The debate around Australia’s education system is growing more and more panicked every day. Amid falling academic standards and growing levels of public funding, both the Coalition and the ALP claim to have found the magic cure. In both cases, the cure is worse than the disease.
Bill Shorten wants to put computer coding in the national curriculum:
Coding is the literacy of the 21st century, and under Labor, every young Australian will have a chance to read, write, and work with the global language of the digital age.
This is bad policy for two key reasons: 1) It ignores widespread criticism of the national curriculum by principals, teachers and parents for being overcrowded, and 2) It ignores the fact that Australian children are already struggling with the basics – how to read, write and work with the English language. Without basic literacy and numeracy skills, Australian students are unable to achieve higher learning or compete in the world economy – even if they can computer code.
Now Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne wants to make mathematics and science mandatory for all Year 11 and 12 students:
According to the briefing note, Mr Pyne will use a report from the nation’s Chief Scientist Ian Chubb, which warns Australia risks being left behind in the innovation race, to seek a mandate from his state counterparts to develop a strategy to restore the focus on science and maths in both primary and secondary schools.
But Professor Chubb said it would be challenging to force all students to study maths and science. ‘As I’ve often said, it is difficult to make these subjects compulsory, but they should be made so compelling that everyone wants to do them.’
If Pyne chooses to listen to anything our Chief Scientist has to say, it should be his warning against forcing students to study these subjects. In the long-run, this policy will do more harm than good.