Teaching courses in Australian universities are “setting students up for failure” by spending too much time focusing on woke issues and activism and not enough on core literacy and numeracy skills, new research has found.
Researchers from the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) conducted a comprehensive analysis of the content in every education faculty of the 37 Australian universities that offered teaching qualifications in 2023, culminating in a report, titled: ‘Who teaches the teachers?’, which was released today.
According to the findings, nearly one-third of all teaching subjects in universities relate to ‘woke’ concepts and ideology while less than one semester is dedicated to the teaching of core literacy and numeracy skills.
Of the 3,713 subjects currently offered to teaching students, 1,169 subjects teach issues related to Critical Social Justice, while fewer than one-in-ten teaching subjects are about literacy and numeracy.
“Instead of being taught how to master core academic curriculum such as reading, writing, mathematics, history, and science, prospective teachers are being trained by their university lecturers to be experts in Critical Social Justice, identity politics, and sustainability,” Dr Bella d’Abrera, Director of the Institute of Public Affairs’ Foundations of Western Civilisation Program said.
The report’s findings come amid a continuing decline in Australian students’ literacy and numeracy outcomes.
The 2023 NAPLAN results show nearly 10% of school students require additional assistance to meet the minimum benchmarks in literacy and numeracy, up from 7% in 2022.
Additionally, the latest OECD Programme for International Student Assessment results show Australian classrooms rank among the most disruptive in the world, at 70th out of the 77 countries surveyed.
“Despite the record amount of money being spent on education by all levels of government, it should come as no surprise that student performance is deteriorating because our teachers are not being taught the skills they need to impart critical knowledge on to students,” Dr d’Abrera said.
At present, the average completion rate for students in a teaching degree at university is just 50%, while the average attrition rate across all courses is 17%. Moreover, 20% leave the profession in their first three years as a teacher.
“The warped priorities of Australian university faculties are having a detrimental impact on the career prospects of our teachers. The system is clearly failing both trainee teachers, as well as the students they go on to teach, and it is in urgent need of reform,” Dr d’Abrera said.
“Many teachers struggle to manage disruptive behaviours and maintain a conducive learning environment.”
Dr d’Abrera said it is unsurprising that students feel empowered to disrupt “when teachers are not given the professional development they need, and when the National Curriculum has activism at its core.”
“Initial teacher training, notably woke and notoriously lacking in evidenced-based preparation for the realities of the classroom, leaves new teachers floundering and vulnerable, which in turn contributes to burnout. Our teachers and students deserve better.”