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What we really need, both in schools and in the real world, is a shift away from arguing to win, and towards rhetoric as understanding. It’s a genre that Associate Professor Larissa McLean Davies at The University of Melbourne has labelled the "treaty" genre. Under this genre of writing students must show empathy, try to understand other points of view, and find a solution rather than just win an argument.
We have had nearly 10 years of Labor's MySchool website, which encourages parents to play the school system like the stock market. Low scores are punished with low enrolments, as privileged families flock to high-performing schools, and the least socially mobile remain at schools with the least resources to support them.
As a result, when public schools in Victoria have received meagre funding increases, these are too often wasted on programs that principals think will boost scores and reputation – even if they undermine real learning. Despite plenty of evidence that streaming actually reduces student achievement, select-entry programs are breaking out like algae plagues around the state. As are uniform policies that mimic private schools in pettiness and pricing.