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the professional voice of the Independent Education Union

V.40#1, 2010

The Education Revolution Glasnost or Guillotine? n John Doyle’s class act n Crime in the classroom

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Print Post No. 243184/0001 ISSN 1320-9825

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Contents: ie V.40 #1, 2010 editorial

04 This edition Momentous changes in Australian schooling

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04 Kaleidoscope John Doyle’s class act

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Feature: Education revolution or potential revolt?

06 Australia wide Transition to a federal industrial system 08 Towards reconciliation Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage — examining what works 10 Feature The Education Revolution — Glasnost or guillotine? 15 Crime in the classroom Innovative learning program 16 Girls with a purpose Positive teaching for girls 18 How to get your band together Practical tips for successful music making 20 Finding voice in The Yarning Circle The art of oral communication 21 Hector helps youngsters navigate the cyberworld Website tackles cyberbullying

sustainable classrooms leadership support staff conference diary technology opinion legal opinion reviews

Teaching and learning: How to organise a school band

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22 Bringing climate science to life 24 Positive psychology and schools All your staff could be flourishing 26 Recognising the other school professionals 27 What’s on 28 Scootle A one-stop shop for teachers 30 Readers’ response 31 Hidden dangers of Facebook 32 Talking point: Should boys and girls be educated differently? 34 Film Films with green focus

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Legal: Beware the hidden dangers of Facebook

Executive Editors Dick Shearman Deb James Terry Burke Editorial Committee Cathy Hickey Fiona Richardson Tara de Boehmler Sandra White Elizabeth Finlay Journalists Tara de Boehmler, Sue Osborne, Fiona Richardson, Suzanne Kowalski-Roth Design Wendy Rapee Front cover illustration: Ali Pellat

IE is a tri-annual journal published by the NSW/ACT, Victorian and Queensland Independent Education Unions for members and subscribers. It has a circulation of 55,000. IE’s contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the IEU or the editors nor imply endorsement by them.

Advertising Tina Delandre (02) 9779 3200 Advertising is carried in IE in order to minimise costs. Readers are advised that advertising does not in any way reflect the union’s endorsement, or otherwise, of the advertised products or services.

Email NSW: ieu@ieu.asn.au VIC: vieu@vieu.org.au QLD: enquiries@qieu.asn.au IE online www.ieu.asn.au/publications/

Subscriptions IE is available free to members of the IEU, or by subscription. Tina Delandre: (02) 9779 3200 Printing Print & Mail: (02) 9519 8268 ISSN 1320-9825


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this edition

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his is an era of momentous importance in the way that education is organised and managed in Australian schools.

John Doyle’s class act

It’s not the first time that a change to national curriculum has been tried, or the first time that national teaching standards have been considered, but the current proposals look more likely to be realised than any that have preceded it. so 2010 is the year we must work to ensure the changes are for the better. Already that hope is being challenged with the advent of the My School website and its worrying consequences. These include the incomprehensible ICSEA which has produced the oddest groups of ‘like’ schools, and the misleading and inaccurate effects of the data presentation which are now coming to light. A group of small schools for example, has already identified how the presentation of data skewed their results and negatively impacted on their school reputation. Our article, The Education Revolution: Glasnost or the Guillotine looks at the problems and what needs to be done. This issue of IE also features an interview with John Doyle (aka Rampaging Roy Slaven of Roy and HG fame) and introduces an oral communication program developed by NSW/ACT IEU Member Lee Townsend, ‘The Yarning Circle’. Do you have an idea for an article you would like to see featured in IE? Would you like to share your own experiences or provide some feedback? Just email

iemagazine@ieu.asn.au

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John Doyle (left) pictured with long-time partner in crime HG Nelson (Greig Pickhaver) started his career as a teacher in Newcastle. Here he tells IE’s Belinda Hogan about his early days in the classroom, and some of the influences on his prestigious career in broadcasting.


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The first year I was a dreadful teacher ... I was an absolute plodder.”

I can remember my first day at primary school in Lithgow. I think when playtime came about I thought that was the end of the day so I walked home. There were some very generous nuns at St Patrick’s, one of whom, Sister Philomena, I saw a couple of years ago. A very gracious, lovely woman. I then went to De La Salle Academy before heading onto Lithgow High School for Years 11 and 12. I think I probably suffered a little by not having the discipline of the Brothers the final two years, because I remember having a great time but not doing a hell of a lot of work. One of my teachers, Barry Walters, I had around to dinner a couple of years ago. Barry was the English teacher who, I suppose, gave me my love for Gerard Manley Hopkins and, without doubt, instilled my love of literature, and enjoyment of poetry and theatre. There had been theatre enthusiasts at De La Salle as well. A chap called Josepis encouraged us to write plays in Year 7 that he would commit to tape. In those days it was pretty much thought you had to get a trade. Once you had a trade under your belt then you could bugger around a bit. Teaching was the line of least resistance. I went to Newcastle University. It was an absolute surprise that I found myself in front of a classroom after three years. The first year I was a dreadful teacher because I think you fall into the habit

of trying to teach in the way you were taught yourself. I was an absolute plodder. I had all the usual problems because I was inconsistent. I left after that first year with an enormous number of scars thinking that I would never be able to do this. That said, I grew to enjoy it very much. I had terrific years teaching at Glendale High School at Lake Macquarie. The clientele was not dissimilar to the people of Lithgow. I think it has to do with the coal mines and a love for rugby league. I was very lucky to pull that out of the lottery. In the seventh year I was starting to repeat myself and I knew I had to find something else. While teaching, I took myself off to university and studied drama. I took leave and joined the Hunter Valley Theatre Company. I came to Sydney living the life of a jobbing actor. Greig (Pickhaver) and I started working in about 1985. We worked on a children’s series called Five Times Dizzy. We were adults in a children’s show, so we spent a lot of time in the caravan amusing each other. Greig was doing some work as H.G Nelson on Triple J and invited me to join him. We have been working together ever since. What drew me to the story of Changi was that my Uncle Jack had been there. He must have been about 78 when I got to sit down and ask him about it. He introduced me to fellow survivors he had been having lunch with once a month since 1945. That told me an enormous amount. An

incident they would talk about when they were all together they would find amusing, but privately, it would be deeply upsetting for them. When boat loads of Vietnamese refugees started arriving, while there was some minor resistance from Whitlam as an opposition leader, eventually there was bi-partisan agreement between the two major parties that they would share the same policy on dealing with refugees. That lasted until 2001 when the fabric of it was torn apart by the Howard Government and it seemed to me this was a very mean and unforgiving thing to do. I was angered by it enormously. It was that anger that was the springboard for Marking Time. It’s always great travelling with Tim Flannery because it is a bit like travelling with an encyclopaedia. Travelling down the Darling and Murray Rivers was one of the greatest experiences. You really do get a sense of how fragile the place is and how unsustainable water practices have been. This is something governments of all persuasions are trying to grapple with. But until we have an authority governing water with the same authority and power as the Reserve Bank, at arms length from any political interference, nothing is going to be solved. John Doyle (aka Rampaging Roy Slaven) can be heard along with H.G Nelson on Triple M’s The Life.

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Australia wide

NSW State Govt refers industrial powers to federal system

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n late November 2009, legislation went through the NSW Parliament referring all but public sector employees to the federal industrial relations system. Many NSW independent schools and all ACT schools were already in the federal system, but the new State legislation means that all NSW Catholic schools, NSW independent schools and colleges, and NSW preschools and early childhood centres will now be covered by federal industrial law rather than State law and the State Industrial Relations Commission.

Throughout 2010, the NSW/ACT IEU will be campaigning to ensure current wages and conditions are protected throughout the changeover process. The Union will seek an orderly transition and expect employers to cooperate fully. In the case of Catholic schools and independent schools currently in the state system, it will be essential to maintain the gains achieved in current awards and agreements. IEU members’ collective strength will be an important tool to achieve this goal.

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Each school’s performance summary provides data on a number of measures, showing in graphic ‘bar’ form student outcomes data compared to both the performance of the middle 60% of Victorian government schools and the median performance of all schools. The summaries report on three broad areas: student learning including NAPLAN test scores and a number of school subject/VCE averages; student engagement and wellbeing; and in secondary schools, student transitions and pathways. For primary schools there are 18 bar graphs of information and for secondary schools there are 25. A second ‘dot in a circle’ graphic shows the school’s rating on each of the outcome areas, compared to similar schools. With compared schools unable to be identified, and so many

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At particular industrial risk due to this referral are independent schools with no current agreements. The one-year transitional period provides time to negotiate an agreement. The Union is confident of working effectively in this ‘bargaining’ format, but it has never been more important to have strong Union membership in each school.

Also this year teacher agreements will be renegotiated for those NSW

VIC Media fails report card test ate last year the Victorian Government launched online reports on individual government school performance which included comparisons to other schools. Nongovernment reports are to be produced in 2010.

independent schools that went to the federal system under WorkChoices.

separate bits of information it seems that it was too difficult for the media to rank schools in any simple way. However this did not stop newspapers making unexplained, unsubstantiated and unfathomable sweeping criticisms of schools. Here are a few. “Dozens of Victorian schools in wealthy communities are underperforming.” (The Age) “300 public schools are struggling to meet basic learning standards.” (The Age) “63 schools … were found to be struggling even though students are from middle-upper class families.” (The Age) “130 primary schools have failed to significantly improve their students’ results.” (The Australian) “By Year 3 about 90 percent of student’s are passing minimum literacy and numeracy standards but are still below the state average.” (The Australian) What these newspapers actually mean and how they were arrived at their conclusions is anyone’s guess.

