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Archive for November, 2010

(You’ll have to view Ken Robinson’s TED Talk to get the reference in the title. It’s worth watching.)

Has Australia’s “Education Revolution” transformed education? Laptops in Year 9? New school buildings?

Does education as it currently stand “dislocate people from their natural talents?” as Ken asserts. (I would say unless we embrace a more authentic early learning pedagogical model in our schools, it certainly will!!)

Do we “innovate fundamentally?” Challenging what we take for granted, really struggling with the new. (Teacher Educators – tick YES!)

Is the new Australian curriculum “obsessed with a linear narrative?” A step by step model of curriculum that is predictable and centralised as opposed to localised and responsive to students needs? Maybe. We will have to wait and see.

What I do know is that an online curriculum model, such as the one proposed by ACARA, that has an extensive access to curriculum resources is not enough to personalise learning, to create exciting learning opportunities for our students. Human resources are needed for this curriculum to be personalised, relevant, dynamic and exciting.

The term “Education Revolution” was bandied about endlessly in recent times by the then Education Minister, and now Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. That’s why I like what Ken Robinson has to say. He turns this concept on its head.

Watch it.

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Does class size matter?

Depends who you ask.

If I asked some of my colleagues who are teaching 34 children in kindergarten, many who are learning English as an additional language in low socio-economic areas, they would say YES. Particularly as they are attempting to honour early years pedagogy.

(This photo was taken when I recently visited Tallinn, Estoniathe teacher had a “STOP” sign that she held up at regular intervalsI later saw them walking into McDonald’s!!)

If you asked John Hattie he would say NO. In his extensive research,

Teachers Make a Difference
What is the research evidence?

he found that it is not class size that matters but teacher quality, teacher feedback and a host of other factors. Hattie argues that it is the teacher that makes the difference to student learning and that

excellence in teaching is the single most powerful influence on achievement.

Funnily enough reports in today’s press state

New research suggests that reducing class sizes fails to improve student performance at school and the government would do better to focus on improving teacher quality.

The author, Dr Jensen said a student with a teacher in the top 10 per cent of the profession can achieve in six months what a student with a poor teacher can achieve in a year.

This certainly backs up Hattie’s findings from his study in 2003. That’s why I found it perplexing that they called the research NEW. It isn’t.

That’s why the teacher educator model that Sydney CEO primary schools have adopted as part of the national partnership program is so exciting. 20 schools each have a pedagogical “expert” to work in building leadership and teacher capacity. The aim is to improve teacher effectiveness and hence improve student learning. From the data collected so far – it is early days – there are some great changes occurring within school communities.

But it is a cultural change that requires significant time and resources and it is a challenge that our teacher educators are not backing away from. So if you are reading this, and you work in a CEO school, seek out a teacher educator  and watch them at work.

A-mazing.

 

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