A Brisbane teacher’s Facebook post on why she quit the profession has gone viral after she claimed education in Australia was “in crisis”.
“Never have I experienced a time in my profession where teachers are this stressed and in real fear for the mental health of not only themselves, but the children that they teach,” wrote Kathy Margolis, a Brisbane teacher of 30 years.
In her post – which she also sent as a letter to the Courier Mail – Margolis explained that she could not continue to do a job that required her to do what was “fundamentally against” her philosophy of how it should be done.
Teachers feel guilty for failing a ‘near impossible’ task
“Classrooms are overcrowded and filled with individuals with all sorts of needs both educational and social. Teachers are told we must differentiate and cater to each individual. Good teachers try desperately to do that but it is near impossible and we feel guilty that we are not doing enough,” she wrote.
Addressing those who “rabbit on about our 9 to 3 day and all the holidays”, she had this to say:
“No teacher works from 9 until 3. We are with the students during those hours. We go on camps, we man stalls at fetes, we conduct parents/teacher interviews, we coach sporting teams and we supervise discos. And of course there is the lesson preparation, the marking, the report cards.”
Margolis also pointed out that despite all the additional time teachers put in, they are paid for just 25 hours a week, as if they were part-time employees.
Her post, which was made on February 1, has already had more than 35,000 shares, with several Facebook users calling for the government to take note of her words.
NAPLAN ‘bigger than Ben-Hur’
She also slammed the curriculum, which she said forced prep school children to learn subjects like history and geography as opposed to “effective play-based learning”.
“There is not enough time to consolidate the basics. Every teacher on this earth will tell you that the early years should be about the 3 Rs [reading, writing and arithmetic],” she wrote.
“I have never seen so many children suffering from stress and anxiety. It saddens me greatly. Teaching at the moment is data driven. We are testing them and assessing them and pushing them so hard.”
Margolis added that she understood teachers’ accountability and the need for assessments, but said teachers had “an innate ability to know what kids need”.
“A lot of it is data for data’s sake,” she wrote, adding the national testing program NAPLAN had become “bigger than Ben Hur”.