Vicki Dunne wants no more kids learning

GnT 10 February 2007 25

I could not believe this quote from our shadow education minister Vicki Dunne when I read it in the Canberra Times this morning:

“We need less of kids going out and finding things out for themselves. We need more inculcation of knowledge.”

(Unfortunately I can’t find an online link)

So, don’t bother teaching kids how to research or learn things from the world, just sit them in a classroom where they can rote learn from a book.

She goes on to say that teachers are to blame for this travesty of kids learning.

And I thought the federal libs were bad!

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25 Responses to Vicki Dunne wants no more kids learning
Ralph Ralph 10:51 am 13 Feb 07

If you aint happy with it AD, there’s always the option for you of Chavez’s leftist utopia.

Maelinar Maelinar 10:46 am 13 Feb 07

Else you become a mindless zombie mall-crawler with your pants around your pubes and a pair of glasses that makes you look like a bee, purchasing the ‘latest’ fashions with all of the rest of their zombie kin.

Thumper Thumper 8:51 am 13 Feb 07

No AD,

put simply (if you are addressing my comment),if you can’t write and read then you can’t put across whatever message you may have in a logical and coherant way.

Nothing wrong with thinking outside the square and questioning the norms, but you still need the basic building blocks of education to be able to do this.

simto simto 8:44 am 13 Feb 07

I think you’re allowed to develop freedom of thought once you can express it clearly. If you don’t have the means to express your thoughts clearly (which DOES require some fairly tight guidelines), then you can think anything you like, but you won’t be able to express those thoughts in a way that anybody else will be able to understand. Which means the fascist thought police win again!

Absent Diane Absent Diane 8:35 am 13 Feb 07

typical libs pushing there anti-freedom of thought message.

Thumper Thumper 8:02 am 13 Feb 07

ROTE learning is the basis of all learning. After all, if you cannot read or write adequately you are never going to learn anything, or to be able to question things you hear.

Kids must crawl before they walk. Get the basics right and the other pieces fall in nicely.

The amount of kids I taught at Melba High who could not write a legible sentence was quite shocking. Apart from that their spelling was frankly atrocious.

nyssa76 nyssa76 11:51 pm 12 Feb 07

It’s safe to say you spend at least 50% of your time addressing behaviour.

I’d love to spend 100% of class time teaching but it isn’t a reality anymore – take a guess why.

Rote learning doesn’t suit all children and I agree it shouldn’t have been “lost”. However, in the past 10years the curriculum has been discarded for BS PC crap.

Teachers don’t make the changes, it is dictated from the top – it isn’t called a hierarchical system for nothing.

I’d like to see pollies keeping out of it and letting teachers get back to the basics.

I also don’t agree with the current ACT Curriculum and feel it will cause more harm than good.

JB, teachers aren’t trying to teach Uni grade curriculum – high school teachers spend most of their time reviewing the primary school curriculum that so many students don’t comprehend or are “lost” with.

The PC crap needs to go.

Gerry-Built Gerry-Built 11:18 pm 12 Feb 07

If there is money in it for my classroom and my students, I’m in! Fark what’s good for my students. Afterall, this initiative, like flagpoles, will likely be tied to Federal funding.

lateralis lateralis 7:59 pm 11 Feb 07

I’m not sure what the university grade concepts are that public schools are trying to teach, but having taught in Cath Ed’, public and private schools, I can tell you that the curriculum is the same (albeit a bit more regressive in private/catholic schools).

Private schools have better consequences in place, and higher expectations of their students.

When it comes to behaviour, show me a standard, and I’ll show you kids sneaking just over it, whether the bar is set high or low.

GnT GnT 2:05 pm 11 Feb 07

Agreed. Rote learning has its place. Especially in areas of discipline such as maths and languages. And learning some level of ‘content’ or ‘knowledge’ is also essential. But it is equally (maybe more) important to teach kids to think critically and question, and to find things out for themselves (learning to learn).

My biggest concern with pollies wanting to fit a certain amount of content in the curriculum is, who is going to decide which content is essential and which can be discarded. As nyssa and lateralis suggested, the curriculum is already overcrowded. If Prime Ministers of Australia is essential knowledge, do we leave out World War II? I (as a science teacher) already have issues when I have a group of kids really engaged and interested in, say, astronomy, but I have to say “well we have to finish that topic, because we are required to do the digestive system now”. I would rather teach them the learning process and the skills to inquire, observe, experiment and draw conclusions (the scientific method) so they can apply those skills to other topics they are interested in, rather than teach them specific facts that some politian has decided is an essential part of the curriculum.

Maelinar Maelinar 12:47 pm 11 Feb 07

Rote learning is the foundation block to understanding.

I say that as somebody who can hold a dialogue in several languages – each and every one of them I began by learning rote, and then switching to trial and error learning.

