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STANDING COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS
Education of boys
House of Reps
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STANDING COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS
Education of boys
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STANDING COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS
(REPS-Thursday, 22 February 2001)
- Committee front matter
- Committee witnesses
ACTING CHAIR (Mr Sawford)
- Committee witnesses
- Committee witnesses
- Committee witnesses
Content WindowSTANDING COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS - 22/02/2001 - Education of boys
ACTING CHAIR —Welcome, boys from years 9 and 10. Thank you very much for being prepared to talk to us this afternoon. I would like to ask an opening question: name me something that is very good about this school, or something about this school that you would like to see improved.
Craig Hong —What I like about this school is that the teachers are really good. One thing that I want to see improved is that it should be a co-ed school.
ACTING CHAIR —I might come back and ask you why later.
Amit Parekh —One thing I really appreciate about this school is that a lot of teachers take care of the students, to the extent that they do go out of their way to make sure that everything is catered for you and there are a lot of subjects available for us to excel in. One thing I would like to see improved in the school is the communication between some of the other teachers and the communication between our effective SRC and the student body.
Chris Beckett —I like the school's computer lab. It is well equipped. I would like to see a few more teachers because there are only a few teachers that teach computers in this school.
—What I really love about this school is the music and the technology they have in the music department. I think it is probably one of the top in the district. What I would like to improve in this school is the communication between teachers and the parents so they know what is happening in the school and what is happening with the students.
George Kacevski —I am also impressed with the technology of this school, but I still think that it should be a co-ed school.
Sam Cai —I think that the music department here is very good and also the computer rooms. What I would like improved for the school is the tennis courts, the toilets, the facilities.
Aaron Webb —I think the music and sports facilities are good and I would like to see more teachers come here to teach—that might be a bit better.
Jerry Tawalo —I really like the computer facilities here. There are lots of computers for lots of students to use for assignments and most of them are linked up to the Internet. I am impressed about that.
Wess McLachlan —I think the music room and the computer rooms are really good, but the thing that needs to be improved is the toilet facilities and most of the playgrounds.
Cameron Hamilton —I really like the sports facilities. I think the toilet department should be upgraded.
Andrew Bye —I like the sporting facilities. More teachers should be coaches for the sports.
Kevin Bayley —I like the computer rooms. The things that need improving are the toilets, because lots of students smoke in there.
ACTING CHAIR —A couple of common elements that are coming out of what all of you are saying are that you like active learning, in terms of sport, music, technology—that lots of things are going on all the time. Also, a number of you have made comments that suggest to me, listening to you, that there need to be more teachers in this school. Why do you need more teachers? Could anyone tell us that?
Sam Cai —Sometimes if a teacher is absent, mainly we have the same teachers to take us—for example, a PE teacher has got to teach us computer studies. So it is not really in their specialised field. I think we need more teachers to specialise in their kind of field to teach us.
ACTING CHAIR —Do you like specialist teachers?
Sam Cai —They can teach us more things instead of just teaching us the basic things, like learning off the book.
ACTING CHAIR —Would anyone else like to make a comment?
—Yes. Sam does have a good point in regard to teachers not being available when they are needed. For example, in computing studies we have a teacher who is from the PE field. We really have to give him his due, though, because he does really does try to make the effort and teach us what he knows. He finds it very difficult himself to gain that knowledge in regards to computing studies, so we do give him his due for that, but Sam does have a good point in regard to teachers having a specialised field coming into the school and teaching their specialised field of subject.
ACTING CHAIR —Just one last question from me and then I will hand over to my colleagues to ask their questions. Could you quickly tell me what book you are reading, or what you like reading?
Craig Hong —I like reading novels that have to do with subjects that I like—action novels and books about real life stories.
ACTING CHAIR —Non-fiction?
Craig Hong —Yes.
Amit Parekh —At the moment I am reading a fairly different novel by a Gothic horror artist by the name of Clive Barker. I felt that I would have to go out of the school—for example, to some of the state libraries—in order to find some of those books. A lot of people have condemned his writing as being extreme and as Gothic as it is, but because it is not catered for in our library, I feel that I need to go somewhere else and find his books. That is the book I am reading at the moment.
Chris Beckett— I like reading adventure books in which people go out and find things, meet new people and become friends.
Nick Kacevski —The book I am reading at the moment is The Alchemist. The books that I like to read are books that require thinking to understand the story and what is happening. Our library does cater for those types of books but not a very wide range of them. I got this book from a library in Hurstville.
