Reshaping liberal education: an appeal to the Stoic tradition
Volume 32 Number 1, June 2005; Pages 1–11
Concerned by the vocational emphasis of many university courses, as well as the general drive towards ‘vocational relevance’, Crittenden uses the 1997 work of Martha Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity, in order to construct a defence of the liberal tradition in education. Crittenden describes Nussbaum’s outline of the characteristics of a liberal education, which, premised on the Socratic and Stoic traditions, include the fostering of practical reasoning, a curriculum adapted to students’ needs and which encompasses the consideration of cultural and value systems, and the belief that a critical and reflective disposition is crucial to understanding and learning. The latter premise is crucial to achieving the Socratic ideal of an ‘examined life’, and it depends on an individual’s ability to reflect critically on their own values, traditions and beliefs – and those of other cultures – in the pursuit of truth, or the universal, which, once deduced through rational thought, is common to all human life. Crittenden explains the virtues of a liberal education so conceived, and situates it, not unproblematically, within the framework of Western, democratic multicultural societies.
Subject HeadingsEducation philosophy
Social studies in today’s early childhood curricula
Volume 60 Number 5, 14 September 2005; Pages 12–18
While aimed at a United States audience, this article will be of relevance to primary and early childhood teachers of Social Studies or Studies of Society and Environment. Mindes considers the aims, purposes and processes of social studies curricula, drawing on the contributions of educationists such as John Dewey and Jerome Bruner, and demonstrating how their views of the purposes and processes of education can be incorporated into the social studies curriculum. From Dewey she takes the suggestion of activity-based learning using the familiar and the immediate social context, while Bruner’s notions of the ‘spiralling curriculum’ and age appropriate instruction are used to inform the content and process of learning. The remainder of the article is dedicated to assisting educators to use students’ immediate environment as the content of their education, and to devise processes, such as group work, discussion, research and fieldwork, which facilitate learning.
Key Learning AreasStudies of Society and Environment
Subject HeadingsCurriculum planning
Early childhood education
Children’s literature: a window for understanding self and others
Volume 60 Number 5, September 2005; Pages 20–28
The authors consider the place of children’s literature in the context of developmental theory and constructivist research, suggesting that just as children’s knowledge of the physical world is gained through their interaction with their environments, their knowledge of the social world can therefore be developed through their experiences with children’s literature. It is through literature that children can experience other people, times and places, and learn about human relationships and values, which all assist them to develop an understanding of human behaviour. The article identifies six ways in which literature in early childhood and primary settings can aid the social development of children. These include the development of a positive self-concept, empathy, positive values and resilience, and an appreciation of human diversity. A checklist of criteria for selecting appropriate books is included in the article.
Subject HeadingsEarly childhood education
Creating poetry: reinforcing mathematical concepts
Volume 12 Number 1, 10 August 2005; Pages 18–23
The prevalence of integrated curriculum approaches to learning makes it desirable that mathematics teachers try to integrate the skills usually associated with other disciplines into their teaching practices. This integration is often more easily achieved in the primary classroom, and with this in mind, Altieri demonstrates to primary teachers how to use poetry in mathematics lessons to improve conceptual understanding and reinforce learning. There are many educational outcomes and pedagogical techniques that are not necessarily discipline-based, such as group learning, communicating understanding and formative assessment. Used strategically, poetry can form the basis of cooperative learning, as students collaborate to understand concepts and create their poems. Once created, these poems can be used to communicate their understanding to the class, and the teacher in turn can gauge students’ conceptual understanding from their presentations. Altieri is aware that many mathematics teachers may be deterred from using poetry in the classroom because of the technical demands of that genre, so in this article she demonstrates the use of List and Definition poems which do not require rhyme.
