Support is key to furthering education #Tasmania

I’ve been watching the unfolding news around the current educational policy in Tasmania. There has been significant comment made about young people needing to continue onto Year 11 and 12, with particular focus on those living in Circular Head via the ABC News (the special on education starts around half way through the program

I originated from Circular Head, my parents and brother still reside there, as a result I have been reflecting on my own life choices regarding education and the path that I have taken. In so doing I have taken particular note of the comments and surrounding discourse in an interview with Saul Eslake:

Passionate Tasmanian and education advocate Saul Eslake believes there is a deeply ingrained culture in Tasmania that does not value education.

The senior economist, who was raised and educated in the state’s north-west, said he was keen to see his home state improve retention rates.

“As far back as statistics have been available, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have been bringing up the rear when it comes to Education participation and attainment,” he said.

“For a long time parents have thought, ‘I didn’t need a Year 11 or 12 or tertiary education and I’ve done alright.'”

But to succeed in the modern world, Mr Eslake said completing at least a full secondary education was necessary (

I agree with him. He states it clearly. There is a belief that you can do alright without Year 11 and 12. This belief is ingrained, it is something that is strongly held onto by many, but not all. I believe the greatest challenge with regard to students accessing and completing Year 11 and 12 has more to do with it not being valued by significant others in their lives, and the broader community they exist in. As a result they don’t have the support to get them through some of the challenging times that study at that age can present.

I consider myself lucky, as I, for the most part, did not come up against this attitude. My Granny was an educator and studied at the University of Tasmania, one of my Aunts was significant in my life and she was an educator too – now retired. They inspired me and I looked up to them. My immediate family supported me with regard to my decision to continue past Grade 10, my brothers and I grew up with the understanding that immersing in learning beyond Grade 10 was important. I undertook Year 11 and 12 at Smithton High School, as did a number of my friends, in 1988 and 1989.  I was fortunate to have a teacher at that school who also encouraged me in my desire to go beyond Year 11 and 12, she took a small group of us up to Launceston for a look around the university campus when I was close to starting. Not to mention I remember visiting the Hobart campus of the University of Tasmania regarding potential future pathways as part of my school program. I then continued on to the University of Tasmania, studying a Bachelor of Education and later a Master of Education.

It is without doubt that those significant to me played an important part in my choice to further my education past Grade 10.

Not only do significant others play an important part in one’s choice to continue education, but the broader community culture and expectation surrounding this also plays a vital role. It is for this reason that I was a little disturbed by a job advert that appeared in The Examiner late 2013. To the point where I took a picture of it.

Museum add

The thing that struck me was the expectation, “Ideally you will have: Completed year 10 with good levels of numeracy and literacy”. As a community a clear message is being expressed, it is good enough to stop at Grade 10. A small tweak in wording would have sent a completely different message regarding what was valued by the community and the employer.

The low retention rates that exist in Tasmania regarding continuing onto Year 11 and 12 and the flow on concerns around employment have raised this focus on education. However, we need to remember that “It takes a village to raise a child” (African Proverb). What role do you and I have as a member of that child’s village?

1 Comment

  1. Ms Melbourne says:

    You explain this perfectly. I moved to Tasmania and had to leave within two years. As an educated, well travelled person…from working class Tasmanian stock, though raised in Melb. I could not believe how much disdain was leveled at education or the educated. So many jobs wanted only year 10 and were colored by nepotism at its greatest. I found the place very cliquey, very anti intellectual and very smothering. I felt like I was caught in the 1950s and with little hope of a job because I was a mainlanders, had lived and worked successfully in oz and overseas, and was assumed to be the type that knew better and would interrupt their snooze…and I tried to fit in and be low key if not lie abut my achievements. Very backward and insular in do many ways. A shame as it a very beautiful state

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