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 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. email@example.com.