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Posts Tagged ‘pedagogy’

  1. Education – my thinking

    12 November 2018 by shartley

    I was recently challenged by someone to add more of my own thinking to this blog, given that recently it has been more about other people’s voices. So sitting in my gorgeous hotel in Bath, occasionally looking out the window (view in image above) for moments of contemplation, I have bashed out where my head is currently at re education and my PhD. By the way, for my more general thoughts, less education related, I have a writing blog too. Often the lines blur so the decision as to where to post can be quite the quandary.

    So here goes.

    I am passionate and quite emotionally tied up with:

    1. Students’ gaining agency through education so they feel empowered to make choices and decisions about their own lives and believe they can have an impact on the people, communities and societies around them.
    2. Creating a broad curriculum that students value and engage in.
    3. Implementing pedagogy that enables students to value and engage with the curriculum.
    4. This generally means the curriculum needs to be relevant to real life in terms of what is being learnt, how it is learnt and how it is assessed.
    5. Also means that there is a need to not only focus on students’ attainment on knowledge but also their development of skills, attributes, competencies, capabilities, and other closely related terms.
    6. Breaking down the restrictions, barriers and the risk levels teachers feel, to enable students to learn and acquire the knowledge, skills and attributes they need now and into the future.

     

    Thus, there are several areas in education that really make me angry and frustrated.

    1. Teachers who just want to deliver information to compliant students.
    2. People outside the profession who think education is merely about delivering information to compliant students.
    3. The lack of recognition that to do more than deliver information takes time and energy.
    4. The teachers who think their innovative teaching method is the one and only way. Teaching needs to be fit for purpose.
    5. Schools that promote themselves as being a “PBL school” or some other particular method of learning annoys the hell out of me. Teaching needs to be fit for purpose.
    6. Students and their families who focus on the final grade at the end of over a decade of education and not appreciating learning for its own sake. This is exemplified by students who say “just tell me what I need to know”.
    7. Schools and teachers who cater to students and families’ single-minded focus on grades and/or want to maintain an outdated image of compliant students sitting in rows, working in silence.
    8. The confines of prescribed curriculum reducing teaching to a tick-box approach to covering material.
    9. Curriculum that claims in overarching statements at the front of documents that they are achieving a range of knowledge, skills and attributes through that curriculum and then in the back end, reduce teaching to be mainly about the mere delivery of knowledge.
    10. Dichotomies in education that reduce concepts to either/or concepts. I am sometimes guilty of buying into some of them in my research and writing. I am particular against the ideas of traditional versus progressive teaching and knowledge versus skills and attributes. Again, it’s about teaching that is fit for purpose. Fit for the knowledge, skills and attributes being sought, fit for the students undertaking the learning and fit for the context and available resources.
    11. The terms “non-cognitive skills” and “soft skills”, as if leadership, creativity, interpersonal skills and so on, do not require thinking and hard work to develop and improve.
    12. The term “21st century skills”, as if these skills have only been needed for the last 18 years and not before. How ridiculous!
    13. Socio-economic inequities in education. I have worked in four private schools with various level of fees and funds to expend. My own children went to private schools for the most part. Despite my own actions and behaviour, I desperately want public schools to be better resourced. Technology adds to the socio-economic gap in education and yet I am still an advocate for technology in teaching because it is such an integral part of our lives. I worry how much education adds to income inequality in our society.
    14. Other inequities in education that occur on the basis of gender, race, learning difficulties and much more.
    15. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) currently being valued so much more than the Humanities. Is it really to cater for a job market (and thereby treating education as the mere creation of human capital)? Or is it about reducing the amount of critical thinking about societies, communities and the people within them?
    16. The treatment of education as if it is about producing human capital. I will acknowledge there is an element of that occurring because it is inescapable in a capitalist society but there is so much more to education than this!

     

    This thinking informs the research I want to undertake for my PhD.  It has led me to Enterprise Education which has the potential to encompass all that I desire in education. I also resist the wholesale embracing of capitalism and therefore would prefer if Enterprise Education did not overly feature entrepreneurship and financial gains. To me, Enterprise Education is about developing students’ enterprising skills and attributes in the broadest sense, allowing all students to flourish. I want to discover the best objectives, curriculum, pedagogies and assessment processes in Enterprise Education that is conducted at a scale beyond the classroom, at a whole grade level, preferably more than a one-off experience but a whole year program. I would love to just submerge myself in a few of these programs and analyse what works best.

    Attending the ISBE Conference last week was a fantastic immersive experience in the thinking of a whole bunch of amazing people working in this area but it also added to the imposter syndrome monster within me. My struggle is the more academic aspect of doing what I want to do. I need to work out theoretical approaches/lenses and frameworks. This is what keeps me awake at night and occasionally drives me to tears. Am I ever going to get my head around this stuff? Am I ever going to be able to produce good quality academic work that can make a difference in education by influencing curriculum and helping teachers to happily do the best for their students? Well, that’s my dream. I’m sure once I have a grip on the academic theories I will be able to analyse and write and have a voice in the arena but right now there’s a huge wall in front of me. I have ten days to write a decent PhD proposal, including a literature review, while I also enjoy the pleasures of being a tourist as I finish up in Bath, go to Prague, and then head home. I know, tough life and all. I will submit a proposal at the end of this time but it won’t be anywhere near the quality I desire unless an epiphany occurs.

    Soon this initial hurdle will be behind me and I won’t have to think on it until the PhD truly commences in 2019. In the meantime, back home, I’ll be preparing for Christmas and finding somewhere new to live (long story). I am looking forward to hosting a party for my fellow post-grad education researchers, visiting family in Adelaide, going to the cricket and tennis, reading for pleasure and experiencing the glorious heat and sun of summer in Sydney, Australia.

