Australian classrooms are among the most undisciplined in the world

A couple posts ago I wrote about Australia’s less than stellar performance in the fields of mathematics, science and reading. The Australian educational system educational system ranks 29th, 17th and 16th respectively, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment, run every three years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Now get this: in the category of classroom discipline, Australia ranked a dismal 70th out of 77 surveyed countries, narrowly beating out Belgium, the Philippines, Spain, Greece, France, Brazil and Argentina. On the other hand, South Korea has the most disciplined students, with Kazakhstan, Albania, China and Japan rounding out the top five.

The Age reports that Australia is one of a small minority of countries whose student discipline has worsened since 2009. In general, surveyed Australian teenagers (15-year-olds) reported that the many students do not listen to their teachers, classes take a long time to quiet down, and students don’t start applying themselves until the lesson is well underway.

For example, 43 percent of Australian students said there was noise and disorder in most or all of their classes.

Unsurprisingly, classes with more boys are viewed as less disciplined.

“We are basically among the worst in the world and that has been ignored,” said Jihyun Lee, associate professor at UNSW Sydney. “If students don’t want to listen to what the teacher says, if there is noise and disorder in a learning space, and if a teacher has to wait for a long time for students to quiet down, how can we expect students to learn effectively in school?”

That question answers itself.

Lee went on to highlight the fact that less wealthy countries in Asia have better discipline than their wealthier Western counterparts. Of course, they also demonstrate better scholastic performance, with China and Singapore ranking 1st and 2nd respectively in maths, science and reading. And while Australia’s ranking in those subjects isn’t embarrassingly bad, the trend is a downward one: 15-year-olds today are reportedly a full year behind where they were a couple decades ago.