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Aiming for excellence

Its an article of faith for many to say that more education for young people is always a good thing and in the workplace and the jobs market qualification for so many positions are ever increasing. in Fact I have mocked this trend for its conceits and emptiness on several occasions. So I find it quite refreshing to see a piece in today’s Age that points out the social folly of keeping the academically less gifted in education beyond the point where our society gets any benefit.

According to a 2000 survey conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research and the federal government, 35 per cent of state school students completed year 12 in 1984. By 1994 the number of students completing year 12 had risen to 74 per cent.

No doubt, encouraging children to stay at school is enormously beneficial for the individual and society, but it also leads to some students continuing with school when they probably would have been better off leaving earlier and doing something else.

The point that’s often missed by social commentators is that the ugly side of schoolies is largely due to the behaviour of students who performed poorly in year 12. It’s the kind of student who repeatedly neglects homework and refuses to attend after-school detentions because they work up to five nights a week.

I suspect these underperforming and disengaged students are behind the interstate schoolies shenanigans that we see on news bulletins.

It is these borderline ”toolies” who don’t have much to celebrate at the end of the school year other than perhaps a bare pass that the media tends to focus on.

Hard-working sensible students who prefer to celebrate the end of their secondary schooling in a less sensational manner receive no media attention. One of my year 12 students plans to catch up with her girlfriend for an all-night horror film fest at home. Another student said that she’d ”rather have a quiet time with some mates, just enjoying each other’s company, maybe go on a road trip”. She went on to explain that ”schoolies is no longer a celebration of finishing high school, but another excuse to get drunk and party all week”.

Schoolies has become an ugly affair partly because there are far more kids completing VCE these days – many of whom shouldn’t be there. For these kids, schoolies is nothing more than a dead-end rite of passage for a dead-end education.


In an age when our governments are struggling to find adequate resources to properly fund education maybe the time has come to do a little judicious pruning and encourage those less academically gifted to leave school sooner rather than later because if they are not actually learning they make it more difficult for those that are to excel.

Cheers Comrades

My bold in quote

1 Comment

  1. deknarf says:

    The sad fact of the matter is that some children have the capability and some don’t, and that there are many around (seemingly in the education system) who fail to accept that reality. I hold the view that all children should be given every opportunity to gain the best education for their capability and that there be support available to maximise that educational opportunity. Because it has been clearly demonstrated that a better education gives people much improved life opportunities.
    I spent enough time in tertiary education to recognise that there were many students who shouldn’t really have been there and would have been better served either in work and/or in technical education associated with working. What I really found annoying was the facility to permit those obviously not suited to reinvent themselves as tertiary students in other courses and faculties (perpetual students) often to the long term detriment of themselves and to others more worthy who were excluded from enrolment by the presence of the perpetual student.
    As for; ‘I suspect these underperforming and disengaged students are behind the interstate schoolies shenanigans that we see on news bulletins.’ Stupidity and risk taking appear to be inherent in the changing and developing brain of teenagers (particularly males) so I’d reserve my opinion on the actuality of that statement.
    I also find the resistance of the education fraternity to performance testing and evaluation of the providers of education through such processes as NAPLAN an unsustainable argument where so much importance is placed on delivering quality educational outcomes to our children.

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