Not giving somebody the skill and discipline to rote learn, is robbing them of a necessary later-life skill.

miz miz 11:09 am 11 Feb 07

No no no. What I think she is getting at, is that the current teaching fads have all but eliminated the really helpful aides de memoires. Like the rote learning of times tables, phonics (associating sounds with letter combinations) and spelling rules that mean you know these foundational things automatically. Then when you do want to do some more advanced maths or creative writing, you are not wasting time and brain space trying to work out 7 x 8 or how to spell ‘receive’.
WE take this stuff for granted, ‘cos we learned it. These days you often have to get your child tutored ($$$) to learn it – when you realise there is a problem.
We are pattern learners, and we can only learn by moving from the known to the unknown, so rote learning is a good tool and should not have been discarded.

johnboy johnboy 11:05 am 11 Feb 07

Dead PM’s are not at the top of any list of useful knowledge and forcing learning about Australian politicians is mostly just an ego exercise on the part of other politicians who are trying to legitimise their own sad lives.

But there’s something to be said for teaching the basics before unleashing a young mind on all the bewildering possibilities of the world.

To quote Neal Stephenson’s In The Beginning Was The Command Line:

Anyone who grows up watching TV, never sees any religion or philosophy, is raised in an atmosphere of moral relativism, learns about civics from watching bimbo eruptions on network TV news, and attends a university where postmodernists vie to outdo each other in demolishing traditional notions of truth and quality, is going to come out into the world as one pretty feckless human being…

On the other hand, if you are raised within some specific culture, you end up with a basic set of tools that you can use to think about and understand the world. You might use those tools to reject the culture you were raised in, but at least you’ve got some tools.

In this country, the people who run things–who populate major law firms and corporate boards–understand all of this at some level. They pay lip service to multiculturalism and diversity and non-judgmentalness, but they don’t raise their own children that way.

But hey, public schools can keep trying to teach university grade concepts to kids who aren’t prepared to handle them with an understanding of conventional wisdom, and the exodus to the private sector will just keep gathering pace.

lateralis lateralis 8:35 am 11 Feb 07

Vicky Vicky Vicky. What is knowledge?
Is being able to regurgitate the names of dead Asutralians an important life skill for these children in the future?
At the same time, I don’t mind more content being taught, but what should teachers throw out in it’s place. Social skilling? I.T training? Thinking sills?
This generation of children is, as D.m.D said, an exceptionally selfish and unengaged lot. “Why should I” and “You can’t make me”, is the mantra. In the instant gratification world of high speed everything, these kids are far less inclined to listen and learn rote facts for their own sake. The only way to reach them is through meaningful tasks where they make choices and get to ‘do’ rather than sit and listen. How you do this by putting even more more stuff in the syllabus is beyond me.
The real problem with the current generation of kids, is their over indulgent parents who never say no, and never teach their children to live and learn respect and manners.

nyssa76 nyssa76 9:48 pm 10 Feb 07

I’ve always said that the curriculum is too crowded; however, critical literacy (the ability to think outside the square) is important.

I do know who Lyons was and I taught the unit “Prime Ministers of Australia” last year. What amazed me, at the start of the unit, was that the kids didn’t make the connection to our suburbs i.e. Bruce the PM, Bruce the suburb, until I explained it to them.

But DMD is right – school isn’t about rote learning. It should be, and is in my classroom, about forming an opinion and thinking for yourself – which has had a great positive impact on student learning.

So if I’m doing it wrong, she can have my job.

Deano Deano 9:07 pm 10 Feb 07

I’d have to say the most important thing I have ever learnt is learning how to learn. This involves recognising that there is something I don’t know and then going out and finding out about it. Unfortunately that was a skill I was not taught until university.

Never has knowing who Joesph Lyons was or any other Prime Minister (even the current one) has helped me in any way. If anything it occupies space in my mind, along with a lot of other useless crap I was force fed, that could be used for more important stuff.

jellen jellen 8:39 pm 10 Feb 07

I think the traditional spelling is curriculum, but as I was educated in the public system, it is entirely possible that I am wrong. I’m still smarting over the fact that we didn’t send Vicki to the water summit in lieu of Katy, being as Vicki as not flaky at all.

vg vg 7:39 pm 10 Feb 07

Yes, I know who Joseph Lyons was. I also know the names of most (not all) PMs. That doesn’t make me special. It’s impossible to teach kids everything, but possible to teach them something.

It would behove you to read the entire article. At no stage does Dunne blame teachers. She blames the cirriculum. She does say teachers don’t know how to teach the stuff she’d like, but she doesn’t blame them.

If you’re going to have a stab at someone make sure its a proper one. The teachers aren’t blamed, its the cirriculum.

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 6:12 pm 10 Feb 07

I didn’t know who the hell Joseph Lyons was, and I didn’t really give a rats either. I don’t get paid to remember prime ministers.

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 6:11 pm 10 Feb 07

It’s always the teachers fault. Not the fact that they are under-rewarded by mundane pay and conditions, not the fact that a generation raised by video games and lawsuit-hungry, blame-other-people-for-poor-parenting parents give them nothing but shit all day. No, it’s the bloody teachers, goddammit. Why can’t these kids shoot off the names of every prime minister this country ever had to remind mummy and daddy because they forgot everything after high school? Huh? Why? I’ll tell you why, because teachers are failures to society, failures that can’t even do a simple job that Vicki Dunn could do with her eyes shut. Unfortunatley, Vicki Dunn is already being the leader of the opposition with her eyes shut, so it’s all the teachers fault. Bloody teachers!

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