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Angry young men

I'd like to lodge a complaint.

I'd like to lodge a complaint.

Jeez, isn't it unfashionable to be angry?

I don't mean phoning-up-the-radio-to-complain-about-them-boat-people-angry. Or even "How-dare-they-call-Leisel-Jones-fat!" and "My-power-bill-is-what?!"-angry.

I refer to your unfocused, I'm-young-and-live-in-a-dump-suburb-and-nothing-good-ever happens-so-I-play-loud-music-and-drive-fast-and-get-filthy-pissed-and-cause-trouble-angry.

There are plenty of givers for this type of anger but not many takers, by which I mean "citizens" who'll raise their hands and admit "I'm part of system that wholesale abandons inarticulate young, underprivileged people."

We seem to just want these kids to go away, clean up their act, get a job ... then shake our heads when those whinging bloody school teachers, the front line of influence for many angry young men, outrageously ask us - the taxpayers - for more money.

One of my favourite sights at my local beach is watching the horrified expressions of residents when angry young men from the outer suburbs arrive on a hot Saturday, blasting their stereos and revving their engines.

I wonder how many of the aggrieved onlookers remember, or even know, how good it feels to see your dashboard quivering from aggressive, lyrically offensive music played so loud it leaps at complete strangers and screams: "THIS IS HOW I FEEL INSIDE!"

I wonder how many realise how powerful you feel stamping on a car's accelerator and getting an instant response, perhaps the only response you'll receive all day that's not sneering or dismissive.

And when older - people with more than you - gawk and look disturbed, how good it feels that they pay attention, even for five seconds, as you crawl past their stupid friggin' cafe?

I'm a mature adult ... at least I'm old and I've got a job and "prospects" and when I get jack of something I can vent in a newspaper. But even I, when I turn up the right music and think about the wrong subjects, can dip my toe back into that pit where kids like this live and, feel that ... anger.

It's so easy to ignore what's wrong with society when you have a nice house, good job and friendly neighbours but, when you have none of that, and you don't know how to get it, the easy thing to do is lash out.

I'm not suggesting that's OK - but I understand it, I know why you'd go there. And it's only education, love and luck that brought me to where I am instead of being drug addicted, doing time for king hitting a bloke or killing my best mate drink-driving.

And if someone who's had as many opportunities as me could have fallen and not got up, I wonder how so many other kids and adults manage without them?

There are loads of young people just aching for a steady hand, someone to show them alternatives to anger and if it's not coming from their parents, teachers are often their only other chance.

Do you remember a teacher you really cared about? Who you wanted to behave for and learn from? The good ones could reach the core of even the biggest hothead at school, yet we ask these "role models" to live on a third of what a TV weatherman earns.

Think of the influence one great teacher has in a school, guiding 100 kids a day - that's serious bang for your buck - but the truth is that influence is limited when class sizes balloon and one-on-one time is at a premium.

It's really very simple: if we care about these kids, we should prioritise our voting decisions to elect government and leaders who recognise the importance of teachers, of education, and the life-changing difference both make.

That's something worth getting angry about.

64 comments so far

  • We are all beneficiaries of government spending, whether directly or indirectly. The case you point out here is a good one - whether or not we are in school or have kids in school there is a strong benefit to us in the government providing a good education to the populace. It's worth paying for.

    Date and time
    October 02, 2012, 9:33AM
    • I like the sentiment of the article. Yet somehow the whole issue of education is centred around teachers. The biggest obstacle to education is parents, we sent our son to a private school to get better parents.

      Reducing class sizes is expensive as are increasing teacher's salaries and length of their study. Ever decreasing class sizes are not delivering better results. What is required is a concentration of resources to where they are needed, more specialist teachers, programs targeting the different needs of different students.

      The education system has to suit the needs of the trades, shop assistants, truck drivers, labourers and all the people who will not be going into tertiary institutions. Putting below average and average students into a system tailored to preparing for university is never going to inspire or motivate them. No matter what we do over half of the kids will be average or below.

      Date and time
      October 02, 2012, 10:33AM
      • Exactly. As a former teacher, an additional 4-5 students in a class of 30 is irrelevant - but probably not many more than this if a variety of pedagogical methods are to be used.

        Experienced teachers (with double degrees) i.e B.Ed/BA or BSc. deserve much more pay and more autonomy and responsibility to work at their best.

        They must be allowed to do their job without interference from either parents or students.

        I'm afraid Sam that the hooning bogans you speak of will only find success in an alternative school system - and by that I mean a military-style boot camp school.

        The vast majority simply cannot succeed in mainstream schools which are ill-equipped to manage them. They can begin in mainstream schools but if they refuse to co-operate continually - they're out.

        It is grossly unjust to the teachers, other students, their parents and society generally, to permit them to remain in "normal" schools.

        Neither can this current failed system produce young adults who can contribute to the economy or young adults who can be good citizens in society.

