The Dumbing down of Australia

As a little cockney spiv arriving in Australia from East London I never imagined I would ever have a real education. I will be eternally grateful to Gough Whitlam for my free University degree. Unfortunately Australia has regressed to the pre-Whitlam days of rich airheads getting an education while the bright kids from Redfern getting shoved to the bottom of the pile.

Not all rich educated kids are airheads but for the rich it does not matter. Somehow they are dragged screaming through the private school system that has the motto “We have ways of making you learn.” Meanwhile the places where we really need education, in disadvantaged areas where education is the way out of misery, the whole community loses out and misery and ignorance is supreme. It is not ignorance born of stupidity, it is ignorance born from lack of education and opportunity.

If Australia is to progress education must come from the bottom up. Do we need more educated air-heads like Abbott and Hockey while the intelligence of the disadvantaged lies untapped?

Australia was built on brawn not brains. They have been some wonderful Australians who have shown the world our potential, but manual labour was the backbone of the economy. Things have changed. The education level of Australia has to be lifted because we can no longer rely on sheep and digging holes to make us competitive or relevant.

The education debate centres on whether we want more Abbott’s and Hockey’s air head education or do we want an bottom up educated Australia that can hold its own in an educated world.

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Abbott shows how gutless he is.

If any proof was needed that Abbott is totally gutless this week provided it. His decision to dump Gonski was wrong, but having made it for all the illogical and insane old reasoning I have come to expect of him at least he could have show he had the backbone to stick to his decision. Fortunately he has shown he has no backbone at all. And the poodle showed he really was a poodle. All show no substance.

If Abbott caves in to the mounting pressure over changes to the NBN and carbon pricing the way he capitulated over Gonski future looks rosier today than it did yesterday. Just keep up the pressure and we will soon be rid of this troublesome Abbott

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.