Stop classroom indoctrination
The Australian, 7 November 2016
If graduate teachers are to help lift the indifferent results of many Australian schools, their university training needs to prepare them in the most effective methods of classroom management and teaching the “basics’’ — literacy and numeracy — as well as more advanced subjects such as science, history, geography and languages. Parents, employers and taxpayers who have long been frustrated with the mediocre standards that prevail in too many classrooms have good reason to be annoyed that Sydney University, among other institutions, has been offering students a program in sexual and gender diversity. The fact it was conducted by the so-called Safe Schools Coalition — the group that outlaws the use of “heteronormative’’ terms such as “boys’’ and “girls’’ — is a serious concern. Similar material was used at the University of Western Sydney.
More insidiously, the Australian Education Union recently teamed with Safe Schools in Melbourne to run a workshop to help teachers incorporate themes of sexual and gender diversity across the curriculum.
After years of efforts to improve the national curriculum, Professor Ken Wiltshire and Dr Kevin Donnelly, in their report two years ago, pointed out the need to “declutter” what’s taught, especially in primary school. Wisely, they advised that previous “cross-curriculum priorities” of Asia, indigenous histories and culture, and “sustainability” that permeated all subjects, even maths and pure sciences, be dropped. “Gender fluidity’’ should not be sneaked in instead.
The Safe Schools Coalition wants to shore up supporters before its federal funding winds up next year. But its ideology has no place in taxpayer-funded schools or universities. Better training in behaviour management would do more to help teachers prevent and deal with bullying.