We need teachers – get the Wiggles!

HOW about we get The Wiggles to teach our kids history?

The pass rate would be phenomenal. And it would be a lot easier to teach the Wiggles history than it is to teach someone with a history degree how to engage the interest of a classroom full of kids.

Hands up if you have a recollection from your school, days of a teacher (or teachers) whose contribution to your education was to make you hate every minute of it; or, at least, the minutes spent with them. It seems everyone can remember at least one. I can remember half a dozen. I can also remember Dr Charles Garlick, whose teaching of English led me on a life path that has been more fulfilling than any human being could possibly wish for (it also led me into journalism, but you can’t have everything). I only mention him because I want you to know I am not entirely devoid of sympathy for teachers. Good teachers. I think they should get a pay rise. I just don’t think the bad ones should get it, too. And they will, even if it’s only the government’s offer of 12 percent.

Someone – probably a teacher — will say to me: “But it’s a long time since you were at school; teachers have changed since then.” No they haven’t. Since I’ve lived in Queensland (and I didn’t get her till I was 45) I’ve watched a teacher write “Brittain” on the chalkboard for her students. She did it several times – in a lesson about Britain, the country. She was a primary school teacher. Maybe that makes it not so bad. Spelling probably wasn’t her strong point.

I’ve watched a secondary school geography teacher draw the elliptical route of the earth round the sun. He told the students the reason why the earth had warmed up over the past few years was because it was currently passing along that bit of the ellipse that was nearing the sun,. That’s balderdash. The sun travels along that part of the ellipse every year.

And an English teacher who wrote “the students’ taking part…”, which is an utterly wrong use of the possessive apostrophe. Not that these errors are necessarily the mark of a bad teacher. I’d sooner have one that thought the London Underground was a terrorist organisation than one who thought kids were the enemy, to be kept under the thumb at all costs, as, I suspect, many do.

Then there’s the culture of sick-days-as-holidays. I’ve sat in school staff rooms and listened to teachers adding up their holiday time, and automatically adding in their accrued sick days as part of their entitlement, when they’re not. They’re supposed to be used only for when you’re sick. Hands up if you’re a teacher who entered the profession with enthusiasm and bold ideas, only to be met by the standard “you’ll-know-better-when-you’ve-been-here-a-while” response of the established order?

Yes, I know the life of teachers is not a bed of roses, especially not in an age when everybody over the age of five knows their rights and has a lawyer who’s ready to invoke them; and in an age when accidentally stepping on a student’s toe triggers more form-filling than the 10-year census, possible suspension from work and maybe even a public inquiry. And that needs to change, too.

I reckon if we had The Wiggles – or people like them – we’d have happier kids, happier teachers, higher pass rates (but that’s not the be-all and end-all of education, and we should remember that) and fewer people (with great respect to the all the good teachers out there) drawing salaries they don’t deserve.