Child-led learning has dragged Australia down

Child-led learning has dragged Australia down, by Kevin Donnelly.

The reality, as measured by the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Program for International Student Assessment tests, is that standards have either flat-lined or gone backwards.

The reasons why Australian students underperform has little, if anything, to do with funding. Compared to other OECD countries Australia’s expenditure on education as a percentage of gross domestic product is above average.

But compared to stronger performing education systems, Australian classrooms have been forced to adopt a dumbed down, overcrowded curriculum that lacks academic rigour. …

In relation to history, for example, the curriculum is awash with references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and spiritual values with minimum reference to the benefits and value of Western civilisation and the importance of the Enlightenment and Judeo-Christianity.

In relation to classroom practice, our curriculum also fails to embody best practice. Research carried out by the OECD concludes that the prevailing orthodoxy in Australian schools in based on constructivism.

Constructivism is defined as a situation where “the classroom is no longer a place where the teacher (‘expert’) pours knowledge into passive students, who wait like empty vessels to be filled. In the constructivist model the students are urged to be actively involved in their own process of learning.” …

As concluded by the UK report The Secret of Successful Schools,the philosophy of teacher-directed learning is one of no excuses, where expectations are high, there is strong discipline and a traditional curriculum based on “teacher-led, whole class teaching”. …

Another reason Australian students underperform is because our education system is highly centralised, bureaucratic and inflexible.

hat-tip Stephen Neil