As students returned to school recently, a new crop of graduate teachers was well-equipped to talk to them about the politics of diversity and the deconstruction of traditional education.
Sociology, diversity in education and debates over education funding have taken precedence over the teaching of literacy, numeracy and basic classroom management skills for new teachers.
At UTS, cultural competence is the chief goal of Beyond Culture: Diversity in Context. The subject analyses different features of culture like multiculturalism, indigeneity and disability which it claims are vital to the practice of teaching.
Critical Studies in Education and Practice at Charles Sturt University critiques traditional education methods through the prism of sexuality, ethics, citizenship and social sustainability. These are all put forward as necessary ways to modernise education.
Similarly, Teachers as Educational Innovators and Agents of Change at the University of Queensland tells students they need to bring a technological edge to their role as innovators of change. The outline states that this is a vital part of being “a future educational innovator and agent of change in classrooms and schools”.
These are just some of the baseline requirements universities have deemed essential for teacher education degrees across the country.
Before the 1990s, teachers were educated in specialist institutions before they were absorbed by the university sector.
Salisbury Teachers College – now part of the University of South Australia – outlined the necessities of teaching in the student handbook of 1968. The only time social institutions are mentioned is in the context of class management and child interaction.
In the course outline of 1960, Newcastle Teachers College summarised the importance of good social development of kids, child pedagogy and perception. It also looks at how to avoid straining the attention of young children for too long.
The modern belief that technology, cultural diversity, learning needs or even globalisation has changed the nature of teaching is fundamentally misguided.
The only thing that has changed is Australian universities and the decision to minimise the importance of teaching methods that work. This has reduced the quality of teaching degrees and with it the quality of teachers themselves.
Mitchell Thomas undertook a research internship in the Education Program at the Centre for Independent Studies.