Marketing is not a dirty word
March 2005; Pages 36–38
Holmes considers the place of educational marketing in schools over the last decade, and makes some predictions for its future evolution, given the political, economic and institutional contingencies. He notes that the marketing of schools and education has grown in importance, as school governance and funding have changed from a centralised planning and funding model to a market model. School marketing, historically, has existed on the periphery of the school’s priorities. Marketing specialists were rarely employed, with marketing positions usually filled by administrative staff who, far removed from the decision-making processes in the school, found their marketing duties confined to the production and circulation of promotional material. In recent years, however, with the growing acceptance of the exigencies and principles of the market in education policy making, marketing has become a central function of school organisational structures, with the role becoming increasingly specialised and integrated into schools’ organisational planning. Holmes suggests that this trend will gather momentum in the immediate future, but that school marketing professionals will need to be mindful of the peculiarities of the educational environment as distinct from other sectors of the economy.
Role play and civics education
March 2005; Pages 22–25
The intricacies of parliamentary procedures are not usually considered to be the most entertaining aspect of teaching civics and citizenship. Indeed, many educators would be more willing to impart civics and citizenship values and dispositions than the bland mechanics of the parliamentary legislative process. In this article, however, Geoff Clarke, of the Parliamentary Education Office (Commonwealth Parliament), discusses the role-plays that he conducts for primary and secondary students, and considers their educational value. Clarke asserts that role-play engages students at the ‘emotional’ and ‘intuitive’ levels, and, in so doing, rapidly inducts them into the roles of parliamentarians and the conventions of the parliament. There is no need for a detailed understanding of the process as much of this is elucidated by students through their questioning after the role-play. Clarke encourages teachers to attempt parliamentary role-play in their classrooms as it quickly and effectively develops students’ literacy skills, requiring them to debate, write speeches, negotiate and represent different points of view, skills which are as important to their educational outcomes as they are to their participation in society generally.
Subject HeadingsCivics education
Who’s in our classrooms
March 2005; Pages 6–9
Butler identifies a disjuncture between the students who populate classrooms today – Millenials – and the teachers who lead them in the learning endeavour. The Millenials are the generation who, born after 1982, came of age at about the same time as the Internet. They take the digital world for granted and have been formed by the communication revolution, even though they are not conscious of such an event having occurred. Millenials turn more readily to the Internet for information than to libraries, and the notion of authoritative information sources is regarded with scepticism if considered at all. They communicate by email and instant messaging, and their identities include their virtual communities which have no physical space. Butler points out that there is an increasing dissonance between the lives and expectations of Millenials and their experiences at school, and that schools and teachers need to accept that digital technology not only has a powerful influence among their students, but that it is also a powerful and adaptable learning tool. In order to engage this generation more fully in their education, and to make education relevant to their lived experiences and expectations, teachers and schools will need to bridge the digital divide between themselves and their students.
Primary school physical education: far from realising its potential
Volume 11 Number 1, Summer 2005; Pages 20–21
There is an increasing need for physical education in primary schools as the incidence of obesity in children rises. This article argues, however, that physical education in primary schools is not a priority in the curriculum currently, and this can be discerned by the level of support physical education teachers receive, and the fact that physical education is often taught by teachers who have no background or training in the discipline. One consequence of this is that primary students are often not taught the basic motor skills that might allow them to enjoy physically active lives, and, worse still, they are made to feel inadequate in the absence of support to help them develop those skills. Given that skills and a disposition towards physical activity are developed early in life, and that people who are physical active are likely to have enhanced levels of psychological and emotional wellbeing, it is imperative that physical education programs in primary schools be given a better status and higher priority.
Subject HeadingsPhysical education
Coming out of the dark: children of parents with a mental illness
Volume 11 Number 1, Summer 2005; Pages 14–15
This article sheds light on the experiences of children who have parents suffering a mental illness, and alerts teachers and other child service providers to ways of identifying and assisting these young people. Particularly, it stresses young people’s needs for disclosure and information, arguing that, as with other problems affecting children, there is a need for them to unburden themselves and to have the root causes of their situation explained. Reid notes that, in the absence of support and information, young people are likely to fill the ‘knowledge gap’ by blaming themselves, and this can have all kinds of ill effects on their social and psychological wellbeing. The article draws readers’ attention to some of the services that are helping young people to deal with having a parent with a mental illness, and looks at some ways of helping those who find themselves in this circumstance.
Subject HeadingsMental Health
Parent and child
Values educational? It depends
Volume 11 Number 1, Summer 2005; Pages 12–13
While there has been an increased focus on values education in schools, there has also been, paradoxically, an increase in behavioural management challenges for teachers, a situation which sees many new teachers leave the profession after just three years. In this article, Nielsen observes that, unlike other areas of the curriculum in which constructivist pedagogical practices are encouraged, there is a tendency for teachers to revert to transmission models of education when teaching values, a practice which prevents students from developing an intrinsic motivation for socially acceptable behaviour. While acknowledging that there are circumstances where there would be an immediate need for behaviour modification, Nielsen points out that young people need to develop a critical disposition towards their behaviour, so that they realise the social benefits of appropriate behaviour in their exploration of the alternatives. In this way blind conformity is eliminated and young people are forced to engage with their actions and values, which assists them in developing a reasoned motivation for their behaviour.