SA In campaign mode

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he IEU SA is continuing its campaign for improved pay and conditions for teachers in Catholic schools, with the resolution of the public sector teachers’ wage negotiations setting the framework. The public sector agreement provides for three 4% rises – in 2009, 2010 and 2011 — and a 3.75% interim payment last year. A new Step 9 rate of $79,816 will also come into effect from October 2010. The new rate recognises high quality classroom teaching and requires participation in specified professional development. The rate is consistent with the approach agreed between Commonwealth and states and territories in the 2008 National Partnerships Agreement on Improving Teacher Quality and brings SA in line with other jurisdictions. The Commission is yet to determine some ancillary matters. IEU SA members have already taken industrial action and are in full campaign mode.


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ACT Consultation time

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ith the results having been published across Australia early last December, the ACT Austrlian Early Development Index (ADEI) Coordinating Committee, which includes a Union representative, has organised community meetings which will provide: n Background to the AEDI n Regional context: eg historical growth, population distribution of children and other statistics relevant to the development of children and community life n Understanding the AEDI results, and discussing the next steps. Institute imminent? A reference group (on which the Union has representation) has written a submission to the ACT Cabinet seeking agreement for the establishment of an ACT Teacher Quality Institute and the progression of relevant legislation for the creation and funding of the Institute. Extensive community consultation was carried out in 2007 and 2008. This included input from teachers, government, and independent and Catholic schools. It is the government’s intention to have the Institute functioning by March 2011.

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NT

Education and Training Strategic Plan unveiled

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he NT Government has unveiled an Education and Training Strategic Plan for the next three years. The strategy is based on three themes: the expectation of success; the meeting of clear numeracy and literacy targets; and improved student attendance.

literacy and numeracy; and helping troubled kids get back on track.

The plan’s first step will be taken on the first day a child begins school and will conclude when the student goes on to higher education or gets a job.

Indigenous education initiatives include: mapping of schools in growth towns for their education and training needs; developing a strong education and training culture in growth towns through partnerships with key employers; and lifting the level of support provided to staff in remote areas.

Early years initiatives include: integrating the delivery of health and education; providing universal access to quality childcare; and helping parents to play their part from when their child is born. Primary and middle years initiatives include: a clearly defined curriculum; teacher support packs to help children in remote communities with

Senior years initiatives include: revised NTCET with greater focus on training; and centres of excellence in maths/ science, engineering, performing arts, tourism and hospitality.

The plan aims to make the Top End a “Smart Territory” with improved results and a focus on quality education across the Territory, the government has said. For more information see www.det.nt.gov.au

QLD Indigenous leadership

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he need to focus on a positive sense of indigenous identity in schools was highlighted at the Stronger Smarter Summit, organised by the Indigenous Education Leadership Institute of the Queensland University of Technology, in 2009.

n a strong focus on literacy and numeracy, and n building strong relationships founded on respect and trust. To achieve this, leadership training is necessary, as is ongoing, highly targeted professional development for all staff.

Essential elements for success included: n quality leadership in schools and quality teachers to engage parents and community in the whole life of the school, to improve attendance, and to ensure that students enter school ready to learn

Another critical factor in the program is the determination to build indigenous capacity. Many schools have their own training programs for Indigenous workers who then go on to gain formal qualifications. Provision of adequate resources to cater to the needs of the community

served by the school is essential. The IEUA — Queensland and Northern Territory branch is particularly concerned with the need for well targeted and fully resourced professional development plans to build competencies in working with Indigenous students, their families and communities. It is vital that our school leaders are resourced and supported effectively to implement best practice in their schools. This needs to be more universally applied in both government and non-government schools.

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Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage – examining what works C

onvenor of the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Working Group, Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald, tells NSW/ACT IEU Journalist Tara de BOEHMLER that despite commitment and resources, there is a long way to go before Indigenous educational outcomes are on par with those of the non-Indigenous population. Since the first report was delivered in 2003, Commissioner Fitzgerald says there have been some positive developments. The Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report framework has been incorporated into the COAG reform agenda and most state and territory plans. It has also become “the principal report trying to measure the collective action of all governments across the nation”, he says. In terms of whether Indigenous people are overcoming disadvantage, there are also small glimmers of hope. A Federal Government commitment to increase attendance at preschool bodes well, attainment of Year 12 or equivalent has increased — though the rate is still lower than for the broader population — and there have been modest improvements in general school retention rates. There is also an increase in Indigenous people accessing vocational education and higher education opportunities after school. 8

But the gap is still growing, with “more Indigenous people coming out earlier than the rest of the population and they’re also coming out with poorer academic achievements,” Commissioner Fitzgerald says.

Alarming figures “Despite the enormous resources we have put into education and the fact that everyone recognises education as being the single most important development in terms of accessing life’s opportunities, we’ve actually seen no improvements in terms of reading, writing or numeracy over this period of time,” the Commissioner says. “What is more concerning is that because the figures for Year 3 show substantial gaps, those gaps increase in Year 5 and Year 7 and there is a very significant decline in numeracy. It’s a very alarming figure. The gap between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous in relation to numeracy is getting wider and wider the older the child gets.” Overall this is the most disappointing part of the report, he says. “Not withstanding the resources and everyone’s common commitment, there is simply no significant improvement in educational attainment as measured in those three years. “The cumulative affect of low achievement in Years 3, 5 and

7, combined with a high rate of leaving after Year 10 means that the educational opportunities and life’s opportunities remain fairly constrained.”

Examining what works Despite this tough news, Commissioner Fitzgerald says the report also points to several improvements that could positively impact on the education experience and outcomes for Indigenous people.

n Housing link In regional and remote communities, overcrowding of housing is one of the most significant determinants of a whole range of other indicators, Commissioner Fitzgerald says. “It’s linked to poorer health outcomes, poorer education outcomes and higher levels of family violence. We believe that central to improving these outcomes is reducing levels of overcrowding. People look at housing as a separate issue but it is one of the key determinants, so it has to be addressed.”

n Learning precincts “We have to look at schools not as isolated institutions but as centres of learning for the whole community, the Commissioner says. “Because of the way in which Indigenous


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“The cumulative affect of low achievement in Years 3, 5 and 7, combined with a high rate of leaving after Year 10, means that the educational opportunities and life’s opportunities remain fairly constrained.”

communities operate, the school has to become a central part of the community. It has to take into account the needs of students but also the needs of parents. It has to operate in such a way that the community believes they have an influence over it and are influenced by it.

Commissioner says. “These are very high in Indigenous children, especially in regional and remote communities and they directly affect the learning of children. If you want to make improvements in school achievement, you actually have to deal with a whole range of health issues in infancy.”

“We need to think of them as learning precincts, attached to a range of different services, including early childhood services, family support services, opportunities for parents to be more involved and engaged themselves, as well as trying to achieve outcomes for kids.

n Adapting learning

Commissioner Fitzgerald says this is not about trying to turn teachers into welfare workers or principals into community development workers. “But it is to say the evidence is now overwhelming that stand-alone schools in Indigenous communities are unlikely to achieve the outcomes we want and we are going to have to look at a much more integrated arrangement.”

Commissioner Fitzgerald says that because education is part of a mainstream program “the danger is trying to deliver an education in the same way across the nation or a particularly jurisdiction”. “What’s plain in Indigenous communities is that you have to adapt it if you want children to actually attend and achieve. But expectations and aspirations must not be dumbed down. This was a mistake previously made that we all now recognise: if you lower the benchmarks and lower the standards it becomes a self-fulfilling problem. This is not what being culturally sensitive or aware is about.”

n Early health care

n Recruitment and retention

Improvements need to be made in early childhood health, particularly in relation to hearing impediments, the

“Improving the quality of teachers serving in these Indigenous communities through the recruitment

process and by ensuring their training is sensitive to and takes into account the special needs of these communities. Once employed, retaining teachers and principals for more than a few months is one of the greatest problems in Indigenous communities. This lack of consistency is a significant issue. Many successful schools have a high level of community trust. That trust is often around individuals. If those individuals keep coming and going and changing policies and approaches that community trust breaks down.

n Indigenous teachers Commissioner Fitzgerald says that if we’re going to create role models for Indigenous young people it is “important that they are going to be educated by Indigenous teachers and that they can see there is a career at the end of education”. To access the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2009 report on the Productivity Commission website, visit http://www.pc.gov.au/ gsp/reports/indigenous 9


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The Education Revolution

glasnost or guillotine?

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he 1989 ‘quiet revolution’ that ended communist USSR was typified by glasnost, the policy of openness and transparency in the activities of government. The 1789 French Revolution, on the other hand, is remembered for its gruesome guillotine and the Reign of Terror that spun the Revolution towards destruction.

national teacher certification processes and national public reporting of school data associated with national testing, to meet election and National Partnership funding deadlines, will lead to teacher cynicism about genuine consultation, and impose pressures that result in just as unhappy an outcome for educational change as that of 1789.

No one expects anything quite as bad as Robespierre from the Rudd Government’s Education Revolution (although death by a thousand paper cuts comes to mind). There is evidence from the past two years that leans more towards a glasnost approach.

It is not the individual components of national change that will cause such an implosion. Rather, it is the accumulation and compounding of all the changes combined with a breakneck timeline that will do the deed.

But hastening the broad and substantial changes proposed in new national curriculum, national standards for teachers,

Read on for VIEU Education Officer Cathy Hickey’s take on what we can expect.