Key Learning AreasMathematics
Subject HeadingsMathematics teaching
ICT in education – a reflection of leadership
Volume 28 Number 1, 15 June 2005; Pages 19–21
Gebhart considers some of the factors that contribute to schools implementing successful ICT programs, and identifies leadership, vision and planning for ICT as crucial ingredients in that process. Principals’ understanding of the importance of ICT in education, and their ability to develop a vision for their school in which ICT plays a part in student educational outcomes, are paramount to successful implementation of ICT programs. Principals who have this vision will be more disposed to recruiting staff to lead ICT programs, will ensure that ICT is integrated into the school’s pedagogical approaches, and will make the resources available for the successful implementation of the ICT program. Making the resources available often depends on good planning, such as organising a three-year rotation of computer hardware, ensuring the availability of technical support, improving the school's ‘buying power’ by forming strategic alliances with other schools, and locating computers in areas that will not inhibit their use.
Subject HeadingsInformation and Communications Technology (ICT)
Education and labour market outcomes for Indigenous young people
Number 10, August 2005; Pages 1–8
This briefing summarises the findings of the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth conducted in 1995 and 1998, with regard to Indigenous Australian students’ participation in school and their post-school pathways. The Surveys found that Indigenous students, when compared to non-Indigenous students, had a more positive sense of belonging to their school, and this sense of belonging increased as the overall sense of engagement of all students increased. However, with regards to school achievement, Indigenous students performed at much lower levels in literacy and numeracy tests. Within the Indigenous student sample, those in remote areas also performed at lower levels than other Indigenous students. In the 1995 cohort, only 54 per cent of Indigenous students completed Year 12, compared to 80 per cent of non-Indigenous students. With regards to post-school pathways, Indigenous students entered university at lower rates than non-Indigenous students, while 8 per cent of Indigenous students and 14 per cent of non-Indigenous from the 1995 cohort had completed a formal tertiary (university or TAFE) qualification. With regards to vocational education and training, there were fewer Indigenous Year 12 non-completers enrolled than non-Indigenous non-completers, and Indigenous students entering TAFE courses seem to do so at a later stage in their lives. The briefing concludes that, among other things, the data from the studies demonstrates that much more needs to be done to encourage Indigenous students to engage with school and to improve their numeracy and literacy skills, and that the influence of geography on Indigenous students’ educational achievement should also be noted, especially in relation to educational services in remote areas.
Subject HeadingsAboriginal students
Senior secondary education
VET (Vocational Education and Training)
Me and my shadow: how work shadowing and peer support help to improve schooling
October 2005; Pages 11–16
PRISM is a principal professional development program conducted by the Australian Principals Centre that seeks to ameliorate the effects professional isolation has on the profession. The program involves serving principals ‘shadowing’ each other in pairs as they address school improvement issues and implement the aims of the program, which include reflecting on their practice and leadership, sharing ideas and learning how to take a strategic approach to leadership. Barnett describes the principles, aims and format of the professional development program and outlines some of the skills and dispositions that principals are expected to refine while participating in it. In the main, the program involves principals attending a two-day training session where they examine their leadership styles, design their projects for school improvement, and formalise their relationship with their ‘shadow’. After the two-day session, the principals then return to work and begin 'shadowing' one another and reflecting on their practices and initiatives through interviewing each other. A final session including all participants concludes the professional development program.
Subject HeadingsSchool principals
Sharpening up PD: learning for teaching
October 2005; Pages 6–9
In a move away from the traditional one-off professional development seminar and conference, more schools are looking to professional learning teams formed within their schools to lead staff professional development. This initiative often has the advantage of dealing with issues that are more immediate to the local context of the school, producing tailored solutions to particular problems, and allowing for in-depth examination of particular situations and continuous learning by teachers. In this article, Landvogt describes the Ithaka Project, a collaborative professional development initiative between five Melbourne Independent schools, which with the aid of an external consultant, uses action research methods informed by educational theory to generate professional development around issues and problems encountered by teachers in their practice and local contexts. The Ithaka Project uses Ritchhart’s dispositions of intellectual character – openmindedness, curiosity, metacognition, truth seeking, strategic thinking and scepticism – to frame its inquiries, which can include an examination of reporting, the alignment between curriculum and assessment, or catering to students’ learning abilities. Teachers are usually involved through their department teams, subject teams or year level responsibilities, and communication and learning takes place in seminars, online discussion groups, reading groups and joint school meetings.