    PS My playlist (shuffled) as I wrote this post.


  2. 12 Golden Nuggets from Practical Pedagogies

    4 November 2018 by shartley

    Image courtesy of Practical Pedagogies via a tweet

    Look! Look! Look!

    I can see hundreds of teachers voluntarily gathering for the sharing of pedagogical ideas. I can hear a cacophony of accents as they chatter earnestly making new connections and friends. I see Russel Tarr, one of the first few international connections I made on Twitter nearly 10 years ago. He organised this conference at St. Georges’ School, Cologne, from Toulouse, in his spare time. I have found Russel to be deeply intelligent, skilful and passionate about education and continuous learning. Through this conference he has also demonstrated how incredibly organised he is too.

    Look! Look! Look!

    I can see a pumpkin patch of golden nuggets. I’ll list 12 of the biggest and brightest nuggets from the conference in a rough chronological order:

      1. I met Jared, a science teacher from North Carolina, USA, when we sat down for the opening of the conference. He has a delightful American drawl and repeatedly called me ma’am which was equally uncomfortable and endearing. His commitment to teaching and life in general made a warm golden moment to start the conference.
      2. Hywel Roberts‘ opening address. I had spent the previous couple of weeks reading Hywel’s book Oops! in preparation. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that fond of the book since I felt it to be a little patronising but in person Hywel was very entertaining. I laughed often and loudly. After a while his educomedy style felt like it was going too long and I became silently critical of the lack of substance. He must have read my mind because he reassured the audience that substance was coming soon. And it did. His message about narrative and story-telling (Look! Look! Look! I can see…) through relationships with students provided a good reminder of the joy and wonder teaching and learning can create. I also liked his three key words:
        • Imagineering (aka VISION – visionary teacher): Thinking and planning for teaching to make curriculum palatable without dumbing it down. This takes professional imagination which unfortunately can often be eroded over time.
        • Botheredness  (aka MISSION – caring teacher): Demonstrating authentic care, being the caring adult (not at war with children) and building botheredness in students for the work they’re doing in class 
        • Phronesis (aka VALUES – wise teacher): professional wisdom 
      3. An Action Research Observation Sheet from a session led by Liz Free could be useful for my PhD research.
      4. Dominic Tremblay (not @DomTrem or @DominicTremblay on Twitter – I found out the hard way) presented a system he has implemented in many schools called Follow the Money.  I loved his enthusiasm and he had some wonderful ideas for teaching student financial concepts in a really active way. I just have concerns about the extent to which the program in full implementation is so fully steeped in capitalist values. For example, charging students a fee for using a paintbrush that is refunded upon return of a clean brush in good condition may work against attempts to instil good values for the sake of good relations, community and society. I have seen research that suggests as soon as childcare centres start charging parents for late collection of children it leads to increases in how often and how late parents are to pick up their children because of the transaction value placed upon it instead of values of respect and consideration.
      5. Dominic also demonstrated how to use the Post-it Plus App. A tool I’m sure to use in the near future.
      6. I loved the workshop by Joanna Norton because she looks at the world with such an artistic and creative eye, different to the more linear and ordered way I do. She provided lots of ideas and food for thought. Some divergent thinking too. I particularly love the idea of bringing books into class to peruse with QR codes of Questions. 
      7. I ran into Mariusz Galczyński at various times over the two days of the conference but it was the bus ride from the school to the city at the end of the first day during which we discussed education and politics extensively in the 20-30 minute trip that was the highlight. This is another connection I hope to maintain well into the future.
      8. I stand by my tweet about Jennifer Webb‘s presentation. Probably my favourite session. I nearly didn’t go to this session because I have a really lovely friend, Jen Webb, and I was scared that the name would be tarnished but no, the name still stands for people who are gorgeous, lovely and caring.
      9. Neil Atkin took us on a journey of emotional states and thinking flaws. He introduced me to the McGurk effect (YT video below) and Brain Rules by John Medina. 
      10. When I first discovered someone else was presenting on Enterprise Education at Practical Pedagogies my imposter syndrome kicked in, making me worry I’d be showed up as an amateur in the area. Instead, I have a new connection and friend in Rachel of Enabling Enterprise (aka Skills Builder). Enabling Enterprise provides standards/criteria for essential skills at a range of levels, an area my research is lacking at the moment. I will definitely be investigating further.
      11. My own presentation. Russel had asked presenters for preferences regarding when we ran our workshops. I said I didn’t but when I found out I was scheduled for the last session, I realised I did. Not last! As it was, it was good to see Rachel’s presentation first and even though we are conceptually similar we hardly overlapped in what we actually presented. I was horrified by a couple of shortfalls in my slideshow (now rectified) but at least the flaws helped to determine which bits I needed to skip since I was very aware I had too much for the hour and ten minutes we had. A last minute inclusion was the use of Lotus Charts, introduced to me by friend and former colleague, Kendra. Russel, with camera in hand, walked in as I was introducing Lotus Charts. He was pleased to have come at a point where he learned something new. It was also a hit with the participants, resulting in a few Tweets. I think overall my presentation went well.
      12. Cologne itself. The pubs and their 200ml glasses of beers that just keep coming were loud and fun. The cathedral is an imposing sight near the main railway station and opposite our hotel. Apparently it took over 600 years to build. It is one of hundreds of churches in Cologne. There’s a saying that you could go to a different church for every day of the year in Cologne. There is also a Chocolate Museum in Cologne that provides a history and manufacturing process of chocolate with some tasting to be had. When I was there numerous school groups were going through, giving me flashbacks to the stress of running excursions. There are also numerous art museums that time didn’t permit us to visit. Next time.


