Strong opinions cannot be manufactured; they tend to stem from experiences and personal findings. For Tony Edwards, this is especially true as he has a strong perspective on Australia’s education system.
Mr. Edwards, who was a teacher, left high school functionally illiterate but now looks back and believes education should take place of high importance. However, he believes that the current system only halts learning.
“Education to me is a bizarre thing, because at the age of five you learn to construct a sentence for the first time in your life. Then you’re sent to an institute that tells you to be quiet. Then at the age of 11 you develop good motor skills to run and play sport and you’re sent to another institute that only lets you move every 40 minutes to an hour. But if a student does not comply with these guidelines, they are suspended…”
Mr. Edwards thoughts and ideas come from a past of feeling like he was the “dumb kid” but now he knows that he learns differently, like many other children struggling with the school system.
“Education at the moment, is only really focused on the top 5-10% and everybody else is in there somewhere.”
With a desire to help children just like him, Mr. Edwards sought teaching as a career. For 15 years, he took the initiative to make his class different so that students were encouraged to learn in an environment where they were not expected to be a certain way.
“I built desks that students could stand at and I had bean bags so that they could sit. No body was getting in trouble. Some of the kids who weren’t able to read or write in year 7 were able to take notes from a video in year 8, so it definitely helped their learning process.”
The education system could be the very reason why many students walk away from school believing that they are just “dumb”. But having been there himself, Mr. Edwards believes that different people learn in different ways.
“I was very proud of my students, they are probably my greatest heroes.”