My brother was a headmaster for over 30 years.
He witnessed the changing standard of the teachers entering the profession.
In his words,'teaching nowadays attracts the scum'.
Because there are so many professions now that did not exist in the 1960's and 1970's, and many of these -
(1) pay far better than teaching
(2) have effective mechanisms for ensuring respectful behaviour in the workplace
(3) are not cursed with the need to manage a mini United Nations from warring ethnicities or cultures, and
(4) do not have to confront the abusive parents of their charges who cannot accept that little Johnny isn't the next Einstein.
Helen : We older teachers experienced the best university entrance system, based on merit and hard work at school.
We had good teachers who knew and taught their SUBJECT fields well, so that if we paid attention and worked, regardless of whether our parents went to uni or not, regardless of the fact that English was your second language (me) and regardless of your socio-economic status you could gain a Teaching Scholarship or Commonwealth Scholarship to go on to either Teacher Training Colleges or University.
This is what we need to go back to ... scholarships for merit and hard work by students.
We should also return to the system whereby High School students had to matriculate, i.e. reach a certain level of achievement (credit and above) before they could be accepted into universities.
The system we have now is a disaster.
We are paying with the complete dumbing down of the whole country.
LB : Friends of mine went the Teaching Scholarship route - in South Australia that provided 55 pounds ($110) in year 11, $65 in year 12 to help parents out with books, uniforms, etc. then paid tuition, books and a Living Allowance for the three years of Teachers College.
In return recipients had to teach for three years before being able to resign, but very few did - they had tenure and a respected profession and South Australian got able, well trained and keen teachers.
Helen : And this is exactly how we got excellent teachers out in the regions and the bush.
They were contract bonded to the Education Departments of their states for three years to cover their free education - and many, including my in-laws - spent those three years in the bush and in remote areas living in the pub.
They said they were a bit daunted at first but also said they were wonderful years, where they honed their teaching and met people from all walks of life, including Aborigines - who they would never have met if they had stayed in the cities and towns.
This was the system that turned out great teachers.
Bright kids getting the Teachers College scholarships, bright teachers being sent all over the country and bright citizens who knew about the country and who lived in it.
These are the people who INSPIRED me to want to teach.
Go into a classroom these days and all you will see is stressed teachers, many because they do not have a clue about their subject fields or are not up to the job and also because they have to be social workers / parents for the kids in their classes and the resulting stressed out chaotic classrooms.
Australia's education ministers agreed in September 2015 to impose higher entry standards for teachers, including a mandatory test placing them in the top 30 per cent of the population for literacy and numeracy.
NSW Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards president Tom Alegounarias says it is not good enough for teachers to just like working with children.
"The essential prerequisite of being a good teacher is intellectual capacity," he says.
"Having the right character without intellectual capacity is not good enough.
We cannot afford to have a profession that is under-represented among high-performing students.
The best indication of your intellectual capacity is your academic performance."
Low entry standards in education courses are a scandal.
A friend, with an honours law and an economics degree, decided to re-train as a teacher and recently obtained a masters degree from the University of South Australia.
Other attendees were teachers seeking advancement.
The course load included just one essay.
My friend, horrified when most of the students demurred as they had never in their academic careers produced an essay, and did not know how to do one, was more horrified when they were assured a bullet point list would suffice.
Editor's comment : This story sounds hardly credible.
But I remember that when I invited other teachers to my home in NSW they would look at my bookshelves and ask me, "Have you read all of those books?".
Then one teacher - a lovely person - told me that she had never read "a whole book" in her life.
I have the impression that there is a long-term problem with literacy standards in Australian schools.
A teacher may be a lovely person - but if they have never read a book in their life you have to wonder what exactly is going on in their classroom.
Richard Jacobs, Adelaide, South Australia. Letter to the Editor, P. 23, The Weekend Australian, 14-15 February 2015
Latest available national figures show that more than 1500 students gained entry to education courses around the country with an ATAR of less than 50.
Australian Education union president Angelo Gavrielatos said the oversupply of teachers was reducing quality.
"We still see growth in the number of people enrolling and a further reduction in the initial teacher education training standards. We can't afford that," Gavrielatos said.
Raw evidence suggests that some Australian education graduates' literacy skills are "below the ability level of the students they will be hired to teach" says Edith Cowan University researcher Brian Moon.
