ICPA lessons for bureaucrats
IF ISOLATED home classrooms were visited more often by decision-makers, distance education would be much better off.
That’s the opinion of grazier, and home teacher, Alana Moller from Star of Hope Station.
Alana and her husband Scott run Star of Hope, which is situated about an hour and a half drive away from Clermont in Central Queensland.
Alana has been a vital link for the education of all of her daughters and is currently teaching Zarah (11) and Addison (6), as eldest child Mykenzie (13) has finished primary school at their home classroom and is attending boarding school in Townsville.
Before stepping up to the role of home educator, Alana admits she didn’t know what she was getting herself in for.
She is a qualified secondary school teacher but said it wasn’t until she was in the thick of classes she realised how alone and isolated she felt.
There are no relief teachers if she is unwell, colleagues to gather advice from or superior principals to lend a hand in disciplining on Star of Hope – it’s all up to her.
It’s lessons like that, that Alana is keen for policymakers to understand. Next week she will walk the halls of Parliament in Canberra with the Isolated Children’s and Parents’ Association.
She feels there is a widening gap between the city and country, and it should be up to those in power “to get off the beaten track and come and have a look”.
“I would like to see the people actually making the decisions to come and see what they are making decisions about,” she said.
“A couple of years ago I had a few guys from the Queensland Department of Education brought to my home by the ICPA state council.
“These were three people who make the decisions about Queensland distance education and how we do our lessons, but all three of them had never been in a home school room before.
“They were all teachers, but you can’t understand what it’s like unless you have seen it.”
Amanda said the key to surviving the challenges of distance education was to build networks with those in the same situation.
“I have met people through distance education, who live nowhere near me, but we have become the closest friends because we are going through the same experience,” she said.
“It’s really important to have that connection. In that respect, social media is marvellous.”
Amanda said the program Outreach, which gives clusters of students a school-type experience at the Clermont Showgrounds, was invaluable to her community.
“The kids get to wear their school uniforms and have real lessons with their teachers,” she said.
Amanda’s middle child, Zarah, thrives during these weeks and spends the whole time with her friends. The week also gives parents the chance to catch up and a have a short break from the pressures of teaching. Amanda is passionate about the work of ICPA, as she can see how much the group has accomplished.
Her classroom is kitted out with the correct equipment and learning resources thanks to the ICPA, she said. While there was still a way to go, especially in regards to the group’s Distance Education Teaching Allowance lobby, Amanda said her forebears had much tougher circumstances.
“When I think of the DETA lobby I often think to myself, ‘gosh, I wish that could be back-paid to my mother-inlaw’,” she said.
“She taught her four children and her mother taught her. I just don’t know how they coped in those times.”
Scott will step up as home teacher while Amanda is lobbying in Canberra.
“It’s important for my kids to know there is a bigger world than just here. By me going down there I am proving that,” she said.
Alana Moller with kids Addison (6) and Zarah (11) at Outreach.
Addison during reading time.
The Moller girls are excited for mini-school in Charters Towers.
Alana and Scott Moller with their kids Zarah (11), Addison (6) and Mykenzie (13).
Zarah completing a lesson during a family trip to the doctor.