National Curriculum S

ome might say that the real work in developing the national curriculum starts now — at least as far as teachers and schools are concerned. Last year the developmental stages of shaping and writing the curriculum in the first four areas: English, Maths, Science and History, took place. This February the draft K-10 curriculum was due to be released, with consultation until May, the senior years drafts ready by April, for consultation to June. Along with consultation forums hosted by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), state and territory education authorities are expected to have consultation strategies in place by mid-February. 10

Consultations vital These state level consultations are vital, not only to answer the questions posed by ACARA, but also to critically evaluate the draft documents in the light of current curriculum knowledge and experience, and to identify real implementation issues for each state and territory. With respect to implementation, the official line is that the planning for this by states and territories is to take into account differences between existing curriculum and the draft national curriculum, and that implementation may start in 2011. This is a very tough timeline for teachers, who will be seeing the curriculum in draft form for the first time this year.

It is more likely that K-10 implementation will be underway in all schools by 2013 and that for some states and territories 2011 will be a pilot year. As to other areas of the curriculum, initial advice papers for Geography, Languages and the Arts are to be available for public consultation in mid-2010. For a detailed outline of the stages in the development of the national curriculum, as well as access to all associated documents, go to the ACARA at www.acara.edu.au.


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No one expects anything quite as bad as Robespierre from the Rudd Government’s Education Revolution.”

AITSL and national teacher standards and processes

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CEECDYA established the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) in 2009 and set the single biggest priority for the national institute: to finalise a set of national standards for teaching and school leadership, and to implement an agreed system of national accreditation of teachers based on these new standards, writes NSW/ACT IEU Education Issues Committee Convenor Sandra White. This is a radical step — not so much the national standards, but the idea of a nationally consistent process of teacher certification or accreditation. Whether there is room for a national process is questionable, and how each state and territory, with its own laws, regulations and differing processes, will respond is uncertain. The functions of AITSL have the potential to significantly impact on the work of teachers and on requirements to be met throughout their career. Accordingly, teachers must be at the heart of any discussion and decisionmaking about policies and processes under these new national functions.

National standards for teachers and school leaders The National Standards Subgroup (NSS) — a sub committee of the Teacher Quality Steering

Committee — has written draft national standards for graduate, proficient, highly accomplished and lead teacher levels to be released for consultation in early 2010. Expect a short timeline for response — and further unresourced workload. The plan is for national consultation and then a validation of the draft standards by mid 2010. This is an ambitious goal. What is not clear is whether any thought has gone into how each jurisdiction will develop sensible and reasonable transitional processes to any new national requirements. Without this, the considerable investment of time and professional expertise that thousands of teachers have made in current state and territory arrangements will be devalued, or even worse cast aside, leaving them demoralised. We have seen this before, when new curriculum or pedagogy is rushed into operation with inadequate resources and timelines. Unsurprisingly, the NSS has expressed a consensus view that achievement against the standards at the higher levels of accomplished or lead teacher should not lead to any automatic salary increase. This is unsurprising because the NSS consists solely of employer

and government representatives. Rewarding accomplished teachers is essential to retaining their skills in the profession. Since AITSL is dominated by employer interests (unlike the various state and territory institutes), it remains to be seen what representation teachers and teacher unions get on various committees that have been vaguely proposed.

The rush is on The NSS has reported that its work is fundamental to jurisdictions and sectors to meet their obligations and receive payments under the Teacher Quality National Partnership (NP). In other words, the education dollars to pay for the programs and positions already committed through the NP hinge on forging ahead in 2010, compacting work, and minimising time for debate. Desirable as the NPs may be, we must be careful to avoid long-term negative effects — that is why teachers will need to be vigilant this year.

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What W

Why now for national institute?

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he establishment of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) represents the third attempt since the mid-1990s to create a national professional structure to support teaching in Australia, writes Patrick Lee, Chief Executive of the NSW Institute of Teachers and NSW representative to AITSL The Australian Teaching Council failed in the mid 1990s in the face of concerted opposition from state and territory governments, despite support from teaching unions, parent bodies, academics and non-government school authorities — as well as the Commonwealth government. Teaching Australia, restructured as the basis of AITSL, struggled to make connection with the lived realities of teachers’ work and the existing professional, regulatory and industrial organisations which are integral to that work. AITSL is responsible for standards to be cooperatively developed and 12

“There is now an opportunity to pursue an ambitious agenda of creating robust national benchmarks.” applied to teaching processes at key points in a teacher’s career. It envisages a number of committees focussed on key functions, where relevant stakeholders are actively included in its work (employers, teaching unions, professional associations, and academics are specifically listed). There is now an opportunity to pursue an ambitious agenda of creating robust national benchmarks. Current mutual recognition arrangements, though important, do not constitute a set of agreed national standards for teaching. University pre-service programs now have a national constituency. Achieving national consistency in initial registration requirements, some core benchmarks for principals, and a nationally coherent approach to higher level recognition and professional development can assist in strengthening the teaching profession.

hile the rhetoric in the lead-up to the My School launch was all glasnost, the reality is more guillotine - particularly for those from the most disadvantaged communities, writes IEUA Federal Secretary Chris Watt. ACARA says the launch of the My School website was “the realisation of the state, territory and national governments’ vision for greater transparency and accountability in students’ performance” and “a new era in Australian education”. It says the website provides “meaningful and fair comparisons of results”. This is quite hard to swallow when one looks at some of the rather creative like-school comparisons that ACARA’s ICSEA provides. In fact the MySchool website only allows for very poor and limited comparisons of different schools based on a single test on one day in the school year. This is unnecessary and unhelpful. Not forgetting of course that the school curriculum is broader than numeracy and literacy tests and that the whole life experience in a school can never be reduced to a series of academic tests. It is a nonsense to suggest that the website is necessary to identify underperforming schools so that ‘remedial’ action can be taken. This information already exists and school systems are already engaged in school renewal and development exercises based on the NAPLAN data. With further commitments by the Federal Government for future iterations of the My School website to provide expanded information the IEUA has sought urgent discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister.


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upwithMy School? Deputy Prime Minister’s ‘big concern’ T

he debate about the merits of the My School website has brought some deep, deep philosophical issues to the surface, writes the Director of Catholic Education for the Sandhurst Diocese, Victoria Denis Higgins. Despite Julia Gillard’s mantra about the so-called “transparency equals improvement” nexus there are very few experienced educators who have seen any evidence of such a phenomenon. In fact, the countries which Australia is so slavishly copying, USA and England, are testament to the complete failure of such a notion. I have no doubt that the Deputy Prime Minister is sincere in her wish to see improvement in our schools; it is amazing however that such a savvy person seems to have fallen for the “simple answer to a complex problem” phenomenon. Why are so many good people so concerned? A focus was on the 100% likelihood that newspapers would use the data provided on the website to create league tables, causing major injustices to school communities based on information only concerned about the easy to measure and hard to treasure. For instance, those schools which take on young people who are having major difficulties, or, keep in school those students who are rejected

“Schooling is about a lot, lot more than academic achievement and young people should not be treated as if they are current or future economic units and nor should their places of schooling.” by other settings or who would normally leave school earlier will be judged as failing according to crude measures of literacy and numeracy. The “rich data” which Ms Gillard talks about won’t be rich or subtle enough to pick up any of these nuances. There are no measures of resilience, attitudes, commitment, morale, enjoyment, breadth, depth, complexity or any of the other elements of a really successful school life. It is a pity to see a Government so concerned about the improvement of education retreat to sifting and sorting, naming and shaming and contracting what we value to the far too easily measured literacy and numeracy test scores of 7, 9, 11 and 13 year olds. The reality is that it is shameful to have any child engaging in life without the basic engagement skills if they have the capacities to acquire them. This must be dealt with. It must be owned and understood. But we must not confuse this with contracting the context of education so much that the purposes for acquiring these skills in the first place (ie, to engage in life’s bounty and opportunities so that a healthy sense of worth-whileness and challenge and positiveness accompany our souls, hearts and minds) are lost forever for some and for short but critical periods of time for others.

The Minister for Education would do well to take responsibility for the misuse of data which has been compulsorily acquired for other purposes. Education is about a lot more than literacy and numeracy levels. Every teacher knows that. Every parent knows that. Most children know that. We must be extremely careful about what we value. We must be extremely careful about what we publish in the name of transparency because it becomes what we value. Schooling is about a lot, lot more than academic achievement and young people should not be treated as if they are current or future economic units and nor should their places of schooling. This article was contributed by Denis Higgins. It previously appeared in The Bendigo Advertiser, 27 January 2010.

Have your say! Have you visited the My School website or heard from parents and others in your school community who have? Has this site impacted on your work, your school’s approach or the morale of your students? IE would like to hear from teachers, principals and parents. Send your feedback to iemagazine@ieu.asn.au by 2 June 2010.   13


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“The digital education revolution is not just hardware and ICT nuts and bolts – it’s the educational leverage it brings that really counts”

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as the spotted gum the victim of cynical environmental vandalism? Students at Presbyterian Ladies College in Sydney are on the case, writes QIEU Journalist Fiona Stutz. Analysing evidence and solving crimes are all part of a day’s work for Year 6 students at the Croydon-based college. They’re assessing facts, and weighing up probabilities, as part of their involvement in Murder Under The Microscope, an innovative learning program that utilises new technology and the internet to develop skills, including group work, critical research and problem solving. Students work in groups, using netbooks, to research crime sites, victims and villains, in an effort to finger those responsible for fictitious eco-crimes. Each week, new clues are revealed by online characters, allowing students to narrow down the areas they are trawling for evidence.

During ‘accusation week’ classes lodge their suspected crime sites, victims and villains, keen to prove themselves thorough ‘eco’ investigators.

Motivation to learn PLC Teacher Suellen White says the skills students learn are vast and involvement in the Department of Education and Training’s Year 6 program has increased their motivation to learn. “My students have loved our sessions on Murder Under the Microscope and it has been an absolute joy to see them engage with the material and with each other in such a mature manner, I have seen them exercising high order thinking skills and this has been encouraging,” she says. Students and teachers get to integrate new technologies into their work. Hands-on support, and state-of-the-art resources back all their investigations.

