It was pretty much impossible over the past week not to hear about Senator Pauline Hanson’s comments about kids with different abilities in the classroom holding others back. It was all over the media – in the newspapers, TV and every radio talk back program.
I heard the speech and like many others found it offensive but like many things from Pauline I actually wasn’t entirely clear what she was trying to say.
At one stage in the hard to follow speech she said something like “we can’t have our kids held back”. I’m still not sure what she meant by the phrase “our kids”?
By using the phrase “our kids” , did she mean all our children in school and if so perhaps she was trying to say schools need more resources so no child is held back regardless of their ability? Or did she mean, as many took it, that kids without special needs were being held back by kids with different abilities and the latter group should be moved out of mainstream schools and educated somewhere else?
If it’s the former, then rock on Pauline and no one will disagree that schools needs more resources or updated teaching models.
But many thought the Senator meant the latter. No doubt her position on segregating (i.e. deporting or refusing entry to ) other minority groups plays into how the comments were interpreted.
But one great outcome from the whole exercise was seeing her comments universally condemned. Everyone seems to recognise that we need a better teacher training model that increases the capacity of teachers to handle students of all abilities.
This all makes me very proud about Wallara’s Keep On Learning partnership with Monash University because this is exactly what its about – giving pre-Service teachers hands on real life experience teaching people with different abilities.
Click here to see the Wallara & Monash video made by our inhouse media team
This is the type of teacher training model that should be rolled out across the country to make special education a compulsory part of any teaching qualification.
I have spoken to the trainee teachers involved and heard them say how much they are getting out of the program. Most of them said it made them work harder because they had to adapt their teaching techniques they had learned in the classroom to figure out which strategy worked best. After each 1 hour session where 2 trainee teachers work with 1 Wallara client the trainee teachers gather to debrief, share notes and ideas to find out which techniques and strategies have the best impact. This is where the real learning and collaboration occurs.
Its clear to me that these trainee teachers are learning how to expand their teaching ability and wherever they teach, their students will receive a higher quality and more inclusive education.
And our Monash clients – and their families – are loving being part of the University experience and learning numeracy and literacy skills. Being at a world leading university makes them walk a little taller and feel part of the mainstream.
This is what making social change is about. The inclusion piece is great, but the real exciting component for us is knowing that this pilot has potential to change the capacity and quality of tomorrow’s teachers.