Two-thirds of teachers want to quit. What is the Purpose of Education

NEARLY two-thirds of Australian teachers are considering quitting their jobs for a new career. So are teachers all over the world

See: A love of teaching, but fear for the future: Fight over collective bargaining leaves one teacher uncertain about career choice

The Centre for Marketing Schools was commissioned to survey staff satisfaction levels of 850 teachers in government and non-government schools in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Centre for Marketing Schools director Dr Linda Vining said the survey confirmed the “deeper issues” of concern to teachers.

They included a lack of communication between staff and principals, and feeling undervalued and not being consulted.

“Teachers are feeling steamrollered . . . they are feeling that things are happening too quickly,” Dr Vining said.

“Through my research comes a sense they feel they are not valued members of the team – they are simply there to work and for many of them that’s not fulfilling.”

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It has been my contention for the past few years that many teachers are unclear about the purpose of education. It appears that we have no clear public purpose for education these days, if we ever did have one, and my contention is that, as a result, many people are confused about what we are actually meant to achieve- other than some ethereal ‘make the future better, and get your my school results up.’

If we are to ‘fix’ our education systems we need to have politicians who are prepared to state clear educational and societal purposes for education, not just pragmatic political fixes.

WE need to understand that as educators and a society we have already moved through a number of ‘educational eras’ where the unstated purpose has changed. What we now need to do is to become clear about what future we want for our students, our countries and our planet. We must build a view of sustainability which includes environmental, social, intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual health.

Purpose of Public Schooling

Purpose: To promote common culture and citizenship
Metaphor: Community Centre serving political and civic needs
View of students: Neophytes- needing to be socialized
View of teachers: Sacred profession- called to service

Purpose: To ‘Australianise’ the immigrant and prepare workers for industrial society
Metaphor: A factory- serving economic needs, assembly line production
View of students: Raw materials- products to be standardized, inspected and controlled
View of teachers: Supervisors, administrators and managers

Purpose: Social reform to meet the needs of all kids
Metaphor: Hospital- for victims of social injustice, meeting cultural and social needs
View of students: Vulnerable- to be protected
View of teachers: Caretakers. District staff diagnose and prescribe. Administrators as chiefs
of staff

Purpose: To teach people how to learn and to love learning lifelong
Metaphor: Collaborative learning community engaged with the larger world
View of students: Learners and leaders, creators and problem-solvers
View of teachers: Teachers as facilitators and coaches. Administrators as resource brokers
and links to community.

Purpose: Networks-Interconnected and Embedded and Consistent
Metaphor: Spider web
Students: Explorers and constructors of knowledge, both producers and consumers
Teachers: Learners, Coaches and Guides

Purpose: Macro and micro-system stewardship of living systems
Metaphor: Natural Gardens, communities.
Students: Leaders responsible for social, ecological, economic and natural capital
Teachers: Multi-locational learning guides, opportunity facilitators, co-learners
(C) Julie Boyd 2000


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