A BRAVE Queensland teacher has spoken out against thousands of students and their parents who couldn't care less about education. Cooper Dawson, who has taught at 12 state primary schools across the Gold Coast and Cairns, says levels of apathy, petty crime and disrespect in classrooms are now so bad that Queensland faces a dumbed-down and immoral future.
While most teachers fear going public with such opinions, Mr Dawson, 38, says breaking the silence about pathetic learning attitudes and behaviours — often triggered and passively supported by parents — might be the only way to stimulate much-needed change.
"As a teacher in an industry where the burnout rate is five years, I am taken aback, astounded and shocked by the behaviour and disinclination of students to learn," he said. "We are facing a generation of single-minded children equipped with little academic knowledge (through no fault of teachers) and wavering morals determined to ask or steal from society any tangible item. And, remarkably, they believe they deserve it. The social behaviour of primary school children is hard to ignore when faced with the growing epidemic of school bullying and student suspensions. Children from negative households and with parents who are disinterested or fail to see the importance of education are contributing to a cycle where their child is entering a world without the tools to become a positive part of society."
His view, backed in private by many teachers, principals and parents across the state, supports figures released by the State Government this year showing a 46% spike in suspensions for "refusal to participate" from 2006 to 2008 (with 6620 last year).
Over the same period, there was a 40% spike in suspensions for "property misconduct" (with 3785 last year).
Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Association president Margaret Black said Mr Dawson's revelations and the suspension data were a reminder to parents and teachers to work together to solve the crisis. "There's nothing more powerful than a three-way (parent/teacher/ child) partnership," she said.
A rapid rise in schoolyard bullying, including cyber-bullying, has also been documented this year, with an average of three students in each class bullied every day.