28 August, 2006

Journalists can't understand statistics.

The Oz, has a story about the decline (yes?) of literacy and numeracy amongst our nations teachers (and the radio has picked it up and run with it). But it would seem that journos are the ones in need of a little numeracy training.
...in 1983 the average teaching student was drawn from the top 26 per cent of the nation's students (on a literacy and numeracy test) but this had widened to the top 39 per cent by 2003.

There follows a plea to government to raise teachers' salaries. But I think there is a failure to take into account literacy levels as a whole. Because while teachers may not be in the same percentile band, it is possible that their level of literacy and numeracy in real terms is exactly the same.
That said,
I'd still like to see teachers get more money (and nurses {and Librarians}).
I'd also like to think teachers were as a whole damn smart people. I didn't think that while I was at school, I tended to think I was smarter than my teachers. Once I left school and upon reflection I came to believe that this was an unfair belief based more upon my own overgrown ego. Now however I have children at school and I have revised my position again, I believe that there are some real morons in teaching and despite the fantastic ones I have come in contact with at different times, as a whole they are not doing our future any favours.
So any call to pay teachers more, is going to have to accept that it will involve overpaying the current crop of morons the same as the current cream of the crop. Then we'll have to overpay the next crop of dross to come out of the unis before we get to the stage that it become an attractive option for the real smart folk.

I'd like to apologise to all those who are teaching because they have a passion for the role. You folk are fantastic, and it is just a pity there are so few of you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you considered the possibility that it's not (primarily) or at least not entirely about good versus "idiot" teachers and a lot to do with "The system" meaning, the conditions of work, the carrots and especially the "sticks" teachers face, the bureaucracy and administration and rules they work under? I am a college prof in the US and work with teachers,...the system is definitely making a lot of smart and well meaning people into teachers whose actions might sometimes or even often fall under the adjectives you use...but if you leave the system alone and hope to just replace the teachers, you will probably be disappointed