George Kacevski —I am mostly into science fiction. I also think that our library does not really have the books that I am interested in.
ACTING CHAIR —Where do you get the books from?
George Kacevski —Mainly Kogarah and Hurstville.
ACTING CHAIR —Kogarah library?
George Kacevski —Yes.
—I like to read adventure books—books set in medieval times, such as Lord of the Rings, and that kind of story.
Aaron Webb —I like to read books that have a good ending, that are action packed all the way through and that keep you wanting to read it.
ACTING CHAIR —Are you able to source those books in the school library or do you go outside the school?
Aaron Webb —Usually, I get them from school, but sometimes I go out to Hurstville library.
Jerry Tawalo —I like reading action and mystery books. They are really exciting to me.
Wess McLachlan —I am reading the Shadow Child at the moment. I like non-fiction stories and mysteries.
Cameron Hamilton —I like adventure books because you can think about what they are doing.
ACTING CHAIR —Kevin, there is a common theme coming through here.
Kevin Bayley —Yes.
ACTING CHAIR —What do you like?
Kevin Bayley —I like pretty much fiction and non-fiction. I like horror books. Most of the time you have to go outside the school library to get a good range of books.
Andrew Bye —I like the scary books like Goosebumps. Sometimes you have to go out of school and get the different series.
ACTING CHAIR —The boys we have talked to at your level all seem to be fascinated by horror books. Can someone give me a brief answer as to why that is so?
Amit Parekh —I think it is human nature. The genre of horror seems to be widespread at the moment. The thing about the horror genre is that it feeds upon all sorts of genres and it collaborates them into one story. For example, it feeds upon adventure—the fact that the character has to go through so many experiences to come to terms with the type of psychological pain and pressure that they are going through throughout the story, such as confronting personal demons. In some of the Goosebumps books, there are demons that are supposed to be haunting the child. I think it is the fact that a lot of the horror novels at the moment feed upon other genres and supply their own thing. They provide a sense of excitement and take you to another world, in a sense.
ACTING CHAIR —I can see a professor of English coming up here somewhere.
—I was very interested to hear that some of you thought that the school should be co-educational. What do you think girls can teach you?
Craig Hong —I can't say.
Ms GAMBARO —I know you have got some mixed classes. Are any of you in mixed classes?
Craig Hong —It is just year 11.
Ms GAMBARO —Okay, sorry about that. We will go back to the coeducational comment.
Craig Hong —We have a girls school next door and I just thought the boys would study to impress girls and do like that.
Ms GAMBARO —Do you think boys do that? Do boys study harder in the classroom to impress girls?
Craig Hong —Some boys.
Aaron Webb —They try to impress them and show off, but that could push your marks up. And it would be more fun having them around. Hanging out with guys all the time gets boring.
Ms GAMBARO —Do you think it would get more competitive with girls?
Aaron Webb —Yes.
Ms GAMBARO —Do you all believe that, or is it just a few who believe that? You definitely think that if you had girls in a classroom it would make you, because of the competition, strive harder?
Amit Parekh —At the moment, from what is in the media, it just seems that girls have been getting a lot of the attention in regard to education. They seem to be getting all the attention by the media saying that girls have been getting higher marks and getting better marks in education. Perhaps if there was a coeducational school we would be able to put that into practice and see how well we do with the girls involved. I suppose what it comes down to is the fact that when you have girls involved, it opens up a different type of viewpoint upon things. When you are hanging around with guys in a lot of your classes, you have some sort of a narrow-minded view upon things, but when you get the opposite sex involved, it seems that they have a completely different view upon things. It is good to be exposed to their viewpoints on things.
Ms GAMBARO —Could I just ask all of you around the table: what do you think girls are better at than you are? Are there some subjects that you think you would give girls a good competitive run on, subjects that you would be able to beat them at? I might just start with Craig.
—Girls have a different knowledge than ours. They have a different way of thinking.
Ms GAMBARO —In what way?
Craig Hong —People say that girls are smarter. In some subjects like sport you can get two views: what we think and what the girls think. It is better to have a mixed school that way, so we get to know about what is out there and what is around us.
Ms GAMBARO —So you need to understand the competition better. Amit.
Amit Parekh —I just felt that—especially getting back to the media—the media has said that girls are definitely better in English, and I think that is definitely not true. Our school has got some people who really excel in English. It is a proven fact because we have a very efficient debating team at our school. I will definitely advertise them, because we are fairly good and we do meet fairly regularly, and we actually do have competitions against Moorefield next door. Whether it be we win or lose, it is a fact that we actually get to see what they are doing as well, and we are not given the impression that girls are better at English than us. We are at the same level. It is not a matter of winning in that case, it is a matter of learning what they are learning and a matter of them learning what we are. I suppose it nurtures our English program as well.