  3. A conference, a cruise and new connections

    6 February 2018 by shartley

    Even though I have yet to hear a reaction from my supervisor about the latest topic I’ve proposed for my MRES, over the last couple of days I have been steadily researching pedagogical practices in enterprise education. One article amused me because it fitted so well with my experiences of teaching Business Studies. Basically, the article (Jones & Penaluna, 2013) slams the use of business plans for developing entrepreneurship in students. I’ve read 100s of articles in the last few weeks but since this one tickled my fancy, I tweeted the Australian author, Colin Jones. A bit of an exchange about my research ambitions occurred and we are now aiming to meet over a drink in Brisbane in a few months time. Then his co-author from the UK, Andy Penaluna, also started tweeting me and sending links to great resources for my topic. Colin had probably gone to bed. Andy and I tweeted until I postponed the conversation at 2am. This morning I received more tweets from both of them. How cool is that?!

    I think I have been following Russel Tarr on Twitter since my first few months of joining, many years ago. He is from England but teaching History at an International School in Toulouse, France. He is a passionate and innovative teacher. A few years ago he started a conference in Toulouse called Practical Pedagogies but no matter how hard I tried to fit it in to my life and budget I couldn’t go. People have raved about it. Well now I have been accepted to present at this year’s conference which is being held in Cologne, Germany, 1-2 November. I’m hoping to tie-in a visit to Emma who will probably be on university exchange at the time, perhaps in France, perhaps in Taiwan. Now I just have to manipulate credit card points to pay for the flights.

    I am honoured and privileged to have these opportunities but it’s freaking me out a little. There is a lot happening in October and November this year. My MRES mini-thesis is due in the middle of a professional development course called Navigating Pedagogy I’m conducting on a cruise to Noumea and New Caledonia (7-14 October). Tough job, but somebody has to do it. 

    Actually, I shouldn’t be so flippant about it. I have already done a lot of hard work to develop the course and be endorsed as a professional development provider by NESA (Board of Studies NSW). As for the MRES dissertation, I’ll just have to submit it early and be prepared for the cruise and the conference super ahead of time. Really, it just means I need to be as organised as I have been the last few months. Easy!

    Article: 

    Jones, C., & Penaluna, A. (2013). Moving beyond the business plan in enterprise education. Education Training,55(8/9), 804-814. https://doi.org/10.1108/ET-06-2013-0077 

     

    * This post is also on my general writing blog: https://squibsandsagas.blogspot.com/2018/02/a-conference-cruise-and-new-connections.html


  4. Risks, Fears and Concerns: Issues teachers have with pedagogical change

    6 February 2018 by shartley

     

    The last few days I’ve been doing a slow dig into my research. I am looking at the concerns teachers have about shifting to more student-centred pedagogy. I am also trying to find out what can be done to alleviate these concerns, particularly in the form of professional development.

    For non-teachers, very roughly, pedagogy is the art and science of teaching, the methods used in the teaching and learning process. Student-centred learning is when students have more of an active role in their learning. Instead of merely being recipients of information and drilled into skills, they undertake activities that develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving and much more. By having greater choice over the process of learning, students often take on more ownership of it.

    A traditional view, reinforced by popular culture, is that learning at high school consists of students sitting in rows, in a classroom, with a teacher talking at them, leading a discussion or showing some boring film. Sometimes learning needs to be with a teacher directing a class from the front but often it is not the best way to learn. It is probably the best way to maintain order and control in a classroom. Complete order and control is not necessary for learning to occur. Structure and purpose is important most of the time, but not so tight it confines students’ minds from thinking for themselves.

    Many teachers have difficulty letting go of order and control. In their minds, quiet work is productive work, and reflects well on them as teachers. It is so incongruent of a concept, it is hard for them to learn and implement strategies that allows students more freedom because the perceived risk is too high. One of the articles I’ve read about this is called ‘What if students revolt?’. This happens more in the higher grades because students have so much pressure on them to achieve in high-stakes tests, such as the HSC, they just want to be told what they need to write to do well in the exam, having very little focus on learning itself. I’ve had one frustrated student who pleaded, “Just tell me what I need to know”. Memorising and regurgitating information just doesn’t cut it anymore. The fear is also about students not achieving as well in assessments and that also reflecting badly upon the teacher. It is being scared of looking a fool by trying something out of their comfort zone and possibly failing.

    Textbooks give the false illusion that learning is linear and straight forward, a mere comprehension task. Textbooks also help teachers know exactly where they are up to in the teaching process and can check-in with other teachers about their pacing. It shouldn’t be about where students are up to in the textbook but where they are up to in their learning.

    This fear is exacerbated if teachers feel they don’t have the backing of the school leadership or the wider school community (eg school board, parents) and are constantly slammed in the media and by government figures. The literature calls this a lack of relational trust. From my  own experience, this can occur in several ways. For instance, there is the fear that school leaders will change their mind and switch back from the new innovation to the traditional way or leapfrog onto something else again, thereby wasting a lot of time and effort of everyone involved. Sometimes when a teacher tries a new teaching method, as advocated by the leadership, and it results in complaints from students and/or parents, the leadership kowtow to the complainers when the teacher should be backed by them. It is demoralising and makes teachers even less inclined to change what they have always done. The risk to change becomes way too high. Some schools have gone through incredible changes, only to have a new principal come in and change it all back again.

