The Stupidest Idea Ever Productivitied

We probably should have known that the Productivity Commission was no more than a safe place for pompous, pseudo-rational windbags. But, we didn’t. And so earlier this year, by request, we made a submission to the PC’s review of the National School Reform Agreement. The PC’s Interim Report appeared in due course, and it provided sufficient reason to never again bother with these clowns. Until now.

Last week, the Productivity Commission released its Interim Report on, um, Productivity. Which makes one wonder what all their other reports are about. No matter. We have a report. It is special.

Chapter 2 of the report is on Building Productivity in Schools. Its nothingness is captured by the Key Points introduction to the chapter:

It is the standard stuff: prima facie meaningless, but also insidious. Garden variety poison. But then one pauses on the last dot point, which suggests “variations on conventional approaches”, and, à la Dorothy Parker, one starts to ponder: what fresh Hell can this be?

The fresh, unconventional Hells are flagged in the final section of the chapter. They are all Hellish, but the first requires special mention:

School hours – time to rethink what works?

School hours have been broadly unchanged for many years … A variety of reasons have been put forward as to why current school hours may not be appropriate — particularly for student learning and parents’ labour force participation. The Commission’s focus is on the impact of changing school hours on productivity and student outcomes. …

Some governments and industry advocates have proposed extending the school day to broaden the range of subjects and activities students could explore … Others have proposed longer school hours to support learning, particularly for those that are falling behind learning benchmarks. … Schools could use the additional hours of instructional time to provide extra support to students struggling in specific subjects. [emphasis added]

Yes, you could do that. Or, you could advocate to just stop having teachers attempt to teach a garbage curriculum with garbage methods, and instead employ the good will and thousands of hours currently being pissed away towards some decent goal. It’s your call. You idiots.

3 Replies to “The Stupidest Idea Ever Productivitied”

  1. Regarding school hours, my school is actively looking at reducing hours for VCE subjects on Fridays based on the(ir) (ir)rationale of, “well, only half of the students turn-up to class on Friday anyway so…”. Of course, the ones that do actually turn-up are usually the ones that are keen on doing well so now (or more correctly, next year) their regular classes will be dropped from 5 to 4 per week.

  2. I read through the report, but not in detail. Thank you for posting it. Here are a couple of comments.

    Figure 2.1 and the discussion deal with out-of-field teaching. The data are based on Weldon (2016) which in turn was based on data collected in 2013. Weldon makes it clear that there can be various definitions of out-of-field teaching, but commentators seems to ignore this vital point.

    I smiled at Table 2.1 that seems to scoff at marking assessments with a pen. Instead the authors of the report suggest that a teacher could use self-marking quizzes, which, presumably are multiple choice questions. Sigh.

    Our school already has “an application that can efficiently book a series of parent-teacher interviews”. I imagine that many schools would have such a system – my school is not a wealthy school.

    The statement that “91% of students who live in advantaged communities have internet access at home, compared to 68% of
    Australian children living in disadvantaged communities ” caught my eye. According to ABS, “for households with children aged under 15 years, 97% had access to the internet” in 2016/2017.

    Overall, I did not notice any new ideas in the report. I wonder how much it cost to produce the report. But thanks for posting it anyway.

    1. Nice comments, Terry.

      Of course, the report prepared by the Productivity Commission is just what we all needed – $\displaystyle another* report. Full of fluff. Whose only raison d’etre is to make it look like someone’s doing their job. And to tick the box of wide consultation (*)

      * Consultation neq listen.

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