Lionel Cra­nen­burgh: Ca­reer Or­bit

Key find­ings from the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment’s re­port that rolled out in schools and uni­ver­si­ties this year will im­pact every stu­dent, teacher, and school.

The Australian Education Reporter - - CONTENTS - LIONEL CRA­NEN­BURGH

THE re­port aims to make uni­ver­si­ties and schools more ac­count­able for grad­u­ates, with a start-up date in 2018. Crit­ics la­bel it as re­form that boils down to more test­ing, more mea­sur­ing and more rank­ing, quot­ing renowned Fin­nish ed­u­ca­tor Pasi Sahlberg.

Its six find­ings in­clude want­ing more sup­port for begin­ner teach­ers, bet­ter part­ner­ships be­tween schools and teach­ers’ col­leges, and greater rigor in se­lect­ing and as­sess­ing grad­u­ates linked to na­tional stan­dards with each grad­u­ates’ stan­dard of lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy tested.

Brian Cam­bourne, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at Wol­lon­gong Univer­sity, weighed in to pub­lic dis­cus­sion, sug­gest­ing that re­port could pro­long an ex­pert-driven “trans­mis­sion of in­for­ma­tion” model of teach­ing and as­sess­ment.

Crit­ics like Ni­cole Mock­ler, se­nior lec­turer in ed­u­ca­tion at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney, ar­gues force­fully that the re­port lays blame for fall­ing stan­dards on early ca­reer teach­ers, in ways that no one does to early ca­reer doc­tors.

“Ab­sent from the 2015 re­sponse is the recog­ni­tion that good teach­ing is some­thing that be­gins de­vel­op­ment dur­ing ini­tial teacher ed­u­ca­tion and con­tin­ues well into and be­yond the early years of teach­ing,” she said.

A ma­jor con­cern is that the re­port does not ad­dress dif­fer­ent con­texts in which early ca­reer teach­ers may op­er­ate.

Martin Mills, pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Queens­land ar­gues that a stan­dard no­tion of class­room readi­ness pro­posed by the re­port will not ad­e­quately pre­pare pre-ser­vice teach­ers for a di­ver­sity of ex­pe­ri­ences.

The one-size-fits-all model of teacher ed­u­ca­tion would not be ap­pro­pri­ate in WA where schools in ru­ral or re­mote lo­ca­tions like Bayulu are very dif­fer­ent from sub­ur­ban Perth.

The re­port rec­om­mends that pre-ser­vice teach­ers be equipped with data col­lec­tion and anal­y­sis skills to as­sess the learn­ing needs of stu­dents.

How­ever, Mer­ri­lyn Goos, for­mer pro­fes­sor in ed­u­ca­tion at the Univer­sity of Queens­land is em­phatic that the re­port will lead teach­ers to col­lect and an­a­lyse achieve­ment data to ad­just teach­ing in­stead of im­mers­ing them in a re­search-rich en­vi­ron­ment us­ing mul­ti­ple sources.

Teach­ers and prin­ci­pals should read the Bri­tish Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search As­so­ci­a­tions (BERA) re­port with its strong em­pha­sis on teach­ers be­com­ing “re­search lit­er­ate”; able to con­duct and use their own re­search.

Mills and Goos are em­phatic that BERA will en­cour­age teach­ers to en­gage with big ques­tions like cli­mate change and mar­riage equal­ity, in­stead of us­ing nar­row re­search that will only make them pro­fi­cient at analysing data from stan­dard­ised tests.

The re­port rec­om­mends that early ca­reer teach­ers be as­sessed us­ing port­fo­lios and it has stirred con­tro­versy as re­searchers say it will limit as­sess­ments to pro­gram struc­ture and small scale projects.

Wil­liam Doyle is a Ful­bright scholar 2016 who lec­tures at the Univer­sity of East­ern Fin­land. In his ar­ti­cle This is Why Fin­land

has the best schools, he quotes Har­vard ed­u­ca­tion pro­fes­sor Howard Gard­ner as say­ing “learn from Fin­land which has the most ef­fec­tive schools and does the op­po­site of what we are do­ing in the US or other coun­tries”.

“Fin­land doesn’t waste money on low-qual­ity mass stan­dard­ised test­ing, in­stead, chil­dren are as­sessed ev­ery­day through di­rect ob­ser­va­tion and check-ins by teach­ers,” Doyle writes.

Fin­land’s teach­ers are rated next to doc­tors in part be­cause they have a master’s de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion funded by the Gov­ern­ment and are se­lected from the top 10 per cent of the na­tion’s grad­u­ates.

Lyn­nell Han­cock, lec­turer at Columbia Grad­u­ate School of Jour­nal­ism wrote that Fin­land’s teach­ers spend more time than US teach­ers build­ing cur­ricu­lum to­gether and as­sess­ing their stu­dents but not with stan­dard­ised test­ing regimes.

“PISA is not seen in Fin­land as a trig­ger for ed­u­ca­tion re­forms. The Fin­nish way is to ad­dress in­suf­fi­cient ed­u­ca­tional per­for­mance by mak­ing schools more in­ter­est­ing and en­joy­able,” Pasi Sahlberg told the Wash­ing­ton Post.

Fin­land re­mains one of the high­est per­form­ing school sys­tems in the world, well ahead of Aus­tralia, ac­cord­ing to PISA.

I would ar­gue that Fin­land’s highly re­garded early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion, its re­spected teach­ing pro­fes­sion, and strong fo­cus on whole-child de­vel­op­ment and al­ter­na­tive mod­els of ac­count­abil­ity should be of in­ter­est and not PISA per­for­mance. Lionel Cra­nen­burgh is the 2015 Pos­i­tive Be­hav­iours Win­ner (WA) and Di­rec­tor of Lionel Cra­nen­burgh and As­so­ciates, Ca­reer Com­pany. lionel@li­onel­cra­nen­burgh.com.au.

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