Shallow Debate on Education Is Setting Us All up to Fail

By Eric Abetz
Eric Abetz
Eric Abetz
Eric Abetz was a federal Liberal Party senator from 1994-2022. He has held several cabinet positions and has served on parliamentary committees examining Electoral Matters, Native Title, Legal and Constitutional Affairs, as well as Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.
March 17, 2023Updated: March 20, 2023


Children are society’s most precious commodity or asset. It is their well-being and the virtues instilled in them as they grow up which will determine our society’s future.

We all need to be fully invested in our children’s future from a family perspective right through to our nation at large.

Part of being fully invested requires close and careful monitoring of the compulsory education system.

Mums and dads together with the community help shape that vital future. The community input includes 15 years, if not a lot more, that sees our children in the education system which also has a key role in shaping the next generation.

What our children are taught and how they are taught should exercise every parental mind and any concerned citizen’s mind as well.

Our parliamentarians are attuned to this, so in Australia, the education ministry is seen as a senior portfolio in both government and opposition ranks. A good thing.

What is not a good thing is the shallowness of the debate surrounding the welfare of those whom we entrust to teach our children.

Too often it is the bellowing union seeking higher wages or fewer hours for their members which finds its way into the ink of our newspaper page or onto the screen. Not to forget the promise of extra funding because more government (read taxpayers’) money solves every problem known to mankind.

Epoch Times Photo
School teachers march along Macquarie St towards NSW Parliament in Sydney, Australia, on May 4, 2022. (Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Yet it is so devastatingly noticeable that with all the increased expenditure on schooling by all governments of all persuasions, the educational standards continue to decline.

The Real Issues Behind Union Talking Points

To the long-suffering taxpayer, this might suggest that more money does not mean better outcomes. It might even excite some interest for an in-depth analysis as to why extra money has failed to deliver that which was promised.

Instead, we are regaled with demands for higher pay, lesser workloads, and the need for permanency. All appropriate things to consider as they clearly play a role in the attractiveness of teaching as a career path for the tens of thousands who are teachers or are contemplating a teaching career.

Rather than talking numbers, statistics, hours, and administrative burdens we also need to urgently assess why so many teachers and potential teachers are opting out of a worthy, honourable, and nation-building career.

A deeper analysis of the teacher’s job satisfaction considerations exposes that 60 percent of teachers complain of burn out and looking to leave the profession in the next five years or so. That is according to the union representing our teachers.

One suspects the burn out has not so much to do with the role of teaching spelling or a times-table but the lack of discipline, the lack of parental care for their children’s school day.

The need to provide meals or change nappies because toilet training has not been undertaken should not be part of a teacher’s task.

Fear for personal safety should not be even given a second thought either, yet it is for some an ever-present concern if not an outright fear.

Many a teacher is wanting to teach the children under their care the basic necessities of life for living in full social engagement including being employment ready.

Too often teachers now see their role as child carers who spend too much time extolling the latest “woke” doctrines.

Growing Dissatisfaction All Round

Our education authorities selecting the curriculum might reflect that spelling and comprehension, together with basic math tasks might be given a higher priority than with which pronoun a child might wish to be addressed on a particular day.

Professionals trained to teach, reflect and wonder as to the usefulness of their day’s work when they can’t deliver what they had trained for.

Epoch Times Photo
Yellow and black tape marks an area on the floor for teachers to be socially distanced from students in class at Melba Secondary College in Melbourne, Australia, on Oct. 12, 2020. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

The alleged lack of teachers, currently under discussion in New South Wales in the context of their election campaign, could also be addressed by asking how many teachers, along with other support workers, were unnecessarily driven out of the education department for not submitting to the COVID jabs.

Why not encourage them back in?

COVID also led to many mums and dads educating their children at home and thus being exposed in detail for the first time to materials in the curricula—about which they had no idea but began holding grave concerns.

Since 2019, there has been a massive 20 to 46 percent increase in parents opting out of the various mainland state school systems in favour of home schooling. Private schools are reporting growth in enrolments well beyond just organic growth.

These trends suggest a growing parental dissatisfaction with the schooling system. It would be strange if teachers were not similarly dissatisfied with what they were being told to teach and the methods of teaching.

Our education system needs more than dollars and cents. It needs more common sense and, who knows, some dollars could well be spared.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.