    Most schools are going down the student-centred learning path but veer back to traditional teaching for the HSC when marks trump real learning. It’s the HSC game really. I hate how many times I say to my classes that in reality ‘xyz’ is this but for the HSC it is that. For example, in HSC Business Studies students have to write a business report. They are usually taught to write in exams an Executive Summary as a substitute for an Introduction and to keep it as brief as possible. It is purely to tick the box that they did one, and move on as quickly as possible to provide content that will produce the bulk of the marks. In reality, executive summaries actually are what they sound like they should be, a summary of the report and a rule of thumb is that it should be a page in length. I find this so frustrating! Exams are so removed from real life but are a convenient way of ranking people, distributing them across some statistically desired graph. We supposedly have a standards based system, meaning students are assessed against standards instead of against each other but when it comes down to it, results are manipulated to reflect a particular norm. A friend who has marked Food Technology exams has reported that when the statistics revealed the majority of students failed a question, the markers had to go back and scratch for just a word or two that could just possibly mean, perhaps, the student may have actually understood what they were writing about in some way.

    An issue with all this is the conflicting demands placed on teaching and learning. The national curriculum’s general capabilities provides a good overview of what school education should be about:

    • Literacy
    • Numeracy
    • ICT capability
    • Critical and creative thinking
    • Personal and social capability
    • Ethical understanding
    • Intercultural understanding

    However, NAPLAN, the only compulsory external testing system in NSW before the HSC, is only about literacy and numeracy. Since NAPLAN and HSC results are so public, schools can fall into the trap of teaching to the test, resulting in formulaic responses that produce solid results. Teaching for genuine, deep learning, is much harder to test properly so that in our current system, real learning can result in wildly inconsistent outcomes in NAPLAN and the HSC. I always professed I wanted my children to be motivated more by learning than by assessment results. Yet I had to compromise that ideology when Emma wanted to learn Economics for the HSC but performed better in Ancient History, which she had been interested in for years but was now bored. To achieve the mark she needed for her desired university course, the interest in learning was traded in for a higher mark.

    It takes time to implement change. It takes time to learn new ways of doing things. It takes longer to do something for the first time than it will subsequently. The planning time for new pedagogical practices will be longer because the style of learning is new and taxes the brain harder than just doing what was done before. Many teachers are used to Heads of Department writing programs and handing them over to be followed (or not). Now it’s more about collaborative planning and coming up with new ways to work together as a team of teachers. It feels like independence is being stripped away as well as authority in the classroom. However, it actually should be giving teachers greater ownership and pride in what they do because they design the learning process instead of deliver information. By not being up the front of the class so much, teachers should also have more time in class to have one-on-one discussions with individual students about their progress

    Technology has a lot to do with the shift away from traditional learning, enabling students to participate in the learning process in new, innovative and fun ways. Just watch how young people jump to YouTube for tutorials in how to do something, from knitting (I have seen a student do that with my own eyes when they were supposed to be working on something else) to changing a tyre. The Internet is their go-to for communication, information, entertainment and well, everything, really.

    Many teachers find it hard to understand and adopt technology and are fearful of it. They are already forced online to mark their rolls, maintain a grading system, complete their welfare reporting and much more, so that to also have to learn more technology for the teaching process, it can be overwhelming. Technology can also be unreliable in schools, being such an expensive commodity. To me, the gap between the technology haves and have nots is the biggest divide in education of modern times. My son gained 17 marks on his school assessment in his Information Processing Technology HSC exam with a great deal of help from Eddie Woo’s YouTube videos. If we didn’t have a reliable internet at home this would not have been possible. I worry about students who don’t have access to reliable Internet at home – it will hold up their education and their adjustment to participating in life, at work and play. Schools need to help out more in this regard, but that’s a completely different post to write.

    I know and recognise I have been a bit on my soapbox in this post. I partly wrote it here to shake it out of my system so I can approach these issues in a more academic and studious way for my research. All these concerns are real and need to be acknowledged and addressed. I am looking forward to investigating how this can best be done.

    Further Reading

    Boschman, Ferry, McKenney, Susan, & Voogt, Joke. (2014). Understanding Decision Making in Teachers’ Curriculum Design Approaches. Educational Technology Research and Development, 62(4), 393-416

    Dole, S., Bloom, L., and Kowalske, K. (2016). Transforming Pedagogy: Changing Perspectives from Teacher-Centered to Learner-Centered. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 10(1)

    Le Fevre, D. (2014). Barriers to implementing pedagogical change: The role of teachers’ perceptions of risk. Teaching and Teacher Education, 38, 56-64

    Siedel, S. B., & Tanner, K. D. (2013). “What If Students Revolt?”–Considering Student Resistance: Origins, Options, and Opportunities for Investigation. CBE – Life Sciences Education, 12(4)

     

    * This post is also on my general writing blog: https://squibsandsagas.blogspot.com/2018/01/risks-fears-and-concerns.html


  5. 2017 ACSA Conference – Part 3

    8 October 2017 by shartley

    2017 ACSA Conference

     

    WHAT IF? Embracing complexity through curriculum innovation

     

    Program: https://www.acsaconference.acsa.edu.au/program

     

    Part 3

     

    There is a constant tension between the curriculum as constructed and the curriculum in practice. While politicians and the media carry on about how Australia goes in world rankings in education and schools performing or underperforming in NAPLAN and other state enforced testing, schools and their teachers need to focus on real learning.