As part of Murder Under the Microscope, PLC Year 6 classes complete fortnightly sessions with members of the school’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) team to help them make the most of their netbooks – small laptops equipped with the latest software. PLC Director of ICT, Chris Waterman, says the netbooks help students with creativity, as well as their digital skills. “The digital education revolution is not just hardware and ICT nuts and bolts – it’s the educational leverage it brings that really counts,” he says. “Making the most of opportunities such as this, to connect, explore and develop lifelong learning habits and skills that will carry our students beyond their schooling is vitally important. “Our students already live much of their lives digitally… we are ensuring we equip them appropriately for dealing with this new and evolving world.”

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Girls with a

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edia reports and national surveys paint a disturbing picture of teenage girls growing up in Australia plagued by body image, drug and family conflict issues. QIEU Journalist Fiona Stutz investigates how one Christian school in Nerang, Queensland, has adopted a program for female students, with positive results. As the need to help teenage girls make better choices becomes critical, Queensland program ‘Girls With a Purpose’ has been launched nationally to help schools improve girls’ communication and interpersonal skills and help increase their social competencies and confidence. ‘Girls With a Purpose’ is designed to help young women develop self worth, a positive identity and a sense of purpose. Realising the potential the program could have for Year 9 girls at her school, Emmanuel College Teacher Lyle Taber introduced it to her students at the end of 2008. It continues today.

Journey of self-discovery Over a 10-week period the program discusses some of the most important issues facing young women: relationships; sexual health; violence and abuse; selfesteem; beauty; help-seeking; goal planning; and communication. Through discussions, games and activities and opportunities for team work, the students are led on a positive journey of self-discovery. Lyle believes the program offers a fantastic opportunity for girls to talk about issues they wouldn’t be able to discuss in a classroom environment. Once a week each 16


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“The Year 12 girls help to break the barriers a lot quicker, which is a huge benefit.”

term the girls get together in their lunchbreak to take part. “There is not a lot of opportunity for girls to get together and talk about these issues. We should support and encourage each other, and this program facilitates good things that are happening,” Lyle says. Those interested in taking part in the program are then mentored by the school’s Year 12 girls which helps to build this relationship, with the older students acting as positive role models. “The Year 12 girls help to break the barriers a lot quicker, which is a huge benefit,” she says. In the first year running the program at the school in 2008, two groups of students took part and two staff members oversaw the running of each group. At the end of 2009, 26 Year 9 students took part, with 10 Year 12s acting as mentors. This year the program continues for the new Year 9 students. “I find a better way of making things work [in the program] each year,” Lyle says. Program topics can be adapted and tailored specifically for the needs of individual schools. Lyle says she likes to pick and choose what her students need from the program resource, which allows her to keep the message short and precise. After running the program for more than a year, Lyle has even developed her own programs encompassing ideal topics from ‘Girls With a Purpose’ for her students.

National response The Gold Coast charity responsible for the program, Lifehouse Project, knows only too well that adolescence can be a difficult time for many girls. This contributed to the charity branching out and launching its program ‘Girls

with a Purpose’ nationally last year. According to the charity, low self-worth in adolescence can contribute to teenage pregnancy, disengagement from school, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harming behaviours, homelessness and unhealthy relationships. ‘Girls With a Purpose’ uses strength-based games, activities and discussions to develop participants’ assets to help them gain a positive identity and a sense of purpose.

Everyday issues ‘Girls With a Purpose’ Author Ruth Knight believes it is critical that young people have the opportunity to participate in the program, to help address the important issues teenage girls face everyday. “The current level of school dropouts, youth homelessness and domestic violence is evidence that we all stand to benefit from talking honestly with teenagers about what concerns them, and instilling the values of acceptance, self-esteem, confidence and love,” Ruth says. The content of the program is based on the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents identified by the Search Institute, a non-profit organisation which supports the healthy development of children and adolescents. These developmental assets indicate what young people need to be healthy, caring and responsible. The Search Institute suggests that the more assets a young person gains, the more likely they are to have success at school, and the less

likely they are to engage in highrisk behaviours.

Making safe choices The ‘Girls With a Purpose’ facilitator’s manual contains 11 session plans with over 80 suggested games and activities with 25 handouts, evaluation forms and a Certificate of Attendance provided on CD. An example of week five of the program considers the issue that everyone deserves to be safe and in control, with participants learning how to make safe choices. The session discusses personal safety, especially regarding socialising and relationships. Throughout the week, participants take part in games, discussions, brainstorming sessions, are given handouts and listen to guest speakers on the topic of safety.

Confidence for the future Aside from schools, churches, youth groups and community organisations have also facilitated the program, via experienced teachers and youth workers. It is estimated that over 1,000 girls have so far participated. Ruth hopes that through dedicated teachers and youth workers, millions of girls throughout the world will eventually form new friendships and gain confidence by investing in the program. ‘Girls With a Purpose’ author Ruth Knight is an experienced youth worker having worked for over 15 years in both the United Kingdom and Australia. To purchase the ‘Girls With a Purpose’ program or to find out more for your school, visit www.lifehouse.org.au/gwap 17


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How to get your band together

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here are many compelling arguments for implementing a structured music program in a school, writes NSW/ACT IEU Member and General Manager of the NSW School Band Festival, Pat DEVERY.

skills, problem-solving and coping with performance pressure. This seems to be particularly the case when children start to learn music at a very early age.

Those fortunate enough to have seen the Choir of Hard Knocks on ABC TV would appreciate the positive impact a collaborative music-making experience can have on individuals, families and communities.

In my role as General Manager of the NSW School Band Festival I work closely with emerging band programs as well as some of the most comprehensive programs boasting five or six ensembles in the school. All of these programs have a common factor: committed staff and students.

There is now a growing body of research linking the learning of music by children with improved abilities in other academic subjects: developing fluency in native and foreign languages, reading ability, memory and reasoning capacity, time management

Implementing a band program in a primary school is a challenging prospect. The presence of fulltime music specialists in secondary schools makes the formation of choirs, bands and orchestras a realistic goal. In primary schools

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the lack of staff with the requisite professional skills can prove a hurdle. The absence of a trained musical specialist on staff will require schools to source a suitable person from outside. Local community bands might be worth investigating or suitable peripatetic teachers working in secondary schools in your area. Beyond the requisite musicianship, you should look for a reliable and patient person who is prepared to put in the groundwork required to establish a viable program. The support of the principal and executive is essential in establishing such a program. A willing parent support group is also vital. However, excessive parental influence on


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decisions can sometimes prove problematic. Most significantly, a school is going to have to be prepared to put its money where its mouth is if it intends to establish a band. If the school’s socio-economic profile precludes students from purchasing instruments you will need a start-up fund and a regular budget to continue building the instrumentation and music library.

ways to motivate your students. The NSW School Band Festival regularly has bands perform which have been established within the previous 12 months. Joining with 6500 other eager young musicians is a great way to maintain their enthusiasm. Richard Gill, one of Australia’s leading music education authorities, advocates that a comprehensive singing component should form part of any successful school music program. Implementing such a program in the first three of four years of schooling is a cost effective way of providing students with the necessary fundamental musicianship, allowing them to quickly take to a musical instrument.

It is now possible to purchase good quality student instruments for between $600-$1200. You will need a balance of flutes, clarinets, saxophones and trumpets to start. Bass guitar and keyboard bass are quick and effective ways of filling out the sound along with some basic percussion. Consider using students who are learning the piano on these parts. Regardless of your students’ capacity to buy their own, as your band builds up the school will need to consider purchasing bigger instruments such as French horns, euphoniums (consider for primary aged students instead of tubas) and percussion. These larger instruments can run to thousands of dollars, so you will need careful forward planning. It is strongly advised that you factor into your budget a regular maintenance program for your instruments, as students can be tough on them. Many schools look to cover these costs by implementing a band contribution. A well-maintained student instrument should last 8-10 years or more. For a few dollars a week hire you can recoup the cost of the instrument over its life and plan for purchasing a new one. It also firms up the commitment of the parent and the student. Having peripatetic instrumental teachers come in for small group instruction is a cost and time effective way of getting students started. Supportive schools should be prepared to allow students out of class for this process. Full band rehearsals would typically take place before or after school. Once you have decided on a day and time, stick with it. Simple tricks like having the student lesson

the day before your rehearsal and have them leave their instruments at school overnight will alleviate the perennial ‘I forgot my instrument’ claim. Many independent schools in NSW engage self-employed music directors (MDs) to run their programs on a peripatetic basis. There are some companies/individuals who will take on this entire process, sourcing MDs and tutors, directly billing parents and taking the entire financial risk themselves. The success of such a program will largely depend on the financial capacity of your parent body. It would still be necessary for schools to support the program through the purchase of percussion and larger instruments. Having established a band the most important thing to do is to provide the students with meaningful performance opportunities. School assemblies, prize-givings, fetes and local community events are effective

The obvious difficulties of establishing a band program should not prevent you from embarking on this incredibly valuable and rewarding experience. There are countless examples of successful band programs which have been started on shoestring budgets. The practical and visible support of the principal is very important. Central to the success of any program is to progress the idea as being central to the students’ education, not just another extra-curricula activity which keeps them occupied. Healthy band programs build their own momentum and quickly become a drawing factor for future enrolments. There are many opportunities available for an aspiring musical director to improve their skills. Australian Band and Orchestra Directors’ Association offers a range of conductors clinics. Becoming part of the broader school band community through the NSW School Band Festival is also an effective way of networking and building your knowledge and skills. To obtain advice from members of the School Band Festival Advisory Panel, visit www.schoolbandfestival.org.au.

