I’ve noticed an increase in activity on Twitter from academics and teachers who do not support Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) and/or the proposed Phonics Screening Check (PSC). This isn’t a coincidence. The release of PIRLS 2016 data and the meeting of education ministers both took place in the last week, giving proponents of SSP and the PSC much to feel positive about, and giving SSP and PSC opponents much to worry about.
PIRLS 2016 shows Australia is letting down the neediest
Make no mistake, SSP and PSC advocates are most concerned about the ones at the bottom. They understand that, through a combination of factors, most students will learn to read to an acceptable level no matter the approach taken. It is the ones at the bottom, usually suffering from high levels of disadvantage or dyslexia, that need high quality, phonics-based instruction to stand a chance of learning to read.
Saying it as it is GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) is killing education. Standardisation is NOT a “Race too the top” it is a “Race to the middle” – a “Race to mediocrity”. The quality thinkers are made to waste their time – to aim for “a job” in a STEM subject. The future innovators, researchers, artisans, musicians, inventors, mentors, writers, teachers, statesmen, … the list goes on … these will be reduced to “the standard” lost to the quest for the betterment of mankind. For those who can’t reach ‘the standard’, those who don’t fit the prescribed ‘box’, there is nothing but guaranteed failure – the scrap heap – becoming one of the marginalised. In this group there is brilliance too – there is compassion – there are giving hearts there are unrealised talents. But if a ‘system’ marginalises them, there is despair, anger, resentment and revolt. But the boxes are all of a standard ‘one size fits all’ so their talents, hopes, dreams and aspiration will come to naught, not due to lack of ability or desire but due to a callous and careless lack of recognition by money hungry corporates with no moral compasses. The GERM is indeed toxic. Please watch and SHARE this video.
In the video below I’m reminded of what we stand to lose. There is an increasing shift towards ‘information texts’ and away from quality literature. (Information text & film are easier to deal with than quality literature for the growing number of semi-literate students; courtesy of the last American Folly, that being, Whole Language in Infant Classrooms).
There is an increasing move towards the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects with a view to providing workers to fit in with industry (future jobs) at the expense of the Arts. Note gov. funding cuts to the Arts & to the Research arms of Science. Also note: NAPLAN over time records: Yr 3 – 24% of students in the top band / Yr 5 11% of students in the top band / Yr 7 9% of students in the top band / Yr 9 4% of students in the top band (only a small cohort suited for STEM subjects). I am in no way diminishing the value of STEM pursuits, for personal achievement and societal service, only the devaluing of other equally important pursuits. A rounded education is what builds people of calibre, people capable of governing and building a nation.
Education is so much more than subsistence, it’s about feeding what’s unique in each and every one of us. If our dreams are reduced to an ever bigger roof and an ever higher wage, if this is all the ‘think tanks’ and the bureaucrats can come up with then I’ll rebel. I want my grandchildren to have the dream …