        West End
        Date and time
        October 03, 2012, 10:03PM
    • I strongly believe that our teachers should be paid more, but it’s not just about the pay in my view. Our society does not place a high value on teachers, for example – how often have you heard the phrase those who can’t do – teach? Surely our best and brightest should be doing the teaching?

      I also believe that the problem extends further than just the teaching. It’s not necessarily the teachers fault when children make poor choices. I’d say it’s more likely the parents fault and I think one major stress associated with teaching is that the teacher is expected to be a parent at times. That expectation is unreasonable in my view. Realistically the teacher can do little to combat poor parenting.

      Sam, you said “And it's only education, love and luck that brought me to where I am instead of being drug addicted etc“. That statement is in my view untrue, you’re not giving yourself credit where it’s due. Sure you’re educated and sure you’ve had your share of luck and all the rest, but I’m sure you’ve also worked hard and made some good decisions.

      Education based purely on knowledge is important, but it’s not the most important thing. Effort and the desire to do better are far more important than education or even raw intelligence. I’d ask who is teaching those things, why doesn’t our society teach those things? Why doesn’t our society place a high value on those things? Why when someone is actually successful do we then set about tearing them down? Those are the questions that aren’t getting answered and those are the things that I get angry about.

      Date and time
      October 02, 2012, 10:52AM
      • Agree.

        Teachers. Nurses. Police. Underpaid I reckon.

        Mr Brownstone
        Paradise City
        Date and time
        October 02, 2012, 10:57AM
        • There needs to be a big shift in the Australian cultural perspective on teachers. How much they get paid is a long way down the list of importance in the big picture. Many countries hold their teachers at all levels in a much higher regard than we do here. Australia has a lot of cultural change that needs to take place inside the education system as well, right across the board, from sacking teachers that really need it, and not just shifting them to another school, right through to university lecturers that really loathe the teaching side of the professorial contract which is glaringly obvious to the students and can have a negative impact on the overall educational experience.
          Yet another aspect that needs to change is the silent yet very prevalent poor attitude of parents that look at schooling and teachers as primarily a child minding/raring centre and as some "time off" for themselves during the day more than a teaching centre. Teachers need to be able to spend more time teaching effectively and less time disciplining children/parenting throughout their working day.
          Throwing money at the teaching profession across the board is a token band aid measure that does not work to lift educational outcomes anyway. It is cheap political point scoring leverage and a very very lazy way to approach the subject for our society.

          Date and time
          October 02, 2012, 11:37AM
          • i wasn't really sure what the focus of this article was until the last couple of paragraphs. initially, i thought it was a misguided defence of westies and bogans. growing up in cronulla, i know all about the guys who'd come in on weekends and do as you described.......

            but i think your justification and quasi-explanation for their behaviour is a little skewed. firstly, they can't be that poor, or jobless if they can afford big hotted up cars with bose stereos blasting out their toons, i would go out on a limb and say most didn't complete year that related to teachers' pay??

            secondly, you said "I wonder how many realise how powerful you feel stamping on a car's accelerator and getting an instant response, perhaps the only response you'll receive all day that's not sneering or dismissive." again, i might go out on a limb here and suggest that 98% of the responses they get are precisely sneering and dismissive.

            so back to the original point, what's the correlation between bogans who drop out of school, and teachers' pay? are you saying that if teachers earned more money, bogans wouldn't be bogans with hotted up cars and sick stereos driving round beaches craving attention? hmmmmm

            Date and time
            October 02, 2012, 11:44AM
            • I think you completely missed the point. In fact, I'm not sure you even read the article...

              Date and time
              October 03, 2012, 1:06PM
          • My dear friend L is one of these amazing, inspiring high school teachers. She is incredibly pretty and petite and blonde and she teaches angry young men in the lower income ares of Sydney. She has copped all kinds of sexual and verbal abuse from these kids... the stories are quite horrific. But she persists and works on class schedules all weekend just to get one or two of them excited about Shakespeare, or at least the written word. And she has inspired them. From what I can glean by seeing these kids react when they see their teacher on the street, these boys adore and respect her - they are in awe of her. L has had to shape her entire existence around preparing herself adequately for her job - to maintain mental and physical and emotional equilibrium. She's often so stressed and absorbed at work that she doesn't eat all day. She has become a stronger person, but she goes to bed at 8:30 every school night. Not to mention the fact that when we do get together for a 6pm dinner, she has no choice but to opt for the cheap Thai. This educated, professional woman shouldn't be shopping at Vinnies and living in a share house. Money won't make her job easier. It will make it easier for her to recharge to do the job. As it stands, she's going for a job at a private girls school. What will the boys do without her?

            Date and time
            October 02, 2012, 11:45AM
            • I married one of those. She raised two kids and got a masters too while I worked the hours in the private sector. She retired a few years ago and the matters of greatest pride to her were the kids where she made a real difference.
              I remember that kind of teacher too.

              Date and time
              October 02, 2012, 3:35PM

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