By Michael Giles
THE theme of Education Week, from May 21 to 27, is ‘Healthy Mind, Healthy Body’ with the aim that by 2025, the proportion of kids doing physical activity for an hour-a-day, five times-a-week will grow by 20 per cent.
It seems to be a pretty low-ball aspiration.
And something of an indictment on society, rather than on the schools, which it seems are expected to be all things to all kids in their care these days.
I mean really!
The schools can certainly help but ultimately, the amount of physical exercise our kids are getting every day, every week is up to us the parents.
Are your kids sitting down all afternoon and evening in front of the box, for example, or in front of their mobile phone or digital device?
The solution would appear to be quite simple… get up with them and go for a walk or join up to some local sporting club and get involved yourself.
In the country, at least, there appears to be more get-up-and-go in this regard but it’s something the parents first, and the schools second should be taking responsibility for.
But it seems that responsibility for teaching kids everything these days is sheeted home to the schools and while they are coming up with more inventive ways to teach the kids and assess their learning levels, the fact is that expecting schools to teach everything from surfing to driver education inevitably means their effort in the crucial areas of literacy and numeracy is falling short.
It’s a fact that performance standards in Australian schools are slipping well down the OECD list.
We’re told, for example, that our kids are among the worst behaved in the developed world when it comes to classroom disorder, listening to the teacher, taking too long to quieten down and being unable to start working until well after class has begun.
But behaviour is as much our responsibility as it is the teachers’.
These lower standards, especially in maths and science are feeding into fewer people being available to teach in these areas (not to mention be available to work in industry) and alarmingly high numbers of our kids are being taught by teachers who haven’t attended professional development in science and maths, or specialised in these areas.
Unfortunately while both sides of government squabble over education funding and how to improve standards, they’re slipping to the point where we might be ‘The Lucky Country’ but we’re certainly not ‘The Smart Country’.
But like the lack of funding for the Wonthaggi Secondary College in the May State Budget, you can’t rely on government to deliver.
Improved standards in education, and yes, in that popular word these days, ‘resilience’, starts at home.