From the Principal

Illiteracy Crisis: Reality or “Clickbait”?

‘We can use the word illiterate’: The writing crisis in Australian schools.
Jordan Baker, October 18, 2022.

This makes a great headline because it will extract an emotional response from any reader who has any concerns about their child’s education, education in general or a fear that our society is rapidly degenerating.

Whether it is true that Australian students are increasingly illiterate depends on how you examine the statistics, and whether you are happy to generalise a statistical result into individual schools and classrooms.

It certainly caused a stream of indignant comments online: “The curriculum along with the quality of teaching and teaching methods are now rubbish, so don’t expect quality outcomes.”

Articles like this provide an inviting  platform for people to make generalised negative comments about our young people and partake in the popular sport of teacher bashing.

At the risk of being petty, I note that several of the comments criticising our youth and their teachers came replete with their own mistakes:

  • It is the way we have dumbed down our society over the last 30 years. We have lost the art of language, the skill of critical thinking and have become numerically illiterate.
  • My experience as TAFE teacher (no longer there) is a large percentage of students do not have adequate knowledge of grammar or spelling and the concept of a paragraph is entirely non existent.

Maybe their typing is just poor or maybe it should be a case of ………..”Let s/he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

If you want to find out if this is a real crisis, or if this is an example of a journalist doing a Chicken Little impersonation,

I suggest you talk to your child about what they are really learning in terms of reading and writing in school.

If you are still concerned, talk to your child’s teacher or our Primary Director of Teaching and Learning, Sarah Jones, and find out what is really happening in the classroom at St Columba, and then decide if you and your child are in a personal literacy crisis.

I think you will find that the journalist is indulging in what is commonly referred to as clickbait (“Clickbait is a text that is designed to attract attention and to entice users to follow that link and read, view, or listen to the linked piece of online content, being typically deceptive, sensationalised, or otherwise misleading.” Wikipedia)  or perhaps, talking about another school somewhere.

“Literacy and numeracy remains a key focus at all levels, with particular emphasis on development in the early stages of education. The NAPLAN results for the school are consistently above the National and State averages for both Literacy and Numeracy. These results reflect the school’s reputation for academic excellence and value adding.”
St Columba Annual Report

Want to share your thoughts on this story, or do you have something you’d like to add? Email me at principal@scas.nsw.edu.au

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