Australia versus Asia
This morning a number of colleagues alerted me to a letter that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald. They all knew that it would sound a chord with me due to my experiences teaching both overseas and back here in Australia. I have quoted the letter below.

I have worked with educators from across Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Korea, China and Malaysia. I have worked with students from many of those same countries as well. Primary through to secondary and tertiary levels.

I agree with the sentiments of the letter writer. Sure, the tone of the letter is rather direct, and I also know the argument does not apply to all students in Australia, however, I feel that the writer has encapsulated the issue rather succinctly. The letter…

Julia Gillard – and Gonski for that matter – are delusional if they think money will lift Australian children’s academic performance.

It’s culture, not a lack of money, that is the problem.

Asian children live in cultures that respect hard work and education. In contrast Australian children are encouraged in the weird expectation that all learning must be fun.

The truth is that learning foreign language vocabularies and grammar rules, or the formula for the solution of a quadratic equation, are not fun, though the results of the mental applications required to master them are rewarding.

In short, Asian discipline turns out high-achieving people and Australian slackness turns out ignorant twits full of un-earned self esteem. Only idiots esteem themselves.

Antonia Feitz Rocky River

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Several of the other letters ring true as well, particularly the letters written by Angela Sands and Joni Lucas.