Former teacher Gabbie Stround on Q and A. Picture: ABC
Former teacher Gabbie Stround on Q and A. Picture: ABC

Aussie teachers ‘at rock bottom’

A FORMER teacher has spoken out about the "demoralisation" of her profession and why she left because she was burnt out.

Gabbie Stroud became emotional on ABC's Q and A program when she recounted what she called the effects of demoralisation.

"Demoralisation is this idea where you as a professional know very, very clearly what is best for your students and the direction you should take them in and you are told again and again to go in another direction," she said.

"And that is demoralising. I'm going to get upset now, but that is demoralising for me as a professional, for someone who brings herself to the classroom and to the work and to those children every day."

Ms Stroud lashed out against NAPLAN, standardised testing and the effects they were having on the education system.

The panel of education experts on Monday night addressed problems with Australian schools and said the system was suffering.

One current Year 12 student said her peers were crying in the common room because they were stressed, depressed and on antidepressants.

But she said overwhelmingly there was a sense of boredom as they wrote the same essays over and over again, like Groundhog Day.

Ms Stroud said there were tonnes of students feeling like that, not just in Year 12.

"I think we're seeing a time where education in Australia, we must be getting close to rock bottom, because I think there are teachers that are suffering, there are students that are suffering, and what you're saying is just exactly that," she said.

"And I just want to say I'm so sorry, I'm sorry that you and your peers feel like that, because that's not what it's meant to be like.

"That's not what it's meant to feel like. You kids are succeeding in spite of the system, not because of it."

Former teacher Gabbie Stround on Q and A with host Tony Jones. Picture: ABC
Former teacher Gabbie Stround on Q and A with host Tony Jones. Picture: ABC

 

 

 

Ms Stroud said the Government did not need a bunch of data to tell them how students were going - that's what teachers were for.

She said it was offensive to say that before NAPLAN there was no data and she was met with applause from the audience.

Ms Stroud said we needed to value teachers because we were losing them and it was a "great, great tragedy".

"(They say) we'll collect a whole bunch of data on it and the graphs will go up," she said.

"I'm here to tell you they're not. The graphs are going down. The students are disengaged. The teachers are struggling and something needs to change.

"What we're seeing now are our students are disengaged, they're disheartened. They're not excited to come to school. They're not enthused about their learning. And this is the effect that NAPLAN's having."

Social media reacted in support of Ms Stroud, lashing out at the system and the stress teachers were under.

She was a dedicated teacher with more than a decade of experience when in 2014 she resigned in frustration and despair.

In 2016, Gabbie's ground-breaking essay "Teaching Australia" was published in The Griffith Review and soon went viral around the world.

 

 

Ms Stroud said the Government was trying to deliver a "champagne education on a beer budget".

She said teachers were in survival mode and drowning and it was driving them out of the profession.

In a study by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health last year which surveyed more than 450 "early career" teachers in NSW, they found two-thirds of new teachers struggled with their workload and time management.

In 2015 statistics showed that early career teachers were leaving in droves, with close to 40 per cent exiting from the profession within the first year of their teaching career, a number that had tripled in the six years prior.

"Our attrition rates are shocking," she said.

"Those poor new graduates who are coming in all shiny eyed and ready to attend to their vocation in and under five years they're out the door.

"You talk about funding and wasting money and all that kind of stuff. Hello, let's get these people in the career that they've chosen and help them to stay there.

"I think that we have really just lost our way."