Ms GAMBARO —Thank you. Chris.
Chris Beckett —I agree with Amit and Craig. It gets us ready for later life after school, seeing how different sexes work—how girls work and boys work. It just gets us ready for the outside world.
Nick Kacevski —In my opinion, I think that girls maybe might have a better concentration span than males, but it might not be the fact. If we did have a co-ed school—I am not saying we should—we could see how girls react to what we think and how we react to what girls think. It might be a fact that, as I have heard, they can concentrate on more than one thing at the same time. I am not really sure on that, but if we did have girls maybe we could actually prove what has is happening.
Ms GAMBARO —Fair comment. George.
George Kacevski —For me I think it is mostly specialising, preparing you for, like Chris said, the outside world. If you have not had much experience with not just females but any different kind of people, you go out there and you do not know how to act towards different people. Just to know how people react to certain situations is a good thing to prepare you for future life.
Sam Cai —I agree with him. If it were co-ed, it would be easier to socialise with girls out of school or your friends who are girls. A co-ed school is better because at least we have competition. In maths—I am not very sure—
Ms GAMBARO —You think you might have the edge in maths or do you think the girls are equal? You are not sure?
Aaron Webb —Today, everyone says girls are smarter in the room and boys dominate outside in the sports area, but I do not think that is true. You need a co-ed school and then you would have that competitive edge against them in the room. That could show you what it is all about. How can you say they are smarter than us? We have got to get against them to find out. I reckon they probably are a bit smarter in the room.
Ms GAMBARO —Do you think they concentrate more?
Aaron Webb —Yes.
Ms GAMBARO —Why do you think boys do not concentrate as much as girls?
Aaron Webb —I do not know. Guys probably think more about sport and stuff like that. They want to get outside, which is probably why they are associated with being better at sport.
Jerry Tawalo —I am sure that, if more schools became co-ed, the boys at that school could learn off the girls and could learn how to act around them when they are older. Boys' marks might get higher in the educational system.
Wess McLachlan —I agree with him, and also there is the socialising with the girls, so that when you get into the real world you know how to act around them.
Ms GAMBARO —So you think that a very big part of education is being able to socialise? Everyone has said that.
Cameron Hamilton —If we had a co-ed school, boys would impress girls and get higher marks in their school work.
Ms GAMBARO —They would give you a bit more competition?
Cameron Hamilton —Yes.
Kevin Bayley —I think it would give us much more competition so we can try to beat the girls. Because we would all be in the same school, we would try to go against each other.
Andrew Bye —I think the girls would be better. You would get more competition and then you would upgrade your marks and get better grades in different subjects.
Ms GAMBARO —I will hand back to the chair, but it seems as though competition and socialisation are really important to all of you. You have all said that.
—Before I hand on to Julia Gillard, it is interesting to note that, when we spoke to some of your Queensland peers in a co-ed school two days ago, they said some very different things to you. They said that in a co-ed school the boys waste too much time competing against each other and their own work deteriorated. They were arguing for separation. It is interesting that you are in a boys school and you are arguing the other way.
Ms GILLARD —I would be interested in your view about what makes a good teacher. Do you prefer male teachers, female teachers, younger teachers, older teachers, teachers who crack jokes with you or teachers who are stricter? What sorts of teachers do you like?
Cameron Hamilton —I like teachers who teach us a lot and have a good sense of humour and do not get us into trouble.
Ms GILLARD —Does it matter if they are men or women? Do you prefer male teachers?
Cameron Hamilton —No, it doesn't matter.
Wess McLachlan —I like younger teachers because it was not that long ago when they were in school and they know how hard it is for us working.
Jerry Tawalo —I like the teachers who are firm but who crack a joke now and again, because it is really easy to get along with them and make friends with them.
Aaron Webb —I like teachers who can see the funny side of things and who are not strict all the time, because otherwise people get sick and tired of going to their classes and that is when people just do not listen. If they make learning fun, then everyone listens and they all learn better. I do not mind if they are male or female, just as long as they can see the funny side.
Sam Cai —I like teachers who have a little humour so that it makes education fun. I do not really care about male or female teachers. If they make school fun, it is better.
