Australian Government plan to release data on individual school performance
There has been widespread discussion of the Australian Education Minister's plans to collect and publish academic and demographic data on individual schools. See the transcript of Julia Gillard's speech to the ACER Research Conference 11 August; transcript of her radio interview 11 August; report on ABC News 12 August; article in The Australian 12 August; letter in the Sydney Morning Herald 14 August by Greg Whitby, of Catholic Diocese of Parramatta; statement by the Australian Education Union 15 August 2008; commentary by Kevin Donnelly in The Australian 16 August 2008; and article in The Age 17 August 2008.
Controversy over award for Australia Picture Book of the Year
Concern has been expressed at the selection of Matt Ottley's Requiem for a Beast as the Australia Picture Book of the Year. The multimodal text covers the theme of Indigenous dispossession and includes violent imagery and swearing. See commentary by Trevor Cairney, Master of New College and Adjunct Professor of Education at the University of New South Wales. See also the comments from former Children's Book Council President Kate Colley in a report on National Nine News 15 August 2008, and article in the Courier Mail 22 August 2008.
Curriculum leader notes practical challenges in boosting Asian language studies
Tim McMullen, the head of secondary curriculum at the Sydney Catholic Education Office, has said that the push to increase Asian language studies should be channelled toward primary rather than secondary schools. He has argued that secondary students are likely to find learning a new script and tonal mode much more challenging than younger children, and that the crowded secondary curriculum will struggle to accommodate an expansion in Asian studies. He has also suggested that secondary school language studies focus on students with existing backgrounds in those languages, who have shown strong motivation to master languages spoken by their parents. See his commentary in Directions in Education 18 July 2008, published by the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL).
Senate investigates 'prejudice' in high schools and universities
The Senate's Inquiry into Academic Freedom is considering 'the level of intellectual diversity and the impact of ideological, political and cultural prejudice' in universities and high schools. Dr Ben Saul, Director of the Sydney Centre for International Law at the University of Sydney, has expressed concern that the Inquiry may encourage self-censorship and undue political interference in academic life. See his commentary in The Age 18 August 2008.
New program to make maths more relevant to Aboriginal students
Two Queensland University of Technology academics have developed a program called Deadly Maths, designed to make the Queensland high school maths syllabus more relevant for remote Indigenous students. The program, by Annette Baturo and Tom Cooper, includes a section that draws parallels between maths and Aboriginal art. See article in The Australian, 13 August 2008.
Association of Women Educators 2008 conference
The AWE biennial conference for 2008 will take place 1–3 October 2008. Titled 'Choices, Chances and Opportunities’, the conference will address key issues of gender in education. Registrations close 1 September 2008.
Plans for wireless laptops in NSW schools
Michael Coutts-Trotter, the New South Wales Director-General of Education, has described the State's plans to purchase wireless laptops for students. See report on ABC News 18 August 2008.
Certain video games found to enhance problem-solving ability
Certain video games may help users learn problem-solving skills and explore scientific thinking, according to papers presented at the 2008 convention of the American Psychological Association (APA). One study found that younger students in particular tend to play more strategically when they are first learning how to play a game, developing important skills in planning and problem solving. See APA press release and article in The Washington Post, 18 August 2008.
UNICEF urges help for children in Georgia
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has drawn attention to the educational, psychological and physical needs of children suffering as a result of the war in Georgia. See report from Voice of America's VOA News 16 August 2008.
US court defends gay secondary students
A federal court ruling in the USA has confirmed that students who identify as gay or gay-friendly have the right to express their beliefs and form clubs based on the assertion of same-sex relationships. The ruling follows the suspension of 11 students at a Florida secondary school for forming a group in support of a student who had identified as gay. See article in the Detroit News, 11 August 2008.
Children under 11 report modest internet usage
A new report in the USA has found that children under the age of 11 are spending relatively little time online. While most children aged 6 through 11 now surf the Web, 55 per cent of boys and 46 per cent of girls aged 9 to 11 said they had been online for less than an hour or not at all in the past week. See article in MediaPost Communications/Marketing Daily, 12 August 2008.