The Hysterical History of Australian Schooling
Important principles of school administration have not changed much since the education industry was established in Australia. We still have a similar arrangement to what we had when we kicked off. The monied gentry would tell the governor what they wanted and expect to get it. They still do. They still rule. It’s easy to describe.
Mind you, there were no state schools providing free and compulsory schooling and those who came from the great Britain in earlier colonial times were used to an arrangement back home where churches and a few private societies supplied schools. The remnants of this system remain. There are public and private schools.
Rev. John Dunmore Lang was a big wheel in Sydney society in the 1830s, and a passionate educator, according to historian, David Hunt. Lang was concerned by the increasing numbers of Irish bushrangers – The Wild Colonial Boy and his impoverished kind were becoming a real nuisance. “Lang, a Presbyterian minister hated Catholics and believed that they were conspiring to ‘rivet the chains of popery on a deluded people in the Australian colonies'”; so he started a school in 1826 to counter their influence.
The irreverent Hunt [“True Girt”]wrote : “The Church of England was the only church to have an official presence in NSW in the first decade of settlement and it hadn’t exactly set the colony alight. While the church half-heartedly provided a few schools, they were funded by the state, a radical departure from British practice.
In 1824, Governor Brisbane reported, ‘every murder or diabolical crime, which has been committed in the colony since my arrival, has been perpetrated by Irish Catholics’ . Believing strong moral leadership from the church would reduce Catholic crime, Brisbane funded Therry’s schools.” (Fr. Therry was the first Catholic priest allowed to practice his faith in the colony and was keen to establish the schools for altruistic and religious purposes.) Believing that strong moral leadership from the church would reduce Catholic crime, Brisbane funded Therry’s Catholic schools. He also partially financed the building of Australia’s first Catholic Church, given the impoverished state of the predominantly Irish Catholics, although he refused to pay for any over-the-top papist frou-frou.”
“This Catholic aid outraged Lang. The splenetic Scot complained that he was forced to give his sermons in a schoolhouse shared with diabolical papists, who assaulted his nostrils with their incense and his ears with their bell-ringing. Brisbane refused his demands for a government-subsidised church because the Scottish Presbyterians had enough cash hidden in their mattresses to build one themselves.”
What a diabolical setting it would have been for a 2010 Gillard-type ‘My School’ presentation!
“The arrival of Therry and Lang brought the long-dormant religious divisions of the old country to the surface,” continued Hunt. “The Catholics hated the Anglicans for not permitting Catholic education in their schools; the Presbyterians hated the Catholics for receiving government support and for being Catholics and the Anglicans hated the Catholics and Presbyterians for moving onto their turf. Sectarianism had stormed into the previously secular colony, its battlefield the hearts and minds of children.”
William Charles Wentworth was a key figure in the introduction of state education. Also, money was his God and he could not abide having the poor in any decision-making position. “People with property portfolios and sheep should be given the vote and people without them should not. The poor were not fit to determine the future of the colony, as ‘ignorance and poverty went together’. In the world of Wentworth’s faith, the moneychangers would be keepers of the Temple.” That’s how our super-elite took power, and the thought-bubbles that encourage such a point of view persist to the present day. Schoolies are part of the poor and ignorant brigade. They don’t count. The governance of the day and teacher groups will do as they are told by those who matter. ….and so say all of us….right through to today. The notion of the schooling profession using its expertise to run schools all around the vast land to teach the children to read and write and calculate properly, was not on the agenda….the same as it is now….and, so, teachers just have to enjoy being the target of ingenuous, ignorant, dishonest, elitist nincompoopish criticism, because the self-important, very rich cockalorums say so.
Part of the Gillard-Klein negotiations included the New York proposal that principals and teachers be sacked if their schools did not get decent results in set tests. It’s still on the klein/gillard agenda and will receive little oppositions from Australia’s meek and mild teacher groups when it becomes instituted. UBS [‘UBS’ is an anagram for all sorts of things] paid the fare of Joel Klein and his wife to come down under to proseltyse the values of whipping kids and teachers into shape, for money. He only spoke to big business and to their press at their club. We members of the poor and ordinary, bought it all…big time. UBS MEANS BIG, BIG POWER AND CONTROL, in case you want to know. It owns us….well….our public-care institutions.
Ironically, Wentworth, at the time, had an ally in the press. Horatio Spencer Howe Wills, publisher of The Gazette, who joined with Willy and, together, they founded The Australian Patriotic Association. “The membership fee of £5 kept the riffraff out and the association’s policy of denying the vote to poor people, blacks and women encouraged a number of the more progressive exclusives to join. Governors Bourke and Gipps lent their support…..” and nothing much has changed to the present day. The denigration of the most important of the caring professions remains a feature of our schooling.