George Kacevski —I think experience is what a teacher should have. Humour is important, but if the teacher is experienced you trust them. It is also easier to communicate with the teacher if they crack a joke every now and then. But if they are strict, you are not as close as you could be with the teacher. To be able to teach comes with experience.
Nick Kacevski —I prefer that the teacher is professional; that they are good at what they do and you know that what they say is how it is. A teacher should be good with the students and have a personality which makes the students talk to them. They should be strict in a way. Strict is also good because you can work.
ACTING CHAIR —Do you mean strict or organised?
Nick Kacevski —Organised is probably a better word. They should be speaking to the students more personally to understand what each person is good or bad at and then they would know what could be improved on.
—I prefer younger teachers to older ones because they have just come out of high school. They know what school is like because they have been there previously—and not too long ago. I prefer teachers who can joke with the students and who are not too strict.
Amit Parekh —Probably the main thing I would look for in a teacher is somebody who is open-minded to the beliefs and thoughts of other students. There are two who come to mind immediately at the school, one in art and one in English. They are tremendously skilled teachers who have gained through experience a sense of open-mindedness towards the work of other students. They have never put down a student's work for not being up to an expectation of being too good, too dark or too happy. They are teachers who are very supportive and are constantly able to be there for you whenever you do need them. They continually put effort into their jobs. There are many teachers in this school—again, two come to mind—who are always available if we do need to come after school or during lunchtime, if we do need to consult them on anything. They are always available for us to speak to them. With regard to being young or old, it does not really matter. As long as the teacher is open-minded to the thoughts and beliefs of others, I am sure they are going to go far.
Craig Hong —I agree with everything that has been said. I like teachers to be able to communicate and to make teaching fun for the students.
ACTING CHAIR —How they connect with you?
Chris Beckett —Yes.
Kevin Bayley —I like younger teachers because they have just been students at high school. It does not matter if they are a boy or girl because they are pretty much the same. I like a teacher who is strict but who does not mind having a joke.
Andrew Bye —I like strict teachers, male or female. I like them to have a little joke and to keep their classes under control.
Mr WILKIE —Do you find you actually perform better in a class where you get on well with the teacher, where you have got a good relationship with the teacher? I can see that you all nodded yes; I imagine most people would say that. You get in trouble when you have done the wrong thing. There is a bit of discipline around. Do you find you get enough encouragement when you are doing the right thing, when you are excelling in different areas? Would you like to comment on that?
Amit Parekh —It depends on what subject it is. A lot of students do complain in some subjects that they work very hard and put a lot into it, but when it comes to teachers looking at their work and evaluating it, they do not get praise. Even if it is just something small like `That is a good job, John' or `That is a good job, Joe.' It is a sense of encouragement. It may seem small and petty in the eyes of a teacher, but in the eyes of a student, it is really something that they take to heart and they can use and implement and put towards their work. Later on, when they might be writing another short story or doing a piece of maths homework, they might think, `My teacher had told me earlier that I was doing a really good job. So maybe if I continue she will give me an even better comment', or something along the lines of that.
—It is very important for teachers to give good comments to students because it makes them try harder and think, `If I'm doing good work and try even harder, I'll do even better work and the teacher will give me more praise.'
ACTING CHAIR —Does anyone else want to make a comment on that?
George Kacevski —I think communication is most important. When a teacher communicates with the students, they feel as though they are part of the group, and are actually doing something to help not just the group but also themselves. They know the teachers are backing them up or he or she is saying what a good job. It is about communication and feeling you are noticed in the group in the class itself.
Ms GILLARD —We have been told at other schools that, when you get to the stage where you can pick your subjects, if a boy picks a subject that is viewed as girlie, like early childhood development or even art or dance, the other boys get into him a bit and tease him about it? Do you think that happens? Have you got in your minds subjects that you think you would not do because they are girlie subjects or that maybe other boys might think it a bit odd for you to do?
George Kacevski —I do not think it is a big problem in this school. Maybe there is a bit of humour involved. Students normally tend to do what they choose to do and, if someone makes fun of them, the majority back them up and help them by saying, `That is good.' I do not think there is a lot of making fun of the student about the subject that he or she chooses.
Ms GILLARD —What do you think, Aaron?
Aaron Webb —No, I do not think so. Mainly everyone does all the subjects here. It is split up well, and some classes have had too many students because they have been overliked. In year 11 and 12 you get to go over to Moorefield and do stuff like home economics. No-one sees that as girlish or anything like that. Everyone just looks at it as being normal.
