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PISA2018 – 5.1  “We are losing sight of students”

I’m an excellent teacher. I know how to bring them together. I am able to create a feeling of family and safety and security. In my classroom they know they can take risks and try new things and experience failure while being supported by me and by each other.

“We feast on stories together, devouring Where The Wild Things Are and savouring There’s a Hippopotamus On Our Roof Eating Cake. They come to love the taste of reading, the flavour it adds to their life. In small, bite-size pieces I show them how it’s done – how they can make meaning from the words. Their eyes sparkle when they realise they can read, when they realise they can nourish themselves.

Later, “A knock at the door.

“The assistant principal. ‘I need your assessment results. Canberra just rang asking why our data isn’t entered.’

“It was a desperate feeling. A realisation. I was trying to do the impossible. I was destined to fail.

“This isn’t teaching.

“I’m not a teacher anymore.”

Twelve months later “I was burnt out because successive Australian governments – both left and right – have locked Australian education into the original model of schooling first established during the industrial revolution. Each decision made keeps us stuck in an archaic learn-to-work model, now complete with ongoing mandatory assessment of our student’s likely productivity and economic potential. Fundamental to this model is the idea of standardising…

Classrooms have become test-driven places where students learn to colour circles marked A, B, C and D. Even the classes not subjected to NAPLAN endure ongoing formal assessment from teachers turned examiners who must procure benchmarks, reach standards and gather data…

But schools are not businesses. They’re not industries. Schools should not be framed by business models. They should not be viewed in terms of academic results based on productivity. When we look at schools in this way we lose sight of what matters. We lose sight of students.

G J Stroud, “Teaching Australia’ in The Griffith Review 51 Fixing the System, February 2016