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Vicki Dunne wants no more kids learning

By 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.

And I thought the federal libs were bad!

What’s Your opinion?

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25 Responses to
Vicki Dunne wants no more kids learning
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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!

GnT 6:07 pm 10 Feb 07

Do you know who Joseph Lyons was? Do you know all the Prime Ministers of Australia?

My point is it is IMPOSSIBLE to teach children ALL the knowledge that everyone thinks they ought to know. A more effective education teaches children how to learn. This way if you ask them “who is Joseph Lyons?” they might be able to, oh I don’t know, find out for themselves!

Learning how to learn is far more valuable than learning facts.

vg 5:55 pm 10 Feb 07

Please excuse the pathetic grammar and spelling mistakes that riddle my post. I won’t bother fixing it

vg 5:54 pm 10 Feb 07

Bit hysterical aren’t you? The clear inference from the story is that kids should be learning certain things at school, without having to go out an find out for themselves. She uses examples of kids not being taught enough Australian literature, maths and certain sciences amongst other.

She uses the example of her publicly educated kids didn’t know who Joseph Lyons was.

It might heed you to read the entire article rather than remove selected quotes from their context

boomacat 4:21 pm 10 Feb 07

That wouldn’t be hard, a dead chicked with its head up a frog’s arse would be smarter than the Territory opposition.

Shame, as we all suffer for it, an effective opposition being so essential in a westminster sytle parliamentary democracy…

Kramer 3:12 pm 10 Feb 07

Yes, I agree – we cannot have school children who are smarter than our shadow education minister.

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