We don't need more money spent on education

Originally published on my private Tumblr because it is slightly off-topic. But on second thoughts I figure there is something about finding the opportunity in every crisis that is a valuable lesson in this post. Hope I am right.

Like most other countries Australia is struggling to balance the budget. One of the areas which are being slashed by the States is TAFE funding. 

The Federal Government is trying to buy votes with a watered down implementation of the so-called Gonski report – which recommended additional billions of funding for schools. Their sleight of hand is to grab money from Universities to fund the schools.

But the one thing everyone agrees is that they would like to spend more money on education – if they could.

Given that (a) Australia spends a lot of money on Education (at least on par if not better than most developed countries) and given that (b) school education is free and given that (c) tertiary education is relatively accessible (free, pay when you start earning more than a threshold); I would argue we have reasonably good system.

Spending more money on education seems such a no-brainer that most people actually don’t think any further about it.

The problem we face is not lack of money.

In the very short term I believe the bureaucrats would be able to find at least 20% savings in expenditure somewhere to fund priorities elsewhere. Every bureaucratic system is inefficient; they just have to work at finding out where. That will do for the next 3- 5 years.

The real challenge and the real solution is to change the culture of educating our children in the homes better.

Parents are not doing a good job at educating a robust, healthy nation. Simply look at the figures for:

  • Obesity
  • Gambling
  • Drinking

The pervasiveness of these trends proves we are not making smart lifestyle choices – which are all traced back to how we raise our families.

These are not indicative of poor government and certainly not indicative of poor schooling systems.

People need to develop a culture of autodidactism - because that is the only truly effective form of learning:

With today’s technology (and the abundance of free educational resources literally at our fingertips) the need/ function of traditional education is largely redundant. The kid who wants to learn, can. All they need is a computer and internet access.

Autodidactism underpins lifelong learning and is a requirement for productive life in any progressive society and economy.

If parents could instill sound values (discipline, self-directedness etc.) then the only role that schools would have to play are:

  1. to create an environment for group learning and socialisation in a peer environment
  2. to set standards or criteria for certification as an objective measure of a certain level of education

I think schools can fulfill that function with 20% of the current budgets. (Based on the Pareto Principle.)

The lack of money to fund the traditional model of education is a good thing and a smart government will use that to re-think how education is delivered.

The only flaw with this argument is that the parents are not taking responsibility for the education of their children.

The obvious target is the group who are probably at the RSL playing the pokies and having a beer instead of doing their job as the primary educator of their children. 

But equally guilty are those who are snorting coke and conferencing at Hamilton Island or having after-work drinks at The Establishment. They paid good money to put the kid is in some grammar school at exorbitant fees in order to shift the responsibility onto the education system.

I believe teachers are doing a very difficult job. Admirably so. I could not teach most of the brats I encounter in the malls, so hats off to them. 

But more of the same is not the answer and tipping more money down that endless pit won’t solve our problems and challenges to create a healthy, smart and productive society.

We don't need more money spent on education, we need to figure out how families can be made healthy again. And that will require us to innovate...