    However, many institutions and people believe a move away from teaching to the test involves acute risks, for example, in the forms of parent backlash and reduced government funding. One conference delegate from a prestigious private school in Melbourne told me she had no desire to change her teacher-centred approach to learning because she was achieving great marks from her students and they were learning the set curriculum as intended. This was her job, not worrying about the skills and attributes students may need for actual life. Yes, that comment is a bit harsh, but illustrates how I feel. I understand where she is coming from, particularly considering the pressure for marks, but I don’t agree with the approach all the same.

    So how can schools shift the traditional view of education being about the accumulation of knowledge to more genuine authentic learning appropriate for our modern world and heading into the future?

     

    Reclaiming the Curriculum – Implementing Change

     

    At the conference I attended sessions relating the journeys of two different schools: Parramatta Marist High School with Gavin Hays (slides) and Campbelltown Performing Arts High School (CPAHS) with Stacey Quince, the Principal.

    The message that most clearly struck home, for me, is that communication with all stakeholders about the need for change is vital, particularly with parents. The Futures Unit of the NSW Department of Education has produced a case for change in this video:

     

    Schools need to be clear about the reasons for changing the style of learning within their schools. These reasons include:

    • Student engagement in learning
    • Preparing students for a modern world of globalisation and technology driven change
    • Providing students with the skills to enter university eg interview skills for early-entry

    On the front page of their website, CPAHS is upfront about their learning approaches, summarised in this video:

     

    The biggest contrast between these two schools is their pedagogy. Parramatta Marist is a completely dedicated PBL (Project Based Learning) school where students undertake 200 projects during their time at high school. On the other hand, CPAHS advocates a range of pedagogical approaches, including PBL, design thinking and explicit instruction. As I’ve said before, I’m all about balance, so prefer a horses for courses approach.

    Other than that, the schools were quite similar in how they implemented change. At the core of change is a focus on learning and the skills required for the world today. Assessment is then aligned with these skills. Other changes include reducing timetable restrictions, adjusting the physical environment to allow for more collaborative learning and making stronger connections to the community. On that last point, I have deep admiration for how CPAHS has worked with their local council to solve various issues in their area. For instance, Year 8 students participated in a PBL with a design thinking process to consider How can we improve community engagement and sustainable use of a local wetland area? To quote the council’s Comprehensive State Of The Environment Report: Major Achievements July 2012 – June 2016:

    Students from Campbelltown Performing Arts High School investigated environmental and social issues surrounding the Park Central wetland and developed a suite of management actions aimed to improve the local environment, increase awareness about the wetland and engage local residents with the space. As a result, Council has implemented two of the student’s ideas; a children’s storybook ‘Eric the Eel’ and a wildlife tile game. Both projects aim to raise awareness of the unique plants and animals at our local parks. (Campbelltown City Council n.d., p.21)

    As a consequence of these implemented changes, CPAHS students are gaining early university entry because they can articulate what they’ve done at school and why it matters.

     

    TeachMeet 

     

    Although technology prevented a visual and coherent presentation (hyperlink to slides) from Bronwyn Joyce, my interest was piqued enough to investigate further. She is a strong advocate for integrating the UN Sustainable Global Goals into the classroom and some amazing #OneWorldOneClassroom activities can be found here. Click on the presentation slides to gain free temporary access.

    Svetlana, a pre-service teacher, presented about the importance of psychology in teaching. It resonated with the audience:

     

    Yaso showed a video about the curriculum changes being made at her school:

    Leanne Cameron talked about AI and robots taking over the workplace, or not. See Students teach to avatars in classrooms of the future, AI tutors and meet Amelia and Jill.  

    Chatbots don’t need to seem “human”, they just have to be useful.

    Annie Gerasimou promoted Club Kidpreneur which I loved the sound of because it has a Market Day that focuses on real world problems instead of food and drink, but then I found out it was outsourced to a commercial enterprise. A little disappointing.

     

    Other Presenters/Events

     

    Deena Yako shared her life story and how schools can connect with their local immigrant community. In brief she:

    • Fled Iraq as a child, went through refugee camps
    • Entered Year 8 after 3 terms of English lessons
    • Had high hopes for HSC but bombed it
    • Through TAFE ended up with job in the settlement of Iraqi refugees in Australia – educating school communities and others about refugee experience, empowering refugees to be their own advocates and contribute back to society – they want to, but many hurdles

     

    Read more about what she has achieved:

     


    Scott Eacott, Director, Office of Educational Leadership, University of NSW


    Pip CleavesTracey Breese and Alan Hope presented:
     

    Final comments

     

    I loved this conference for its mix of teachers and academics across Australia and that a handful of these people were the tribe I know and love from TeachMeets, conferences and Twitter. Cameron organised the conference and Yaso organised the TeachMeet. I hung out with Stephy, John, Darcy, Phil and Nigel who were also presenters. I connected with my MEd idols Alan Reid and Bob Lingard. I met Omar Musa and saw him perform!

    I also loved the new connections I made with a bunch of academics who want to cross the university/school divide and encouraged me in the my own pursuit of academic research. I want to research how to encourage teachers to adapt their pedagogy to make learning the focus instead of high stakes testing taking precedence, by reducing the risks they perceive.

    You can’t take home the whole beach, just bits of driftwood.

    At the TeachMeet, Cameron shared the above adage, he once heard from a colleague. Well, the driftwood I’ve brought home from this conference is pretty darn special.


