Grattan Institute Education Nonsense

Grattan Institute Education Nonsense

Dr Jordana Hunter has a PhD — but not in Education. 

Hunter’s areas of study are in Social and Political Science, Law and Commerce. She is one of the authors of the Grattan Institute Education Guarantee Report released in February 2024. Anika Stobart, the co-author, has first degrees in law and commerce.

In brief, the Report advocates a return to the teaching of phonics (letter-sound correlation). It recommends that we drop Whole Language Theory!

Report is 25 Years Out of Date!

It’s not 1995! If I had read it in 1995 it would have been timely and possibly correct. The researchers have just discovered documents that teachers have known about for years. They make a noise where none is called for.

We ARE back to the way children were learning in the 1950s with Synthetic Phonics — and there is nothing wrong with that — except that today fewer children leave school illiterate at 14 to go and work in a factory. And thank Goodness for that!

Whole Language Theory HAS given way to Phonics. 

Like many theories, Whole Language had its extremists. There are still signs of Whole Language Theory in some classrooms but many teaching methods are common to many theories. Children can select their books for their free reading time in 2024 just as they did in 1984. This does not mean it is strictly a Whole Language practice just because it was done in 1984!

Some linksWhole Language Theory, Post,    Clear the Clutter, Post ,    PIRLS 2021 Results Steady, Post.     Behind The Scene in Schools, Post

Purpose of the Report

The authors come from finance and law — not education. They attempted to measure the cost of poor school performance, projecting forward, for the Australian economy. Measuring for productivity!

…But they advise on teaching practice. They even comment on the performance of Scandinavian students in international tests and compare them with English-speaking students in the same tests. The languages are different! The test results they use for these comments also state that students improve over time. What about comparing the Russian results with the British results! PIRLS 2016 Reading Test, Post . Russian kids do better in Middle Primary years.  Better on one thing, not on another!

What Hunter and Stobart did NOT talk About!

These come to mind:

1 — High levels of immigration and non-English speaking children in schools,
2 — Role of social media in how kids spend their out-of-school time — not so many story books,
3 — Increasing diagnoses of children with learning difficulties.

Hunter concedes that schools are complex places. She even mentioned the teacher shortage!

And what about the problem of teaching ABOVE curriculum standards in many schools? Mentioned?

…and talking about language!

Stobart uses extreme language. Stobart says “…shockingly high proportion of students who are not meeting grade level expectations in reading”.  Compared with who and what? She does not take into account the many variables. Superficial assessment of well-known international comparisons!

…while Hunter gives teachers advice on how to teach!  “…there needs to be lots of opportunities for students to work through a systematic sequence of letters and sounds and have lots of practice decoding those sounds so that they can lift those words off the page”. There are other examples.  Hunter even tells teachers how to read a story book to young children.

Conclusion:  Out of date!

Economists and lawyers should not attempt to instruct teachers — especially when they are not qualified to do so. They are not qualified to even make suggestions.

Fair use/dealing claimed on illustration.