Facebook feedback

Touching a nerve online

It’s been a busy month on Facebook. Our numbers have never been better: there are now more than 2400 of you following our page and it’s growing stronger every week. More of you are engaging with each other in our growing social media community and as a Union seeking to better engage with our members, we are certainly better for it. Your participation provides other members and their ‘friends’ with a unique insight into the challenges of your profession.

The diverse mix of comments on our Facebook page reflect the modern reality of your role as teachers, from a local to global perspective, as we take on a range of subjects: professional, educational, environmental, social justice and more.

Every now and then a particular article is posted that surprises us with its ability to touch a nerve, go ‘viral’ and ignite passionate debate. Insightful, complex and sometimes shocking, your comments to our Facebook stories offer many of us, outside the classroom, insight at a time of cyclonic change across the education landscape.

In early November, we posted one such article from The Independent, a UK based newspaper. The piece was titled: ‘A teacher speakers out: I’m effectively being forced out of a career’. The title might have been clickbait, but it struck a chord with many of you for its brave stance on a job infected with too much stress and bureaucracy. The majority of the comments agreed that these characteristics are already happening here.

More than 25,000 saw the article, over 200 liked it and almost 100 shared it. So it’s no surprise that the reaction to the post was swift and broad.

“I’m already working all the hours I can. I was told 'you’re a teacher, it’s your job',” Louise said.

“As a second year out teacher, I am frequently the first in and last out. Yet I still have extra work heaped on top.”

Robert called ‘flavour of the month’ decision making a reason for the burdensome culture of unrealistic expectations at his school.

“When more levels of bureaucracy are added, when unrealistic expectations, ‘flavour-of-the-month’ top down decision making and increased scrutiny of minutiae become the norm, when authentic professional development is devalued and replaced by an accreditation system that rewards homogeneity (read: mediocrity) rather than maverick, innovative teaching – this is what happens. It’s happening here now”, he said.

Leonie fired up, calling “part of the problem . . . a system that constantly throws the baby out with the bathwater because overlords need to justify their tenure via endless innovation and ideologically driven ‘titervation’ rather than good theory and practice.”

“Give teachers less work and more power and education will improve.”

Bernadette said she hoped the Australian Government heard teachers’ concerns. “I hope the Australian Government is listening. Certainly same issues in SEE [The Skills for Education and Employment] sector even if teaching hours are shorter,” she said.

Claire shared her own sense of despair for teacher jobs in Australia.

“I’m sorry to say that it is very much our system too. I personally experienced burn out and was lucky to have my support system in place to get back up”, she said.

“We are under the pump . . . stressed to the max. Pushed beyond our limits emotionally, physically and mentally. We need higher up to see what is happeningin the trenches (classrooms) on a day to day basis.”

Daniel Long
Online Journalist