Friday, 19 December 2008

The last day of school was.....when?

I love reading Frank Chalk. I can highly recommend his book. It's an enormous pity though that his blog exists at all, for it chronicles the horrors of the modern statist education system. Where the UK leads, us poor bastards in Aus seem to follow (with a delay of a few years or so). Every dumb idea that has been tried overseas just has to be tried out here too, which is interesting when you realise that it is the soft-headed lefties that always bleat about us having a "cultural cringe".

Instead of adopting good, homegrown ideas and solutions, many lefties abide by a "not invented here" mantra, and they worship at the alter of famous English socialists and marxists, and American liberals.

Until I actually had a kid at a state school, I took Mr Chalk's rants with a pinch of salt.

I'm afraid to say that I have now thrown away the salt shaker. It's rather horrible to wake up and realise that he's not exagerating. His blog is one of many modern expositions of the plight of the underclass that we have not seen the likes of since Dickens.

So here's a question for you.

When did the school year finish for state schools in NSW?

I thought that it finished today, but according to most students and many teachers, it finished sometime between yesterday and three weeks ago.

Junior had some friends drop by this week, and we asked all of them if they were going to school on Friday (today). All answered in the negative. One ceased going to school earlier in the week, and has been wagging (presumably with his parent's knowledge) since they did their year-end tests. Of these kids, both parents of one of them are teachers, and they are letting him wag on the last day.

This led to an interesting barney with Junior, since J and I were adamant that he would attend school up until the final bell. That's how we did it, and we had this strange expectation that the schools would see it that way too.

Boy, were we wrong.

We had a drink with a nameless person that we know socially, and as their partner is a teacher in a state school, we quizzed them on their attitudes to whether kids should stay until the bitter end.

They replied that their partner had their Christmas drinks earlier in the week, where all the teachers got hammered, and they all had hangovers the following day. The bit that blew me away was this - they got hammered on a school night because they did not want to waste a Saturday with a hangover. They got blotto, knowing that they would be incapable of functioning, let alone teaching, the following day.

"It's all about the children".

Yeah, right.

Junior's biggest complaint about attending school over the last few weeks has been that it is an almighty waste of space. Regular teachers have shot through, leaving them lumbered with temporary teachers who sit them in front of The Simpsons for entire lessons.

Even if Junior failed to learn a thing this week, at least I absorbed some wisdom.

Here it is.

When we talk of the "middle classes fleeing the state system for private schools", they are not fleeing because state schools have bad teachers or poor facilities or awful kids.

They are fleeing the parents.

Most of Junior's friends are lovely. They are nice young men. Polite, articulate and they all seem to have ambitions to go places. They are not lumpen troglodytes. Yet.

However, the values of their parents gives me pause. When we argued with Junior today about whether he would attend school or not, we were not arguing directly with him. We were arguing indirectly with the parents of his friends, who had allowed their kids to skive off. It was a hopeless argument, and we lost (for reasons I will not elaborate on).

When a private school talks about it holding certain values, it is now clear to me what that means. It is not necessarily that the school is trying to bash values into the heads of little barbarians. Rather, it is stating that the school might work for us as parents if its values match ours.

I think private schools are getting it wrong when they talk about values. They push the idea that this school or that can teach a kid values (and I happen to believe that is true to a large extent). But they should shut up about that, and instead talk about the values that they are looking for in parents, rather than the values that they want to teach to kids.

Anyway, I hope that those useless, drunken teachers at the unnamed school all get a wombat spunk sandwich for Christmas lunch.


Wizzard_of_Aus said...

I am a teacher in a state secondary school, and what I see in the last days of the school year infuriates me.

Grand words are spoken about transition and preparatory programs, but as the year's end draws near, these principle fade into worksheets, then movies and then nothing.

Student numbers decrease until less than 10% are present, and no meaningful work is assigned. It is claimed that no work can be assigned because numbers are to few, yet numbers decrease as no reason to attend manifests.

It is also claimed that no meaninful work can be assigned, as all reporting (and assessment) is completed - there are easy ways around this, but they would require a change in mentality from all parties - teachers and students/parents. One obvious solution is to begin the following year's work at this time, and have assessment immediately on return.

Teachers would be required to accept that work continues to the end of the year - and students would have to accept that work is meaninful without immediate assessment. These would be minimum needs - but while they are resisted by even a minority, the opportunity would be forfeit.

Bah. Enough.

Boy on a bike said...

They should have used the three week period after the exams for remedial work. Junior got some crap marks in some subjects - the teachers of those subjects should have loaded him up with work, including homework, and used the time to ram in the knowledge that he failed to demonstrate in the exams.

Like you said, Bah.