Eductors must be more than ‘unreflective technicians’

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Eductors must be more than ’unreflective technicians″⁣

An “expert panel” has proposed that aspiring teachers would spend less time learning about the history and philosophy of education and more on practical skills needed to handle a classroom (The Age, 23/3).I taught and worked in education for 49 years in Catholic, independent girls and state secondary schools, as well as primary and secondary teacher education.

By all means reorganise tertiary education courses but in the process try not to reduce them to the mere acquisition of skills. There are probably good reasons why carpentry and bricklaying do not require philosophical or historical inquiry and they are no less important to us all for that. But at some point students must ask what education is, why society needs it so much and how it has been conducted elsewhere in the past, among other questions.

Without such reflection, educators are in danger of becoming unreflective technicians who simply train their students as distinct from, well, educating them. Teachers who can see the difference are well-equipped to challenge any tendency of society to expect them to teach in the context of subtly emerging forms of indoctrination and dogma. Demands for including less study of philosophy and history in education courses have been going on for decades. The issue is where and at what point to include such inquiries. Maybe those calling for their removal really are not the experts we need.
John Whelen, Box Hill South

Importance of open and respectful discussions

Yannick Thoraval (Comment, 23/4) goes to the heart of what education should be about: the opportunity for a considered discussion that explores differing opinions and beliefs.

Having worked in higher education, I have always encouraged students to attend tutorials/workshops because this is where they will do most of their learning – express their opinions, listen to the thoughts of others, interrogate their own ideas – and develop the skills required to engage in those conversations within the workplace and the broader community for the rest of their lives.

Thoraval’s approach has the opportunity to allow for discussion on issues that are highly sensitive and prone to being shut down for fear of hurting others. However, to shut down conversations is to deny us the fundamental right to express our opinions.

That right includes a requirement to respect the opinion of others and conduct that conversation without resorting to hate speech. One cannot force people to change an opinion, one can only try to persuade someone there is a different way of thinking by engaging in that discussion in a respectful manner.
Jacqueline Robilliard, Elsternwick

How the teacher-student relationship has changed

The attitude of students to teachers over the decades has degraded, as outlined in your editorial (The Age, 24/3). When I was at school, students treated teachers with utmost respect. “Yes, sir” was the normal response. The attitude now appears too often to be “you have no right to say that” etc. Why the change? Who is primarily responsible? What can be done? Disappointingly, I guess little. Who would want to take on teaching with the current education environment where alternative employment could mean that you are able to work from home several days per week?
Howard Brownscombe, Brighton


At last, some clarity

Finally, a proper explanation on the precise meaning of the referendum on the Voice to parliament (The Age, 24/3). I have now moved from a No to a Yes vote because I understand what the referendum will actually achieve. Thank you, Paul Sakkal. Now just to get the same message out succinctly to the whole nation.
Andrew Johnstone, Prahran

First Peoples must win

Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, Anthony Albanese will be a winner and Peter Dutton a loser. Albanese will either be the one who battled tirelessly to gain recognition for our First Peoples in the Constitution, or the one who fought against insurmountable odds and was defeated despite his best efforts.

Peter Dutton – juggling a disunited party and Coalition – will either be the person who tried to block the referendum and failed, or the one who will be blamed for denying Australia the chance to make a giant leap forward towards Indigenous reconciliation and recognition.

But whether an individual politician wins or loses does not matter. The winners need to be Australia’s First Peoples, and all Australians as well.
Tim Shirley, Benalla

Thorpe stole the show

I am not sure that trans-rights activists would have welcomed Senator Lidia Thorpe’s intervention in the anti-trans rally outside Parliament House on Thursday (The Age, 24/3). She became the headline, of course, and took away the importance of rights for trans-people.

It is unfortunate also that the front-page headlines she achieved gained prominence alongside the significant announcement of the details of the Voice to parliament’s scope and powers. I suspect the First Nations advocates who stood alongside the prime minister were equally aghast that years of campaigning and negotiating could be easily distracted, albeit temporarily, by Thorpe.
Doug Shaw, Sunbury

Release the footage

The video footage of the police handling Lidia Thorpe is troubling. It is also shot on a mobile phone with an obstructed view of the incident. It is in the interests of the public that the police promptly release their body-cam footage so there can be a better account of the incident.
Gabriel Dabscheck, Elsternwick

Stepping in together

If Cherie Gilmour (Comment, 23/3) was raised to believe “age before beauty” and the older man holding the lift door open for her was brought up believing he was being chivalrous, then neither of them gets in the lift. A situation Dr Seuss humorously portrayed in The Zax where the world progresses without them as they stand face to face, not budging. An alternative is to say “Let’s step in together”.
Juliet Allen, Fitzroy

No, please enter first

Cherie Gilmour, my problem with men holding lift doors open for me has got nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with needing my personal space. When a man stands half in the lift door, he is effectively blocking my entry. This goes for anyone – please, if you reach a lift or any automatic or push door ahead of me, just enter it. It is not helping me if I have to walk round you, or turn sideways to squeeze past you in order to enter.
Elizabeth Long, Collingwood

Well done to the house

What snide comments on the continued hygiene measures in place at Parliament House (CBD, 23/3). Rather than acting like it is still 2020, it is in fact just recognising the new normal.