  6. ICERI 2013

    2 December 2013 by shartley

    ICERI A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege to attend, present and chair at the International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (ICERI) in Seville, Spain (18-20 November 2013).  This came about due to the comprehensive research completed by a group of us at school, upon the request of our principal, into ‘ICT and Active Learning’.  The investigation involved visiting a variety of innovative schools, surveying our own community and secondary research.  The report ended up being 60 pages long and has resulted in the implementation of REAL (Relevant, Engaging, Active Learning), a concentrated effort for a paradigm shift to more student-centred learning in a Year 7 pilot program for 2014.  Since we had already completed the research we wrote a couple of different abstracts to apply to present at international conferences and were surprised to be accepted by both.  The school is paying for the Innovative Learning Team (ILT) to attend the International Conference on Learning in New York, July 2014, so couldn’t send us to the ICERI one too.  I therefore asked for leave and attended under my own steam (except for accommodation).  I also gained permission to add a couple of days in Paris to visit my 16 year old daughter on school exchange there.  From lift-off to landing I was gone for a total of 9 days, only absent (in body) from school for 5 of them.

    So why would I go to so much expense, effort and jet lag to be at ICERI 2013?  Put simply, the experience.

    For the first time I’ve had an academic conference paper published (with my two colleagues, Melissa Carson and Nick Cook).  Although it’s not the level of a peer-reviewed journal, it’s still something.  It had to be submitted back in October; I wrote it during the school holidays, heavily based on our report for the principal.

    For the first time I’ve presented at an international conference.  I was the first to present during my session, forgot to mention a couple of key points, but generally thought it went well.  We were asked to use either Adobe Acrobat (pdf) or PowerPoint for our presentations.  I was quite pleased with my slides, prepared the day before I left and I wrote what I said during the flight over.  I was asked which I thought should come first, the pedagogy or the technology, and I replied quite definitely, the pedagogy, but what I’ve read since has made me question my decisiveness a little.

    For the first time ever (beyond the classroom) I’ve chaired a session of presentations.  This meant I had to introduce each of the presenters with a supplied biography, pronounce their names as correctly as I could, and ensure they adhered to the tight time regulations.  The duo that followed me were speaking for a couple of minutes before I remembered I had to time them but I recovered and nobody knew.  The next presenter was so nervous that I concentrated too much on calming and preparing her that I forgot to introduce her.  She ran out of time so I concluded with a comment about how fast the time slips away when up front that I also forgot to introduce her and did it then, at the end of her talk.  From then on I was much better and even managed to gain a laugh with my comments about the last speaker’s presentation.

    Of course there is the added benefit of the credibility it provides to me and my school.

    Unlike the various school conferences I’ve attended, this conference was wholly based on academic research.  Each presentation went for 15 minutes and I attended approximately 50 of them on a wide range of topics.  Some were highly technical analysis of statistics that bored me but then I was often surprised by the interest some audience members displayed in the following Q&A.  Most presentations had something that fascinated me.

    By theme the sessions I attended were:

     

    The highlights for me were Morten Fahlvik (@Fahlvik) speaking about blended learning, Ruth Bridgstock (@RuthBridgstock) speaking about educating for digital futures, Alex Tyman presenting on perceptions of leadership and the presenters in my session who had researched teachers’ responses to the introduction of or increase in ICT usage in classrooms.

    Some of the issues that had me thinking include:

    • technology increasing the income gap and the lack of ICT adding to the poverty cycle
    • pedagogy being taken hostage by the tools
    • ‘massification’ resulting in the requirement of large halls; personalisation resulting in the requirement of smaller learning spaces; and ‘interactive classes’ requiring convertible settings
    • parallels between digital media professionals and teachers networking through PLNs on Twitter and TeachMeets
    • how we keep judging leaders against our prototypes (men, tall, suits, aggressive, etc) instead of what we say leadership should be about (consultative, caring, diplomatic, etc)
    • a study of US songs have had a recent exponential rise in use of the words ‘me’, ‘myself’ and ‘I’ in lyrics
    • how students condemn cheating but justify their own cheating but also how this has been researched with many underlying assumptions (eg what actually constitutes ‘cheating’)
    • how to assess social and ethical behaviour/attitudes
    • the language used in relation to shifting teaching styles should not be “make them”
    • focusing more on students’ competencies than knowledge

     

    The other important aspect of the conference was simply talking with other earnest educators, the vast majority being from universities around the world.

    Before the conference, I had already connected with @davidwebster (David Webster – University of Gloucestershire) via Twitter through the hash-tag #iceri2013 and found each other in person during the first break.

    At the first day’s lunch I sat next to Tony Scafide of SUNY Oneonta (USA) and we talked intensely all lunch and throughout the cocktail party the following night about life, the universe and everything.

    On the second day I lunched with Ruth Bridgstock (QUT) and Margaret Mackay (University of Portsmouth) and we discussed how people learn and how to motivate students and teachers to want to learn (without finding definitive answers).

    It was truly an international conference.  In my session alone the presenters were from Norway, Nigeria, Israel, Poland and Turkey.  But I must say, for a conference about innovation in learning, Twitter was rather quiet.

    Overall, despite the rotten cold I had the entire time I was away (and still), it was the conversations with intelligent and passionate people in education that will stay with me the longest.  It motivates me to continue with my study, my teaching and my interest in student-centred learning.  Somebody described me as a border collie, meaning I’m the one who rounds everyone up, gathering them in to try and face them in the right direction.  I think that is a pretty good summary and a conference like this will keep the wag in my tail a little bit longer.


  7. If only Education was like West Wing: what I learned by studying Advanced Pedagogy at uni (M.Ed)

    19 October 2013 by shartley

    I love the television show West Wing.  The fictional government was ethically sound and tried to unite the country by attending the needs of the marginalised, the poor and the society as a whole.  If only we had a government like that.

