After more than forty years of letting our school pupils down, the Australian Government wants to to go back to the good old days when reading, writing and arithmetic mattered. So it has introduced a new curriculum which will actually include correct spelling and grammar because nowadays hardly anyone can read or write properly. (Some cynics will say that it doesn’t matter as long as the pupil has a dexterous thumb and a mobile phone.)
I believe there should be a genuine Sorry Day in our schools. Educators who advocated the unrealistic Wyndham Scheme or Comprehensive Schools notion should apologise to the two generation of school leavers who can’t express themselves in anything resembling good English today.
It was not the teachers’ fault that the basics were abandoned. We weren’t allowed to correct spelling mistakes in case our students became upset. We had to compliment our pupils instead for being creative in their expression.
This is where political correctness in education reared its ugly head.
We had to pretend that everyone had equal scholastic ability. Slow learners and fast learners were crammed together in the one class as if either group would not notice the difference. There was to be no streaming of classes but I see now that streaming has crept back. We even have selective schools. As every teachers knows, teaching slow pupils demands a different kind of teaching skill and this has finally been recognised as it was in the good old days.
There are many such reversals in the new curriculum and I think they are promising, but my question is “Who is going to teach grammar and spelling etc?” It can’t be the current teachers because they were taught in Comprehensive Schools. Most current teachers are seriously lacking in grammatical knowledge and it’s not their fault. These poor souls will need remedial work. Perhaps the Education Revolution should start with the teachers themselves who will have a lot to learn before they can make up for the failure that English teaching has been during the past forty years.