At Quadrant things run on the smell of an oily rag — a rag now shrunk even smaller by the Australia Council’s decision to erase our very modest stipend and re-direct the funds to publications its “assessors” find more congenial. Incredibly, every single one of the newly blessed recipients is on the left, but that is another story. In the meantime, as we look to readers to make up the funding shortfall, the mail keeps arriving — including CVs from recent university graduates with journalism degrees. With newspapers dying left and right and so many failed but well-connected editors finding refuge in academia, the business of turning out legions of kids who have little chance of finding newsroom jobs has not eased in the slightest. This explains a recent, unsolicited bid for employment from a young man who must have come across a list of publications and fired off a shotgun barrage of applications to all and sundry.
He is versed in the use of language, he proclaimed, and equipped with the critical faculties to grasp and address the important topics to which the reading public simply must be exposed. Climate change, sexism, domestic violence, multiculturalism — it was a social justice warrior’s top of the pops, all those crusades listed among the youngster’s guiding “passions”. After a good laugh at his doctrinaire innocence, the request for a job was filed in the rubbish bin.
Still, a question lingered: How could someone, after 20 years of alleged education, be so deluded as to believe that putting one’s social conscience on display is the best selling point when seeking work? A knowledge of shorthand would have been a useful boast, perhaps some reference to wider life experience in a factory, behind a counter or at the wheel of a cab. A life’s cadetship devoted variously to colonial police work, washing dishes and picking hops was good enough for George Orwell, who learned rather more among the down and out than it is safe to assume he would have mastered by calling himself Erica and coming to appreciate the patriarchal oppression in being obliged to sit with knees pressed demurely together.
The mystery lingered until this morning, when The Age displayed the thoughts of “English teacher and literacy researcher” Emily Frawley on its opinion page. It is just a guess, but one factor driving the expanding incidence of stupidity in the newly credentialled young might well have something to do with teachers. Here is Ms Frawley deploying her finely honed insight:
Why is it that girls can wear shorts for their school uniform but a boy wouldn’t dream of doing something as demeaning as wearing a dress? What a sissy act that would be!
There you have it. If your children can’t think, refuse to recognise the real world that exists beyond the campus fence and whose mis-spelled CVs occasion nothing but laughter, they can probably thank a teacher.
Ms Frawley’s thoughts can be read, and checked against unjust reality, via the link below.
— roger franklin