I’m probably not the first to point out that the media loves to celebrate schools as much as they love to criticise them. Newspapers often begin the year with the positive back to school stories followed quickly by headlines that claim suspensions are on the increase or students are failing. It’s easy to see why teachers feel under siege when the perception and narrative of schooling is being shaped by forces outside of the profession.
Too often the sensational headlines end up leading to drastic interventions and reforms like linking the Year 9 NAPLAN test to HSC attainment. This week, NSW Education Minister, Rob Stokes announced he would be scrapping that policy in favour of minimum standards being achieved instead through a series of online literacy and numeracy tests. It is a great example of common sense trumping short-sighted policy decisions.
I’d like to see news stories this year that inform and educate the community as to why we need a new approach to schooling. I’d like to see headlines that ignore reporting PISA and top HSC results and focus instead on the rich learning and teaching that happens every day in schools. I’d like to see national conversations on Australian education that are comprehensive and inclusive. I’d like to see public debate that attempts to unify rather than divide schools. Finally, I’d like to see a profession that is no longer blamed for the inadequacies of the system but is esteemed and entrusted by the community to improve the learning outcomes of every child.
There are those within and outside the teaching profession who are still wedded to clichés, sensationalism and band-aid solutions. Such distorters of the educational narrative need to be confronted with solid evidence/practice and the lived experience of highly professional teachers who are not only committed to re-writing an educational narrative relevant for today’s world but reclaiming the educational agenda.