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by Barry Rumpf

Have you noticed in the TV news clips of teachers and students protesting in the streets supporting movements like BLM and other misguided fads. Many of them looked as if they came from a CFMEU picket line.

Irrelevant? I think not. Back in the old days when such erstwhile fundamentals as literacy and numeracy were still of prime importance and education had not been hijacked as a convenience for teachers, as opposed to a service for students, far more than imparting knowledge was involved.

Education had a commendable role in imposing a code of behaviour, of setting standards of conduct, of leading by example. This benefitted even those students who were not otherwise getting the best out of their schooling. It helped instil the essential elements of character forming.

Naturally, this was before “discipline” became a dirty word among the self-serving trendies of experimental education. And, here, as you might imagine, discipline means far more than punishment for infractions; it stands in the broadest sense of acting in accordance with rues, of regulating principles and practice.

In such a sense, militant teachers have killed discipline, a prerequisite to decent human behaviour, stone cold dead.

The foregoing, and much of the following is not original composition by the writer. It is extracted from a more lengthy leading article in the Melbourne Age on 27th November, 1992 written by one of their leading writers of the day, Michael Barnard. The context was the rolling teacher strikes undertaken during the reign of the Cain/Kirner government in Victoria and which they attempted to carry over to the, then, new Kennett government without much success.

It is interesting to look back at the reflections of Cain in his book “Trials in Power” wherein he confessed that in the matter of work practices changes “we did not get anything back from the teachers. WE should have traded our generosity to them. We should have obtained from them improved work practices, and not agreed to smaller and smaller classes and fewer teacher/contract hours.”

In addition to Cain’s admission of guilt we also had Joan Kirner and a long line of senior Labour figures of the day stating that the government shirked remedial action through an absence of political will. Those words a1re worth repeating; “an absence of political will”.

What we have after all the clap trap about social justice is proof positive tat democracy was being betrayed by two of the groups who invoke its name the most; the teachers and Labour politicians.

Another columnist in the Australian Financial Review had previously written that “if things are not right in our classrooms they will not be right anywhere”. Therefore, do not try to convince me that it does not matter how a teacher dresses or what standards of personal conduct he or she imparts. It does!

In modern education we have seen one attack after another on intellectual tradition on such basic imperatives as grammar and spelling.

We have seen the surrender of teacher image as guiding authority, as formal mentor, to that of little more than a haphazardly dressed cheerleader. And now we see no less a manifestation than an outright attack on democracy, our founding fathers, our national icons, the famous explorers who got us here in the first place.

These original words were written 30 years ago and published in what was then, one of the most conservative newspapers in the country. It has since retreated to become a left and Green supporting rag that has almost ceased publication. They are however, a clue to what ails us today and that is the children being brought up in our schools 30 years ago are now the ones who are at the seat of government, the public service and captains of industry. They should all reflect on their contribution to our current state of chaos and whether it is the product of the teacher revolution that started in the days when Henry Bolte was premier and told the teachers union that for all he cared they could march up and down all day until they were bloody well footsore. Oh how I wish we could unearth another Henry Bolte.

And if I was a Queenslander I would pray for the return of Joh Bejlke Petersen.

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