Subject HeadingsValues education
What to pack
Volume 11 Number 1, Summer 2005; Pages 8–9
Chris Sarra is an award-winning principal of the Cherbourg State School in Queensland. In this article he advises teachers on ‘what to pack’ and, equally important, what not to pack when accepting appointments to teach in Indigenous communities. Sarra suggests that while teachers need not concern themselves about their lack of prior knowledge of these communities, this is something they must be prepared to gather once they are in the position. Teachers should be prepared to bring with them high expectations of Indigenous students, an open mind about Indigenous young people and their communities, and a preparedness to accept and learn from Indigenous education workers in their classrooms. An additional requirement, according to Sarra, is ‘boldness’ – the ability to summon the courage to change curriculum design and pedagogical practice when they are not working, and not to persist with practices that are ineffective.
Subject HeadingsAboriginal students
Education aims and objectives
Using a curriculum package combined with professional learning to promote good practice in teaching secondary science
Volume 16 Number 2, 2004; Pages 49–63
The effectiveness of SciencePlus, a curriculum package designed to promote science teaching within a constructivist and cooperative framework, has been evaluated through a study at three secondary schools in New South Wales. Teachers trialled the package over half a year after attending a short professional learning program. SciencePlus was developed in the USA, drawing on the Canadian Atlantic Science Curriculum Project (ASCP). The SciencePlus program is based on the Invitation, Exploration, Proposing (IEP) teaching strategy. Teachers already comfortable with using a cooperative teaching approach were able to apply the package’s ideas and activities readily and make marginal improvements to their teaching. However, teachers with different ideas about teaching and learning made minor or no changes as a result of the package. The teachers were relatively ready to implement the cooperative learning aspect of the program and to follow the suggested activity sequence, but were less ready to implement the program's constructivist approach to teaching and learning. The study highlighted the difficulty teachers and students facing in making an abrupt change to familiar teaching and learning practices. Curriculum packages should be flexible enough to allow teachers to adapt gradually to the suggested methods. The program and study may not have been long enough to promote and evaluate the desired shift in teaching methods. Longitudinal evaluations may be needed.
Key Learning AreasScience
Subject HeadingsScience teaching
Poverty remains a major barrier to tertiary education
29 March 2005; Page 3
Students from higher socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds comprise almost 55 per cent of students at research-intensive universities compared to 11 per cent from low SES families. Last year the Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of Melbourne found that the proportion of low SES students was almost unchanged since the 1990s. The researchers argue that current government policy, emphasising objectives, measurements and targets, is not solidly grounded in a theory of educational disadvantage. The CHSE also reported on research with a cohort of 70 Year 10 students from ten under-performing schools. It found that the reasons for inequity go beyond the cost of higher education, and include lack of self-confidence and lack of awareness of the value of higher education among disadvantaged students. The CHSE argues that universities, especially the ‘sandstones’, should provide preferential pathways for students from designated communities.
Subject HeadingsTertiary education
Selective tests a high-school crossroads
28 March 2005
Australia's school education systems have taken different approaches to gifted and other high-potential students. New South Wales has set up 30 academically selective state schools in a move to retain high achieving students in the government school sector. However, Miraca Gross, Professor of Gifted Education at the University of New South Wales, stresses that gifted students are also catered for by comprehensive state schools. New South Wales is the only state to group gifted primary students on a full-time basis. Victoria has two fully selective state schools and a number of partly selective ones. Western Australia has several partly selective state schools, one of which is to become fully selective, and offers the Primary Extension and Challenge (PEAC) program for 4,000 gifted students. Queensland has created eight Learning and Development Centres for gifted and talented education.
Western Australia (WA)
New South Wales (NSW)
Retention rates in schools
Gifted and talented (GAT) children
The power of collegiality in school-based professional development
Volume 30 Number 1, February 2005; Pages 1–14
Issues in school-based professional development (PD) are explored in a three-part case study of 15 South Australian teachers. The teachers were drawn in equal numbers from Hillside Secondary School, Southside Primary School, and Lakeside School (Reception to Year 10). The schools were selected for their strong commitment to professional learning. The article reports on the second phase of the study, which involved interviews with the teachers. Respondents strongly valued their principals’ role in implementing whole-school change and in supporting teacher PD through means such as release time for team meetings and shortening the school day. The teachers also undertook individual PD at conferences and other external forums. They noted that such training was particularly useful when the school culture encouraged knowledge to be shared with colleagues at the school. Some respondents emphasised the need for PD to remain focused on a few manageable projects and noted the need for adequate follow-up time to carry through changes. The study found that the culture of the 'learning community' developed most readily at the level of individual faculties and teams within a school. The close work within these units facilitates shared decision making, problem solving and active learning, sometimes through observation. Primary teachers in particular were keen to restructure classes into teacher–student learning communities. (A version of the article has been published online as a paper from the Australian Association for Research in Education 2003 Conference.)
