The dark side of school leadership: implications for administrative preparation
Volume 3 Number 4, 2004; Pages 245–273
Literature on school leadership too often avoids discussion of 'dark issues' such as bullying of school staff by principals. Universities and schools are 'frequently dominated by cultures in which conflict is strenuously avoided', with the result that bullying is not addressed. Such intimidation is sometimes referred to as mobbing, petty tyranny, abusive disrespect, emotional abuse, or workplace aggression. The authors report on an extensive literature review on the topic. They also report on feedback received by over 400 school administrators and teachers on a questionnaire on school bullying.
Subject HeadingsSchool culture
Awareness needed on workplace mobbing
29 April 2005; Page 8
Mobbing is a form of bullying and, as Murrell explains, it is a particularly insidious form of group behaviour. Mobbing involves isolating an individual from a group and then, over an extended period of time, humiliating, ridiculing and intimidating them until, bereft of self-esteem and confidence, they leave the organisation or cohort. Murrell observes that this kind of collective aggression can occur most often in workplaces where there is a management or leadership vacuum, and informal groups are able to wield power buttressed by patronage and personal loyalty. This article considers the forms and manifestations of this behaviour, as well as the consequences for its victims.
Getting dramatic: challenging traditional masculinities in the drama classroom
Volume 3 Number 1, 2005; Pages 14–17
Mark Zietsch is a teacher at an all boys’ Catholic school in Queensland. In this article he recounts how the drama class at the school evolved from an elective to an integral part of the curriculum, a development which he attributes to the teaching practices of a single teacher. Zietsch has had the opportunity to observe the classes of that teacher and, in this article, he describes and analyses their relationships with their students, the classroom environment which they create, and the pedagogical practices which they employ. The success of the drama program at this school is particularly significant because of the gender of the student population, and Zietsch’s analysis highlights the many ways in which the program is able to confront, challenge and alter students’ notions of masculinity through sound pedagogical practice.
Subject HeadingsBoys' education
Adam’s story: managing the conflicting discourses of being a boy and being a student
Volume 3 Number 1, 2005; Pages 9–13
Keddie draws on the available research in gender and boys’ education to shed light on the educational experiences of her case study, twelve-year-old ‘Adam’. Adam is a student at a primary school in Launceston, and invests much of his time at school attempting to subvert the authority structure and disciplinary regimes. According to Keddie, the causes of this behaviour are to be found in Adam’s sense of powerlessness within the accepted discourses of schooling, and his struggle to find within them an accommodation of his masculine identity. The school’s reaction to Adam’s behaviour through its disciplinary regimes only serves to legitimise his behaviour, as it reinforces his ‘sense of masculinity’ as one of dominating others. ‘Disrupting’ this relationship of dominance can be accomplished by conflict resolution techniques which help boys to explore the emotional dimensions to their behaviour, and which, in turn, will undermine their versions of masculinity as relating to dominant and domineering behaviour.
Subject HeadingsBoys' education
Literary theory in the middle years classroom: challenges for students and teachers
Volume 3 Number 1, 2005; Pages 3–8
Jones is a teacher of English at a Catholic boys school in Brisbane. In this article he considers the merits of using critical literary theory in secondary English classrooms, and demonstrates to teachers how to use it effectively. Jones is of the view that it is vital that students, even lower secondary students, understand the way texts are constructed, so that they can better analyse and interpret them, as well as create their own. Jones looks at various aspects of critical literary theory, such as discourse and representation, and demonstrates how to introduce them to a Year 8 English class, as well as how to put them to analytical use.
