It’s been nearly ten years since my last official experience with academia – I graduated with a master’s degree in writing in 2007. But in the past couple of months, I’ve been exposed to it unofficially in a couple of ways. The first was through my second youngest sister, who is in the final stages of completing her PhD and asked me to review her thesis for spelling, grammar, punctuation and readability issues. The second was through my youngest sister, who is in the first year of her undergraduate degree and who I am providing weekly motivation and sounding board sessions to. But both made me realise the same thing: academia encourages bad writing.
Timna Jacks, the Education Reporter for The Age, wrote earlier this week about “a school program for gifted students…offering vaccination exemption forms and urging students to avoid Wi-Fi in schools”. As sensational as the claims were, they also demonstrated a concerning amount of selectivity.
The WiseOnes program has been available to gifted students in primary schools around Victoria for nearly two decades, teaching multi-disciplinary units with exciting names such as Ancient Egypt, How to Mind Your Money , Astronomy, Fibonacci Maths, Basic Engineering and Morphing Dirt to Diamonds. Students need to give evidence of their high thinking ability, which is not related to reading, writing or spelling, and need to “qualify” at a minimum of the 93rd percentile to participate.
Unfortunately, the founder and owner of the program unwisely decided to use the business’s website to convey her personal beliefs about the effects of vaccination and Wi-Fi. However, those beliefs are not shared by the licensees and teachers delivering the program and having contact with the students. The licensees and contracted teachers are all VIT registered and highly experienced.
By conflating the personal views of the founder with the content of the program, Timna Jacks has done a great disservice to the licensees and teachers who have worked with students in small groups providing extra intellectual and educational challenges. The losers will be the children if schools elect to discontinue the program.