Expert calls for expanded focus in classrooms
A leading education researcher says recent changes are working against Australian students, as politics disrupts classrooms nationwide.
Murdoch University's Lisa Cary says the education system is too focused on standardised testing, forcing literacy and numeracy skills to the top of the pile while depriving students of other important subjects.
She says social sciences have spent too long in the educational margins, and need to be fully embraced as a central point in well-rounded learning.
Dr Cary also believes that politicisation (or ardent moves to ‘counter’ it) has shifted the educational discussion to a series of fine distinctions, rather than broad talks.
The senior lecturer in education says there are many aptitudes and ways to learn, but the Australian system is interested in just two.
“Curriculum is a political landscape and so every time there's a change of government or there's a new minister of education, they bring their own ideas of what education or curriculum should be,” Dr Cary said.
“And curriculum therefore, is quite often driven by politics and quite often lacks the voices of people who are experts in the field
“All the other curriculum areas, from the arts to social studies, are being squeezed and narrowed so that there's more time for teaching to the test,” she said.
To the classroom academic; literary and numeracy skills are obviously vital, but she says teaching children about their global context is equally valid.
“Who do we want our children to become [and] who do we see as future responsible citizens of Australia?” she asks.
“The emphasis on citizenship and understanding our rights and responsibilities as citizens through the social studies curriculum has really been narrowed and squeezed.”
Dr Cary believes the multi-disciplinary approach of social studies gives students access to a broader range of topics, information, and a deeper level of understanding.