Rupert Murdoch should be a reasonably easy to recognise name for most people. He’s the owner the Fox Network and various other media outlets. Recently, Murdoch has been giving a number of talks in the Boyer series of lectures in which he talks about the state of Australian Education. Of course, while Murdoch may have been born in Melbourne the immediate thought I had was along the lines of why should someone who has renounced their Australian citizenship have any say at all? But that is just minor compared to the meat of what he said and the probable reasons behind it.
ABC.net.au news reported on the contents of Murdoch’s lecture (it was open for public comments for some time though now, oddly, all comments have since disapeared from the site) and selected parts I’ll comment on.
he newspaper boss says tens of thousands of children are being betrayed by a system that fails to provide quality education.
Unlike Murdoch, I have first hand experience in the education sector and I can say that it is not the fault of teachers or people who are in the proverbial field. It is squarely the fault of those people who expect schools to do more and more in regards to actually raising children from scratch as opposed to just educating them. Teachers are teachers, they should not be expected to be counselers, breakfast providers, and so on all the way to full blown surrogate parent figures. If you want the education system to get back on track then allow teaching professionals to actually do their jobs by cutting away all the extra baggage they have to cope with.
Mr Murdoch has appealed for big business to play a more active role alongside governments, in ensuring that schools are giving people an adequate education.
I have to assume by that statement he means an ‘adequeste corporate education’. I have spoken before on why involving private business in the education system is an extremely bad idea and Murdoch speaking up for it only makes me that more steadfast in my position on the topic. It leads directly to corporations havings completely undue influence on what gets taught while getting incredible amounts of good publicity while doing so.
Education is not about ending up with a good job, though that is often a beneficial side effect. Education is about being able to use critical thinking skills to make sound decisions and judgements across a wide spectrum of areas. In that regard, current educational policy and practices are actually pretty good by any standard.
Of course, Murdoch reveals his ignorance with the following statement and it really did strike me as rather odd;
“The unvarnished truth is, that in countries such as Australia, Britain and particularly the United States, our public education systems are a disgrace,” he said.
Both Britain and the United States have considerably more private corporation/business involvement in their education system than Australia does (a lot more religious influence as well, for that matter). Yet Australia’s educational system is better than both of those nations. Is Murdoch advocating a move towards a system change that will actually make things worse? It certainly seems so.
Of course, I do find his whole speil rather ironic (and hypocritical) in the way that he complains about substandard efforts and results … and yet his Fox News company is one of the most derided and flat out useless examples of television journalism you could probably bring forth as an example.