Nelson: "Outcomes Based Education System a Form of Cancer"
© Beverley Paine, 2005
In the West Australian newspaper, Brendan Nelson, Federal Minister for Education, is quoted as saying, "Bring back the 3Rs" and that "the controversial outcomes based education system was a "form of cancer" that had taken hold of the education establishment and would take "considerable time" to treat."
Miranda Devine, in the Thursday 11, 2005 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald states that last year's HSC Advanced English exam required just a 63 word answer for one 40 minute exam essay question, in order to obtain a borderline pass. She also went on to complain about the selection of "texts" such as Ginger Meggs and other material which included an Alicia Silverstone movie. She also quotes some of Dr Nelson's recent comments.
I've long felt that public education is a monolith which I fear is doomed to fail. From what I've read there doesn't seem to have been a time in history that the 'outcomes' weren't criticised. The more recent 'dumbing down' of the curriculum that has occured over the last three-four decades reflects, I believe, the lack of real opportunities for high school graduates. This is a point someone made this morning on the radio when the discussion turned to the 'drinking binge' of young people sweeping across the UK... Once upon a time most young people were in apprenticeships of one kind of another, including motherhood and home duties. Young people were confident that life had a purpose and weren't obsessed with self-gratification - the line that marketeers and profit hungry corporations (busy gobbling up small businesses and the family farm for decades) have relentlessly peddled.
Give young people back their dignity! From an early age reassure them that there is meaningful, community building work at the end of childhood. Instead of eroding the cultural and community value of universities, turning them into vocational training colleges, bring back the emphasis on a liberal education that celebrates culture, history, diversity, tolerance and inquisitiveness. Let those that want and need to specialise do so earlier, in technical colleges and apprenticeships, as they once did. Arrange the economy so that employing young people is not a burden on small business. Give incentives to big business to keep their manufacturing base local, rather than setting up off-shore...
We've dumbed the curriculum down to meet the enforced laziness of our youth. Children don't chose to be selfish and lazy - they are encouraged by the apathetic lifestyle our nation has adopted. When all that matters is the economic bottom line, intelligence is usually sacrificed.
As home educators we have the ability to create meaningful learning programs for our children that build on success and give them - and us - real hope for the future.
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