Interview with Maurie Mulheron: In defence of public education

11 October 2020

In this special edition of the CPL Podcasts, Maurie Mulheron discusses the history, politics and ongoing debates surrounding public education in Australia.

I always wanted to be a teacher, from an early age . . . I always thought that teachers were very significant people in our community so I wanted to be a teacher.

I also saw that teaching could really change the world: that teachers had a very significant role to play in shaping the future – not just in young peoples’ lives but of our society.

The first thing we need to do is keep going back to our syllabuses and curriculum as what we teach in the classroom. And we’ve got to resist pressure to ‘teach to the test’. Where you have weak curriculum, weak syllabuses, the testing agenda [of the edubusinesses] takes root in a much stronger way.

The data that teachers develop is much richer than any one- off test.

Teachers are extraordinarily resilient people. You have to be resilient to be a teacher. Teaching is not for the faint hearted.

Public Education, in particular, is the great gift from one generation to another.

It is no coincidence that the person [Sir Henry Parkes] who founded public education in Australia also was one of the Founding Fathers (for want of a better term) of the Federation of Australia. He really saw that it was inextricably linked: you can’t build yourself as a nation unless you actually have children educated from a very early age.

Maurie Mulheron