Kevin Bayley —With cooking, some boys like cooking, and some might want to become a chef. Even if you do get teased, you will not care, because you still like the subject.
Ms GILLARD —Do you reckon that you would get teased though if you picked cooking?
Kevin Bayley —Maybe for a little while, but that is it.
Ms GILLARD —Not seriously?
Kevin Bayley —No, just one or two jokes.
ACTING CHAIR —What about bullying?
Craig Hong —I think if a student picked a subject that they like and do well in, they would not get teased. The people would see them as doing well in the subject and encourage them.
—You are probably aware that in the media in recent weeks there have been stories about bullying going on in various schools. Have any of you got any comments to make about that at this school?
Amit Parekh —In regards to bullying, I was just speaking to our deputy principal, Mr Quinn. We have implemented a new program that is going to be up and running fairly soon in conjunction with Kogarah High and Moorefield next door. It is going to be helping students in our school with the problems that they do have with bullying. The program is fairly extensive; it does reach out to parents, teachers and students alike. The questions within the questionnaire that are going to be given out fairly soon are very easy to understand and very comprehensive. A lot of the statistics that will be picked up from the survey will be implemented into our school program and then presented at an up-and-coming national conference. There is a very small problem with bullying at our school. It does get brushed under the carpet fairly often, but with this new program that is going to be conjunction with our SRC , hopefully that is going to be stopping and the problem of bullying will decrease.
ACTING CHAIR —Has the student body been involved in the organisation of that survey?
Amit Parekh —At the moment the survey is just a draft. Mr Quinn and I have been going through it this afternoon, but it is definitely going to be implemented. There were not any students involved in the survey, but the doctor that we received it from did evaluate the situation within Australia of bullying, and the questions are very valid towards every school. When the statistics do come in from both Kogarah High and Moorefield, we will be comparing them with both our school and next door and see what we can pick up and evaluate from that.
ACTING CHAIR —Who initiated the work on that? Was it students or—
Amit Parekh —What has happened in the bullying program in our school is that, as was said in the media, we have seen that there is a problem that needs to be addressed in regards to bullying. We felt this was a great opportunity for us to use these surveys and understand more of what we can do in our school to help out. This was a perfect opportunity for our school SRC to get involved. We felt that we wanted to brush off the idea that the SRC was just basically there for school fundraising and creating cup cake sales. We wanted to brush off that type of image. We do have active students involved in this upcoming survey. Both the SRC and teachers will be evaluating the results.
ACTING CHAIR —Would anyone else like to make a comment on that topic?
George Kacevski —Bullying in our school is mainly in the younger years. Maturity has a lot to do with it. When you come from primary it is a problem. In years 10, 11 and 12, I do not think it is a major problem. There might be a little now and then but people get used to working and doing well at school and pay attention to what people think of them or what they think of others.
—We have got the year 11 and 12s waiting outside. Can I say on behalf of all the committee how highly impressed we all are with your contributions this afternoon? They are riddled with commonsense and sound practice. We are very pleased to hear the obvious interest in reading which gets a bit of a mixed result around this country. Before we ask the year 11 and 12s to come in, are there any questions you would like to ask us?
Amit Parekh —What are the results that you have gathered today going to be used for?
ACTING CHAIR —This inquiry started a couple of months ago. We have been down to Melbourne and had public hearings where people like teachers' unions, the education departments, independent schools, Catholic education, individuals, psychologists, doctors and people involved in learning difficulties have come to hearings like this and given the committee information. We also have gone out and visited schools like yours and talked to students, principals and staff about the issues affecting boys' education.
Basically I believe, and I think our entire panel does, that boys and girls have similar abilities. If there is something happening in Australia where one group is succeeding over another, that is because something has gone wrong somewhere. We are trying to find out what is going wrong, if it is. In some schools that we have been to, the attainments of boys and girls have been very much the same. But there have been strong points to the way in which their educational program has been organised. There are some commonalities with what you have expressed to us today.
This will go on for several months more. We will go around to every state in Australia and regional Australia. We will then come back to Canberra, put all the information together as a committee and agree on what should go in the report. The report is then tabled in parliament and given to the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs. He or she has 90 days to give a response to the parliament. Hopefully the recommendations that are made will be followed up by the government of the day. Copies of that report, as soon as they are tabled in parliament, will be sent to your school through your principal so you are quite welcome to read through those recommendations. I think your parents, your teachers and your principal in particular ought to be very proud of you. You have made our afternoon most enjoyable and made a very successful contribution to us. Thank you indeed.
Discussion with years 11 and 12