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Finding voice in the Yarning Circle “Our youth don’t always have a chance to develop the art of oral communication.”

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he Yarning Circle aims to revive the art of conversation, writes NSW/ACT IEU Journalist Sue OSBORNE.

areas: The Yarn; Performing Group Activities and After Yarn Activities. Within The Yarn there are five topics:

It is a program all about giving everybody an equal voice, and making everyone feel they have an equal place in the circle.

n Let’s Have a Yarn about Feelings

Aboriginal Education Worker and IEU Member Lee Townsend had been exploring the idea of a yarning circle for some years, but a chance moment when she picked up a ball of wool before starting a conversation with a group of primary children, led to the development of a specifically designed program. The ‘Let’s have a Yarn with Yarn’ program is designed to open lines of communication and develop knowledge in a nurturing yet structured verbal environment. The program assists individuals in developing skills in education, social and leadership areas, which Lee says can lead to retention and attendance improvements within schools. “Healing can come through the sharing of our stories, and a stronger identity through talking and listening with community,” she says. “The program has an Aboriginal cultural base, but is cross cultural in its use and is designed for our young, our elders and everyone in-between.” The program is perfect in the primary setting, but can apply in any context school, business or family. The Yarning Circle allows people to connect as a group, and allows everyone to have a say in an equitable manner. Lee has devised a program of topics for discussion within the Yarning Circle. The program is split into three

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n Let’s Have a Yarn About Our Story n Let’s Have a Yarn About How I Can Be a Better Friend n Let’s Have a Yarn About Rules in our Lives n Let’s have a Yarn about Good and Bad Choices. Each topic has 10 sub-topics, making a total of 50 yarning sessions. Each week as the topic changes, the group will continue to grow together, building knowledge about each topic as well as: communication; inclusion; empathy; identity; unity; confidence and understanding. “Talking and listening is central to our curriculum. The Yarning Circle can be used in any learning environment, for any situation. It can be used to discuss bullying and friendship, but I also use it for maths,” Lee says. The program of “structural yarning” can be very beneficial for students who might not usually join group discussions, such as those with Asperger’s, or anyone who has difficulty getting their voice heard. “The world is so fast moving now, a lot of communication is done in front of a computer or mobile phone. Our youth don’t always have a chance to develop the art of oral communication. It’s a skill that’s undervalued in our society, but it underpins everything that we do through life,” Lee says.

For more details call Lee on 02 6554 0321 or email lee@ theyarningcircle.com. Website: www.theyarningcircle.com


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Hector helps youngsters navigate the cyberworld C

yberbullying is often associated with high school age students, but Hector’s World, a resource aimed at tackling the problem, is for children aged 2-10. Hector’s World videos can be found on the cybersmart website www. cybersmart.gov.au, an initiative of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The videos take children on a journey with Hector Protector, the bottlenose dolphin, and his marine friends, to explore a range of online issues including protecting personal information and, in the latest edition, cyberbullying. In this episode, two friends deface a photograph of one of the main Hector’s World characters, Ming — a clam — and repeatedly forward the image to Ming and her circle of friends via mobile phone and the internet. The story encourages bystanders to see cyberbullying as unacceptable behaviour and to refrain from becoming involved. It explores the impact that cyberbullying can have and encourages children affected by cyberbullying to contact a trusted adult for help.

“A focus on the years prior to Year 4 could be most effective in stemming the growth in antisocial, negative behaviours.”

An ACMA spokesperson says: “While little research has been carried out amongst very young children about their experience of cyberbullying, the Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study (Edith Cowan University for the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations, 2009), indicates that in Years 4 to 6 at primary school there are some quite significant peaks in this kind of behaviour, and that this may continue to trend up. “Also apparent from the ACMA’s own research (Media and Communications and Australian Families, 2007, and Click and Connect, 2009) is that children are accessing the internet and information and communication technologies at younger and younger ages. “The teaching materials found on the Cybersmart Schools Gateway focus on four capabilities, including positive online behaviour and peer and personal safety. The lessons provided by Hector and his friends complement this approach by raising awareness, reinforcing messages about how to take control, and modelling positive, appropriate behaviours.

“This suggests that a focus on the years prior to Year 4 could be most effective in stemming the growth in anti-social, negative behaviours,” she says.

n Member review Kindergarten Teacher at St Bishoy Coptic Orthodox College, western Sydney, Nancy Rezk, reviewed Hector’s World and the cybersmart website for IE. “I had a look at the website and I am very impressed with the resources available for kids and parents,” Nancy says. “I found it is also beneficial for teachers to use while in computer labs. “The young kids’ link was really good too. The online friends video was also great, however, for young kids, they need the characters to speak instead of having subtitles. The THINK acronym is really good too and easy for kids to remember. The school link and teacher resources are also great. “Overall, the website is really good however, for the use to be successful, I think it needs to be used with a whole school approach.”

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Bringing climate science to life C

limate change education has it all: drama, hope and an urgent message requiring action. But first students need to get the basics right and this can mean it is up to educators to bring the science to life. At the NSW/ACT IEU Educating for a Sustainable Future Conference in Sydney late last year, speakers managed to do just that. Below are some highlights from just a few.

A remarkable species While the climate has varied naturally for four billion years, humans are new on the scene in terms of being a dominant driver, Co-Director of the University of NSW Climate Change Research Centre Professor Andy Pitman told the Conference. “We have been the dominant factor in driving the climate for only 20 to 50 years, and have, in 150 years since the industrial revolution, transformed the biogeochemistry of the planet. We are a remarkable species. “We’re talking about a system that basically varied between about 260 and 280 parts per million for 10,000 years and then, in geological terms, it instantaneously changed from its natural operating range to something way above it,” he says. “If you play sport, it’s a little bit like if your natural heart rate goes between about 70 and 140 beats per minute while you’re having a good game of squash. That’s the natural range, just like the natural range of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 260 to 280 PPM. [But] we have now moved it to 380, which is like your heart rate suddenly going to 240 BPM. My question is: How long can you sustain a heart rate of 240 BPM? The answer is: Not very 22

long. The next question is: How long can we sustain CO2 in the atmosphere at the rate of 380 parts per million? “It takes time for the climate to equilibrate. If you are driving an 18-wheeler down the highway at 110km/ hr and you decide you want to turn around, you don’t do it on a dime. It takes you a long time to decelerate, a long time to turn it around and a long time to reaccelerate. Climate systems are much the same … If we stopped emissions today… it would take decades before the warming slowed and thousands of years before all the effects were taken away because of the length of time it takes for the ice sheets to respond. Professor Pitman said “we are too late by at least 30 years to prevent climate change.” We can observe it. We can do some things, like buy time. We can cut emissions. We can move towards renewables. We can replace coal with gas … we can grow forests ... we can protect existing forests. There are many things we can do at local, regional and national scales to buy us a bit of time, but fundamentally it comes down to international agreement. “We are a remarkably capable species at doing stuff. We are better than we think we are, which is a positive story because we may be better than we think we are in dealing with the problem.”

“We are a remarkably capable species … which is a positive story because we may be better than we think we are in dealing with the problem.”


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Cultural opportunity For 40,000 years Indigenous Australians were “the greatest conservationists in this country”, Dhinawan Dreaming Indigenous Artist and Cultural Ambassador Michael Baker told the Conference. “We looked after everything in our country. Always an Aboriginal reference would be to Mother Earth. It’s Mother Nature and we all still do that today. We don’t say that we own the land. We say we belong to the land. You don’t own your Mother. You belong to your Mother. Dhinawan said Indigenous people showed their “connection to our beautiful Mother by taking the clay and the ochres and painting it onto their bodies… We have songs and dances that tell about the seasons, so that we know how to move and adapt, to tell us when to burn off our country. We care for our Mother and we massage her,” he said. “Forty thousand years of connection to our beautiful Mother Earth … is something that I think all of Australia needs to know. Through education, by getting back to the grassroots in schools and even in kindergartens and preschools we can tell our kids ‘if you want to look after our country you have to look after it in a special way’. “I put it onto all of you to take the first steps towards reconciliation in your communities by getting Aboriginal people to come in … We are the best resources for Aboriginal culture. We don’t read from books. We take it straight from the heart, just like our grandparents and their grandparents taught us. This is something we pass down with love.”

Learning by doing

Assessment areas included: water usage; energy; carbon emissions; solid waste; rubbish; waste management; transport; and biodiversity/drainage. Carbon Planet audited their carbon emissions and energy use.

When it came to assessing the environmental footprint of All Saints Catholic Primary School, Liverpool, Principal Rose-Marie Hoekstra admitted they “had a number of pitfalls and left things out”. But she told the Conference it was “not about being perfect”.

Early savings have been made in many areas through initiatives including: installing timed taps and dual flush toilets; putting mains timers on hot water units; developing better ICT practices; installing solar panels; introducing a school-wide recycling program and trialling waste-free lunches.

“It’s about giving things a go, but giving them a go in such a way that you are laying very solid foundations for your school community that can be built upon whether you stay there or not.” Inspiration for the process came from the Sydney Catholic Education Office’s School Review and Improvement process which asks schools to examine 32 components of school life. The environmental stewardship section has a rating scale which says a six or seven is excellent. “We rated ourselves a four and I decided that I needed to do something about it. The other thing that really

To order a free IEU professional development DVD containing conference highlights and factsheets, contact iemagazine@ieu.asn.au.

influenced me was On Holy Ground by Catholic Earthcare,” she said. A committee comprising students, parents and Rose-Marie met three times a term, had a budget of about $3,500 and an initial goal to produce a report and directions.

