This week I saw a snippet in my social media feed about calls to add fertility to the school curriculum. Basically, experts want young women to be aware that their fertility decreases with age. As a teacher, this annoys me to no end. Not just because of the subject matter (frankly I think every woman is painfully aware of her ticking fertility clock) but every month there seems to be a call from some expert to add something to the school curriculum.
A quick Google search revealed calls to add everything from compulsory swimming lessons, gymnastics and sport in general to first aid, death education, driver education, sexting and respectful relationships to the curriculum. These are just some of the topics that people claimed should be added.
My annoyance is twofold. Firstly, how many subjects or topics do people think can be added to an already overcrowded curriculum? There are only so many hours in the day and teachers are already struggling in their attempts to tick every box. Whose bright idea is it to add to the list? Oh, that’s right – experts and government ministers. Nobody that is actually in a classroom for more than a photo opportunity. If they were in a classroom, they would also know that some of these things are already covered.
It’s ridiculous to think that every problem in society can be solved by “adding it to the curriculum”.
Secondly, when did teachers become responsible for raising children, and abdicating parents and the community of all responsibility for such a task? If we can lock down a date when that occurred, we should also be giving teachers a massive pay rise.
It’s ridiculous to think that every problem in society can be solved by “adding it to the curriculum”. It indicates a real lack of creative thought on the part of these so-called experts, and does little to solve anything.
Don’t get me wrong. Teachers are hugely influential in the lives of the children they teach, but children are only at school for about 30 hours on average out of a 168 hour week. Even allowing for a generous nine-hour sleep period each night, children are still with parents, family, friends and community/sport groups for the other 105 hours. It’s time for families to recognise this and take responsibility for teaching their children life skills or the difference between right and wrong.
As for education ministers (both past and present), they need to start listening to teachers, parents and students who are at the coalface of education and transform the model we have. It’s obviously not working when studies show we don’t rate favourably in educational standards compared to the rest of the world.
When I attended university the catch cry from professors was “we don’t teach you what to think, we teach you how to think.” By how to think, I mean being able to research and being able to weigh up facts and being able to come to logical conclusions. This is what education should be – it should teach critical thinking. It should give young people the desire to search for solutions to problems, the ability to exercise empathy and the tools to cope in an ever-changing society.
A list of “topics” that must be covered by educators becomes outdated by the time it is finished being written. Surely there are people in government who can see past this. A call to announce another addition to the curriculum does two things – it doesn’t solve the pressing problem at hand and it robs our youth of the potential to lead truly great lives.
Is it any wonder that teachers are leaving the profession in frustration?
Cathy Camera is a casual primary school teacher and freelance writer. You can follow her on her website.