Sunday, December 05, 2004

Ditches worth dying in

A long time ago Rob Walker, a great colleague and friend, used to talk in terms of ditches worth dying in. I, along with 1500 odd other folk attended AARE last week in Melbourne. It was the usual AARE in many respects but the Radford Lecture was, for me a wonderful highlight. Richard Teese spoke. It was measured, eloquent and so keenly to the point about the profoundly discriminatory schooling system that operates in this and other Australian states. Data that can't be wished away by the neo-conservatives who assert that it (school suyccess and life chances) is all a matter of ability and has nothing to do with where one is born and the family into which one is born. The patterns of success one finds in year 12 results suggests, if you follow the neo-conservative line, that all the ability in year 12 students is clustered, year after year, around a small number of private schools in each capital city. If you believe that then you would probably find Frances Wheen's little polemic (see the Mumbo Jumbo posting in this blog) upsetting, i.e. astrology isn't a reliable way to predict the future. If Australia is to realise it's often spoken of potential then the demolition of the nonsense social advantaging that flows from year 12 assessments in all States requires urgent attention.