What is happening to our profession? Quo Vadis?

What is Happening to Our Profession?
Quo Vadis?

Melutor, [click]who posted this illustration, asks. “Am I the only person thinking this about the teaching profession ?”  WHAT? The teaching ethic controlled by big business!! Wash your mouth out, Sir!

Alas. He’s right.  The illustration suggests that present day school authorities are working diligently  on behalf of big business to demolish the dualism of the teaching profession. And, yes. It’s true.  You can easily notice where public education is going.

Let’s pause for a while.  The profession dismantled????

Teaching consists of [1] the holding of  the certain  beliefs about childhood, which, in turn, are reflected in [2] the ways that we actually treat children; i.e.how  our beliefs match our actions. That’s the dynamic dualism of pupilling – treating children as pupils……teacher and learner together.

 Childhood is more than just an age-range.  It’s transmundane. Its description includes a mixture of esoteric peculiarities and predicatable activities that command serious thought, consideration and moral adoption of particular beliefs by those called to teach. The love of children, respect for their humanity , and sincere trust in them as learners are crucial parts of each teacher’s belief system. Our reaction to the blatant  insults and threats to our profession and to our pupils in recent times, depends on our level of passivity and timorousness….and tolerance. But, yes. We dare not question our corporate masters.

When a teacher pays special attention to the kinds of things that children do as they handle their individual styles of learning  and what is consistent when they indulge in their group learning : i.e.  that they  are curious and interested in the world, enjoy play and prefer to be happy, like to handle things, naturally explore situations and try new things, demonstrate great joy in achievement and are motivated by it, learn most effectively when their own interests are being pursued; that they learn by doing, observing, imitating, teaching other children….they  entrench all this in their teaching psyche and the better that their beliefs are translated into classroom action, the better the world will be. A teacher becomes a dynamic duo with each client. Mind you, the numbers of possible learning interactions are gargantuan and googleplex.  Only the dull and naive would believe that there are just a few didactic, adult-controlled teaching tricks to be learned [Hello Christopher!]. Small classes are essential for maximum interaction. Large classes can prevail for didactic, direct kinds of instruction.

A  real teacher will notice the disappointment that children experience  in failure and in  the fear that they endure when threatened by it, more common to hard-nosed didactic strategies of instruction [vis-a-vis dynamic teaching]; and every teacher I know is conscious of the tragic outcomes of such unfortunate experiences. It’s dynamic versus didactic, isn’t it?  Good teachers wont go near blanket testing  with a ten-foot barge pole ……and yet …..our testucating political number crunching sycophants [very brown-nosed ones]  rely upon blatant fear just to produce higher scores on those idiotic,  unreliable NAPLAN tests.

That conflict between what a teacher believes and what a  teacher is expected to do, [originated by Julia Gillard in 2007] was used to start the degradation of the teaching profession in the antipodes; and is now being forced-fed by those who continue to use recognisable neoLiberal tactics for provider capture and for corporate profit. Our school/political leaders gave in so easily at the time and allowed them to do so. 

The neoliberal dogma that only the rich and powerful should rule and that they should capture pure measurement-minded testucating bureaucrats to set the school conditions in which the major activity is to  measure and count numbers is now well established. The appointment or retraining of   Dr, Strangelove-style, Stockholmed job principals  required  the marginalisation of the teaching profession and the degradation of public schooling first.  It was essential for business; and the neol support staff in school offices are now good at their job. They don’t seem to care much how children feel.  Things are going far better for the Murdoch empire, for one,…..far better  than they had anticipated and the public face of schooling is on the way out at the same pace as the profession is allowing itself to be degraded. The new order has no place for caring, holistic learning-oriented teachers. 

So. No Sir, Mr. Illustrator/Melutor.  You are not the only one thinking about the teaching profession. Corporations and their fawning politicians have been manipulating it – successfully – for the past decade. The money-hungry mongrels have had their way, we placid folk have capitulated and we are now heading for a universe that has never existed before.  Teaching is now just a job. Amen. Once high in the group of noble service professions, it is so no longer.

How did it happen? Simply.


Note 1  We copied the wrong system. Australian schooling is a product of the British Grammar School system which was exported to all British colonies. It was a simple system based on telling learners what they ought to know and then testing them to see if they had been listening. It had no altruistic function. Subjects were added to what was taught and kept apart from each other. Those easily examined, held special status.

