MULTI-GENERATIONAL OPPORTUNITY EROSION – EARLY NEGLECT, MENTAL HEALTH AND THE COMPROMISED FUTURE OF A GENERATION
Transform Education (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Literacy and Numeracy levels in children are plummeting multi-generationally as children move through the schooling system from Year 3 to 5 to 7 & 9. Nothing of any significance is being done to address this issue that heads off the disastrous long term consequences such neglect brings. Multi-Generationally, we are currently producing a poorly performing generation relative to many other nations and amassing a significant loss of opportunity for our children as a result. Who is responsible for addressing this neglect and consequential opportunity erosion? Is it the education system, the parents or the child? Is it a Federal issue, a state issue or a much more local problem? Starting at home, and controlled by the school system and societal norms, it has clearly been found to be true that the emotional and psychological reality of children as they develop has a profound and significant impact on performance at school. The size and scale of that impact, positive or negative, defines the childrens' future, good or bad. The current system and practices are old, outdated and are in the process of producing the worst educated generation of children, relative to other nations in our history.
Analysis of published NAPLAN results by ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority), show that year after year around 44% of students progressively fall behind in reading, writing, mathematics and English. The National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing conducted every decade confirmed that while 26% of young people reported experiencing a significant mental health problem in the last 12 months (higher than any other age group), the vast majority (87% of young men and 69% of young women) did not receive any professional help. Although we have seen a tremendous change in community attitudes towards common mental health problems like depression, anxiety and alcohol and drug use over the last decade, it is clear that the wider social (or healthcare) environment that will assist young people to get the help they need does not yet exist.
In my own experience, poor student performance at school can firstly lead, to declining motivation to engage with school and education. Secondly, it can lead to mental disorders, drugs and alcohol, crime and suicide and early school leaving which in turn, leads to an erosion of a child’s future potential, greatly diminishing opportunities in later life. Before they get to Year 9/10, they have formed a strong opinion that school is not for them and that they should drop out. Once the student has reached this point it is usually quite difficult to motivate them to learn. In most schools the lower level streamed classes in Year 9 and Year 10 are full of students that have decided they will not continue beyond Year 10 and hence have no motivation to do anything.
The long-term negative impacts of this ‘Opportunity Erosion’ into the economy and society in general are significant. The most staggering part of the analysis is the consistent decline in numeracy and literacy as a child progresses through school. The negative consequential impact on Mental Health, Drugs, Crime, Homelessness and Early School Leaving is powerful and compelling.
Keywords: Literacy & Numeracy, Education, Student Performance, Learning Psychology, Motivation, Barriers to Learning, Child Mental Health and Wellbeing, Assessment.