Professor Stephen Dinham has been a strong and vocal advocate for greater equality in Australian education. He wrote an excellent piece in the Melbourne Age recently on how the ineffective quick fixes to improve teaching would actually lead to greater inequity and decline in educational performance.
These simplistic approaches ignore decades of research on what makes teachers and teaching effective. According to Professor Dinham:
Australia is becoming a less equitable society both generally and in respect of education and as has been demonstrated, inequality in society is actually worse for everyone.
Our collective failure to address the inequality that exists within our education system is a national shame and as Dinham warns if the profession remains ‘silent and passive’, we will only have ourselves to blame for what ‘might eventuate’.
It’s a national shame that we cannot address the inequality within our own education system. But then I began thinking about the inequality that exists for our marginalised. There are more than a thousand children living in offshore immigration detention centres.
Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said education is the foundation on which freedom, democracy and sustainable human development rests. Australia offers all of this yet we fail to close the gap for our most vulnerable – the indigenous, the poor and the marginalised.
Picking up the paper to read headlines such as ‘Selective schools ‘the most socially exclusive’ in NSW‘ distract from the critical work of closing the gap. We become polarised by the private v public debates and discussions on whether selective schools are the most socially exclusive.
A commitment to a quality education is a commitment to all students regardless of race, circumstance or background. Closing the gap requires us to address the issues with open eyes and hearts.