Key Learning AreasEnglish
Getting into the game
Volume 62 Number 7, April 2005; Pages 48–51
Jenkins is an educational researcher whose task it is to integrate computer games into school curriculums. In this article, Jenkins uses the construction and attributes of electronic games to highlight the lack of connectedness between students and the curriculum. According to this article, sixty-five per cent of United States college students play computer games, and about 42 per cent admit that playing games interferes with the time they have available for schoolwork. For Jenkins, these findings indicate that there is something intrinsically motivating about computer games which schoolwork lacks and, in this article, he shares some of those aspects of computer games which grip young people’s attention. Not surprisingly, many of the attributes that attract young people to computer games are the very things that an engaging curriculum should offer, and include, among other things, a reduced threat of failure, immersion, a regulated challenge which does not overwhelm the player, clear goals, and a social context in which players share their knowledge. The author considers some of the computer games which have been developed for education, and reminds apprehensive educators that good role plays already share many of the features of these educational games.
Subject HeadingsInformation and Communications Technology (ICT)
Computers in society
Teaching the DIG generation
Volume 62 Number 7, April 2005; Pages 44–47
The term DIG generation stands for digital immediate gratification generation, and was created by Alex Serge Vieux. The DIG generation have grown up with the digital revolution, and do not have to wait very long for anything, including information. Renard brings the communication habits of this generation to the attention of teachers and, in so doing, exhorts them to create more engaging classroom environments and lessons for the students of this age cohort. In this article, she demystifies webquests and blogging, and advises teachers on how to integrate these Internet practices into their curriculum.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
A case for school connectedness
Volume 62 Number 7, April 2005; Pages 16–20
In the United States, it is anticipated that as many as 40–60 per cent of students feel that they are not connected to their school. Given that ‘school connectedness’ is the main factor in students’ academic achievement, this statistic is cause for alarm. According to Blum, school connectedness is present when schools have high expectations of students, when students feel that the adults and other students in the school care for and respect them, and when the school provides a physically and emotionally safe environment. Schools can create connectedness by having teachers take responsibility for the learning environment in their classrooms, and for making the curriculum relevant to students’ lives. Schools should also foster the attitude and the message that all students matter, and that none should fail. Other factors which foster school connectedness include school size, the absence of streaming, mentor programs, and pedagogies which include all abilities. To help schools create environment in which students feel connected, the author has included the Wingspread Declaration on School Connections, a declaration formulated by the attendees of the conference held on the issue of school connectedness in Michigan.
Subject HeadingsSchool culture
Read them to teach them
Volume 62 Number 7, April 2005; Pages 9–15
This article surveys the work of four innovative teachers, and examines the features of their teaching which help them to make the connections between their students and the curriculum. For the teachers featured in the article, much of their success depends on the emotional engagement they are able to generate between themselves and their students, and between their students and the curriculum. Respecting students translates into valuing their ideas and strengths, and reframing the curriculum to make it relevant to their lives. All of the teachers featured in the article were able to make that connection – between students and the curriculum – in various ways, and this article contains the various strategies that they used.
Subject HeadingsTeacher-student relationships
Teaching and learning
Literacy's helping hands
Volume 84 Number 8, 9 May 2005
Last year the New Zealand Ministry of Education appointed 13 literacy development officers to work with principals, senior management and literacy leaders to provide support and professional development to primary schools. The officers’ value to schools has extended beyond strengthening literacy. They have provided valuable advice to principals on the use of assessment data for improving student achievement, including national English exemplars and the Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning (asTTle). They have also improved teaching and reporting practices, increased understanding of learning outcomes among students, and enabled closer school networking. Christchurch Literacy Development Officer, Jill Forgie, has observed that her developing role now includes strengthening schools’ leadership through strategic thinking, and encouraging initiatives such as action research in schools.