There is nothing “silly” about hand sanitisation and other reasonable measures against the spread of infectious diseases. With COVID-19 currently on the increase around much of Australia and other viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and flu prevalent, having these measures in place is just sensible. Well done to Parliament House for providing a safe workplace for its staff and a safer environment for its many daily visitors.
Dr Jill Disint, Williamstown

Bring Putin to justice

On Thursday, my wife, granddaughter and I attended the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra recital at Melbourne Town Hall. Whilst listening to the beautiful music composed by Beethoven and Mozart, I found myself reflecting on the contrasts between the equally beautiful music I have enjoyed in my lifetime, from the great Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Mussorgsky, and the modern day beast of Russia under the rule of Vladimir Putin.

The tragedy that a country so famed for its rich history of music, literature, art and architecture could now be inflicting such human and environmental destruction on Ukraine is beyond belief. Unjust war has no place in our modern society – the indiscriminate destruction of Ukraine’s cities and landscapes are crimes against humanity, and this perpetrator must be brought to justice by the international community, and not just condemned from the sidelines.
Peter Holmes, Lima East

The danger of ramming

Can the AFL, players and media desist from using the term “bumping” to describe the full force of a player’s body thrust into the body of an unwary opponent. To receive a bump is akin to a shoulder nudge or possibly harmless jostle in a crowd. In reality, this conduct is a reckless act of “ramming” (crashing violently into something) and is dangerous.
Kirsten Anderson, Hawksburn

The rule about charging

Years ago, but rarely, a player would be suspended for charging. It was a distinct offence under VFL/AFL rules. Typically, the action in focus was mild compared to the “100-kilogram human missiles” now being launched on the field. But both actions were intentional, from a distance. Today, despite concern about concussion as injury, it is all about bumping. But what happened to that other rule?
Ken Blackman, Inverloch

Need for helmet mandate

That the construction industry wears head protection gives validity to the charge that the AFL could mandate the same for all players, if it chose. If not, it is fully accountable for any and all suffering that arises from not doing so.
Campbell Laughlin, Berwick

Aiming for the head

Rightly, there is much discussion about the need to minimise concussion for players in all football codes. However, I see no mention of boxing where the objective of this “sport” is to cause concussion by blows to the head and ultimate success is a knock-out.
Michael Hipkins, Richmond

A vital public service

While the world has become increasingly complex and the demand for services has increased, the “expertise” of consultants has been called on to fill apparent gaps in the public service – “Andrews government triples spending on outside consultants” (The Age, 23/3). But this expertise used to reside in the public service.

Consultants have become the “go to” and as Marty Bortz from Melbourne University comments, corporate memory and experience has gone to them instead of building capacity within the public service – whose main role is to serve the public, not to make companies and shareholders rich. This needs to be addressed now or it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Jenny Macmillan, Clifton Hill

Opting for pre-prepared

Nagi Maehashi’s comment that pre-prepared meals are “horrific” (Good Food, 21/3) is very unfair. They are a great, nutritious aid and a valuable stand-by for those of us who are elderly and unwell, or young with very busy families.
Lesley Sheehan, Blackburn South

Try a little kindness

Re “How a ‘blessing’ kept crew’s hopes afloat” (The Age, 23/3). It was so heartwarming to read of Portland Mission to Seafarers’ kind and thoughtful gestures towards the crew of the Liberian-flagged ship, Yangtze Fortune, which was stranded and abandoned at sea for more than six months.
Glenda Addicott, Ringwood East


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

The Voice

Peter Dutton, you can’t sit on the fence. Make a decision and show leadership. If you can’t, resign now.
Christine Hammett, Richmond

It’s a pity Dutton and the Coalition weren’t as obsessed with the legalities of robo-debt as they seem to be about the Voice.
Mark Hibberd, Aspendale

Dutton clearly has no intention to support the Voice. He’s waiting for a “gotcha” moment to justify his mean position.
Linelle Gibson, Williamstown

I was 12 when the 1967 referendum re recognition of Aboriginal people was overwhelmingly supported. Let’s hope the spirit of 1967 is still with us.
Greg Norton, Box Hill


Lidia Thorpe MP, the Greens’ gift to Australia.
Peter Bennett, Clifton Hill

This year’s stunt woman award goes to (drum roll) … Lidia Thorpe.
Florence Maslen, Fairfield

Advice to Lidia Thorpe: when attending demonstrations, especially on wet grass, don’t wear stilettos.
Megan Stoyles, Airey Inlet

The Greens must rue the day they preselected Thorpe over Julian Burnside.
Robyn Lovell, Epping

When will all politicians (including Lidia Thorpe) learn that loud shouting is not the way to win friends and influence people?
Elinor Morison, Box Hill South


Memo to Carlton supporters: premierships aren’t won in March.
Joel Feren, Caulfield

Who needs submarines when we’ve got Taipan helicopters?
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick

Hoisting flags ″⁣in support of inclusivity″⁣ (22/3) misses the point. Our flag is already inclusive of all people.
Margot Mills, Mount Martha

Cryptocurrency? Beware of geeks bearing grifts.
Peter Rooke, Hawthorn

I couldn’t stop thinking about Laurel and Hardy when I saw Putin and his “dear friend” from China.
Keith Hollingdale, Portland

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