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Let's talk education...

Two things have come to my attention this past week. The first was an article in The Guardian.

This quote, in particular, caught my eye:
Added to this, the university’s relatively new status as a business means that it desperately needs students, and will make it as easy as possible for everyone, anyone to enrol. When I began teaching here the Atar for education was officially 60, but many students were entering the university through alternative pathways: Tafe, bridging courses at the university itself, written application. Universities are businesses. Students are customers. The more customers, the better the business does.
And of course, the best way to retain a customer is to keep her happy. I’d suggest that happiness for students might arise from challenge, from hard work fairly rewarded, or from the acquisition of new skills. But there is of course a quicker route: you keep students happy by not failing them. And then – surprise! – when they graduate they are not literate, or numerate, or knowledgeable enough to perform the work they have been studying for.
This explains a lot of what has been happening with Erik. The school is letting him pass classes he doesn't attend, doesn't submit work for, and doesn't show up to exams for. Why? Because he is costing them money, with no hopes of that ever changing. The sooner they graduate him the sooner, they cut their losses. Meanwhile, the Department of Education doesn't really care because he'll get into Uni get himself a HELP debt which he'll have to pay off once he gets a job. It looks good on paper that the numbers of secondary students entering university is increasing - whether or not they are prepared to do so.

Meanwhile, Lukas isn't academic. I looked at his scores in various measures (AusVels, VCAL, NAPLAN) and he is uniformly underachieving across the board. However, in music he is excelling. Gardner's theory of intelligences argues that his intelligence lies in music and that that is as valid as intelligences in English or Math. For some reason, Lukas isn't afforded the same leniency Erik has been afforded. Possibly because he isn't a loss for them, he is good for business. At the same time, we are hassled constantly because he doesn't attend classes he is falling behind in (when he was attending them). Where is the logic in that?

One son is being failed by a school which simply wants him off their hands and is happy to send him out into the world with no skills or comprehension of what will be expected of him when he lands there, the other is being failed in that he is criticised for what he struggles with rather than celebrated for his intelligence in a 'non-academic' field.

I wonder what the coming yer holds in store for Bryn. Bryn is academically intelligent, and Ari excels academically (both scoring well above their peers across the board on their reports). Will this mean an easier path for them? I know I'm doing my level best to make sure our fees are all paid up so that he is on an equal footing with other students when he starts school (and Lukas as well). Will that and his academic prowess, be enough to give him a fair shot at an education which will support his future choice in employment? I hope so.


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