Education is periodically under the microscope, often under threat, and always under discussion.
In Are Schools Marching Backwards? Cheryl Lacey challenges some of the basic concepts that underpin education in Victoria, and makes no apology for what are sometimes controversial observations.
She makes pointed criticisms of the current structures of compulsory schooling, the ‘one-size fits all’ approach to learning and teaching, and the constant erosion of the family’s role in the education of children. She asks: Why are so many of our children falling through the cracks? Are we willing to see our schools stagnate or decay? How can a stifling bureaucracy and top-down control help schools and their communities to thrive?
At a broader level, she points to the overcrowded curriculum, the pervasive influence of special-interest groups, and creeping political interference, and raises important questions: Why can’t we have a ‘language of agreement’ on what ‘free and compulsory and education’ really means? Why are Western and Judeo-Christian values increasingly rejected, even derided? Isn’t it now time for parents and practitioners to take action, and call for widespread ‘sensible reform’?
Sensible reform demands reflection on its purpose, and acceptance of responsibility for its outcomes. It will decentralise education so it can serve local communities and focus on the fundamentals. It does not involve extravagant spending on the trivial, the transient and the trendsetting, but expects participation and makes sure every voice is heard.
Are Schools Marching Backwards? focuses on 20 important principles. It stimulates thought and opens debate on many vital questions.
Education must be about families, educators and policy makers contributing to a shared agreement about what kind of education is ‘suitable’ for each and every one of our children – now and into the future.
Cheryl Lacey is a Melbourne-based advocate for education. As a 'navigator of the educational landscape', she investigates landmark policies and practices and suggests directions for change. She works with parents, and professional educators, calling on them to make their voices heard in education-related discussions.