Your work is more important than almost everyone knows

People often ask me why we can’t follow the lead of conservative politicians and just lead our education policy from a “get back to basics” point of view.  “You know what’s wrong with education/kids these days,” they tell me, “they can’t read and write and they have no respect”.

They belittle the so-called soft skills of collaboration, empathy and problem-solving that lefties are apparently indoctrinating kids with across the country in an attempt to have them pick up their placards and march to the beat of the next socialist cause

Well, the kerfuffle over the spat between Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Yumi Stynes, for all its bluster and general carry-on, has proven once and for all that problem-solving capability in our country has hit an all-time low.  We’ve clearly never needed both this soft skill and a good hard look in the mirror more.

From the moment Stynes called out Kennerley’s remarks as being racist we’ve seen a worthwhile conversation about indigenous Australia descend into side-picking, whataboutery and aggression.  It’s unedifying and it insults us all.

On one side, activists picketed outside Studio 10’s show the following day demanding Kennerley’s sacking.  She was labeled a racist and the only image used of Kennerley in this whole debate has been one of her snarling down the camera lens to exacerbate her rage and irrationality.

Channel 10’s response was to legitimize Kennerley’s employ by trotting out Aboriginal leaders Warren Mundine and Jacinta Price to condemn Stynes and all those who choose her side as being stupid.  Their message? “See, even Aboriginal people think Stynes is an hysterical idiot”.  The only thing is that the vast majority of Aborignal people don’t think that and rather would say that Mundine and Price are far from universally accepted leaders of the Indigenous plight.

And then there’s the other side.  Joe Hildebrand, Rita Panahi, Andrew Bolt and Daisy Cousens have both sought to re-define the very word racism in much heralded responses.  This week, we’ve been subjected to a new term, “real racism”, used to describe those who fit the new definition of being more interested in changing the date of Australia Day than sexual abuse rates in Aborginal communities.

The disrespect shown to the English language by anyone who has lazily typed out “you’re the real racists” is gobsmacking.  Racism already has a definition and treating the dictionary like Wikipedia serves nobody but those who’ve self-appointed themselves as experts.

We desperately need to take a moment to examine the example we’re setting the youth of this country.  Everyone I’ve mentioned above is literate, articulate and intelligent – thanks to his or her schooling.  You see, we’ve actually got the basics well and truly in place.

What they all so blatantly lack is depth of understanding, listening skills and any intention to actually solve the problem.  They don’t want a solution.  They just want to be right.

In classrooms around Australia this week, Teachers are welcoming their students back to school and seeking to embed the soft skills they’ll need to solve the enormous world problems that we’re going to leave for them.

Thank goodness for those Teachers.  With any luck the future generation they sculpt will put us all to shame, get past the selfish need to be right (or left should that be their bent) and actually get something useful done.  

What these Teachers know is that if they don’t, we’re all stuffed.  Put bluntly, we need the problem solving capacity of our kids to be a damn site better than ours.

To the all the Teachers painstakingly working towards that across the breadth of 2019 – I see you and I thank you.