Education in the Bogan Century

Historically Australia for the last fifty years, with a few minor hiccups, has been a place where low skilled, high paying jobs have been plentiful. Workers could walk out of a job and into one next door at will. I did that myself several times

The 1960’s and ‘70’s was also a time of high immigration for low/semi skilled workers, particularly from the UK as Australia at the time had the “whites only” sign hanging on the door. I was one of those immigrants.

This has meant three generations of low skilled workers where education is a dirty word. An education meant the ability to add up a time sheet and sign it.

Life was easy compared to the old country. Money plentiful. Hooning in fast cars, drinking at the pub and boozy BBQ’s at the weekend was the norm. It became the Australian norm.

I understand Boganism because I come from East London. We invented Boganism before exporting it to Australia with a little help from our cousins from Manchester and Glasgow. At the time Australia needed masses of unskilled workers, but those days are gone and now Australia is paying the price.

The mining boom by-passed the industrial area near where I live when the expectations that it would be boom times again. The boom just did not happen for the local Bogans. The excuse was the old low wages and working for a bowl of rice a day thing. But this was not so.

If you were a mining company would you use a construction force that is reliable, educated, articulate and motivated from Asia or the local workforce that will tell you to F-off and walk out the door if you asked them to work an extra half hour to finish an urgent job?

That is the basic reason for the mining boom bypassing industry in Australia. The Local workforce is often unreliable, inarticulate and un-cooperative.

There is still an ‘us and them’ mentality that may sometimes be true, but to assume it to be true in all cases is not helpful.

Our workforce is still living in the past century when it was them or no one.

I am not anti-union or for the erosion of workers conditions. I do not support work choices in any form, but we must recognise that our workforce is, to put it bluntly, Bogan.

How do you raise the education levels of families where the children go home from school to an environment where a seven-word vocabulary is the norm and education is a dirty word? Our teachers can work themselves into the ground trying to educate our children but it means nothing if their parents are anti-education.

This is Australia’s underbelly. At the upper end of education, the University level we are doing very well. We produce good solid graduates that mostly come from comfortable socio-economic groups. We are not getting many graduates from the lower social-economic groupings.

There is a massive gap between University level and the physical work force. I am not suggesting that everyone needs a University education but we do need to raise the levels to where employers have a chance of communicating with their workforce.

Excellence in education is being stressed far too much, it has largely been achieved at upper levels, but the at the bottom end there the ability to communicate is not there. Telling someone to F… off is not communicating, but this is often the level our work force operates at. Chanting slogans en-mass also does not qualify as communication.

This is where the real education issues are. It is not about maths and science at this level. It is about the ability to communicate.

I have not seen any indication that there is any difference in intelligence between socio-economic groupings. I have worked in varied groupings and intelligence is not the problem. Communication is the problem.

How can we help lift poverty and need if we cannot hear what is needed? If those in need cannot communicate what they need we can only make guesses. Often very expensive guess when simple and relatively inexpensive answers would work if only what was needed could be communicated.

The environment for children from lower socio-economic groups is anti-education when education is what they need to lift them out of want. The education needed is learning how to communicate.

Our political climate is a indication of the level of education in Australia. An electorate that responds to slogans, smear, lies and character assassination does not indicate an educated population. This does not indicate a general ability to communicate.

When our political system becomes about policy debate and alternatives we will be getting somewhere.

I see the key to educating Australia as being about educating the parents as well as the children. I would like to see a ‘Education is not a dirty word’ campaign. If we want to get through maybe ‘No education, No job’ might work.

To get through it has to be at a very basic level, not at the Gonski level. Educators will have to get their hands dirty if they are going to make a difference. Educators will have to take a realistic look at where the real problem lies. It lies at the very bottom. Educators will have to learn to speak Bogan to get through.

We have recurring ‘work for the dole’ rhetoric. How about ‘Go to school for the dole?’ There would only be the need for one subject, communication, and hopefully learning the ability to communicate will lead to a love of learning as the value of education becomes apparent.

Tell people bluntly that there is a minimum communication standard that employers can be expect, and if we cannot meet those minimum standards Asia can.

The world has changed since the Bogan migration of the ‘60’s. If we do not change then Bogan in Asia will mean poor white trash from the deep South.

1 thought on “Education in the Bogan Century

  1. Speaking as a qualified teacher from primary to tertiary including post grad level, I agree with you on the point of parent education Yosef. Even the best teacher can only give the child half of what they need if the parental support and encouragement is missing.
    The other real problem is, (and I’ll stick my neck way out here), the influence of Post-modernism on so called Educational Theory and wedded to a warped version of feminism. This has resulted in the underlying view that ‘girls are good, boys are bad’, and the steady erosion of literacy skills under the auspices of ‘kids don’t want to learn grammar/spelling-it’s boring.’
    Rather, especially in government schools, the focus is on ‘political correctness’ I should add however, that this also goes for private schools but to a lesser degree.
    In high school, students are not taught how to think for themselves but rather to regurgitate what ever is the political correct ideology of the day. If I listed all the examples I saw of this when I was doing Grad. Dip. Ed. in 2004, there wouldn’t be enough room on the page so I confine myself to two instances.
    In 2004, one of the controversial issues was the Stolen Generation. This was the subject of much debate in the lecture theater and somehow the film ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ shifted from a dramatisation of the book to a documentary account!
    The most moving scene in which Molly was run down and forced into a car to be taken away -never happened, a fact which Molly herself admitted.
    On an excursion to the Melbourne museum, my history cohort were informed by the museums education officer at the beginning of the tour, that the museum’s collection of Aboriginal spears were the result of the white man’s ‘disarming of the Aboriginal People.’
    This was pure poppycock as the spears are a mixture of the collections of anthropologists Daisy Bates and Donald Thompson -yet when the tour concluded and the class gave a presentation of their findings, this blatant fallacy had become fact!
    No doubt some of my classmates who went on to teach are still presenting it as such. Was it any wonder that Howard refused to apologize?
    In the second instance, I sat in a Year 12 history class and listened to the teacher inform the class that Hong Kong had been a democracy, and now it had passed into the hands of those nasty Chinese people in Beijing there was a real worry of repression of its citizens democratic rights.
    The simple fact that Hong Kong had been a British colony since !841 and its citizens never had any say in its governance seemed to escape this teacher.
    And so it goes…
    I don’t have any real answers to what the problems are in education at the moment, save to say that the allocation of taxpayers money to fund private schools at the expense of government schools must cease.
    This must also be coupled with the re-funding of the TAFE system for those who are more practically and less academically inclined so that they can receive a level of education and training that allow them to find vocational/trade occupations.
    ‘Nuff said!

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