Now, children, we come to that part of the course which deals with critical analysis. Can anyone tell me what we look for in a sound argument? To win it? Touche, Tarquin, we’ll make a debater of you yet.

Absence of emotional manipulation, factual omission, distortion or personal attack? Well done, Petal! By the way, Petal, you know you are welcome to use your Vietnamese name which I am sure is every bit as euphonious. Phat Thy Bich? How lovely, Petal.

All right. As you can see from the handout, I came across a most interesting, not to say instructive, argument put forth by our very own Minister for Education and Training. As you will be aware, the teaching community in Victoria is at odds with the government over salary, staffing and conditions. When are we going on strike next, Tarquin? Not, it is hoped, on a day we are due to meet, it would be such a pity not to pursue the pedagogic adventure together.

Anyway, the Minister, let’s call her Dear Leader, has written to the teachers’ union in tones that – but let’s give the Minister some rope. “As Minister I am disappointed that the Australian Education Union has sought to progress its claims through industrial action rather than pursuing resolution through the negotiating process. The Government remains committed to delivering high quality education and the approach to the current round of enterprise bargaining for the Teaching Service is aimed at achieving a positive outcome for Victorian students and an agreement that rewards and supports teachers.”

Notice how the Minister strikes the Mummy note; she is ‘disappointed’ at the wayward antics of her children. And as everyone knows mother knows best.

You have two mothers, Madison? Then you must be doubly blessed. Note also how the Minister presents herself as unfailingly reasonable. The ‘negotiating process’. What more palpable proof of the triumph of the Enlightenment, indeed two thousand years Western progress, than that an employee might meet with an employer and calmly work through their differences to the mutual satisfaction of both. Only it hasn’t quite worked out that way, has it?

Two bloody years I’ve been without a pay rise because the department mandarins – no, not a fruit, you cretin – are seemingly under instruction to play for time. Tomorrow and tomorrow. Two freakin’ years while teachers in NSW, people who play rugby for God’s sake, get thousands more for doing the same goddamn thing. And they want a national curriculum!

But it is the bare-faced lie peddled as the foundation of Government vision which most gets my goat. No, not a real goat! ‘The Government remains committed to delivering high quality education.’ YEAH AND FAIRIES WEAR BOOTS!!!

So. Judging by the teeming silence I am assuming that you have all now grasped the essential requirement for any critical analysis. Calm, clearheaded reason.

Peter Fray

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