Today’s ‘Sunday Herald Sun reported worry that graduate teachers struggle to teach basic literacy to their students. (HS, 6 December 2015, ‘telling Rite From Wrong’, Kathryn Fowley, Education Reporter, p. 20). Worryingly, a recent study found out that 10% of teaching graduates failed basic literacy and numeracy tests.
Melbourne author and linguist, Lyn Stone puts the poor results to being overworked, as well as not having the correct skills to teach literacy properly. What if the teachers don’t have the proper knowledge of literacy and numeracy themselves?
Due to poor maths and science standards compared to the rest of the world, some have suggested that we make maths and science compulsory at school right up to Year 12 and encourage primary school children to take 2 Unit Mathematics in Years 11 and 12. To me, this suggestion is leaving out students who are struggling with the basics.
Now, just before I began writing this post, out of curiosity, I looked at the Department of Education’s syllabuses from pre – school to Year 12. In the Year 6 syllabus, decimals, fractions, as well as other basics you’d expect, were all there. So, what is going so wrong? Does the Bachelor of Education courses need an overhaul? Is teaching basic literacy and numeracy (or teachers being taught HOW to teach literacy and numeracy properly) been thrown on the backburner in schools and universities and been replaced by politics? Do we need a more black and white pass/ fail when it comes to marking work and tests? Even in the HSC/ VCE/ Year 12, should students be drastically marked down if their spelling and grammar is so poor in their essays/ assignments?
When reading the article, I reminisced a bit to my primary school days. ‘Readers’ (books to read at home), was expected to be a nightly ritual from Kindergarten to Year 4 or 5. In maths, we were constantly told that we needed to know our times tables from one to twelve by heart by the time we were in Year 7. In that time, as well as Yesr 7, we focussed on other areas like basic geometry, algebra, fractions, etc. Are students grasping that? Apparently not all of them. And some teachers don’t get it either, or at least know how to teach it.
So, what needs to change? What are your thoughts!