Rose-Marie says not all went to plan. The school “completely forgot” to consider the role of curriculum in their environmental program “just as we forgot to put a teacher on the Committee”. “But you do what you do, when you do, and then you learn and then you do it differently the next time around.” 23


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All your staff could be flourishing

+

Positive psychology and schools

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hat is positive psychology and how can leaders harness it to support and motivate school staff? Graham Hoult from coaching company Auxilium shares his tips. There are many actions school leaders can take to help their staff flourish into highly motivated, fulfilled professionals. First and foremost they can tap into the power of positivity themselves and they can start each conversation with a positive statement (“Your room is looking really exciting to come into!”) or question (“Tell me what has given you greatest joy from this class?”). Meetings can similarly be started with positive input. (“A lot of great things have been happening lately. Let’s start by quickly noting some of them”). Other methods include: + starting the reflection/evaluation processes with “what have we done

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“Positive psychology, like coaching, is meeting the needs of ordinary healthy people seeking to flourish.”

really well?” and then ask “what would we like to be able to do better?” + when problems and conflict arise, having well-known procedures to deal with/resolve them. Value conflict for the opportunity to learn and build. Don’t confuse negativity with antiteam behaviour + taking opportunities to encourage staff to take a break, especially if it can coincide with appreciating nature. Insist on lunch breaks being a proactive resource in the daily routine + being alert to staff members who are becoming dragged down by negativity. Deal with it by supporting them to resolve it and move on + encouraging staff to dream, be passionate, and develop goals to achieve what matters to them, and + role modelling a generosity of spirit for your school community.

Positive psychology, like coaching, is meeting the needs of ordinary healthy people seeking to flourish. Well-known psychologist from the 1940s and 50s Abraham Maslow termed this “self actualising”. It isn’t about ‘blind’ happiness –‘smile and be happy’. Positive psychology recognises negativity as part of life and helps us respond to it so that we can move on from it.

Research reveals According to Barbara Frederickson’s 2009 work Positivity we know the following facts: + positivity feels good. As we experience it intentionally or otherwise it has therapeutic effects: “I wish I had more good days like this” + positivity changes how your mind works. It widens the options we can envisage


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+ positivity transforms our futures. We benefit from positivity’s capacity to build various resources: new skills, new relationships, and new knowledge + positivity puts the brakes on negativity + positivity obeys a tipping point + positivity can be increased in proven ways. Positive psychology and openness, as a general approach is crucial in supporting staff to expand possibilities. According to Frederickson, “when we inject people with positivity, their outlook expands. They see the big picture”. To me, this is the core of the research. It challenges us to be further conscious of how we turn up to meetings, how we start them, how we keep our staff imbued with positivity. Further: + positivity is infectious + positivity and openness feed on each other + as leaders we not only model positivity we also embrace openness through our non-judgemental approach

“gratuitous negativity”. Be dismissive of the latter. Necessary negativity needs to be self-managed. When things go wrong, plan the most effective response.

Increasing positivity Frederickson outlines some familiar strategies to harnessing the power of positive psychology in everyday life. These include: + sincerity matters. Giving time to yourself and taking time to smell the roses + finding positive meaning. Have goals, and plan to be what matters to you + savouring goodness. Appreciate what we do well + generosity of spirit- verbalising gratitude means not only do you gain positivity but the recipient does also + being passionate. People who are fully engaged in work, service, hobby, life — this is being in the “flow” as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990) describes it — are approaching peak positivity

the way that suits oneself best, learn further how to self-manage negativity, and then move on + understand the forms of positivity that one can bring into one’s life routinely + self monitor one’s positivity balance over negativity. Each of these are both individual and organisational issues. For school leaders a further challenge is to manage the important distinction between + applying these ideas and thus valuing diversity, accepting that conflict and negativity are a normal and valuable part of life + seeking strong commitment to the school team. Achieving this will go a long way towards creating a high-performing team, one focussed not only on productivity but also positivity.

References

+ dreaming

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly 1990 Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper and Row.

+ sometimes we need to be coached to maintain our positivity.

+ understanding and working to your strengths

Frederickson, Barbara L. 2009 Positivity Crown:New York.

Decreasing negativity

+ connecting with others. According to Hendrickson, the “tie between flourishing and enjoying good social relations is so strong and reliable that scientists have called it a necessary condition for flourishing”

Positive psychology is about knowing ourselves so that we respond to negativity deliberately and with a focus on decreasing it routinely. For example, when people in our school are white-anting our efforts we need to be clear about how to respond. Appropriate responses may include: + disputing negative thinking. Explore the facts, explore possible alternative perspectives + becoming more fully aware of negative thoughts and how you deal with them + breaking the grip of rumination. Know your fight back mechanisms to negativity + understanding the difference between necessary negativity and

+ connecting with nature. Twenty minutes at lunchtime pays huge dividends + opening your mind.

In a nutshell There are so many benefits available for staff and schools. We need to ensure in our work with staff that we create the appropriate culture and practices that support them to:

Prior to establishing the coaching company Auxilium, Graham spent 25 years in the Victorian Education Department. He had experience at principal and senior officer level in Victoria and the USA. Graham has trained with six different coach training schools in the USA, China, UK and Australia. A longer version of this article is to be published in the Autumn 2010 issue of Leadership in Focus.

+ recognise negativity + evaluate negativity + proactively respond to negativity

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divere roles diverse people

Recognising the other school professionals I

n the Northern Territory, where isolation can be an issue, IT professionals play a critical role in keeping schools connected to the rest of the world. IT specialists play numerous roles in the school environment, such as maintaining computer networks, providing user support, training staff and students and providing professional advice to management on the operational direction of computing. But IEU Members and IT specialists from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College (OLSH) in Alice Springs Geoff Baird and Courtney Whitman say their job does not end there. Courtney believes teachers and IT professionals can learn a lot from each other. “We certainly have learned quite a bit about what teachers need by being able to form and develop those relationships. By the same standard, teachers are able to learn quite a bit about IT from us ... such as advising on where technology is going and what might be coming around the corner,” Courtney says. “Having IT staff that can form a backbone for positive change is essential to embrace learning technologies of the future.”

Recognising IT as a profession Geoff says recognising IT as a profession helps to increase the ability of IT staff to interact with other staff members on an equal level. “It is impossible and unreasonable to expect teachers to keep abreast of all the technologies that are currently available. That is why IT specialists will continue to be an emerging profession among larger schools in the Northern Territory,” Geoff says. 26

Importance of PD Both IT specialists agree that professional development (PD) is crucial to their role. They say that a commitment to PD not only increases their own ability and skills but will in turn help staff and students on a dayto-day basis. “Information technology is like an organic occupation where it is constantly changing and not many can accurately predict where we will be too far in the future. This in itself is why IT [professionals] need access to constant professional development as skills we gain are of immediate use to the school either directly or indirectly,” Geoff says. Courtney agrees: “The more competent and qualified your IT staff is, the better resources a school is able to offer the teachers and the students – and the better able they are to make low cost technology work in the classroom.” However, accessing PD in the top end is not always easy. “The Northern

Territory is progressive in many ways, but even in a non-remote area like Alice Springs you won’t find professional certification places for IT. IT specialists have to be prepared to fly out, mainly with their own money, and learn the things they need to learn to make whatever technology the school already has work,” she says.

A career worth pursuing The perception that IT specialists in schools only use their role as a stepping stone to a better career and not as a long-term job is misleading. Courtney says teacher turnover can be high in remote area schools, which may contribute to the reluctance of schools to offer expensive specialised training to support staff. “However, I believe that if you strive to hire school based professionals for a job in their field, they will be much less likely to regard the job as a stepping stone to a career path, especially if they have support from the school.”


“IT specialists will continue to be an emerging profession among larger schools in the Northern Territory.” Some schools fear paying for IT staff training because they think the professionals will leave at the earliest opportunity. But Geoff says a combination of better money, professional training and recognition can prevent the job being viewed just as a stepping stone. “More money alone won’t change the occupation into a career,” he says.

Diary NSW/ACT IEU New Scheme Teachers Conference 11 June 2010 Mercure Hotel Broadway, Sydney, NSW.

New to teaching in NSW? Looking for support? Come along to the NSW/ACT IEU New Scheme Teachers Conference and get up to speed on meeting accreditation requirements, professional development opportunities, making the most of your support networks and so much more. www.ieu.asn.au or iva@ieu.asn.au

Working alone Acknowledging that IT professionals need extra help in the Territory is important. “It is often difficult for them to talk to people outside of their profession and voice concerns regarding their work environment or levels of support — there are just not that many of us who work in schools, and it’s very easy to feel isolated, especially if you’re working alone,” Courtney says.

Recognition Recently Catholic sector bargaining negotiations in the Northern Territory have recognised the important role IT professionals play with the reclassification of duties and a wages structure to encourage progression through classification levels. A classification structure to recognise those with tertiary qualification has also now been emphasised. Geoff believes this will encourage IT staff who wish to make working in a school a career.

Positive Schools, Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference 20-21 May 2010 The Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle, WA.

NSW/ACT IEU Women’s Conference 20 August 2010 Mercure Hotel Broadway, Sydney, NSW.

This conference offers the opportunity to better understand mental health issues within our schools and colleges. It features a clear focus on finding solutions and achieving sustainable positive outcomes. www.positiveschools.com.au or phone 08 9388 8843

This year featuring a diversity and inclusion theme, the ever-popular NSW/ACT IEU Women’s Conference will include presentations by author and long-term IEU member Melina Marchetta and Dr Ibtihal Samarayi from Newcastle University. www.ieu.asn.au or pam@ieu.asn.au

5th International Conference on Catholic Educational Leadership - A Beacon of Hope: A Light for the Future. 2-4 August 2010 ACU, National Strathfield Campus, NSW.

