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102086: Designing, Teaching & Learning 16788510

“He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.”

George Bernard Shaw, 1903, Man and Superman

A critical discussion of George Bernard Shaw’s quote

In his infamous 1903 quote, “he who can does; he who cannot teaches”, George Bernard Shaw (1903)
presents a contentious statement undermining the teaching profession as a ‘last-resort’ occupation. Put
simply, Shaw patronizes the teaching profession, implying that teaching is not worthy of professional
recognition in the workforce. However, there is a broad consensus among teachers that the profession
of teaching is a reputable occupation because of the various skills, attributes, responsibilities and
certification necessary to fulfil the role, since teacher quality is the single most important in school
factor influencing student achievement (NESA, 2018). In what follows I argue, that contemporary
Australian teachers should be recognised as professionals since teachers have a civic and ethical
responsibility to shape the intellects of students in today’s global economy and also to facilitate the
building blocks of what it means to be an intellectual, social, cultural, ethical and technologically
competent Australian citizen. Such a responsibility is titled ‘teaching’. Shaw’s remark fails to recognise
teacher attributes, responsibilities and necessary qualities required to achieve quality learning outcomes
for students. This essay will evaluate the interrelationship between key teaching and learning concepts
by drawing on the four foundational concepts; 1) Professionalism, 2) Curriculum, 3) Pedagogy and 4)
Assessment. These combined encompass the professional qualities of the Australian teacher. This essay
will draw on the various regulatory bodies in assisting our argument in positioning teaching as a
professional occupation. By drawing on the these concepts this paper attempts to address specific
learning needs of Australian students and unpack Shaw’s statement to be controversial and provocative,
which undermines teaching as a praiseworthy profession. This paper will close with an argument on
how these interrelated concepts, address the learning needs of gifted and talented students.


Consider the aftermath of an educational catastrophe where teachers needed no certification,

behaviour management skills, or pedagogical knowledge and request them to deliver a trigonometry
math class of thirty-five students. The considered judgement already identifies the need for in-depth
teacher training. Teachers are professionals, since they adhere to ethical standards and position
themselves as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning and are
accountable to those served and to society (Professional Standards Council, n.d). The NSW Education
and Standards Authority is the regulatory body who oversee the Australian Professional Standards for
teachers and emphasise three domains of the Professional Standards; Professional Knowledge, Practice
and Engagement (NESA, 2018). Sarah Fitzsimmons in NESA (2018) suggests, teacher accreditation is

Assessment 1: Essay / Foundations of Teaching and Learning / 1H Autumn 2018

102086: Designing, Teaching & Learning 16788510

ultimately about looking at the Australian Professional Standards for teachers and how we meet them
as teachers and continue to learn as reflective professionals. The Ministerial Council on Education
Employment Training and Youth Affairs (2003b) begins reasoning by suggesting, a lack of interest in
teaching as a career is due to low status of teaching in society leading to low perceptions of the
profession by school students. Yet, Connell (2013) suggests that the labour process of teachers is
complex including preparation, conflict management, materials, marking and assessment. Connell
(2013) also suggests that teachers must know both pedagogy and subject matter which requires formal
training and formal certification. Mayer (2007) proposes a gender bias, suggesting, that there is a
gendered dimension to the teaching practice, the over-representation of females and the
underrepresentation of males is often posited as a mitigating factor in the way in which the profession
is viewed. Ramsey (2009, p.9) advocates by stating;

“If teaching is to be a true profession, with a focus on quality, teachers need to have their
own standards of professional practice… The evidence indicates that until the teaching
profession itself is in a position to deal with quality issues, the decline in the status of
teaching … will continue.”

Recommendations made by Mayer (2007) suggests we should improve the status of the profession by
considering higher salaries, providing monetary incentive, improving working conditions like reducing
class sizes, improving teacher preparation, alternative pathways into teaching, and aiming to establish
standards and regulating the profession. As such, teacher’s effectiveness has a powerful impact on
students and results in quality learning outcomes (NESA, 2018). The Australian Teaching Standards
illustrate the increased level of professional recognition necessary to establish teachers of a high
standard and at the very least, competent. Shaw’s quote, undermines these Professional Standards and
fails to recognise the certification necessary to fulfil a teaching role.