Subject HeadingsSouth Australia
Teachers' perceptions of high-stakes testing
Volume 14, September 2004
A survey of Texas teachers in primary, middle and secondary schools has examined their opinions on a key high-stakes achievement test for students, the Texas Assessment of Academic Achievement (TAAS). Most teachers indicated that they gave disproportionate attention in their teaching to areas of the curriculum covered by the test. They also indicated that the test did not motivate students to learn, and that it was not an accurate measure of student learning or school effectiveness. The lower the school’s performance rating on the test, the more often respondents felt that the test had a negative impact on students' performance in terms of academic outcomes, development of social skills, and grasp of higher order thinking skills. The negative effects of the test were stressed most strongly by primary teachers, less strongly by middle school teachers and least strongly by secondary teachers.
Subject HeadingsSecondary education
United States of America (USA)
In England, girls are closing gap with boys in maths
30 March 2005
After two decades of changes to school education in England, girls are now reaching or surpassing the academic achievement of boys in school maths. There has been a shift from textbook learning and memorising towards more interaction in classes. Since 1988 all students must continue in maths and science until the age of 16. Students are also required to consider mathematical theories to give them a deeper understanding of topics. Students are now assessed on the work they do in preparing answers, as well as on the answers themselves. Maths textbooks have been revised to remove gender stereotypes and promote positive achievements of women in the discipline. Now being explored is another method thought to help girls in maths, the use of anonymous answers to teachers’ questions in class. This approach encourages shy students to offer answers. The rise in girls’ maths results challenges biological determinist theories of gender. It coincides with a current change sweeping through the field of genetics: social forces are now thought to determine how biological traits manifest in actual behaviour. Recent research in the USA has found that the relative influence of social and biological factors is itself affected by social class. Genetic factors seem to correspond closely to IQ among well-off children, while environmental influences have a greater impact on IQ for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Key Learning AreasMathematics
Thought and thinking
Public school system in need, but not failing
4 April 2005
The New South Wales’ Public Education Council report Building on Strong Foundations addresses issues facing government schools in the State. The report finds that the New South Wales Government has supported state school education through measures such as increased investment in early years’ education, increased professional development, and the establishment of the Institute of Teachers. However, the resources for state schools in disadvantaged areas do not yet adequately meet their needs. A large state school sector creates a ‘critical mass of educational wisdom and experience’ that guards against ‘idiosyncracy and faddishness’ and enables stable planning to meet future educational needs. It also provides for students with severe disabilities or learning difficulties. Public schools have real unmet needs but discussion of these needs is hampered when it is represented as ‘talking government schools down’.
Subject HeadingsEducational evaluation
New South Wales (NSW)
Spreading the word: literacy coaches share comprehension strategies
Volume 47 Number 2, February 2005; Page 1–3 & 8
With the rise of information-based economies in developed countries, there is an imperative for students to graduate from school with sophisticated literacy skills. In this article, Allen considers the increasing role of literacy coaches in the United States, teaching professionals who work alongside discipline-based teachers to assist them to develop and impart literacy strategies that are tailored to the requirements of their discipline. The article asserts that there is a need for teachers to realise that different subject disciplines have specific literacy requirements, and that students need to be aware of those requirements. For example, the literacy skills needed to read a novel differ from those required to understand a history text, as the latter activity is much more information focused. Various literacy coaching exercises are included in the article, along with a description of the role and qualifications of a literacy coach.
Gender debates we still have to have – and have to have again?
Association of Women Educators Inc. Biennial National Conference – Stand Out! Lead, Shape, Sustain the Future
Kay Boulden's presentation was a keynote address at the Association of Women Educators Inc. Biennial National Conference in 2004. The paper surveys the key policy initiatives in the area of gender and education since the Commonwealth Schools Commission's report, Girls, School and Society, published in 1975, ending with a consideration of the Gender Equity Framework Review that was being implemented in 2004. Boulden laments the usurpation of the gender debate by what she terms 'a most conservative backlash against women and girls', which has seen boys posited as the more disadvantaged in education. This occurrence, she asserts, is based on a narrow interpretation of schooling outcomes because, while it is true that there has been improvement in educational outcomes for some girls, this success cannot be generalised to girls across the socioeconomic spectrum and, furthermore, it does not account for post-schooling options, an area where girls still lag behind boys. Boulden fears that this part of the gender debate will be ignored, given the current concentration of public policy and resources on improving the educational outcomes of boys.
Subject HeadingsGirls' education