More often than not when I read an article related to education it has a negative connotation generally fitting into one of the following categories.
- Our Teachers are failing students.
- Technology and students are a terrible mix, get rid of it.
- Back in my day everyone could read write and count. Why cant they now?
- Why aren't we more like (Insert Country name here.) who does education far better than us.
Occasionally, the odd good news story breaks through, but they are few and far between.
Having worked in education for over a decade I have see some of the most inspiring through to disengaged members of our community which are part of a massive machine we refer to as the "Education System". In Australia we account for one of the largest sectors of the workforce.
This year, I am setting out to point out that all too often our 'Education System' like many others around the world quite simply broken by hypocrisy, outdated thinking and stubbornness which fail our teachers and students from ever reaching their full potential. Most of my points would be 99 percent invisible to the community and very easily rectified. Whilst some of these items may seem small and trivial they add up quickly and are simply unnecessary.
Today, I am going to highlight the Australian handwriting debacle which is a cut and dried example of commerce winning over common sense. Whilst I am specifically addressing Australia here this is repeated in other education systems around the world.
So here we go... I am going to hit you with the simple facts first...
- Australia is constructed of states and territories which had exclusive control of their own curriculum until recently when the Australian Curriculum was conceived back in 2008. It is still being rolled out to bring consistency across the nation for teachers and students.
- Somehow, Somewhere, Someone decided each state should have it's own style of handwriting students should be using purely based upon where they live.
- These handwriting styles are almost identical which is demonstrated in the image below courtesy of kidzcopy.com.au
Stick with me here because this is where it gets Dumb!! If not a little unethical
- Any educator or contractor wishing to make a resource such as an Alphabet poster or a handwriting book in Australian schools has to create five versions of the exact same thing to ensure it can be used from Broome to Bondi. Making it time consuming and expensive even though our curriculum is now national.
- Most of these fonts are commercially licensed (and expensive as seen in the table below.) So if a teacher, and even a mum, dad or student wish to make a resource they have to pay to do so.
So here are my questions regarding what I, and many others see as just plain dumb. Maybe someone far smarter than me can explain the answers.
- In 2016 why do we have different fonts for each state?
- Who decided South Australia's font was unsuitable for Victoria and so on?
- Why do our teachers, students and parents have to buy a license to use them for purely educational purposes?
- Who is profiteering from this experience? Is it the education departments or some commercial group?
- How does having to pay to produce and use 5 different fonts help our teachers and students in any way?
- How do we fix this small but dumb element of our education system?
Here is my solution. The Victorian Department of Education are obviously far more progressive than their neighbours and make their font (Victorian Modern Cursive) freely available to all.
Let's (All Teachers) just adopt it as the Australian Handwriting Font and make our teachers and students lives easier by refusing to produce anything that requires a paid font. You can download the Victorian Font here.
We don't have to keep doing DUMB things in the future just because we have done it in the past.
I would greatly appreciate your answers and thoughts regarding this topic and love to hear what elements of education you see that you think are just DUMB!!! I have more to come.