LINDSAY TUFFIN: Tasmanian Times has received this anguished response from an experienced teacher traumatised by the Tasmania Tomorrow education reforms.
“It is through intense disappointment and frustration that I feel it necessary to pen this letter. The government and other parties need to know the true extent of the problems caused by the rushed implementation of the Tasmania (Tomorrow) reforms.”
In my 10 years as a teacher at … I have never seen anything like the craziness that has characterized this year. If the ELs (Essential Learnings) were a disaster then the merger of TAFE and college is akin to the holcaust.
Never before have I felt so overwhelmed, angry, frustrated and powerless.
The teacher defends his profession as one that is used to change, but: “What we don’t take is unreasonable change. We cannot embrace change that is more about dollars and the ego of the presentminister than it is about the students. If the students really were at the centre then the changes would not have been foisted upon us inthe way that it has been.
“There is no doubt the students have been disadvantaged by these changes that have been implemented way too quickly with many, many problems arising as a result.
“We are all guinea pigs in this debacle.”
The teacher says the problems are so many and varied that he has little hope of covering them all, “but suffice to say they range from small things (necessary for the smooth running of a department or school) to large issues pertaining to the structure of the new organisation and the blend of cultures.”
The teacher says one of the biggest issues is the lack of consultation, then details specific frustrations, concluding that in his experience he has never seen so many colleagues suffering from stress caused by the upheaval in the system; leading to sickness and early retirements.
He concludes: “In no way can I see that this system is betteror has the potential of being better than the previous system. It is far more divisory, channelling students into being solely pre-tertiary or trade-oriented.
“There should be provision for both. I will be interested to see whether the desired effect of retaining students is achieved. I doubt it.
“This system does not seem interested in education as I know it.”
A former senior secondary teacher who taught in four colleges for over 25 years and held senior leadership positions in the sector for over 15 years was equally damning:
“It is a disaster for post-grade 10 education in Tasmania. It is very much a return to the past… remember the old tech stream for Schools Board B grade 10 students and the Matric stream for Schools Board A? Never the twain shall meet. Rigidity enshrined.
“And that’s only the the tip of the iceberg, of course. Build in staff differentials in salary, qualifications etc etc, student perceptions of “vege” courses, lack of communication, cooperation, understanding.
“It was also tried in the 1980s with “integration” of the TAFE and senior sec college sector, with similar (actually identical) results for all stakeholders. That was an unmitigated disaster, which soured relations between the sectors and created untold wasted effort in resources and energy for a decade or more.
“This current reform is a rerun of the 1980s scheme by people who have the arrogance to believe that they have nothing to learn from the past, or to build on from past achievements or lost opportunities. They are dismissive. For them the past is not just a foreign country, but a well-forgotten place which offers no lessons for the future, but is instead a wasteland inhabited by lesser mortals best ignored.”