Key Learning AreasEnglish
Subject HeadingsSchool principals
English language teaching
On the governance of public education
Volume 25 Number 1, 2005; Pages 13–22
Private schools in Australia receive significant public funding, but their determination to concentrate social and cultural capital and consolidate positional advantage ‘denies the possibility of their serving the public interest’. A 1998 study of Victorian private schools has confirmed that they produce above-average academic results and are also concentrated in high socioeconomic geographic areas. The few private schools outside this pattern serve mainly provincial areas or ethnic minority groups. High academic credentials depend at least in part on their scarcity, and ‘the selective function of schools, directed towards establishing a hierarchy of performance, overwhelms the pedagogical function of universal learning and social justice,’ especially at transition points in the education system. The governance procedures of schools typically encourage high academic standards ‘through mechanisms of exclusion’. Private schools in particular, at the secondary level, tend to ‘export failure’ through ‘predatory recruitment and selective dumping practices’, and by arrangements with universities for early placement of high performers into preferred tertiary courses. The broader education system reinforces the competitive processes within schools though competitive examinations. A range of steps can address these equity problems. Curriculum should be made more sensitive to disadvantaged social groups. Secondary schools should be aligned more closely to the social, cultural and economic development of their communities through mechanisms such as VET in schools, linkages with TAFE colleges, and a broadened curriculum that addresses community problems.
Subject HeadingsVET (Vocational Education and Training)
School and community
Senior secondary education
A recipe for confusion
23 May 2005
The Australian Government has commissioned the ACER to review Australia’s eight different senior school certificates and to present alternative options for certification. At the same time, State and Territory education ministers have applied to trademark the title 'Australian Certificate of Education', and some have moved to apply it to their own systems’ senior school certificates, a formal change that leaves the current approach intact. Australia’s fragmented approach to certification extends more generally to curriculum and assessment, wasting resources and effort. Countries that perform best in international tests have centralised education systems. A national approach to certification could apply models such as the International Baccalaureate and the US-based Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), and could address increasing evidence of decline in the standard of senior school courses in recent years.
Subject HeadingsEducational certificates
United States of America (USA)
Is everyone listening?
May 2005; Pages 26–27
Recently there has been a sharp rise in the number of children referred to assessments in central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). One expert in the field, Robert Keith, has defined CAPD as 'the inability or impaired ability to attend to, discriminate, recognise or comprehend information presented auditorily even though the person has normal intelligence and hearing sensitivity'. However, problems with listening and understanding can come from many sources, only one of which is CAPD, and hasty CAPD referrals put immense, and often unnecessary, strain on the industry. Professional avenues to investigate before CAPD assessment is sought include speech pathology, educational psychology, clinical psychology, social work, school guidance counselling and doctors.
Subject HeadingsLearning problems
Mentors beat bullying
May 2005; Page 37
Research conducted over a three year period has found that an anti-bullying program facilitated through the Peer Support Foundation had significant positive results for both peer leaders and young participants. As part of the program, senior students met regularly with younger students to discuss issues. Over 2,300 students provided input through questionnaires and focus groups. Year 10 and 11 mentors recorded benefits from involvement in the program, including a sense of personal development, leadership, communication and listening skills. With exemplary group leaders available to provide support and guidance, Year 7 students became more aware of bullying behaviour in their schools, and as a result became more caring and helpful towards others. While the study demonstrates that bullying continues to be a significant problem in schools, it also found evidence of success for the program, with seventy-five per cent of student participants reporting that they felt accepted within their Peer Support Group.
Problem-based learning as a cross-curricula approach with middle and secondary teacher education students
In 2003, Flinders University introduced Problem Based Learning (PBL) for middle and secondary Bachelor of Education students, within a compulsory topic covering child development, learning and teaching. Student teachers were asked to propose solutions to problem situations at two imaginary secondary schools. The scenarios were prepared by practising teachers, together with tertiary teacher educators. Student teachers were expected to develop solutions by researching literature, discussing the problems with practising teachers during their practicum, and through group discussions with other students. After completing each of the two PBL tasks, the 2003 students were surveyed on their perceptions of the course’s impact on their tutorial performance skills in problem solving, communication, personal development, and learning. They were also surveyed on the overall value of the PBL course work. The survey results indicated that students’ perception of the value of the work rose significantly between the first task, carried out early in the course, and second task which was completed later. Some students reported that PBL was valuable in enhancing critical thinking, and offering experience of shared responsibilities. Other students found it too time consuming or were confused by the ambiguous situations created in PBL scenarios.
Subject HeadingsTeacher training
Inquiry based learning