It could be argued that there is a curriculum dichotomy between ‘what’ is taught, or, ‘how’ it is
taught. The Australian National Curriculum is the national teaching and learning guide governed by
The Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority (ACARA, 2016). The Australian
Curriculum is designed to help all young Australians to become successful learners and active and
informed citizens where shaping, writing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation are considered
essential (ACARA, 2016). Egan (1978, p.67) has emphasised that curriculum should focus on the
methodology and procedures of ‘how’ things should be taught over curriculum content. Egan (1978)
adds, that teachers should facilitate classroom learning, emphasizing group work, differentiated learning
and the use of technological aids to increase student engagement as a way of learning the curriculum.

Assessment 1: Essay / Foundations of Teaching and Learning / 1H Autumn 2018

102086: Designing, Teaching & Learning 16788510

The individual learner becomes an important variable, where styles and ability of learning, development
and socioeconomic backgrounds are considered over standardized curriculum content (Egan, 1978).
Furthermore, Darling-Hammond (2010) suggest that educational policy should be harnessed to
accommodate intensifying global competition, leading to the Australian national curriculum reform. It
is through global competitiveness that the Australian national curriculum has been nationally
amalgamated in order to facilitate a competitive edge in the global economy. Standardized testing
programmes such as NAPLAN are used to measure international comparisons between countries
(Savage and O’Connor, 2015) and reflect the interrelationship between curriculum and assessment
concepts. Print (2006) adds, that a key feature of the national curriculum is the implementation of a
civic education policy which educates students on the values of Australian democracy and active,
participatory citizenship. Furthermore, the national curriculum reform, titled, ‘The Melbourne
Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australian’s’ 2008 (Savage and O’Connor, 2015) states;

“In the 21st century Australia’s capacity to provide a high quality of life for all will depend on
the ability to compete in the global economy on knowledge and innovation. Education
equips young people with the knowledge, understanding, skills and values to take advantage
of opportunity and to face the challenges of this era.”

The above excerpt reinforces the changing nature of curriculum from traditional perspectives where
grammar, logic and rhetoric are given precedence. We can assume that Shaw failed to recognise global
economies in his traditional viewpoint. As such, curriculums can be considered a guide to training
students for an international market or a sort of educational Olympics. Furthermore, ACARA (2016)
states, education in Australia has a cross-curriculum priority, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia and Sustainability are
incorporated into the curriculum reform in order to deliver relevant, contemporary and engaging
curriculum material. Curriculum design in contemporary Australia incorporates a variety of aspects in
order to meet the standards of the Melbourne Declaration and deliver lessons that educate students to
survive in a globalised economy. Certainly, it would be fair to say that both content and teaching
methods are equally important in how students learn. What is important, is a shared understanding that
curriculum entails both ethical, social, technological and intellectual outcomes, in the current age.

Australian pedagogical methods are embedded in the ethos of the Quality Teaching Framework
and illustrate the movement toward better teaching practices that will better educate Australian students.
The NSW Quality teaching model delivers a specific, systematic set of concepts that teachers can follow
to guide classroom and assessment practice which will improve teaching, encourage good teaching
practice and impact on the delivery of good teaching pedagogy (Gore, 2007). Intellectual Quality,

