Jun 23, 2017

Rundle: Hanson’s autistic kids comments reveal a truth no one wants to talk about

That some teachers have to devote most of their attention to children with serious behaviour management issues is hardly news to anyone with a child in school, but there’s a curious veil of silence drawn across it.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


The shortcuts allocation on the keyboard is fast running out, but I suspect shift-control-F7 should be assigned to ‘”Pauline Hanson’s comments are appalling …” to save future time and energy. La Hanson’s comments about the teaching of special needs children are still ricocheting around the public sphere. They’re part of a longer speech about education and Gonski, and it’s a real One Nation special (pages 12 and 13 of the Hansard, for those who want a read) concerning the demise of standards of English comprehension and expression — expressed in sentences about one-in-three of which is well-formed — the failure to instil a sense of competition, and the decline of running writing (or cursive), inter alia. But it’s Hanson’s remarks on classroom problems that have attracted outrage, and it’s worth giving them in full, rather than the truncated reports of such. Here they are:

“There is another thing that we need to address, and I will go back to the classrooms again. I hear so many times from parents and teachers whose time is taken up with children — whether they have a disability or whether they are autistic — who are taking up the teacher’s time in the classroom. These kids have a right to an education, by all means, but, if there are a number of them, these children should go into a special classroom and be looked after and given that special attention. Because most of the time the teacher spends so much time on them they forget about the child who is straining at the bit and wants to go ahead in leaps and bounds in their education. That child is held back by those others, because the teachers spend time with them. I am not denying them. If it were one of my children I would love all the time given to them to give them those opportunities. But it is about the loss for our other kids. I think that we have more autistic children, yet we are not providing the special classrooms or the schools for these autistic children. When they are available, they are at a huge expense to parents. I think we need to take that into consideration. We need to look at this. It is no good saying that we have to allow these kids to feel good about themselves and that we do not want to upset them and make them feel hurt. I understand that, but we have to be realistic at times and consider the impact this is having on other children in the classroom.”

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56 thoughts on “Rundle: Hanson’s autistic kids comments reveal a truth no one wants to talk about

  1. neville odin

    Hey Rundle

    Any chance of a review of China Mieville’s October: The story of the russian revolution

  2. old greybearded one

    Yes Guy I think you will upset a lot of people, but I am a primary teacher and it is might hard. Discipline as such is not allowed as best I can tell, so we have a bigger problem than Houston. Some kids do not prosper in the mainstream, but it is cheaper and you can blame the teacher later.

    1. Paul Guy

      Please explain: but I am a primary teacher and it is might hard. Discipline as such is not allowed as best I can tell, so we have a bigger problem than Houston. Some kids do not prosper in the mainstream, but it is cheaper and you can blame the teacher later.

      1. lykurgus

        I’ll try to explain… either Old Greybearded One is dyslexic and refusing treatment, or is in fact Pauline Hanson.

        1. AR

          I read that as a play on Tom Hanks’ understated message to Mission Control.

    2. klewso

      “The teacher did it.”

    3. AR

      Note the ad hominem to both grundle & yourself in the responses below.
      Some people just refuse to face reality on so many important matters and hammer away at the hot key whenever their hair triggers are tripped.
      Does not bode well for future debate.

  3. Phen

    Personally, I don’t feel informed enough to build a strong argument either way. But it did strike me that, unlike much of what comes from Hanson’s mouth, there’s nothing inherently disgraceful or outrageous with opining that the preferences of the more difficult to teach children (and their parents) shouldn’t always be paramount. Ultimately, it’s a trade-off and I don’t see why Ms Hanson should need to apologise for her view.

    1. Marilyn J Shepherd

      She said disabled kids should go away because they destroy the lives of other kids, what is wrong with some of you thick brained people.

      1. Woopwoop

        Marilyn, people would pay more attention to your opinions if you could contain your anger and go easy on the insults.

        1. Bob the builder

          If nothing else, Marilyn’s comments often provide a perfect example of the self-righteous ‘progressive’ caricature that Rundle describes.

      2. Phen

        Not thick brained thanks Marilyn. Read the quote again and tell me where it says what you claim.

  4. Brendan Kay

    A well considered, thoughtful article. What a pity it probably will never enter any mainstream discussion (“debate” implies to me a tendency to “adversarial”, and black & white). Keep up the good work, guy and Crikey team. Regional GP.

  5. Itsarort

    It depends on the school, depends on their funding regime and it then depends on how the Principal wants to spend that money. If you’ve ever had a class where a borderline (or an unidentified) IM/Aspergers/ED student has been randomly plonked into your mainstream class without a support teacher and the only response from Welfare/Principal is the quote from the 2005 Disability Act whereby the classroom teacher is ultimately responsible for that child’s education, then you know exactly what Guy’s talking about.

  6. Jussarian

    How effective would a second teacher in all such classrooms be? (Leaving aside practical problems of training, employing and retaining the quantities of teachers necessary.)

    1. Desmond Graham

      the teacher I spoke to this morning said last week they had to have 4 in the classroom as they had to control 3 disrupters in the class creating havoc

      1. Marilyn J Shepherd

        For god’s sake, why are people blaming children because they were born with a certain set of problems.

        1. Desmond Graham

          read the posts – not one blames the children
          they are trying to help ALL the children-and fix the broken education system

  7. Desmond Graham

    Unfortunately Pauline Hanson is correct, Using children with autism as an example is quite apt as there is no such thing as autism-it seems to be called autism spectrum. That means there is a great range from mildly abnormal behaviour to grossly abnormal behaviour. So the inclusiveness dogma is completely dangerous for the education system in Australia. Not one has enough resources at hand to achieve their dreams. We will have to make do with what is available.
    We have to educate majority property and not impede this process as a result society has to listen to the teachers at the coalface and look after admission to the kids at school.
    This morning I checked with a teacher friend-she said all week starts with the wild Mondays. Last Monday four out of five hours was disrupted Tuesday this had improved to 2 1/2 hours out of five. Teachers have to undergo training in restrain. Which is quite ridiculous, however qualifies them when they leave teaching to going to the police service.
    I’m glad Guy has brought some balance to this commotion.

  8. klewso

    Refugee to Q4….
    School kid to QB6…..
    Check…. Political chess.

    1. klewso

      To “quote” Dylan –
      “They’re only a pawn their game.”

  9. Nudiefish

    Lord knows that I’m no fan of Pauline, but I found her statement, this time, to be utterly unremarkable. I would have thought that special handling for special need’s kids would be a sensible proposition.

    1. Marilyn J Shepherd

      Yes but she wants no more money, she blames the kids for being born the way they are and calls for segregation. If you can’t see a problem with that brand of vile bigotry you are as stupid as Pawline.

  10. rhwombat

    I think you are right GR, but Hanson’s playing of the card is not going to help – she has too much form in scapegoating for fun and profit.

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