Subject HeadingsProfessional development
31 October 2005; Page 12
Around the world school students emerge from compulsory years with low interest in science. Few high achievers go on to study science at university. In England and Wales, these issues have been addressed by a new curriculum for Years 10 and 11, introduced in 2002. It contains three new science subjects, with content aimed at different groups of students. The compulsory Core Science subject covers science 'for responsible citizenship' through topics such as food and air quality. The optional General Science, with separate physics, chemistry and biology strands, is for students intending to go on to further study, while Applied Science, also optional, aims at students interested in new applications of science in everyday life. The curriculum for lower years is also being revised. The new curriculum is accompanied by a comprehensive 10-year professional development program. By contrast, the Victorian Essential Learnings (VELS) curriculum does not offer any innovative ways to re-engage students' interest in science, either by focusing on science's relevance to social issues, or by targeting the interests of specific groups of students. The division in VELS into science knowledge and understanding and science at work reflects older discredited concepts in school science.
Key Learning AreasScience
Cyber-bullying among adolescents: is it related to traditional bullying?
July 2005; Pages 54–59
Approximately 18 per cent of adolescents have experienced email, chatroom or web bullying, and 29 per cent have experienced text message bullying according to a recent study. The research showed a correlation between cyber and traditional bullying, with 93 per cent of text message, and 100 per cent of internet victims also suffering from bullying at school. This overlap suggests that prevention of cyber-bullying could be taught in schools as part of the current anti-bullying curriculum. One way to deal with cyber-bullying could be to teach students to conceal personal phone numbers and computer information. In contrast to traditional bullying, many cyber victims did not know the identity of the perpetrator. This anonymity can reduce the perpetrator’s sense of remorse. Cyber victims are vulnerable in their own homes, and can suffer social withdrawal, reduced attendance or withdrawal from school, reduced school performance and/or depression. Suicide has occurred in extreme cases. About 65 USA secondary school students, most of them female, were surveyed in the study. Responses were analysed using the chi square method, and findings related to New Zealand students. Professional training in cyber-safety is offered for New Zealand teachers through the Internet safety group NetSafe, while the Canadian website Be Web Aware also suggests ways to deal with cyber-bullying.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Survey provides data to strengthen future
Volume 14 Number 19, 21 October 2005; Page 2
Queensland’s new Next Step destination survey will be conducted each year to track the destinations of Year 12 school leavers. Findings will underpin future local, regional and state-wide strategies for school leavers. Data from 2004 school leavers shows that 87.8 per cent undertook full-time study in 2005, divided almost equally between university and vocational study. Approximately 6 per cent were seeking work, and almost 4 per cent involved in professional sport, defence positions, travelling or other interests. Those not studying, working or seeking work accounted for 2 per cent of participants. A third of students who have undertaken school-based apprenticeships or traineeships (SATs) have since obtained apprenticeships or traineeships. Drawn from the State's Catholic and Independent schools, 23,650 or approximately 60 per cent of eligible Year 12 students participated in the survey. A related survey shows that government school students are likely to achieve better results in their first year of University study than students from Independent and Catholic schools. The tendency for government schools to focus on long-term learning outcomes over exams is highlighted as a factor in this finding.
Subject HeadingsTertiary education
Transitions in schooling
VET (Vocational Education and Training)
Senior secondary education
Instructional leadership challenges: the case for using student achievement information for instructional improvement
Volume 4 Number 1, March 2005; Pages 3–22
A project at a New Zealand school has successfully addressed some of the complexity and challenges of improving teaching quality. The project was led by the assistant principal and the author, an external consultant based at the University of Auckland. It took place in the junior section of Riverdale, a disadvantaged school catering to Maori and Pasifika students. The project focused on improving literacy learning using student achievement data, and identified and overcame a range of barriers to the use of the data. Students, teachers and the assistant principal all needed, at different levels, to develop the knowledge and skills, and at times the motivation, to use familiar data in new, more productive ways. The teachers, for example, were already adept at using daily observational data about students to inform their planning and teaching, but initially they did not see the relevance of more formal diagnostic data to this work. As the project progressed, this formal data allowed them to compare their students' results with those elsewhere in the country, revealing that their students' skills were almost at the national average in terms of identifying letters but far below average in writing words. This discrepancy was used to challenge the teachers' entrenched pessimism about the students' potential, and it spurred them to find and adopt improved teaching strategies. Achieving improvement in professional and student learning within a school is likely to require on-site help from external experts. Unlike external PD courses this help can be contextualised to a specific school's conditions, while it also moves beyond existing beliefs and familiar practices at the school.