    Education has become inextricably linked to economic ideals and this has a large impact on curriculum and pedagogy.  One area where this is evident is in the “choice, competition and performance” promoted by politicians (Buchanan 2011, p.68) and I’m guilty of shopping for schools for my own son currently, as one of the financially advantaged who can do so.  Another example of economic prominence in education is how students are continually viewed as a labour resource with a desire for individual success rather than as participants in a community.  As Wyn (2009) claims, “Education must accommodate individual and social goals” (p.43).

    I am an advocate for the type of pedagogical change Kalantzis and Cope (2012) promote for schools with their concept of “learning design” that examines “the big questions” (p.84) in an environment of “energetic intellectual inquiry and practical solution development” (p.86).  Thooman et al (2011) found it is important to connect to students and create positive collaborative experiences, “education should provide students with opportunities to work on realistic and situated activities” (p.356) which supports my motto of ‘keeping it real’.  National curriculum and its General Capabilities (ACARA 2011) provide a strong prospect to shift teaching from an industrial learning model to a student-centred thinking model which is the position we’re taking at my school.  Next year as national curriculum is introduced, I am helping teachers to implement our REAL (Relevant, Engaging, Active Learning) Program to Year 7, a student-centred concept, as part of my role on the Innovative Learning Team.

    There is an extraordinary amount of political rhetoric surrounding ICT in schools as revealed by Jordan (2011), some of which I readily accept as universal truths, such as how ICT drives change, but the main point where I am in agreement with Jordan is her criticism of students as being described as “digitally savvy” (p.245).  The nature and implications of ICT in education are changing rapidly and nobody is able to keep abreast of it all.  Further pressure on teachers come in the form of charismatic speakers on the education circuit such as Sir Ken Robinson and Sugata Mitra criticising the current methods of teaching and promoting their own pedagogical agenda.

    This rhetoric and economic overdrive affects teachers immensely.  I thus have an ongoing concern about how a pedagogical paradigm shift is integrated into schools.  Too often structural change is forced onto teachers instead of in consultation and students are neglected altogether (McGregor 2011, p.15), making them both feel powerless.  O’Sullivan (2007) demonstrated how teachers are tied to their role emotionally, more than to their professional pride in intelligence and ability (p.9).  Thoonan et al (2011) acknowledged the role teacher self-efficacy had in motivating students. An analysis of teaching standards by Connell (2009) revealed the absence of recognition of the sheer energy required to teach, “Energy, movement, expression and fatigue all matter” (p.220).  Teachers need to be supported and be involved in the change process for it to be successful.

    Education needs to be like West Wing where idealism is implemented for the individuals who constitute the education community and the good of society as a whole.

    Reference List

    ACARA (2011). General capabilities. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/general_capabilities.html

    Buchanan, R. (2011). Paradox, Promise and Public Pedagogy: Implications of the Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(2), 67-77. DOI: 10.14221/ajte2011v36n2.6

    Connell, R (2009) ‘Good teachers on dangerous ground: towards a new view of teacher quality and professionalism’, Critical Studies in Education, 50.3, 213-229.

    Jordan, K. (2011). Framing ICT, teachers and learners in Australian school education ICT policy. Australian Educational Researcher, 38(4), 417-431.

    Kalantzis, M and Cope, B (2012) ‘New learning: A charter for change in education’, Critical Studies in Education, 53:1, 83-94.

    McGregor, G. (2011). Engaging Gen Y in schooling: the need for an egalitarian ethos of education. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 19(1), 1-20.

    O’Sullivan, K (2007) ‘Unmasking the Professional Identities of English Teachers’, International Journal of Educational Practice and Theory, 29(1), 6–5.

    Thoonen, E, Sleegers, P, Peetsma, T and Oort, F. (2011). Can Teachers Motivate Students to Learn? Educational Studies, 37(3), 345-360

    Wyn, J. (2009). Touching the Future: Building Skills for Life and Work. Australian Education Review, 55, Australian Council for Educational Research, Melbourne.

     


  8. Globalisation and Education

    17 October 2013 by shartley

    SkypeWithPalestine

    Photo by author: Skype to Palestine (ex-student converted from Christianity to Islam)

     

    Globalisation has had a profound effect on education.  The breaking down of political, trading and geographical barriers, strongly influenced by the development of the Internet and advanced communication techniques, is altering education from being inward looking to being more world focused.  Instead of peering into textbooks, students are beginning to connect with the wider world through technological processes.

    Curriculum is being prescribed for a globalised world but it is politically motivated with too much attention placed on the economy and the students’ future role as a labour resource.  The influence of a capitalist economy is also apparent in the political promotion of “choice, competition and performance” in Australian schools, evident in the enforcement of transparency of test results and in the development of national curriculum (Buchanan 2011, p.68).

    An example of economic language involved with curriculum is in the discussion of the environment and in particular climate change.  The word ‘sustainable’ is used often but in relation to a sustainable economy instead of having the emphasis on sustaining people’s interaction with the environment.  For instance, in the draft ACARA Geography Curriculum (2013) the word ‘economy’, or its derivative, appears 66 times.  Lambert (2013) argues for Geography to play a greater role in British curriculum, by linking “economic, environmental and educational crises of our times” (p.85) to present a case for a curriculum of survival as opposed to sustainability. Emotive and economic language is all too common in current literature about curriculum (Ditchburn 2012).

    The economy, globally and locally, is important but it should not be the dominant force influencing curriculum.  There needs to be more emphasis on students being actively involved in all aspects of community, globally and locally, not just the economic component.