"Many undergraduate students appear to have literacy problems so fundamental that remediation in the late stages of their degree cannot hope to overcome a lifetime of poor literacy performance."
Cannot spell, will teach, Wes Hosking, P. 8, The Courier-Mail, 2 January 2015.
Griffith University mathematics education lecturer Stephen Norton says most prospective primary teachers struggle with upper primary maths.
Half of Dr Norton's students would not pass the Year 9 numeracy test, even after three or four years of tertiary study.
Dr Norton tested the maths ability of all 125 students who enrolled in a Griffith University graduate diploma of education - a one-year course for those who have a bachelor degree in another field - last year and this year, as well as 40 students in the third year of a bachelor of education course in 2013.
Barely half of the wannabe teachers knew how to convert 5.48km into metres.
17 per cent could not convert 6kg into grams.
More than half the students could not answer the question: "If the total cost of three tickets is $5.64, how much will 10 tickets cost?"
Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne has flagged the introduction of compulsory literacy and numeracy tests for wannabe teachers.
Teacher maths skills make for sum disaster, Natasha Bita, P. 1-2, The Weekend Australian, 6-7 December 2014
The OECD's Program for International Student Assessment results released in December 2013 showed that in Australia the No.1 issue, in terms of outcomes, was teacher quality.
The OECD found that eight out of ten reasons why a student did well in an Australian classroom was the classroom to which they were allocated.
In other words, the teacher to whom they were allocated.
Only one out of ten reasons was socioeconomic status.
Robina Cosser says : This finding seems a bit odd.
I would have expected parent IQ levels, education, occupation and migration status to be the most important factors.
But there is no doubt at all that we do need to establish a common base level for entry to education courses in all Australian universities.
We need to establish what is the lowest educational standard that we will accept from a person who wants to educate our children.
Making a difference in Indigenous Education, Andrew Penfold, chief executive of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, P. 18, The Weekend Australian, 18-19 October 2014
Dumb teachers produce dumb students.
Dumb students opting for teaching and being successful with barrel-scraping ATAR scores perpetuate the cycle of mediocrity in Australian classrooms.
30 of the 48 Australian institutions that conferred teaching degrees in 2012 enrolled upwards of 700 students with an ATAR between 30 and 50 and more than 1300 students with an ATAR below 60.
An ATAR of 60 or below represents the bottom 35 per cent of Year 12 applicants.
Below 50 represents the bottom 25 per cent.
These are not the sort of ATAR scores that will deliver academic excellence in Australian classrooms.
There has also been a significant drop in high-achieving Year 12 students who are opting for teaching.
In 2005, 40 per cent of teaching applicants had an ATAR above 90.
This ATAR score represented the top 17 per cent of Year 12 applicants.
By 2012 less than 30 per cent of teaching applicants had an ATAR above 90.
Cycle of mediocrity in the classroom, Christopher Bantick, Melbourne writer and a teacher at an independent school, p.20, The Weekend Australian, 12-13 July, 2014.
Australian Catholic University runs the largest teaching course in the country and has been accused of running education degrees as a "cash cow" for the university by admitting large numbers of students, some with very low tertiary entry scores.
The cut-off score for studying teaching at ACU this year was an Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranking score of 58.5, which equates to a scaled aggregate mark of 220 out of 500.
In 2011, about two-thirds of Year 12 students offered a place by the ACU in NSW had ATARs between 60 and 80.
About 80 per cent of the University of Sydney's teaching students had ATARs of 80 or higher.
When they graduate, all of these students will be called 'teachers' and they will all be paid the same.
And the high-ATAR students will spend their lives working with the low-ATAR students - their 'peers'.
Craven in line to head teacher training review, Justine Ferrari, National Education Correspondent, p.6, The Nation, The Weekend Australian, 15-16 February 2014.
Michael Gallagher, executive director of the Group of Eight research-focused universities, said Australia was ''at risk of producing a cohort of ''toxic teachers''.
''The next generation of teachers is being drawn from this pool'' of people ''who have themselves not been very successful at school,'' he said.
'Toxic teacher' warning as debate rages on lifting uni entry marks, Catherine Armitage, Rachel Browne, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 October 2012