Pyne’s Folly

When Alaska was purchased, it was almost universally condemned as Seward’s folly. Funnily enough the action strengthened both Canada and the United States of America whilst weakening Russia and England.

But the same cannot be said of Christopher Pyne‘s folly. To recap,  to encourage the Senate to pass the latest version of his contentious university funding legislation, he is threatening to cut university research funds. The condemnation has been quite vociferous including doubts raised by Government backbenchers. It would be too easy to join the long queue condemning him. Pyne’s folly really is in the long-term to weaken the House of Representatives and the Liberal and National parties whilst strengthening the Senate, the ALP, the Greens and the too many to mention Senators that hold the balance of power.

Clearly, Pyne has created an atmosphere where this particular bill will not be passed. Again it has shown the incredible failure of the Government to negotiate. With the exception of perhaps the carbon and mining tax repeals, the Government simply does not have the skills to negotiate with stakeholders, the 2014 Budget being the prime example.

But what Pyne and the Abbott Government have overlooked are the long-term effects of the short term tactics of bullying and threatening (that is linking passing one piece of legislation to another). Christopher Pyne foolishly has started a process that will almost certainly backfire on him as follows.

First, due to these bullying and threatening tactics, the Senators who hold the balance of power will have even less contact with him due to these tactics, in which case legislation will take even longer to pass if at all.

Secondly, Labor, The Greens and sufficient Senators could group together to also tie the passing of Government legislation to a broader agenda or no agenda at all, either of which couldn’t favour the Government. Already this has been hinted at through the potential tabling of a motion safeguarding both the research funds and jobs. Pyne’s most response to this has been to decouple the link between deregulation and research funds (with the cuts to funds occurring later). But it’s too late.

In either case, the Senate and House of Representatives ultimately will be deadlocked. All because of Christopher Pyne.

Earn or Learn : The Government’s Misunderstood Purpose of Education

There has been much upset and anger at the Government instigated changes to education:

  • University fee increases.
  • University debt interest increase.
  • University HECS proportion increase.
  • Commercialisation of universities.

The proponents chant earn or learn, competition will work its magic, fees will be less and new university places will be created.

The opponents are derided as leaners, bludgers, selfish thugs and bullies.

Now that the name-calling has begun, there can be no argument.

But…

That’s not the real argument.

That’s not the real debate.

Separately the above changes are disquieting.

Together the above changes show the Federal Government and its associated interest groups don’t understand the real purpose of education.

Earn or Learn : The Misunderstood Purpose of Education

We’re being told through the post-Budget earn and learn mantra that the purpose of education is to get a job. Easily said from a comfortable corporate armchair. Especially given the assumption that there’s enough educational capacity for those who want to learn and there are enough jobs for those who have learnt. Neither are true: in general, there are more unemployed than can be educated and there are less jobs for those who have the correct education.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case education would be purely pedagogical, utilising knowledge and skills for a specific predetermined purpose. Andragogy or adult learning as we know it would not exist. How then could anyone explain how adults and children too of their own accord become self-taught experts in subjects that may or may not be part of the school curriculum without regard to the possibility of being employed.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then anyone who finishes a qualification and then gets a job has all the knowledge and skills required. They have the qualification, they don’t need to learn any further. But from personal experience and existing research, much education (up to 70%) occurs on the job. Which means the employee is still learning despite attaining the right qualification.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Arabs, just to name a few or during the Renaissance or the start of the adult educational movement, would not have learnt and then recorded much more knowledge and skills than was required to fulfil just a job. And here is a clue.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then there would be no opponents to third-world girls and women being educated. After all better schooled girls and women would make better mothers and wives. And in the opposition to women being educated whether in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, etc lies the clue.

Beyond a Job: The Real Purpose Of Education

The purpose of education is not to just get a job.

  • The purpose of education is to learn new knowledge and skills and create new opportunities for yourself that you never thought existed. Ask any self-taught expert.
  • The purpose of education is to learn and educate others. Wherever and whenever with whoever. Whether it’s in the workplace or home or community. And learn from others. Anyone who has ever taught anyone anything knows implicitly that every learner is a teacher and every teacher a learner. Ask any adult educator, they’re still learning.
  • The purpose of education is to create new ideas and concepts to create opportunities for others that no-one though existed. Wherever and whenever with whoever. Ask any artist or entrepreneur.
  • But the real purpose of education is to change yourself. And others. And the world.

 

 

 

The Gonski Masterstroke (Still Confusing Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott)

A month ago, I wrote a post on Gonski and here’s an update: 

Gonski infographic

But that is merely focussing on tactics instead of strategy. The reforms and their introduction are a strategic masterstroke for the following reasons:

  1. They are a clear and understandable reform to educational funding. The Gonski reforms mean that schools will be funded per student with extra to overcome disadvantage. Prior to Gonski, educational funding arrangements in Australia were incomprehensible.
  2. These reforms have been generally well received. There were protests regarding university funding changes (cutbacks or spending deferrals) made to finance these reforms. There have been some voices of dissent stating Gonski favours the haves over the have nots. But no educational counter revolution has occurred! The streets aren’t full of parents, teachers and students saying No to Gonski!
  3. Even in the ALP, where public versus private school funding has been a issue for decades, Gonski has laid the issue to rest. Because of Gonski, there will be no more hit lists as per Mark Latham in the 2004 Federal Election campaign.
  4. Most critically, the reforms have outflanked the LNP premiers, Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne presenting them with an issue that they cannot circumvent.

The LNP Premiers’ Dilemma:

  • If the LNP Premiers sign up to Gonski they’re seen as supporting the Gillard ALP Government. Worse, they are prevented by the Gonski conditions from making cuts to education spending (already occurring in NSW, Victoria and Queensland). O’Farrell has stated that he is in favour of Gonski on its own merits.
  • If the LNP Premiers don’t sign up to Gonski, it automatically (and has now) becomes a Federal and State election issue. Anyone who votes for the Gonski reforms is automatically registering a protest vote against the burgeoning State education spending cuts and the current educational funding model.

Tony Abbott’s and Christopher Pyne’s Dilemma:

  • If they agree with Gonski they’re seen as supporting the Gillard ALP Government. Even if Abbott had agreed in principle with the Gonski reforms and said they were too expensive, he would still be seen as supporting the centrepiece of the Gillard ALP Government re-election platform.
  • If they disagree with Gonski and support the current educational funding model, the current squabbling will worsen as education spending cuts (State and possibly Federal) bite.
  • Unfortunately, the position Pyne and Abbott have chosen is to criticise Gonski and state that the present system is better and that topping it up will make it even so. Their response is confusing and unclear.

So why is the title of this article not misleading?

  • In time, at least the ALP State Premiers will sign up to the Gonski reforms.
  • Gonski is now an election issue because of Abbott’s and the LNP State Premiers’ (except NSW’s O’Farrell) refusal to engage.
  • Consequently, the IGiveAGonski grassroots campaign will continue up until September 14th and beyond if there is a change of Government.
  • Abbott, Pyne and the LNP Premiers alternative to Gonski is the existing incomprehensible funding model and spending cuts which is no policy at all.

This issue is not going away. And it hasn’t!