“I get the impression that Australian education is more valued outside Australia. Teachers seem to have an impression they’re not doing a good job and they get blamed and shamed. But whenever someone says ‘Australia’, after kangaroos and Vegemite, everyone thinks of good education. The fact that education plays such a big part in the country and its export economy is a sign of that. Australia is still performing better than the OECD average.” Parsi Sahlberg, Gonski Institute for Education, former director general of Finland’s Ministry of Education and senior education specialist at the World Bank.
While previous and current prime ministers have stated that they want the Australian education system to be among the very best in the world, it is easy to be critical about education in a system that is constantly seeking to achieve numerous quality outcomes in a politically charged environment.
How about we stop picking on Australian education? The sky is not falling!
Let’s start with why education is important to the individual student and the country:
- Learning opens humans’ eyes to possibilities and options.
- Credentials can change people’s entire quality of life, giving them earning potential and changing where they live and with whom they associate. Educational achievements can inspire personal confidence and positive self-concept.
- Schools can provide a safe-haven for those struggling in their other environments. Teachers can be the most powerful role models, inspiring their students to change and strive for more.
Now let’s look at the strengths evident in great Australian schools:
- They are student-focused.
- They develop students’ minds and bodies.
- They teach Australian students how to think and how to learn.
- They promote active learning.
- Teachers build strong and caring relationships with their students.
- They provide pastoral care to those in need.
- They give students access to numerous disciplines.
- They focus on graduate outcomes.
- Their graduates have skills for careers and further study.
The Australian education system has produced scientists, designers, educators, entrepreneurs, artists and humanitarians who have changed the world, winning awards from Oscars to Nobel prizes. Their global achievements include the “black box” now on every airplane, the Earth hour initiative, and the invention of Wi-Fi.
We should be proud of what our schools achieve, without resting on our laurels.
I cannot speak for other schools or other systems but at SCAS:
- No matter how successful we are, we know we can do better.
- We will continue to support our great teachers so that they can support great teaching and learning in the classroom and beyond.
- We will continue to find ways of offering great and diverse learning opportunities to our students.
- We will not accept that just because our families live in a regional area, they have to accept a second rate education.
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School