Olympic medals and the school system

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 30 August 2016

A version of the letter below was published in The Australian on Wednesday 24 August 2016. They saw fit to omit the underlined word therefore. I submitted the heading "Olympic medals, funding and schools" but as the letter appeared in the paper's Last Post sidebar there was no heading to the published version.

  • Some correspondents have noted that Australia's Olympic medal tally is not commensurate with the level of public investment. That sounds rather like the recent lament that NAPLAN results have plateaued in spite of increased spending on education. Could it therefore be said that the nation's schools are performing to Olympic standards?
Posted in: General news   0 Comments

Funding support for teachers

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 4 May 2016

An edited version of the letter below was published in The Australian of Monday 3 May 2016. Underlined words were deleted and the bracketed ones inserted. The paper's heading was "Teachers need more pay".

Funding support needed for all teachers

The Prime Minister is reported as saying that (Malcolm Turnbull says) the government wants taxpayer funds to support the "best-performing teachers" ("PM's cash for 'best' teachers, basic skills", May 2).

Unless the normal meaning of "best" is being deliberately tampered with, this relates to support for only a minority of the students in our schools.

As in all other occupations, the majority of teachers are of average competence with only a relative few meaningfully described as the "best". Was this a slip of the tongue or is the government's schools policy really about further assisting the minority (those) who are already relatively well off?

The teaching profession needs to (should) be made more attractive overall and (;) better salaries is an obvious way of doing this.

Garry Collins

Posted in: General news   0 Comments

Should English be compulsory in Years 11 & 12?

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 2 May 2016

An edited version of the letter below was published in The Courier-Mail of Friday 29 April 2016. Underlined words were deleted and the bracketed ones inserted. The paper's heading was "Enforced English Unwise". In the version I submitted I identified myself as Past President of ETAQ but the paper did not print that detail. My original paragraphing was also adjusted.

English compulsory in Years 11 and 12?

The Premier's reported (Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's) intention that English should be a compulsory subject in Years 11 and 12 by state edict is well-intentioned but misguided ("New chapter in learning", April 27).

Arrangements at school level already make a form of English a compulsory senior subject for most students, apparently 98% (of students).

Anyone who thinks that compelling (it will be productive to compel) the remaining 2% to also take the subject will be productive understands little about schools or teenagers.

The old saying that one volunteer is worth ten pressed men is relevant here.

What the Premier and Education Minister (Kate Jones) should be more concerned about is the form of subject English (subject) that students study.

Because of pressure on schools for published OP results to look good, too many students are currently counselled into (taking) the less challenging English Communication, the non-OP eligible form of the subject.

Garry Collins

Immediate Past President, English Teachers Association of Queensland (ETAQ) 

Posted in: General news   0 Comments

Who understands dyslexia?

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 2 May 2016

The following letter was submitted to The Courier-Mail for possible inclusion in the edition of Saturday 30 April 2016 but it was not selected for publication.

Dyslexia not a clear cut thing

Fiona Brady (Letters, April 28) wrote that her Year 3 son cannot read and that he has dyslexia. She has my sympathy.

No doubt many readers believe that the term dyslexia has a precise scientific meaning backed by widely agreed research and that experts at least, if not all ordinary classroom teachers, know exactly how students with this condition should be supported. That is certainly what I used to think. Many readers might be interested to learn that a 2014 book entitled The Dyslexia Debate argues that this is not so. The authors are Professor Julian Elliott from Durham University in the UK and Professor Elena Grigorenko from Yale University in the US.

They acknowledge that "many believe that a diagnosis of dyslexia will shed light on a reader's struggles and help identify the best form of intervention". However, their comprehensive and critical review of the available research literature leads them to the conclusion that use of the term adds little value.

All students should be supported to learn to read effectively. It should not depend on parents paying to have their children officially diagnosed as dyslexic.

Garry Collins

Posted in: General news   0 Comments

Safe Schools and literature

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE Past President on 4 March 2016

The following letter was submitted to The Australian for possible inclusion in the edition of Thursday 3 March 2016 but it was not selected for publication.

Safe Schools and time for literature

Jennifer Oriel suggests that the Safe Schools program is robbing school students of exposure to writers like Oscar Wilde ("The Left falls into Queer extremists' trap", Mar 2). I have heard no indication from contacts still teaching in schools that this program is being conducted in time normally programmed for English.

It is worth remembering that a homosexual love affair sent the author of The Importance of Being Earnest to prison and the experience drove him into an early grave. I know none of the details of this program but it's hard not to get the impression that some of its opponents would consider Wilde's fate to be entirely appropriate.