Key Learning AreasEnglish
Subject HeadingsTeacher evaluation
English language teaching
What outcomes do we really want?
19 October 2005; Page 9
Traditional schooling was based on a centrally determined syllabus taught to all students in a class, assessed by end of year examinations. Teachers' accountability was seen mainly in terms of delivering the syllabus. During the 20th century the emphasis in schooling shifted from inputs, ie what is taught, to outputs, or what is actually learned by students. This new learner focus has freed teachers from a strictly determined syllabus and has opened up the opportunity to apply more flexible and varied teaching methods, aligned with the specific needs of different bodies of students. The learner focus also creates expectations on teachers to monitor student progress more closely, and to understand more clearly how students learn or fail to learn. Learner-centred education is demanding, and there has been a hostile reaction to it in some quarters. However an outcomes-focused approach is used in countries such as Singapore that deliver excellent student results. With a learner-centred approach teachers remain capable of teaching explicitly, eg by directing class discussion and addressing student misconceptions. The learner-centred approach also helps to improve the rigour of assessment by specifing what students should learn. However, some attempts to specify learning outcomes have been too detailed or too vague to guide teachers well.
Teaching and learning
Respecting teachers, supporting learning
Education and Training Newsletter Australia
Volume 5 Number 2, November 2005
Recent prosposals for a national syllabus for primary schools and for a national Year 12 examination have been accompanied by a range of criticisms of current school education practices. These criticisms should be challenged. Contrary to suggestion, Australian education systems have enough in common to allow their performances to be meaningfully compared. At the same time the different States and sectors demonstrate 'a readiness to break the mould and to learn from one another'. Unfavourable comparisons between Australia and other countries also need scrutiny. School performance in Asian countries benefits from cultural factors such as extensive coaching of students outside school hours, and the high social status of teachers. Finland's high-equity student outcomes rest on the country's small, largely homogeneous population, and a long history of equity policies. In Australia, inclusive education requires considerable variety in curricula, teaching, assessment and school organisation, which would be threatened by a national curriculum and a national examination. Existing curricula have been criticised for making heavy demands on teachers, and for being too vague to guide them properly. However, research indicates that teachers entering the profession value the freedom granted by their curricula, and that what they feel they lack is not guidance but time to do all their work. Teachers will not be helped by a fixed and detailed syllabus or national examinations designed, in part, to compare different systems.
Subject HeadingsTeaching and learning
Volume 13 Number 17, 20 October 2005; Page 7
Victoria’s Western Metropolitan Region Centre for Excellence in LOTE (CELote) is developing new materials and teaching methods to boost LOTE learning. Italian and Japanese programs are underway in four schools: Strathmore Secondary College, Essendon East Keilor District College, Moonee Ponds West Primary School and Mackellar Primary School. Once fully developed, the new pedagogy will underpin the teaching of other LOTE languages, supported by professional development and curriculum materials available online. Based on research from Melbourne University and in line with VELS, activities and materials will have a real-world context to assist consistent and realistic learning. This will be achieved by teaching languages in other curriculum subjects such as maths and history. Students will also learn extensively about the countries where the languages are spoken. Work units in Japanese and Italian for the Victorian Space Science Education Centre and the Education Foundation's City Centre are currently under development. Materials will also increase ICT use, and use the Internet to help students communicate with those in other countries and access texts in different languages. Another focus of the project is to ease primary-secondary school transition for LOTE students and teachers. CELote is strengthening links between the region’s primary and secondary schools, and developing tools for secondary school teachers to assess students’ LOTE understanding.
Key Learning AreasLanguages
Subject HeadingsProfessional development
Teaching and learning
Languages other than English (LOTE)
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