What's that sound?
Oh, it's teachers banging their heads against white boards wondering what on earth they have done to be singled out for an attack by Christopher Pyne.
I'm not sure how much time Pyne has spent in front of a year 9 class, but if he really believes it makes no difference whether there are 25 or 40 of them in a classroom at any one time, then I can hazard a guess.
He's supported in this theory by Barry McGaw, Kevin Donnelly and other educational 'experts', none of whom, I would suggest, have done any face-to-face teaching in the past decade. And that's being generous.
Let's see why everyone who has excreted blood, sweat and tears in a classroom in this country is tearing what's left of their hair out.
Mr Pyne wants us to "improve teacher quality". This presupposes that teacher quality is in need of improving. It is gobsmackingly insensitive to the thousands of teachers who put their hearts and souls into a profession that is constantly under attack. Not only that, but it misses the point entirely.
He asserts that, "students choose teaching because they consider it to be a cheap and easy degree". He goes on to assert that it doesn't attract "high achievers", whatever that might mean.
There is only one thing that will ever, and has ever, attracted people to teaching, and that is a deep-seated desire to help young people find their way in the world.
No-one in this country has ever gone into teaching for the money or the status, let alone because it is a soft option. Teaching, a soft option? You've go to be kidding! If students are choosing a teaching degree because it's a soft option, then those students will soon find out that there is nothing soft about the job itself.
Imagine spending 28 classes, each 40 minutes, with 25 teenagers who are just like the ones you wrestle with at home, and you might get some idea of what I mean. That's 25, not 40.
The "high achiever" might be good at exams, but can they pass that test?
Pyne then asserts that we need to get rid of "underperforming teachers". Who are they exactly? Teachers whose students don't make it to the merit lists so sensitively published by our newspapers?
What about the teacher who helps a student for whom English is a second language but manages to conquer a myriad of challenges? What about the teacher who offers help and guidance to a student from a family that is struggling to keep it together? What about the teacher who helps a student deal with their parents breaking up? And so on. And on.
Do statistics really tell the whole story when it comes the true nature of education rather than 'educational outcomes'?
Then there's the spurious comparison currently in vogue that asks us to compare our schools with those in "East Asia" and Finland. The argument being that we're falling behind them both.
"East Asia"? Are we still part of the Empire? Are we still dealing with the East Asia Trading Company? "East Asia" is made up of a lot of independent countries, many of which have a rather different attitude to things like self-expression and discipline. That's not to take issue with what they do; it's just to make the point that the comparison is, at best, odious.
As for Finland, suddenly we are holding it up as the exemplar of all things educational. Great. Good luck to the Fins. The thing is, like "East Asia", Finland has a slightly different culture to ours. And a different cultural mix.
They don't have the same level of disadvantage in their outlying suburbs as we do. They don't have country schools that are isolated and disadvantaged by geography and neglect. They don't have an Indigenous population which has been denied the particular support a dispossessed people might need.
Finally, Barry McGaw is quoted as saying that statistically it has been proven that reducing class sizes has no impact on student learning.
Just imagine you have 40 teenagers chafing at the bit in your class. What chance is there that you'll be able to identify, and help, that student who needs a bit of TLC? Is anyone seriously suggesting that offering the kind of pastoral care that can change a child's life is going to be as easy in a class of 40 as it might be in a class of 25?
And isn't that really what teaching is about? Offering support, boosting self-esteem, helping a student feel good about themselves? Of course, achieving good marks is important, but it doesn't tell the whole story, and the sooner we recognise that, the sooner teachers can stop bashing their heads and tearing out their hair.
Ned Manning is a writer, actor, and teacher who has worked in classrooms around Australia for the past 40 years. His has written a book on his experiences in the classroom called Playground Duty.