A teacher at Noel Pearson’s Cairns-based Djarragun College has backed the Direct Instruction teaching method following criticism of the running of a Cape York school.
Dennis McIntosh, who uses the method at Djarragun, also lashed out at Far North Queensland federal Coalition MP Warren Entsch and state Education Minister Kate Jones for criticising the way Mr Pearson’s Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy oversaw the Aurukun school.
Mr Pearson last week told the Education Department he was withdrawing the academy from involvement in the school, where Direct Instruction was being used, from next year.
“While I was studying I worked in many remote indigenous schools and it has been heartbreaking seeing the abject failure of education in so many communities,” Dr McIntosh said. He said he watched the “meteoric rise” of principals to senior roles on the back of long-term systemic failure of whole schools.
“Get the numbers up, subdue the students and get out quick is the modus operandi of most opportunistic careerists,” he said. “After working in over a dozen remote indigenous schools, with site allowances, remote subsidies, free houses and no bills, the only people who benefit from the education system are the teachers.”
Dr McIntosh said not only had he seen the benefits of Direct Instruction in schools but the pedagogy had helped him overcome a poor education and had helped his daughter after a brain injury.
“When I saw the Direct Instruction program and its systematic teaching method with its small, concise increments of learning, I knew, if it was delivered properly, it would work,” he said.
“I was blown away when I saw Grade 1, 2 and 3 indigenous students reading, writing and editing their mistakes. I saw Grade 4 children writing in paragraphs. It was rolled-gold education.
“Is Direct Instruction the best teaching method for all children? No. Play-based learning, investigative learning and visible learning have had extraordinary results for some students.” However, such independent learning approaches “were a bridge too far” for many students.
“Do I care about Direct Instruction, or Noel Pearson and the Cape York Academy?” he said. “No. I care about seeing children find the joy in learning and embracing with courage and confidence the opportunities an education can provide. I don’t want to see another generation of bright, witty students end up at the bottom of a sewer.”