Posts Tagged ‘religion in schools’

Teaching Children to Think for Themselves

January 7, 2020

 

When you look at the parochial student groups and lobbies it’s easy to assume that forming opinions comes naturally to young people.

This isn’t the case.

I would argue that for many, the positions they reach stems less from personal insight and knowledge and is more of a result of what conviction is fashionable for the time and place.

This is not ideal.

Today’s primary aged children tend not to have fixed viewpoints on most issues. They can parrot what close friends express, but it is clear they haven’t given it much thought. They can be asked for example to give their view on whether schools should have uniforms. They usually respond that they shouldn’t but then get stuck when asked to elaborate and provide reasons.

It is absolutely essential that teachers address this and show the students how to think for themselves and why introspection and knowledge really matters.

My advice for children and adults is to indulge in both sides of every viewpoint.

For example, read a book from a leading atheist and then from a leading religious thinker to determine whether you believe in a creator. Read the best book on socialism and compare that to a book advocating capitalism.

These examples are more apt for High School kids than Primary, but the idea extends to them too. That’s why debating is such a brilliant discipline. It forces one to see things from a different perspective.

And it’s not just politics. If you can see things from different perspectives you can connect better with others, forging stronger and more meaningful relationships.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

In Defence of Private Schools

January 29, 2018

 

Private schools have been given a hard time of late and for no rational reason.

As a teacher, I desperately want our public schools to thrive. I’ve loved teaching in them and would happily go back if the opportunity presented itself. But to say that the failings of the public system is even in part to the existence of private schools is laughable. It holds no logic whatsoever.

In truth, private schools have a positive impact on just about every stakeholder in education.

I will now list them and explain exactly how and why.

 

Public Schools

The existence of private schools is beneficial to public schools? How can that be?

Easy. One of the big imposts in a public school classroom is class size. Public school teachers are already concerned with current class size numbers. Thanks to the continual popularity of private schools, public school class sizes aren’t even more compromised.

The innovation that takes place in private schools also has a strong trickle-down benefit in public schools. To differentiate itself from other private schools, a given school will turn to innovation and experimentation to give their school an added selling point to prospective parents. From visible thinking and mindfulness programs to other cutting edge ideas such as open space classrooms, private schools will give anything a go. Some of these ideas are complete disasters and faze out within a year or two. Public schools have the opportunity to cherry-pick ideas that work and steer clear of those grandiose, flawed ones.

 

Parents 

Parents are a vital stakeholder and when you allow parents to exercise their right to choose, you end up with a better system. Whilst it would be nice to give all parents this opportunity, it is still vital to create a system where there is a choice available.

The fact that 41% of parents choose to send their child to a private secondary school suggests that choice is appealing and it also suggests that affordability isn’t as big an issue as many maintain.

As many of the private schools are aligned to religious institutions it helps to keep religion more or less out of the public school domain. This is a good thing for public school parents that want to get rid of religious instruction in public schools.

 

Students

The kids get lost in all debates revolving around school and policy. Funny that! If kids want to go to private schools, and their parents are happy to foot the bill, why shouldn’t they get the chance?

 

Teachers

It is so disappointing that the Teachers Union are tacitly against the existence of private schools. It makes no sense.  Private schools make sure their class sizes are small, which means – more teachers. These teachers also have the opportunity in many cases to be better paid and have more flexible working hours.

Private schools are run differently, which greatly benefits the teacher. Private schools operate on a basis of easily quantifiable priorities – keep the parents happy, create positive word of mouth and help your students achieve. As long as you achieve these principles you know you are achieving. Public schools don’t have such an easily discernible metric for success, so teachers are often more confused about how well they are going. Often public teachers who are achieving those 3 principles will find themselves hassled by bosses and bureaucrats over trivial and inconsequential things such as the style of planning documents they hand in.

 

Government

There’s a lot of resentment about taxpayers money being used to subsidise fancy rich schools. This subsidy is a brilliant investment. Whilst private schools get as little as $2,000 per student from the Government, public schools get an average of $12,000. The existence of private schools saves the Government over $6Billion from the budget. This is a massive win on their investment.

Meanwhile, that subsidy helps to keep fees at a level that some parents wouldn’t ordinarily afford, giving them the opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have. Parents that send their kids to private schools are characterised as rich, but that’s not usually the case. Many forgo family holidays, 4 wheel drives, big-screen televisions and Foxtel to give their kids the opportunity to succeed at school. Many take on an extra mortgage and do multiple jobs. These people are heroes, not idiots. Anyone that goes the extra mile for their kids deserves credit.

 

Conclusion

Without private schools, public class sizes would expand, parent dissatisfaction would dramatically increase, many teachers would be out of a job, religion in schools would be ramped up and the government would lose their $6 billion worth of savings that could have been used to raise standards in public schools, public hospitals, raise welfare, increase immigration and assist the disabled.

Yet you want to knock them?

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can download a free ebook copy by clicking here or buy a copy by clicking on this link.


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