Page 4759 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 13 December 2005

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

These are a few of the theory’s central tenets: feedback is best when it comes from reality, and I hope that members opposite are really taking this into account; people learn best when solving realistic problems; the big picture cannot be separated from details; and, because every brain is different, educators should allow learners to customise their own environments. Those are the guiding principles behind this new theoretical approach to our education system.

It worries me that this is the sort of theoretical stuff that is going to influence potentially a whole generation of young people. Some of it contains what is basically common sense. Feedback usually is better when it has something to do with reality. Of course it is useful to know how the brain processes information and how emotions are tied up with intellection. But much of the supposed theory is quite suspect. It does not, most importantly, provide a rationale for getting rid of all traditional teaching practices and replacing them with a joint venture between teacher and pupil in which, not to put too fine a point on it, adolescents are encouraged to design their own curriculum.

The temptation to constantly experiment with these new ideas may be very appealing to educational researchers, but it troubles me that we are, effectively, using our children as guinea pigs in these experiments and we have no going back if we get it wrong. I have seen for many years those who seek to use the curriculum to implement particular ideological objectives. Remember, not long ago that famous Labor premier in Victoria, Joan Kirner, said that education had to be reshaped “so that it is part of the socialist struggle for equality, participation and social change rather than the instrument of the capitalist system”.

When you hear that sort of nonsense come out, you just wonder what those who are involved in influencing curriculum development really have in mind if it is not looking after the educational development of our young people. There are bodies such as the Australian Curriculum Studies Association, a peak body that brings together academics, teacher educators and teachers, which advocate positions such as that schools must work with students to unmask and confront the complex social causes of inequality, including the function of schools themselves in this regard. In other words, schools must work at several levels to redress injustice in society, which still fails to recognise it.

The principles might be fine but, if the educational system is going to be turned into a vehicle to influence ideological objectives or to fulfil them, I think we all, as members, ought to be concerned. Government and the education system have a very critical duty to look after the needs of young Canberrans. We do have a good track record. I do not dispute with Minister Corbell that we do have much to be proud of. There are cracks that appear. I get troubled by some of the trends that are driven by economics in our public school system. I am a great believer in the public system, not just the private system, but I worry when we see these experiments occur that could have terrible consequences for our young people, based on international theory.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.31): Mrs Dunne would not have our young people being able to make plans and carry them out, or manage relationships. She would have us think that young people in this world today, in the context of their other learning, would not be assisted through their educational experience to carry out those two essential aspects of learning. Maybe it is because Mrs Dunne has not learned how to make plans and carry

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .