Why year 12 formals being cancelled reflects poorly on the education system

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The school curriculum and university courses evidently do not generally teach those in power how to lead or demonstrate vision. The announcement of the banning of Year 12 formals by an educational ‘leader’ in a time when student stress and the need for social inclusion has increased was, in my view, lacking in both leadership and vision.

Year 12 formals being canceleld reflects poorly on education system. A group of girls with corsages putting their hands together in a circle.

That the announcement was completed and juxtaposed with, a ‘need to focus on exams’ demonstrates a smallness of understanding. I have indicated earlier that youth suicide has increased and students feel afraid and uncertain. Under such circumstances, exams need to be seen in a context.

READ ALSO: Why I chose Hindi for my HSC and why you should too

Do educational ‘leaders’ not understand this? Surely they are across this data? Surely, a pandemic requires something more than a focus on exams? It is as if the assessment of ‘stuff’ prevails over an understanding of the times. Whilst the announcement may have been well meaning, an understanding of emotion and its impact on student learning needs to be understood. Why cause angst amongst students and distract them from the study so evidently valued? Why create distress amongst parents?

In a year when physical and social distancing has created discontinuity, a message of how year 12 formals, as a necessary transition between school to autonomous life, would be made to work rather than be cancelled would have reflected the education system as a learning system.

This smallness evident in some aspects of educational leadership is pervasive in society. At a time when individuals and communities need hope and a clear vision, reassurance and calmness, the political dialogue swings from reactive to aggressive.

The broader chatter – on social media and reflected in classrooms – should make it abundantly evident: students in Australia, as with elsewhere, need messages of hope, encouragement, perspective.

It should be obvious to those in power that, though unexpected and unwelcome, the coronavirus pandemic was perfectly predictable. It should also be perfectly obvious that when a world ‘leader’ undermines the legitimate press through a self-interested characterisation of ‘fake news’ then people will lose trust in authority. If those charged with carrying out the law subvert the law, then the trust will further erode. Students see police officers shooting unarmed civilians in the back. Students do not say, “that was there, but this is here”. Everything feels close and nothing can be trusted.

At a time when some of the largest governments are also the most controlling it should be obvious that there will be international tensions and even the possibility of war. Be it economic or armed, war is characterised by propaganda – a divided world of us versus them or right and wrong.

READ ALSO: India’s impressive new education policy could create opportunities for Australian universities and young people

Faced with these circumstances authentic leaders need vision and need to ‘lead’. Leadership is different from management. Leadership requires that those in power follow a vision that incorporates a clear understanding of history, human behaviour and what brings out the worst in people. Invoking angst, enmity, division or fear are the antithesis of leadership. Creating hysteria might pander to some but most simply lose hope.

Shutting down hope and then justifying why does not inspire communities. It makes them initially powerless and then angry.

Leaders need to understand and live with the idea of loneliness. Decisions made should be made for the greater good, not a system, an ideology or an administrative set of boxes to tick. Great leaders understand loneliness for their connection is with an ideal, not the polls or popularity.

However, whilst embracing loneliness for the self, leaders encourage community, understand how message of hope uplift and find a way to help people know there are better times ahead. Today’s discipline is tomorrow’s celebration. Today’s discipline is also today’s celebration for discipline never restricts when lived in the context of a better life.

It would be great to see more joy. A focus on kindness, community and finding things to celebrate (like the year 12 formals). Since thinking can be shaped by what we choose to see, leaders need to see how happiness can engender hope at this time – when the circumstances will be bleak for a while.

Messages of importance are not undermined by warmth. Finding humour and lifting spirits when there may not be much to smile about is the beginning of leadership.

- Advertisement -
Mohan Dhall
Academic leader, M2K Education and Advisory and CEO of Australian Tutoring Association and Global Tutoring Association.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -


Ep 9: What do young Indians want from love?

  Growing up in Indian culture, most of us know that love has never been as popular as marriage. Even in the movies, the main...

Ep 8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s...

  To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic death...
- Advertisement -

Latest News

Vinod Dua passes away at 67

The pioneering and anti-establishment television journalist, and a walking encyclopaedia on India's culinary secrets, Vinod Dua, passed away on Saturday, months after he lost...

Review: Bob Biswas

  This film focuses on the assassin Bob Biswas, a character conceived by Sujoy Ghosh and Advaita Kala’s Kahaani ( 2012) starring Vidya Balan, thus...
gita gopinath

Gita Gopinath to become IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director

  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that Gita Gopinath, currently chief economist of the IMF, is set to succeed Geoffrey Okamoto as the...
Photographer Naidu Kumpatla and his shot of a Laughing Kookaburra tossing her catch. Images supplied

Naidu Kumpatla: Bird Man

  It’s Sunday night and bird photographer Naidu Kumpatla has just returned to his Perth home from a weekend at Camel Soak in outback WA. The...
antim screening

WATCH: Bollywood fans light fireworks in theatres during ‘Antim’ screening

  Salman Khan aka 'Bhai' had a much-awaited theatrical release with Antim: The Final Truth last week, joined by his brother-in-law Aayush Sharma. Unfortunately, some emphatic fans...