Lividing the Dream

This one is a little old now, and it’s about a Who Cares blog post by Who Cares people. Nonetheless, it has gotten up our nose and we’re going to sneeze the damn thing out. Stand back.

Last month, the Grattan Institute released another of their education reports: Ending the Lesson Lottery. It was no big deal, saying in ninety pages what would have been better said in two, and the EduTsars are not listening anyway. Still a quick read suggested the report was largely sensible, and any plus in this world is a plus. 

The thrust of ELL was that curriculum planning in Australia is ad hoc and a mess, with exhausted teachers largely left to do their own fishing and cooking. GI’s concerns are in synch with Ben Jensen’s trashing of ACARA’s vaporous curriculum, although the emphasis is different. ELL‘s key recommendation is,

Ensure all teachers have access to high-quality curriculum materials

Over the next five years, ensure every school and teacher has access to a suite of comprehensive, high-quality curriculum materials that they can choose to use and adapt as required.

Earth-shattering, isn’t it?

Any sane teacher, or at least any sane maths teacher, could tell you that reliably high-quality curriculum materials are not readily at hand, and it’d be really really really really helpful if they were. ACARA is useless, the secondary textbooks are appalling, and the primary textbooks are pretty much non-existent. Everything else is The Library of Babel writ stupid.

True, there are problems with ELL. It takes great optimism to expect high-quality curriculum materials for such a cavernously low-quality curriculum. And, the Grattan Institute has seemingly latched on to an outfit called Ark Curriculum Plus, of which we have heard mixed things, and which appears difficult to evaluate. Still, the thrust of GI’s report, if obvious, is sensible and good.

Not everyone agrees, however. After ELL was released, some edu-guys responded with an AARE blog post, titled,

Distorted reports keep coming. This one will make you livid

Livid? These guys got bruised up by ELL? They need to scream as in their illustrating graphic? Poor peculiar, precious little petals.

What so concerned these guys about ELL? To begin, they question the factual basis:

In a departure from any claims to objectivity, the report paints a picture of teachers “being left to fend for themselves, creating lessons from scratch and scouring the internet and social media for teaching materials”.

They argue that there are already paid resources available, “like Twinkl, Teachers Pay Teachers, TES and others”. They acknowledge that teachers should not be required to pay for such material, but the point for them is that such resources are beside the point:

However, even a ‘free’ version seems misguided because it does not pay attention to the work – and the expertise – that is central to teachers’ practice. And this practice includes the careful design and development of learning materials. This is not something that can be outsourced. 

Planning lessons, finding, curating and developing resources is central to the work of teachers. Many teachers take great delight in carefully crafting lessons that leverage students’ interests; education is not, and never has been a one-size-fits-all model and any claim otherwise is undermining teachers, leaders and education support staff around Australia.

There’s more, including the pseudo-debunking of some Queensland scheme from a decade ago. Greg Ashman has written about the post in some detail. We can’t be bothered. It’s all nuts. We’ve sneezed it out and we’re done.

4 Replies to “Lividing the Dream”

  1. I chuckled in mild amusement at AARE pointing to the teaching degrees at university as of evidence of preparedness to teach or having readily available resources.

    Otherwise I have to question what manner of dullard wrote such a piece. I’m supposed to be “… finding, curating, and developing resources…” but I’m not supposed to have access to a collection of such resources.

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