Assessment 1: Essay / Foundations of Teaching and Learning / 1H Autumn 2018

102086: Designing, Teaching & Learning 16788510

Quality learning environment and Significance are the three dimensions that make the Quality teaching
framework that provide teachers with a platform for critical reflection and analysis of teaching practice
and guide classroom planning and assessment (DET, 2008). Gore (2007) mentions that teacher
education programs and professional development will ensure high quality pedagogy and better teacher
retention. For example, the element Higher order thinking falls under the Intellectual Quality dimension
and states, “students are regularly engaged in thinking that requires them to organise, reorganise, apply,
analyse, synthesise and evaluate knowledge and information’ (Ladwig and Gore, 2009). A teacher can
utilise this criteria to develop a lesson plan that encourages this outcome. It also allows for gifted and
talented students to extend their learning by engaging in higher order thinking. Cohen and Ball (1999)
refer to this under the umbrella term ‘instructional renovation’. In comparison, Queensland have
adopted the Productive Pedagogies Framework which develops students’ higher order intellectual skills
and citizenship. This illustrates the interrelationship between pedagogical practice and civic education
content in Queensland educational policy. As such, Productive Pedagogies and Productive Assessment
frameworks evaluate classroom practices that have a positive impact upon the academic and social
outcomes of all students and is premised on the belief that good teachers are central to positive outcomes
for students (Mills,, 2009). However, Sellar and Cormack (2006), provide a critique of Pedagogy
frameworks stating, that pedagogy research is too focused on the outcome or production of pedagogy,
rather than describing its actual movement. By drawing on both the NSW and Queensland education
reforms in pedagogical approach the conclusion is drawn that teacher satisfaction is an important
variable in quality teaching and quality learning. Therefore, if teachers are well educated in the NSW
Quality Teaching Framework it will better impact on student learning. As such, Shaw’s (1903) comment
is quarrelsome since it lacks an understanding of the importance of quality pedagogy and teacher

Formalised tests and assessments that produce a quantifiable results based system are inaccurate
in assessing and addressing student development since marginalization cultures, socio-economic
background and TESOL groups encompass the cohort of Australian schools. Standardised tests such as
The National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual assessment for
students and tests the sorts of skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life,
such as reading, writing, spelling and numeracy (ACARA, 2016) . Dr. N. Berger has discussed formal
and informal methods of assessing student that can be divided into Formative, Diagnostic and Formative
types of assessments (personal communication, March 26, 2018). These assessments address both
quantifiable results but also give feedback for student learning. Ford (2013) has discussed an
achievement gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous students in the Northern territory and
proposes indigenous people in remote areas of Australia are locked into educational inequality. Gillborn

Assessment 1: Essay / Foundations of Teaching and Learning / 1H Autumn 2018

102086: Designing, Teaching & Learning 16788510

(2008) adds, institutional racism is one of the causes of educational under-achievement for ethnic or
racialized groups. Jorgensen (2010) adds that standardised tests such as NAPLAN are culturally
inappropriate. As such, results based on NAPLAN are disproportionately interpreted as a single
indicator of student achievement and fail to recognise leadership, critical thinking skills and creativity
as important variables in assessment criteria.

Integrating the Foundation Concepts

When addressing the learning needs of gifted and talented students, a combination of pedagogy,
curriculum and assessment should be incorporated into a lesson plan. For example in the KLA ‘Human
Society and its Environment’, a student may be excelling in a Geography class. Introducing the student
to various online resources such as Australian Bureau of Statistics and assisting them in data
interpretation with Geographical Information Systems increases their understanding of how to utilise
census data in order to enhance deep knowledge to show how the student can provide information,
reasoning or arguments that address the centrality or complexity of a key concept or idea (Ladwig &
Gore, 2009). Furthermore, introducing excelling students to cross-curriculum analysis in the field would
interrelate curriculum with assessment, since this activity would be self-directed. For example,
assigning a task to have students conduct analysis on the displacement of Indigenous groups across the
greater Sydney Region, would utilise geographical concepts whilst taking into consideration Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. Pedagogy would interrelate with this since the student
would be utilising information technologies in a predominantly literacy dominant class. Furthermore, a
peer leadership role would be assigned. This pedagogical method would encourage social learning as
well as digital-interactive learning if students were to utilise digital map making tools. The Melbourne
Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) suggests a foundation for further
learning and adult life the curriculum will include practical knowledge and skills development in areas
such as ICT and design and technology. Thus, reinforcing the use of computer-aided technology and

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Assessment 1: Essay / Foundations of Teaching and Learning / 1H Autumn 2018