Australian Council for Educational Leaders Hosting and Harvesting Conference 29 September – 1 October 2010 Sydney Convention Centre, NSW.

Tailored to the needs and interests of Catholic educational leaders in schools, systems and networks of religious schools, this event provides opportunities to “hear some of the foremost thinkers in the field, and to interact with colleagues from right across Australia and internationally”. www.acu.edu.au/ leadershipconference2010 or phone 02 8677 3428

According to an EU Commission official the art of hosting is “a practice that heals the broken relationships between people”. This event looks at how we can create the change we want to see in the world via: the art of hosting conversations that matter; deep learning, rich understandings; learning across boundaries and building bridges. www.acel.org.au/conference/

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A one-stop shop for teachers

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COOTLE, aka the Schools Online Training and Learning Environment, is an invaluable resource for teachers, writes NSW/ACT IEU Journalist Sue OSBORNE. The resource is a federally funded web-based system for storing, organising and sharing digital curriculum resources. In SCOOTLE you can search 9000 (and counting) interactive multimedia resources, still and moving images, speeches, songs and interviews to support Australian curriculum topics. It has the capability to accommodate one million concurrent users, allowing teachers to find resources quickly and efficiently. Maitland Newcastle CEO Learning Technologies Education Officer Cheryl Fahey says: “I find one of the wonderful things about SCOOTLE is that the students now have access to primary source material. This is particularly significant for senior secondary students. All schools have a registered School Manager for SCOOTLE who then invites all staff members to register for use”.

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“Each Learning Path has a unique PIN. Students do not need to logon. They need only to access the SCOOTLE website and enter the PIN and they are on their way along an interesting learning path,” Cheryl says. SCOOTLE allows teachers to construct elaborate learning paths with individualised instructions. It enables you to: n display search results on maps and timelines n discover exciting and challenging learning tasks showing how teachers use digital resources with Teacher Ideas and Units of Work n add your own tags to resources to help you and your colleagues find content. Let other teachers in your school know how you’ve been tagging items so they can find them too n create learning paths to integrate digital curriculum resources into teaching and learning activities to easily deliver to students and share with other teachers, and

n create collaborative activities in a secure live workspace, where students can write, ask questions, upload media, participate in chat and receive teacher feedback. Cheryl says SCOOTLE encourages students. “They find the activities and resources engaging and challenging. We are able to construct work that encourages higher order thinking. Differentiation is also easy as a teacher may use one path which can be customised for more capable students and modified for students,” she says. The national nature of the resource can make it hard for teachers to find material relevant to their state. But Cheryl she says “once we move to a National Curriculum many of these problems will be overcome”. SCOOTLE resources come in a variety of formats, including interactive multimedia digital curriculum resources — for example, learning and assessment objects, as well as single item resources such as audio files, videos and images with accompanying teachers’ notes, sourced from partner


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organisations including: n National Film and Sound Archive n National Museum of Australia n CSIRO n National Archives n Powerhouse Museum n Getty collection n Australian Museum n National Gallery of Australia n Film Australia n australianscreenonline n Australian Children’s Television Foundation n Australian War Memorial n Australian Voices The Teacher Ideas section is interesting. It highlights ways teachers have incorporated digital curriculum resources into their learning programs. It includes the links to the resources used in the lessons and some also include assessment objects, samples of student work and teacher developed resources. There are also collections of selected digital curriculum resources, organised around popular topics and themes in the curriculum and units of work created by teachers, which include links to the digital curriculum resources used in the unit.

Learning paths Once they have found relevant resources, teachers can organise them into a learning path, which is a teacher-created sequence of

instructions and digital curriculum resources that can be delivered to students. Teachers can also share these with colleagues or the education community or use existing learning paths. Alternatively, they can browse learning paths shared by other teachers within the school, jurisdiction or the whole SCOOTLE community, or search all shared learning paths using the ‘Search for’ box.

own text, reordering and editing the existing material and posing their own questions and comments.

“SCOOTLE is also accessible from home so teachers may construct learning paths and set items as homework tasks,” Cheryl says.

n receive individual and group feedback from teachers at any time during the collaboration.

“Teachers are able to construct a collection of learning paths and collaborative activities as well as accessing those in the public area. These can be copied and modified to suit the individual class.”

Collaborative activities Teachers can now use a secure live workspace to teach students with collaborative learning tasks using selected digital curriculum resources. They can upload selected digital curriculum resources to the workspace and set tasks and questions for their classes. Teachers can also create new folders to organise learning paths to make them easier to find.

n use SCOOTLE chat facilities to discuss the task; all messages are recorded so student input can be reviewed for assessment and feedback n upload digital materials, including audio and video files, and digital curriculum resources, and

“SCOOTLE is a ‘one stop shop’ for curriculum,” Cheryl says. “I can see that SCOOTLE will become a useful feature of teachers programs,”.

Access Access to these digital curriculum resources and to SCOOTLE is free to all DET, independent schools and Catholic schools in Australia. Access is organised through each AIS state/ territory office. Details of who to contact can be found at http://www.tlf.edu.au/for_ teachers/access_information/schools/ schools_in_australia_and_nz.html

In the collaborative workspace students can: n choose an avatar and nickname to create an online identity n create a wiki-like response to teachers’ questions by adding their

w w w. s c o o t l e. e d u . a u “We are able to construct work which encourages higher order thinking.”

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readers’ response

Confusion over role Dear Editor,

Paper still has its place Dear Editor, I find myself compelled to write in response to the article by Chris Betcher (IE, V39#3 p20). Though his interest in and commitment to technology could be seen as admirable, some of his misleading comments were not supportive of education in its wider context. In particular, his claim to not accept any work from a student on paper was startling. This presupposes an unrealistic facility with and access to technology by all staff and students.  What of the many circumstances where technical difficulties have meant that a hard copy is the quickest way to present a piece of work? In terms of the way the teacher is to mark the task, sometimes a printed copy is the best format. (For example, I find it much easier to correct grammatical, spelling and paragraph mistakes on the printed page rather than in electronic formats.) Comparing different examples of student work for the same assignment, especially when ranking HSC tasks, is often easier when the paper versions sit before you. Even at the tertiary level, where I have also had some teaching experience, students are constantly reminded to have hard copies of their work available in case of technological problems. I am not deprecating the increasing role of technology in education overall – I could not go through a day at work without computer access! However, I believe that technology is a tool to aid education, and should never be an excuse to avoid it. Relying solely on electronic means of communication disables our students and teachers: it reduces their mutual opportunities to effectively communicate their ideas. That cannot be in the interests of anyone’s education. Rochelle Keshishian Teacher, Sydney

I am writing in reference to your article titled ‘Film Censorship in Australia’ (IE, V39#3 p34). This article contained a number of factual errors. There are references throughout to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC). As of 1 July 2007, the OFLC ceased to exist as an agency. The Classification Board (the Board) and Classification Review Board (the Review Board) are independent statutory Boards.  The Board makes decisions and the Review Board, on application, reviews some of those decisions. There are currently 14 members serving on the Board and six members serving on the Review Board. It appears that the article has confused the roles of the Board with the Review Board. The Boards are independent from each other. Members who serve on the Review Board are different to the members who serve on the Board. The Review Board is a part time Board that meets only when an application for review is received. Your article suggests that ‘Where there is a major controversy associated with an RC (Refused Classification decision) for a film, the whole 11 members of the Board could view the film.’ This is incorrect, as the Board must not reclassify a film within two years of making a decision. The independent Review Board could review a decision, but only upon receipt of a valid application. If however, prior to classifying a film, the Board is aware of a certain history, controversy or community concern associated with the film, the director may decide to constitute a full board to consider it. Your article refers to the film Ken Park and suggests that if the film had not been submitted for classification, it could have been screened at the Sydney Film Festival in 2004 without restriction. The Sydney Film Festival direction that allows for certain films containing borderline RC material to be screened under limited circumstances was issued in May 2004. The organisers of the Sydney Film Festival wanted to screen Ken Park at the 2003 Film Festival, when such a direction did not exist. As such, in 2003 (not 2004 as your article states), when Ken Park was classified RC, this film could not have been screened at the Sydney Film Festival under any circumstance. Donald McDonald, Director, Australian Classification Board

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Hidden dangers of Facebook

Teachers should be aware that their out-of-school activities can be questioned in WorkCover and compensation matters.”

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n a recent legal case involving a VIEU Member, her use of Facebook was used as evidence against her, writes Katie Findley from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. Maureen was a full-time teacher at a Catholic primary school, when a metal door return fell off and hit her on the head in 2003. She was off work for three months as a result. In his judgment last year, Justice Shelton ruled that Ms Lane could take legal action to recover damages for her pain and suffering, and loss of earning capacity. Danny Frigerio, Principal of Maurice Blackburn, the VIEU’s legal firm, has been helping Ms Lane with her Victorian WorkCover claim and to sue for compensation.

Timely warning The school’s lawyers tried to use Ms Lane’s Facebook activity as evidence that she had no problems related to her injury. “Justice Shelton looked at Ms Lane’s Facebook activity in the context of neuropsychological tests she undertook,” Mr Frigerio said. “These tests proved that she continued to suffer from the accident. “However, it is a timely warning that teachers should be aware that their out-of-school activities can be questioned in WorkCover and compensation matters.”

