Open Letter: Australian Education System ‘Broken’

Written by Stephen J. Crothers

headbangerDear Science, Mathematics (and other) Teachers of Australia, 

The Australian education system is broken, and it is doubtful that it can be salvaged.  I have not heard or seen any teachers association in Australia object to the demonstrable nonsense that is peddled nowadays as science, in our schools, technical colleges, universities, textbooks, and by celebrity Authorities (some with a Nobel Prize) on television and radio programmes. 

Having taught in Australian high schools, TAFE colleges, and universities, I am dismayed and appalled by the apathy and ignorance of Australian teachers at large.

It is no wonder that physics and mathematics in particular, in Australia, have become decrepit, when no voice is raised by teachers associations against the tide of mysticism and other claptrap that now engulfs our education system.

It seems that Australian teachers are either (1) ignorant of their subject matter, (2) prepared to put hidden agendas before scholarship, or (3) both (1) and (2). For what other reasons can there be for their silence? 

As a case in point I draw your attention to the appearance of astronomer Professor Brian Schmidt, Nobel Laureate (Physics), Australian National University, on the ABC programme Q&A on 15 September 2014, where, on national television, he gravely misinformed a thoughtful 11 year old boy interested in physics; and the audience besides.

Not only was the boy’s question scientific, Schmidt was wrong, the boy right. Schmidt committed serious errors in elementary mathematics and elementary physics, and with his words and attitude discouraged the poor boy, and the boy’s father. Schmidt’s lack of knowledge of physics and mathematics was evident.

Nonetheless, the Chief Scientist of Australia, Ian Chubb, and Australian Nobel Prize (Medicine) winner Professor Peter Doherty, sat at the same table with Schmidt, but raised no objection whatsoever to Schmidt’s nonsense.

This television programme has a history of permitting thoughtless celebrity Authorities to appear, including Richard Dawkins, Laurence Krauss, and Brian Cox, Neil deGrasse Tyson, all talking like rubbish as Schmidt, with impunity. Not a single opposing scientific voice has been allowed to appear on that ABC programme. No teachers association has objected to the ‘scientific’ content of such presentations. 

Here is my short dismemberment of Schmidt’s falsehoods (Schmidt has already received a copy):

Crothers, S. J., A Nobel Laureate Talking Nonsense: Brian Schmidt, a Case Study,

16 July, 2015,

You are all welcome to attempt to defend Schmidt’s non-science and non-mathematics if you wish, or to acknowledge his errors. Or will you continue to sit on your hands and play ball with Authorities? 

Schmidt has landed a new job as the Vice-Chancellor at ANU, and gets a $1,000,000.00 salary, as reported in the Canberra Times:-

Australian scientists, including Professor Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology, and scientists at the Parkes Radio Telescope (an Australian taxpayer funded facility), will now help Professor Stephen Hawking (University of Cambridge) spend $100 million from the Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, looking for aliens.

No doubt no Australian teachers association or the Chief Scientist will object to this additional insult to intelligence being reported to Australian students as the marvels of science in action, particularly Australian science in action.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen J. Crothers