business. Yet there are national declines in Australian participation and attainment in these subjects. We are also among the bottom of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) 34 nations on translation of education investment to innovation, which is highly dependent upon STEM.

Fewer than one in ten Australian students studied advanced maths in year 12 in 2013. In particular, there has been a collapse in girls studying maths and science.

A national gender breakdown shows that just 6.6% of girls sat for advanced mathematics in 2013; that’s half the rate for boys, and represents a 23% decline since 2004. In New South Wales, a tiny 1.5% of girls take the trio of advanced maths, physics and chemistry.

Maths is not a requirement at senior secondary level in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia, although it is compulsory in South Australia, and to a small extent in Queensland and the Northern Territory. In NSW, the requirement for Higher School Certificate (HSC) maths or science study was removed in 2001. The national curriculum also makes no requirement for maths or science study after Year 10.

Australia is just about the only developed nation that does not make it compulsory to study maths in order to graduate from high school.

recent report by the Productivity Commission found almost one-quarter of Australians are capable of only basic mathematics, such as counting. Many universities now have to offer basic (school level) maths and literacy development courses to support students in their study. These outcomes look extremely concerning when we review participation and achievement in maths and science internationally.

3. Australian education is monolingual

In 2013, the proportion of students studying a foreign language is at historic lows. For example in NSW, only 8% studied a foreign language for their HSC, the lowest percentage ever recorded.

In NSW, the number of HSC students studying Chinese in 2014 was just 798 (635 of which were students with a Chinese background), whereas a decade ago it was almost double that number, with 1,591.

The most popular beginner language in NSW was French, with 663 HSC students taking French as a beginner in 2013. These numbers are extremely small when you consider that the total number of HSC students in NSW: more than 75,000.

These declines, which are typical of what has happened around the country, have occurred at a time when most other industrialised countries have been strengthening their students’ knowledge of other cultures and languages, in particular learning English.

English language skills are becoming a basic skill around the world. Monolingual Australians are increasingly competing for jobs with people who are just as competent in English as they are in their own native language – and possibly one or two more.

4. International and migrant students are actually raising standards, not lowering them

There are many who believe that Australian education is being held back by our multicultural composition and high proportion of migrant students. This could not be further from the truth. In the most recent PISA assessment of 15 year olds, Australian-born students’ average English literacy score was significantly lower than the average first-generation migrant students’ score, and not significantly different from foreign-born students.

The proportion of top performers was higher for foreign-born (14%) and first-generation students (15%) than for Australian-born students (10%).

Students from Chinese, Korean and Sri Lankan backgrounds are the highest performers in the NSW HSC. The top performing selective secondary schools in NSW now have more than 80% of students coming from non-English speaking backgrounds.

5. You can’t have quality education without quality teachers

While there are many factors that may contribute to teacher quality, the overall academic attainment of those entering teaching degrees is an obvious and measurable component, which has been the focus of rigorous standards in many countries.

An international benchmarking study indicates that Australia’s teacher education policies are currently falling well short of high-achieving countries where future teachers are recruited from the top 30% of the age cohort.

In Australia between 1983 and 2003, the standard intake was from the top 26% to 39%. By 2012/2013, less than half of Year 12 students receiving offers for places in undergraduate teacher education courses had ATAR scores in the top 50% of their age cohort.

Teacher education degrees also had the highest percentage of students entering with low ATAR scores, and the proportion of teacher education entrants with an ATAR of less than 50 nearly doubled over the past three years. We cannot expect above-average education with below-average teachers.

6. Early learning participation is amongst the lowest in the developed world

While Australia has recently lifted levels of investment in early childhood education, this investment has not been reflected in high levels of early childhood participation. In Australia, just 18% of 3 year olds participated in early childhood education, compared with 70% on average across the OECD. In this respect, we rank at 34 out of 36 OECD and partner countries.

Australia also ranks at 22 out of 37 on the OECD league table that measures the total investment across education as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product.

While low levels of expenditure and participation curtail any system, there is more negative impact from a lack of investment in early childhood than there would be from a lack of funding further up the educational chain. Nobel prize winner James Heckmann has shown how investment in early childhood produces the greatest returns to society.

What to do?

Funding is a critical issue, and not just in terms of what you spend, but also how you spend it. Research suggests spending on early childhood, quality teaching and core curriculum have the greatest returns on investment.

There is also growing evidence to suggest that a segregated schooling system – for example, socio-economically oracademically selective schools – is counterproductive and restricts social mobility. High-performing countries have school systems on a far more level playing field than Australia.

We need a long-term plan across education sectors: from early childhood, to schools, universities and TAFE, which includes plans for supporting and strengthening teacher education in all those sectors.

We also need a louder public conversation about Australian education, and lobbying to shift how we value and invest in education.

When Germany was shocked by its first performance on the 2000 PISA assessment, it started a national conversation that saw education on the front page of newspapers for the next two years. Germany’s education has been improving ever since.

If Australia wants to build a strong and competitive economy, we need fewer front page articles about budget cuts, and more on reform and investment in education.

70Comments
  1. Alan Baxter

    Head, Department of Molecular & Cell Biology at James Cook University

    I think we have to be honest here. Australia has a great tradition of a sporting culture, and in (for example) football, if someone plays very well (for example, Peter Hudson, full back for Hawthorne in the 70’s), you kick the shit out of them.

    1. Kathryn Cole 

      Kathryn Cole is a Friend of The Conversation

      Humanager

      In reply to Alan Baxter

      Anti-intellectualism and the tall poppy syndrome are definitely factors. I also believe we don’t pay our teachers enough money or respect. Teaching is a highly influential profession within society – teachers engage with our children for 30 of their most receptive hours a week. We want the brightest, most creative and emotionally intelligent people in these jobs. And in many cases we already have them. However, we will need to pay them much more to tip all viable candidates into the teaching pool and to communicate our respect for their capability and dedication.

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