    The more I examine curriculum the more I am convinced that we should be moving to capabilities as a focus in curriculum (ACARA 2011, Reid 2005). Lambert (2013) is arguing the opposite. He views the shift to ‘competences’ and the integration of subjects causing the “contemporary erosion of trust in specialist knowledge, and increased emphasis on students’ experience” and changing “the emphasis of the curriculum from content to skills and to favour more open ‘facilitative’ pedagogies” (p.89). He then concludes that this shift “almost signals that schools should give up on knowledge” (p.90).  Personally, I’m tired of extreme rhetoric.  What we need in curriculum and pedagogies is greater balance.  There is a place for specialist knowledge, a place for experience in active learning and a place for skills as well as knowledge in modern curriculum.

    As technology comes to the fore through globalisation, teachers are as important as ever due to the skill required to balance the numerous influences on education with each unique student that comes before them.  I believe in having a structured curriculum and thus resist the term ‘student-directed learning’ which makes me think of ‘free schools’ where students themselves organise learning activities or self-select from the activities provided (Galley 2004).  I am an advocate for technology and student-centred learning but there needs to be a balance.  I would like to see teachers who generally want to remain traditional, expository in nature, to learn to yield some of the control, place some of the learning process into the hands of students and connect to a community beyond the walls of the classroom.  Again, I call for balance and sensibility.

    Just as there are an immense variety of students in our education system and a wide range of resources available, each and every school, class and teacher need to adapt accordingly.  My dream is of schools, rich and poor, around the world, connecting, allowing all of us to think critically and gain deeper understanding of ourselves and each other. We need to think what is best for our students and community, not necessarily our economy.

     

     

    Reference List

    ACARA (2011). General capabilities. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/general_capabilities.html

    ACARA. (2013). Draft F-12 Australian Curriculum – Geography. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum_1/learning_areas/humanities_and_social_sciences/geography.html

    Buchanan, R. (2011). Paradox, Promise and Public Pedagogy: Implications of the Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(2), 67-77. DOI: 10.14221/ajte2011v36n2.6

    Ditchburn, G. (2012). The Australian Curriculum: finding the hidden narrative?, Critical Studies in Education, 53(3), 347-360. DOI: 10.1080/17508487.2012.703137

    Galley, M. (2004). Free Rein. Education Week, 23(36), 27-31. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/ehost/

    Lambert, D. (2013). Geography in school and a curriculum of survival. Theory and Research in Education, 11(1), 85-98. DOI: 10.1177/1477878512468385

    Reid, A. (2005). Rethinking National Curriculum Collaboration: Towards an Australian Curriculum. Department of Education, Science and Training, Canberra. Retrieved from EDCN812, Macquarie University iLearn, http://ilearn.mq.edu.au/course/view.php?id=13878

     


  9. Pedagogy

    13 October 2013 by shartley

    PowerToolReadingCooking

    Photos by author

    I have recently been immersed in a wide range of activities learning about curriculum, pedagogy and technology in schools.  As a consequence I am attempting to write a series of related blog posts. Yesterday I wrote about IT Infrastructure.  Today I’m writing about pedagogy with a focus on research by Kalantzis and Cope, as seen in their New Learning website.

    I don’t have a single pedagogical model to call my own.  I am deeply cynical and resent prescribed models dictating a single way of teaching, yet this week I had to present on 21st Century Fluencies because this is a the model I’ve been training teachers in PD sessions at my school, as part of my role on the Innovative Learning Team. Solution Fluency is just one style of Project Based Learning (PBL) and PBL is just one pedagogical practice. What I like about PBL is its focus on process as much or more than the product.

    I believe teaching should be a balance of a whole variety of methods and be flexible according to circumstances, with circumstances being anything from the students themselves to the weather.

    Kalantzis and Cope (2012, p.86) describe today’s typical learning environment accurately, “We have in our classes today a generation of young people who will be bored and frustrated by learning environments that fail to engage every fiber of their intellectual and active capabilities”.

    I hence also like how Kalantzis and Cope (2012, p.84) advocate for traditional teaching “to be replaced by new notions of ‘learning design’”.  In some ways planning for learning is my favourite part of teaching because Plan A is for a perfect world where students behave according to expectations and technology works as it should and I’m excited for its potential.  It is then a case of Plan B, Plan C and so on as all the possible variables come into play.  Plan A generally focuses on “addressing the big questions” (p.84), much in line with the programming model my school follows, Understanding by Design, not that I think this needs to be followed strictly either.

    I would love to see schools that Kalantzis and Cope (2012) call “sites of energetic intellectual inquiry and practical solution development” (p.86) and my previous school was trying to do this but at the expense of other aspects of education, such as nurturing students.  I think this community centre of thinking is almost science fiction idealism but I dream.

    Back to class, I like students to be active in their learning, meaning I am student centred in my pedagogy.  I’m not so fond of the term student-directed because I believe, in the main, students still need to be provided with direction, although there should be a place for passion projects.  This why I’m against open-plan learning but support flexible learning spaces so that learning can occur at a cohort level, large groups, classes, small groups, triplets, pairs or alone.

    Technology must have a role in Australian education because it is so integrated into our daily lives and is engaging for students.  It also allows for a wider audience and collaborators outside textbooks, schools and teachers’ own knowledge.  Thus learning is more connected to reality.  Students therefore need to be literate and discerning with technology.

    My pedagogical model is a mixed bag but my motto, Keeping it Real, is what’s closest to my heart.

     

    Kalantzis, M. & Cope, B.  (2012) New learning: a charter for change in education, Critical Studies in Education, 53:1, pp.83-94


  10. Protected: The Importance of IT Infrastructure

    12 October 2013 by shartley

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