In the mother country, popular education had to have a religious basis In the Old Dart, the State started in 1833 to make contributions to schools started by the National Public Schools Association following heavy advocacy by secularist and those who hotly disputed the claims of the Church of England to be responsible for national education. As is usual in such cases, dispute and conflict and dissatisfaction was maintained until Britain decided to establish a Department of Education in 1856. A Royal Commission [ a certainty for Australian education in a few years from now] was appointed in 1858. It found that churches had done a reasonable job, but, generally speaking the standard was too elementary and superficial….and children were leaving school too early to get a job. Disputes, conflict and dissatisfacton kept reigning. It was the period of Wentworth and Lang wrestling with Governors Bourke and Gipps in the colonies. Chaos and uncertainty. Schooling in Australia had no model , so we tolerated a kind of chaos – who does what to whom and who cares – free-wheeling = as it was in Britain.
Not only that. Since the state was paying grants to schools on a per capita basis, a mere numbering of attendees was unsatisfactory. The pupils had to be up to scratch with their standards. During this period, England’s Parliament introduced what they called a Revised Code. As Barnard [P.130] notes : The government will pay per capita grants to schools which had a satisfactory report from Her Majesty’s Inspector. These grants would be supplemented by local grants from county and borough rates. Thus was introduced the system of ‘payment by results’ which hampered the development of elementary education for many years to come.” OMG! It lasted forty years....and our NAPLAN has been going for ten….which is certainly nine years too long.
“…the shortcomings of the Revised Code were clearly seen by such educationists as Kay-Shuttleworth and Matthew Arnold; and subsequent history show the justice of their condemnation of it. The examination system resulted – as it so often does – on over–pressure on children, due to the anxiety to produce ‘results’. The teaching of the three ‘Rs’ may have improved because teachers were tempted to concentrate on these grant-earning subjects and neglect other work; but this encouraged mechanical methods of teaching. The New Code also tended to demoralise the teacher. Their position in the eyes of their managers and therefore their very livelihood, might depend on the amount of the grant earned by their pupils. Hence there was a temptation to falsify registers and hoodwink inspectors by requiring pupils to learn off their reading book by heart. One of the inspectors stated that he used to counteract this pratice by requiring pupils to read their book backwards. ‘
NAPLAN has returned us to the exigencies of The Revised Code…..with its over-pressure, anxiety and stress….way beyond blue. We must wonder at the wisdom of those of the NAPLAN sect, who ignore the lessons of history. Their lack of classroom experience and ignorance of the psychology of classroom behaviour does not do anything for Australian progress. We are driving at breakneck speed, using only the rear-vision mirror for guidance, backwards.
Put another way :- Once we arrive back at about the 1830’s standards …which shouldn’t be too long,…we will probably continue to exercise the tenants of the Kajabbi Complex. “The Kajabbi Complex is named the antics of after two notable Queensland North Westerners who had had a successful day at the races at Kajabbi, not far from the Gulf of Carpentaria. The two celebrated excessively, atthe bramble bar before heading, late in the night, for their home town, Cloncurry. They drove for hours and did not seem to be getting any closer. They paused at a signpost to check things out. It said “6 Furlongs”. They had been driving in circles around the Kajabbi racetrack for hours…..around and around, as if the were NAPLAN testucators.
Sadly. the Revised Code lasted so long that its test-test-test cancer became part of the DNA of British-style schooling, despite the efforts of Matthew Arnold and superior educators of the time. Church schools applauded the rigours of testing, believing in the long run that preparation for tests was a holy mission and a legitimate enterprise. The Gradgrinds of the world thought it was Christmas all year. They could watch the kids squirm for months. While western-style cultures have been praying for the ghost of Matthew Arnold to re-emerge, corporate bodies and other proponents of Gillard’s kleinism, have been burning effigies of him. He made too much common-sense for them…They just can’t comprehend that teachers make the most of child’s zest for learning by using the full range of teaching strategies [not just direct, chalk-talk didactic instruction];and there is no need to scare the living daylights out of them. Vision-impaired, these just wont see. They must believe that producing learners with top-level intellectual capacities is a communist plot or something and that the conventional target of producing mediocre scholars because we have always done that sort of thing and we should maintain the traditions. “Learning how to learn because we like it” must be disgusting socialist stuff like they do in Finland up near those Commie countries.
Kleinists want us to respect our heroes…..Thomas Gradgrind, Joel Klein himself, Rupert Murdoch, Julia Gillard and Simon Birmingham as they thunder down the stretch of the Kajabbi racetrack heading for the next round – not knowing how far to go nor where they are heading – charter schools, Year 1 Tests, full school testing, dumbing down test levels, computer testing, pre-graduation testing, sacking principals, sacking teachers, appointing big named sciolists to administrative positions; all floating around as ‘different’ ideas. Your local member will fit in with them, if he/she doesn’t have a mind of their own. It’s all yet to come.
London to a brick.
Aussies seem struck with a special kind of attitude, born of an hysterical past. Right?
NAPLAN victims of stress, anxiety, depression and sleeplessnes will be relieved to learn that Ms. Julia Gillard, co-founder of our kleinist system of schooling, is taking control of the organisation that works towards the relief for sufferers from stress, anxiety and depression.
Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524644 0407865999 firstname.lastname@example.org REFER: Who’s Who in Australia