Security features Facebook and other social networking websites have security features that allow you to control the amount of access other people have to your information. Maurice Blackburn suggests that when you use Facebook, you

should consider how safe your information is, and who can see it. There are many uses for Facebook, and you should consider whether your personal information security usage supports you and adequately protects your personal details. When you log into a website, does it prompt you to save the password and login details so it will remember you the next time you use this website? Before you click ‘yes’, consider who else can access your computer. Once you have logged into your Facebook page, explore the links at the top right of the screen that allow you to change your account and privacy settings.

Profile and contact information Facebook gives you options in the privacy section that allow you to have a say about who can see your profile and interact with you. You can allow ‘everyone’, or limit your availability to ‘my network and friends’, ‘friends of friends’, ‘only friends’, or ‘customise’. The search page enables you to control who can search for you, what they can see and how they can contact you. It includes a tick box if you want to be listed publicly so anyone can find you. The ‘news feed and wall’, and ‘applications’ privacy pages enable you to control the information displayed for others to see about your recent activity on your Facebook page and your Facebook friends’ pages. Remember that if you allow your Facebook friends to have access, they can tag you in photos and videos that they put on their Facebook pages and these will show up on your Facebook page too. Information collected from these pages was used unsuccessfully as evidence against Maureen Lane in her court case. 31


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Should boys and girls be educated differently? Pendulum swing towards girls Laraine Boguradzki, mother of three boys, northern Sydney As a mother of three boys, aged 11-21, I have experienced boys’ education at all levels.

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Since I was at school, the pendulum seems to have swung in favour of girls. As a result I chose to send my boys to an all boys’ Year 7-10 Catholic school, with girls from other schools joining in Year 11. My worst experience of school was in primary. My eldest was a lively little boy who needed to run around to burn off excess energy. But due to OHS policies, students were not allowed to run on the quadrangle. Going into class, he’d be wriggling about, unable to sit still, and end up on lunchtime detentions.

school seems geared towards girls. Boys hate listening to stories, colouring in, discussing issues and making things pretty. High school is a little better in that boys can be boys. But I was disappointed in the English syllabus, as my eldest was given war books to read. Boys need variety to encourage them to read. Boys excel at problem solving — I would like to see them assessed in areas they can excel in. I’m alarmed at the decline in the number of boys going to university. Boys need to be given tasks at school so they feel they are succeeding and are appreciated by their teachers, the most significant adult in their lives after their parents.

My second child also found it hard to sit still and concentrate. Primary

Secret to keeping boys’ bums on seats Jacquie Boyle Teacher Unity College (co-ed), Caloundra, Queensland My lesson was hard learned. I was a youngish teacher when I headed to New Zealand for a ’working holiday’. I thought I could teach the terms and ski the slopes on weekends. Yeah, right! I scored a full-time teaching position in South Auckland in a Once Were Warriors type suburb at an all boys’ Catholic school. On my first day with Year 12 biology I proceeded diligently on with my teaching. I quite fancied myself as a good teacher — my references said 32

so. Yeah, wrong! The first weeks were dismal. The boys didn’t produce any work of substance and I was exhausted from just trying to keep bums on seats. I asked around: “How do you do it, what am I doing wrong”? The answer came loud and clear: structure, structure and more structure. Girls want a relationship with a teacher first. That means they want to know ‘your story’, where you buy your shoes and if you are married etc. This gives you credibility. Then you blind them with your subject knowledge. Mission successful. Boys need to be blinded first. You walk into an all boys classroom and go

immediately to the board. On it you list the roles that they have in the lesson. It could look something like this: 1. Listen — 10 minutes 2. Take notes — five minutes 3. Set-up, complete and pack-up prac — 30 minutes 4. Summarise — five minutes 5. Copy down homework — five minutes. The boys felt safe and in control in these boundaries and I was so thrilled with their progress that my one-year skiing holiday turned into five years of rewarding teaching. The relationship with the boys came later, but even then they weren’t interested in where I bought my shoes. 


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Focus on individuality not gender Erin Fuller, Marion Catholic School (co-ed), Currajong, Queensland

when catering for the learning styles of either gender.

I believe boys and girls should not be taught differently. Instead, the focus should be on how classroom lessons are presented to each individual child.

I would suggest that rather than dwelling on the need to separate the educational requirements of boys and girls, the content needs to be presented through different means to cater for all learners.

Although each gender is often associated with particular learning styles, every student approaches their work with a unique perspective for which a teacher needs to cater when preparing and presenting lessons. Some studies show that boys and girls process content differently. These studies are certainly helpful when teaching either boys or girls; however, it’s important to remember that every child is an individual and therefore there is no typical style of learning

Boys can be boys and girls can be girls Polly Flanagan is the new Principal of Shelford Girls Grammar, Melbourne. Immediately prior to this, she taught at Melbourne Boys Grammar. My initial response to this question is a definite yes and I came to that conclusion long before the latest research on the difference between male and female brains was available. I am firmly of the view that girls should be educated separately in their secondary years and I reached that position because of my teaching experience. I have taught in coeducational schools, boys’ schools and girls’ schools. About 20 years ago, I taught in a boys’ college and at the same time I also taught in the girls’ college next door. The two schools shared the same

Examples of the variety of ways students learn include: linguistically, kinaesthetically, musically and spatially.

It is an educator’s role to ensure that the material they teach is taught in a manner that enables each child to learn to their full potential and catering for different learning styles is the best way to ensure this happens in the classroom on a daily basis.

administration and were religious in nature. Students attending the schools were members of a tightly knit orthodox community. In separate classes, I taught the same subject to the Year 12 boys and the Year 12 girls. Same subject, same teacher, same curriculum, same religion, same community, but different genders lead to different behaviour. I had to teach each class quite differently. The girls were far more mature, enjoyed discussion and were able to concentrate for longer periods. The boys were more physically active, took longer to settle and required more specific tasks. It was on the basis of my experience with these two schools that I chose a girls’ school for my daughters. An abundance of recent research has assisted educators to understand the differences between the ways boys and girls learn and the differences are significant. Girls can be girls and boys can be boys when educated separately.

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Teach to my learning style Year 9 student (name withheld) north shore girls’ school I am not sure about boys and girls having different ways of learning. I went to a co-ed primary school up to Year 4. I am now at a girls school and plan to go back to co-ed education for my senior years. I like to think that we have the same ‘spot’ in our brains to learn. I think there is a place in the brain that is responsible for learning, and that is the same for everyone, regardless of gender. Then as individuals our personalities, or individual differences, will influence how we learn best. I have to write down or see what I am learning. I know when I travel with my parents and go on guided tours I often remember what I have seen and heard for a long time afterwards. I wish school was a bit more like this. I can learn a dance routine quickly and easily, but learning fractions gives me a headache. Am I a typical girl student? My cousin, a boy and a year older, can write great stories and debate the socks off anyone. He can’t dance. I see he learns very differently to me and has different strengths. He goes to a co-ed private school in the eastern suburbs. I think how we learn, and what we love to learn reflects our personalities, not our genders. Teachers could learn from this.

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Films with a green focus T

hroughout the history of cinema, films and documentaries have been made to reflect the environmental concerns relevant to the time, be that industrial pollution, biodiversity, nuclear fallout or the future of the planet. The Age of Stupid (2009, Franny Armstrong) is a good example of a current documentary warning us all about the dangers of ignoring the significant climate changes that are occurring and the environmental destruction perpetrated by many countries. The film is framed by an observer, played by Pete Posthlethwaite, who looks back over the last 10 years to discover the way humans have ignored warning signs and continued to foul the planet. It is almost like a follow up to An Inconvenient Truth (2006, Davis Guggenheim), which had presenter Al Gore demonstrating through statistics and images how climate change appears to be occurring. The Age of Stupid amplifies warnings and forces the audience to take action to stop the ruination of Earth. 34

Food Inc (2008, Robert Kenner) confronts the audience with the reality of food production, the slaughter of animals and the impact this has on the environment as well as humans. Documentaries such as Go Further (2003, Ron Mann) shows Woody Harrelson and others visiting various communities to encourage biodiversity and harvesting sustainable food. It shows alternative approaches and ways to stop the decline of the planet. Two other films are even more strident in their warnings about food production: Fast Food Nation (2006, Richard Linklater) which viscerally demonstrates the fouling of food production, and Our Daily Bread (2006, Nikolaus Geyrhalter) which strikingly travels the world to highlight the terrible way food production and animal slaughter is affecting the environment and our future. The epic documentary The Corporation (2003, Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott) portrays the major businesses around the world as key instigators of the poor state of health of the global environment.

City of Ember (2008, Gil Kenan) looks at a future civilisation that is losing its energy source (the sun) as well as its reliance on water, culminating in a city destined for disintegration. Safe (1995, Todd Haynes) is a remarkably prescient film about a woman who is so affected by the chemicals in the environment that she has to escape into a bubble-like situation. Finally, the ultimate film on pollution and the fouling of the planet as the population increases, must be Soylent Green (1973, Richard Fleischer), a science-fiction film that suggests that the only future foodstuff that can be easily harvested is humans. If that isn’t the ultimate warning about the future of the planet, then I would like to know what is? Peter Krausz is Chair of the Australian Film Critics Association www.afca.org.au and a regular film critic and film journalist on radio, television and in print. He can be contacted at: peterkrausz8@gmail.com


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The School of Education at UNSW is a research-intensive school and a key player in the professional preparation and development of teachers and other educational professionals in Australia and internationally. These three postgraduate coursework programs include eight courses which may be taken full time or part time, with commencement in March or July. Commonwealth supported places are available.

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Study education at an advanced level to enhance your professional development and gain substantial knowledge and skills.

Gain valuable professional development through advanced interdisciplinary studies in Education and Applied Linguistics. The program is tailored for those working or intending to work in TEFL/TESL or TESOL.

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SCHOOL TEACHERS CAN NOW TRAIN IN TAFE & RTOs!

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