Australian parents worried about their children have less to fear from dingoes than from their country's schools. Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson has released a report that contravenes pie-in-the-sky notions about the Land Down Under's outcomes-based curriculum. His report argues that countries whose students consistently outperform Australia's use a "syllabus approach," whereby teachers are "given a clear, succinct and manageable road map...detailing what is to be taught," in their classrooms. Kevin Donnelly, the report's author, writes in the Australian that syllabus-centered curricula developed in Japan, Singapore, England, and even California consistently yield better results than the murky, touch-feely, no-expectations method currently at work in Australia's classrooms. Perhaps spurred by shoddy academic performance, the island's Liberal (as in conservative) party politicians are now starting to clamor for an expanded voucher system. Even some Labor MPs, such as Craig Emerson, are coming along. "For me," Emerson told the Australian, "it's not important whether they [students] attend a government or a private school; what is important is that they get the resources that are needed." And while neither the Crocodile Hunter nor Russell Crowe has publicly weighed in on the controversy, Gadfly is confident that those rugged individualists wouldn't take lightly the idea of Aussie children trapped in namby-pamby schools. Eh, mate?
"Top marks to syllabus roadmaps," by Kevin Donnelly, The Australian, September 28, 2005
"Libs split on school vouchers," by Patricia Karvelas and Samantha Maiden, The Australian, September 30, 2005
"Reopen schools voucher debate: Lib," by Samantha Maiden, The Australian, October 5, 2005