Garry Collins
Past President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English

Posted in: General news   0 Comments

Olympic medals and the school system

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 30 August 2016

A version of the letter below was published in The Australian on Wednesday 24 August 2016. They saw fit to omit the underlined word therefore. I submitted the heading "Olympic medals, funding and schools" but as the letter appeared in the paper's Last Post sidebar there was no heading to the published version.

  • Some correspondents have noted that Australia's Olympic medal tally is not commensurate with the level of public investment. That sounds rather like the recent lament that NAPLAN results have plateaued in spite of increased spending on education. Could it therefore be said that the nation's schools are performing to Olympic standards?
Posted in: General news   0 Comments

Funding support for teachers

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 4 May 2016

An edited version of the letter below was published in The Australian of Monday 3 May 2016. Underlined words were deleted and the bracketed ones inserted. The paper's heading was "Teachers need more pay".

Funding support needed for all teachers

The Prime Minister is reported as saying that (Malcolm Turnbull says) the government wants taxpayer funds to support the "best-performing teachers" ("PM's cash for 'best' teachers, basic skills", May 2).

Unless the normal meaning of "best" is being deliberately tampered with, this relates to support for only a minority of the students in our schools.

As in all other occupations, the majority of teachers are of average competence with only a relative few meaningfully described as the "best". Was this a slip of the tongue or is the government's schools policy really about further assisting the minority (those) who are already relatively well off?

The teaching profession needs to (should) be made more attractive overall and (;) better salaries is an obvious way of doing this.

Garry Collins

Posted in: General news   0 Comments

Should English be compulsory in Years 11 & 12?

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 2 May 2016

An edited version of the letter below was published in The Courier-Mail of Friday 29 April 2016. Underlined words were deleted and the bracketed ones inserted. The paper's heading was "Enforced English Unwise". In the version I submitted I identified myself as Past President of ETAQ but the paper did not print that detail. My original paragraphing was also adjusted.

English compulsory in Years 11 and 12?

The Premier's reported (Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's) intention that English should be a compulsory subject in Years 11 and 12 by state edict is well-intentioned but misguided ("New chapter in learning", April 27).

Arrangements at school level already make a form of English a compulsory senior subject for most students, apparently 98% (of students).

Anyone who thinks that compelling (it will be productive to compel) the remaining 2% to also take the subject will be productive understands little about schools or teenagers.

The old saying that one volunteer is worth ten pressed men is relevant here.

What the Premier and Education Minister (Kate Jones) should be more concerned about is the form of subject English (subject) that students study.

Because of pressure on schools for published OP results to look good, too many students are currently counselled into (taking) the less challenging English Communication, the non-OP eligible form of the subject.

Garry Collins

Immediate Past President, English Teachers Association of Queensland (ETAQ) 

Posted in: General news   0 Comments

Who understands dyslexia?

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 2 May 2016

The following letter was submitted to The Courier-Mail for possible inclusion in the edition of Saturday 30 April 2016 but it was not selected for publication.

Dyslexia not a clear cut thing

Fiona Brady (Letters, April 28) wrote that her Year 3 son cannot read and that he has dyslexia. She has my sympathy.

No doubt many readers believe that the term dyslexia has a precise scientific meaning backed by widely agreed research and that experts at least, if not all ordinary classroom teachers, know exactly how students with this condition should be supported. That is certainly what I used to think. Many readers might be interested to learn that a 2014 book entitled The Dyslexia Debate argues that this is not so. The authors are Professor Julian Elliott from Durham University in the UK and Professor Elena Grigorenko from Yale University in the US.

They acknowledge that "many believe that a diagnosis of dyslexia will shed light on a reader's struggles and help identify the best form of intervention". However, their comprehensive and critical review of the available research literature leads them to the conclusion that use of the term adds little value.

All students should be supported to learn to read effectively. It should not depend on parents paying to have their children officially diagnosed as dyslexic.

Garry Collins

Posted in: General news   0 Comments

Safe Schools and literature

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE Past President on 4 March 2016

The following letter was submitted to The Australian for possible inclusion in the edition of Thursday 3 March 2016 but it was not selected for publication.

Safe Schools and time for literature

Jennifer Oriel suggests that the Safe Schools program is robbing school students of exposure to writers like Oscar Wilde ("The Left falls into Queer extremists' trap", Mar 2). I have heard no indication from contacts still teaching in schools that this program is being conducted in time normally programmed for English.

It is worth remembering that a homosexual love affair sent the author of The Importance of Being Earnest to prison and the experience drove him into an early grave. I know none of the details of this program but it's hard not to get the impression that some of its opponents would consider Wilde's fate to be entirely appropriate.

Garry Collins
Past President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English

Posted in: General news   0 Comments

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