The teacher shortage in Australia isn’t what you think it is. It isn’t about having enough teachers in the classroom for the next school year, and it isn’t about teachers being overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.
Not to discredit all overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated teachers, but those are just symptoms of more significant problems.
The teacher shortage threatens democracy and warns us about the condition of Australia’s culture.
The success of a democracy depends on two things: an educated populace and virtuous leaders. An educated populace includes, but is not limited to formal education, as there are different types of education, including self-taught and the informal form known as “street smarts.” A tuned in population is better equipped to elect a virtuous leader, or at least see through the charades of a dictator posing as a democratic leader like a wolf in sheep’s skin.
This is not to say that Australia will fall apart or cease to be if it can’t solve its teacher shortages, but it will become a country with a citizenry that struggles to flourish if its future generations can’t be equipped with critical thinking skills.
The rental and housing crisis in Australia already distracts families fighting to put a roof over their heads and pay the inflation-ridden grocery bills forcing parents to outsource some of their familial responsibilities.
So, when models predict a shortfall of 4,000 secondary educators alone in Australia by 2025, the political response should be, “we’ll do whatever it takes to solve this problem.”
However, most government solutions are like a doctor fixing a broken leg before tending to a patient’s heart attack. They ignore the crucial thing because doing something else is more manageable.
Educators are frontline cultural workers. So, when the teachers say, “We’ve had enough! We quit!” they are the canary in the mines.”
Yet, if you scratch below the surface and ignore that broken leg for a few minutes, you will also discover Australia’s current cultural heart attack.
It’s a culture that is anti-family and prefers virtual to genuine relationships. A culture that doesn’t know what marriage and sex are for. A culture that favours the ugly and profane to beauty and sublimity. A culture that’s swapped God for gods of their own making.
Educators are frontline cultural workers. So, when the teachers say, “We’ve had enough! We quit!” they are the canary in the mines. Teachers are tired of dealing with the cultural fallout that has made its way into the school system. Schools were never designed or intended to fix a broken culture.
Current proposals to give teachers pay raises well below the rate of inflation are only part of a broken system which fails to value those still teaching or attract new recruits to replace the ever-dwindling supply of existing staff.
Teachers are no longer merely educating young people; they also labour amongst the ruins of a broken culture while attempting to support the formation of damaged and bewildered children lost in a world of social and moral relativism.
In other words, to solve the teacher problem, you’ll need to acknowledge the cultural problem first and fix that.