Education criticism needs more attention

Jane Searle's criticism of Australian education deserves much more attention than it will get hidden well away from the main news and opinion pages ("Talking Point", AFR, November 14).

Her childhood experience shows clearly that Australia's record in early (and thence later) education is shockingly and needlessly poor.

It wasn't always so. Seventy years or so ago, when I was in primary school in country Victoria, most youngsters left school at leaving age 14 literate and numerate. They had to be numerate to handle sterling currency. They were also socially skilled and didn't have to indulge in vandalism and thuggery to (presumably) maintain their self esteem.

The tragic aspect of this is we could use digital technology in primary (and even preschooling) to administer the necessary drill and practice and free teachers and parents to promote and monitor social activities that exploit the basic skills being developed through drill and practice. Instead the digital technology seems mainly to be being used in secondary schools to occupy students' time while teachers deal with their bureaucratic overload.

Many of these learning techniques are already being used overseas in the field of neuroplasticity with conspicuous success to extinguish severe mental handicaps, and about to be used to rehabilitate criminals.

Think how effective such techniques would be when used to educate children without significant basic handicaps.

NEVILLE HOLMES

Bakery Hill

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