Theatre from the cracks in the psyche of culture

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SCREAM No. 66 April 2014

On 2 June 2014 Shadow House PITS is presenting WITHOUT A VOICE 5; Never Trust The Teacher a radio play presented in front of a live audience. The evolution in the way teachers have been perceived by the wider community over the past sixty years has contained on-going paradoxes and huge contradictions. Teachers have generally been silenced in education debates with unions adopting various agendas which may or may not reflect teacher thoughts. However, at a school level, teachers and school administrations are effectively silenced and prevented from expressing views on education and pedagogy. They are constantly chasing their tails responding to some community concern, ministerial criticism or teacher mal-practice. Almost weekly, new demands are placed on teachers, coordinators and administrators that take teachers away from teaching while supposedly increasing teacher quality; a term used to a cliched amount. Many teachers feel like screaming out to:

    "JUST LET ME TEACH" ...

Unfortunately, the sorry state of perception and thus the Draconian and Kafkaesque approaches being adopted within education departments and governments has been brought about by traitorous teachers who usurped their privileged role to betray the trust given to them. Sexual and other forms of abuse and neglect were obvious targets for anyone motivated to seek change. That so many students could get through school virtually illiterate and with little numeracy skills suggested something had to change. So out with the bath-water and down the plughole of educational practice go the intuitive and human teaching qualities that many adults remember from good teachers. It is now a world of "learning goals" and "rubrics" against which both teachers and students are measured. Kindly hugs are now "abuse" as are the more eccentric "stories" told by teachers to animate and stimulate the imagination.

It is not that long ago that Australia performed very highly on world statistical ratings for educational achievement. Since this reductionist approach gained momentum about ten years ago, we have dropped significantly. Did we attempt to see what was being done right? NO.

Instead we seek HAL from 2001 A Space Odyssey as the master of learning goals and differentiated learning. The teacher can no longer be trusted. Only the machine is truly worth our attention. Alternative suggestions are seen solely as "hope" over "structure" in learning. The matrix of order is now so complex and so detailed that it is virtually impossible to say in a sentence or two what anyone is attempting to achieve. But still, while the kids scream, the teachers lament and fill in those neatly structured boxes. Parents learn how to manipulate the ingredients to shift all responsibility for the child's growth and well-being on to the school. Words like "Can you guarantee" become the anthem. And schools not wanting to seem deficient comply!

All this, while using the schizophrenic dialogue of "individual difference" and "cultural diversity" injected into programs as mandatory ingredients and "general capabilities" in an insane educational framework.

Trinculo
(18 April 2014)

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