Note 2 We kept examining our own navel. When we  post-WW2 schoolies occasionally became concerned about improving classroom tactics, we studied what the big great U.S.A. was doing or we followed its gurus…..really looking into the rear vision mirror with them at our common heritage….pointless…..with little thought for how children learned in non-western cultures; their cautious and serious learning intensity shared with ongoing evaluation and associated celebration that will undoubtedly produces superior races than those using our present staid anglo-saxon stagnating  mould. Have you, by the way,  ever seen a movie or documentary of an American classroom scene where all pupils were NOT anchored to seats, looking in the same direction?  What does that tell you?  That’s what we copy? Kotter?

Note 3  We kept copying American Packages. Americans have an admirable propensity for assembly-line production [Fordism] , for structures to be solid and to become more important than the product – to be maintained long after the product fails –  and for the ability to package products neatly. How we loved the packages like the SRA Reading kits, the ACER maths kits, the assembly line new maths and music programs.  The teacher became the check-out counter, no skills required….just like the NAPLAN routines, which encapsulate the packaged worst of New York’s ‘worstest’. No real teaching required. We’ve had thousands of teacher-proof products since. Direct Instruction, for instance. Common core.

The post-Plowden era in Britain was the most exciting in the life-time of many truly great educators : Sir Alec Clegg , Lady Plowden  Marianne Parry, Edith Biggs and, now, in their mould : Sir Ken Robinson, Robin Alexander, Yong Zhao, Marion Brady, Diane Ravitch. Australia had Alby Jones, Bill Bassett, Phillip Hughes, Hedley Beare, all of whom would have nothing to praise the present-day Australian  testucators for.  New Zealand has Kevin Smythe, Bruce Hammonds and Allan Alach and a political school paraclete in the person of the Labour Party’s shadow minister, Chris Hipkins. He’s ahead of the game.  I have known most of these well enough to know that they would be ashamed that their timid contemporary colleagues still allow this state of affairs to continue and would be saddened by the obvious plans for the demise of public education.  Yes. It’s planned.

Note  4 We supported the maintenance of social class. Our foundation templates, the  Dame schools and Grammar schools were  based on social class.  The English class system, on which Australia’s schooling system is based, has to be maintained in the antipodes at all cost. It’s now our kind of society. The rich and powerful must have their way;  economists and accountants must control operations; the middle class must be kept in their place and not be too ambitious; the poor and marginalised must stay where they are. Providing expensive toffee-nosed schools cements that kind of system.  The gap between those who have and have not and the level of support for them, was pointed out in the Gonski Report. The  neoliberal parties on both sides of parliament are not anxious to change things nor to discuss the issues of NAPLAN tests and traditional  public examinations with Gonski concerns in mind.  The aim is to keep mum and protect  the most powerful….to rid the country of public state schools where, until now, the bulk of teaching competencies resided,  replace them with Charter Schools and more private schools, then business sponsored. Bill Gates and wifey know where their bread is buttered and have expended billions on the establishment of these. They open the contact with the testing empires. In Australia, we have adopted them just for the heck of it. A gimmick to divert voter attention. Of course they could be offered, just to satisfy the middle class. Tax-payer funded.

Note 5  We have a test-crazed mentality. Wide scale, blanket testing is not only a waste of time. It is unnecessary. If a teacher and at least one of their  school administrator do not know how well each pupil is doing at school, they should not be in the job.  What does S.B.T promote? Witness the so-called scandal of tertiary attenders paying big money for assignment writing, the growth in these kinds of special test-preparation tutor schools, the huge increase in the sale of pharmaceuticals for the frightened kids during the test-preparation period, the amazing volume of practice tests sold. That we so-called professionals prefer to ignore these realities of our test-based system is hard for a child-centred old schoolie to handle. Our professional mentality is mashed – useless, disregarded and degraded.

The impact of our past on our future needs serious thought. It may not really matter who runs what, as long as all children who bother to attend school,  are treated like human beings, using levels of pupilling excellence that are based on what is known about learning in schools. We teachers are not trying hard enough. This gives our neoliberal-directed politicians and sycophants to degrade the once-noble profession.

We are test-crazed. Our profession is now the pits. Its integrity has  got away from us. The reality of that statement is shattering.


Phil Cullen, 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point,  Australia 2486       07 5524 6443   

 cphilcullen@bigpond.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               http://kelleyandcullen.net    http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com   http://primaryschooling.net



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