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Supplement to the Queensland Teachers’ Journal

Professional Magazine Volume 26, November 2011

Members are invited to submit articles for the next edition of the Professional Magazine. Direct inquiries or articles should be directed to – The General Secretary, PO Box 1750, Milton BC Q 4064 Edited by QTU Research Officers Dr John McCollow and Lesley McFarlane AM. Note: The Union publishes the Professional Magazine as a service to members. It is intended as a forum for ideas on educational issues, some of which may differ from policy positions adopted by the Union. Not all views expressed in this issue, therefore, reflect Union policy. The editors reserve the right to edit or reject any material submitted to the magazine. ISSN: 1328-9780


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Analysing Hattie by Catherine Day Catherine Day is currently acting Assistant Secretary –Services/Women’s Coordinator, Queensland Teachers’ Union. At the time of writing her article, she was acting QTU Research Officer.


Purposes and uses of educational research By John Hattie John Hattie is a Professor of Education at the University of Melbourne and Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute. His book Visible Learning (2008) is a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement.


Integrating robotics in primary school activities by Vinesh Chandra Dr Vinesh Chandra is a Senior Lecturer in ICT Education at the Queensland University of Technology. Prior to joining QUT, he was employed by Education Queensland as a high school teacher. Integrating digital technologies across the curriculum is one of his teaching and research interests.


Year three media arts: teaching the key concepts through video editing by Michael Dezuanni and Amanda Levido Dr Michael Dezuanni is a Senior Lecturer and researcher in the field of digital cultures and education, which includes film and media education, digital literacies and arts education. He is a member of the School of Cultural and Language Studies in Education in QUT’s Faculty of Education. Amanda Levido is a media arts researcher at QUT who is currently working with primary school teachers to integrate media arts into classroom curriculum.


Reflecting on the “Dream Circle”: urban Indigenous education processes for student and community empowerment by John Davis-Warra, Karen Dooley and Beryl Exley John Davis-Warra is a community Durithunga member and has been involved in vast and varied Indigenous education approaches across regional and urban schools. The power of his place base processes is their sustainability and lasting impacts in community. Dr Karen Dooley lectures in literacy education in the School of Cultural and Language Studies in Education, QUT. Her research looks at education in high poverty areas with significant Indigenous and linguistic and cultural minority populations. Dr Beryl Exley is a Senior Lecturer and researcher in literacy education at QUT. She has a special interest in working in diverse contexts of teaching and learning.

22 What teachers do with the official curriculum: the syllabus survey by Annette Woods, Julie Dillon-Wallace and Madonna Cullinan Dr Annette Woods works in the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology. Her teaching and research relates to literacies, curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, and issues related to social justice. She is part of the “What Teachers Do with the Official Curriculum” research team, as well as the project leader of the URLearning project. Julie Dillon-Wallace works as an academic in the School of Early Childhood at QUT. She has a particular interest in using quantitative research methods to explore issues associated with inclusive practice. Madonna Cullinan is a Research Assistant at the Queensland Teachers’ Union and also a Senior Research Assistant with the ARC research project, “What Teachers Do with the Official Curriculum”.

26 Review essay: Battlegrounds in the history of Irish teacher unionism by Adrian Skerritt Adrian Skerritt has been a member of the Queensland Teachers’ Union since 1992. He is currently an acting humanities/LOTE head of department.

29 Review: Teachers’ professional development: it is union work by John McCollow Dr John McCollow is a Research Officer with the Queensland Teachers’ Union.


Book Review: Teachers and their times by John McCollow

33 Reader survey QTU Professional Magazine November 2011 – 3


QTU engagement with educational research

This year’s edition of the QTU Professional Magazine highlights the engagement of the Union with educational research. The QTU has always seen its role as encompassing the industrial, professional and educational dimensions of teachers’ work and, in addition to its work to improve teacher salaries and conditions, has a long history of involvement in professional and

curriculum issues and is an active participant in debates about education. QTU activist and acting officer Catherine Day’s article “Analysing Hattie” is a good example of such participation. An earlier version appeared in the March 2011 edition of The Queensland Teachers’ Journal and noted the prominence and widespread use of the work of Professor

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John Hattie. Day expressed concern that, in the context of a mania to increase NAPLAN scores, Hattie’s work was often “being used to legitimise the badgering of teachers”. She went on to recommend that a more critical reading of Hattie’s research was necessary, one that took account of its limitations, and noted that Hattie himself professes to esteem and value the work of teachers.

Day’s article was drawn to the attention of Professor Hattie, who contacted the union. We invited him to respond and the result is his article “The purposes and uses of educational research”. Hattie agrees that teachers cannot be seen as “the sole source and solution to all problems”, but argues that “schools do make a difference” and that “reducing the variability in the impact of teachers (or more importantly raising the impact of all) is ... a critical part of the solution”. The next three articles, “Integrating robotics in primary school activities”, “Year 3 media arts: teaching the key concepts through video editing”, and “Reflecting on the ‘Dream Circle’”, all derive from an Australian Research Council project, URLearning. The QTU is a “partner organisation” for this project with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The purpose of the URLearning project is to design and implement models for the use of digital media and technologies in a low socio-economic, suburban primary school with a diverse student population (including Indigenous students). It brings together university teacher educators and researchers with expertise in traditional print literacy and digital learning and technologies, QTU officers, teachers, other school-based personnel and community members. Each of the papers reports on a different aspect of the project, focusing respectively on the use of robotics, the media arts program and a program that engages Indigenous students through valuing Indigenous culture. In late 2011, the project will also provide professional development opportunities for teachers at other schools. The QTU was attracted to participation in the project because the development of models of positive and successful educational intervention in low SES schools complemented our “Meeting the Challenge” campaign to improve

learning and working conditions in these schools. “What teachers do with the official curriculum: the syllabus survey” provides a brief and very preliminary progress report on another Australian Research Council project in which the QTU is participating, along with the QUT and the Queensland Studies Authority. The QTU has involved itself with this project because it has a strong view that the voice of teachers on curriculum issues needs to be reasserted. The response of members to the survey indicates that teachers agree. Much rich data will be mined during 2012 and will provide important information on how well teachers’ pedagogical and curriculum beliefs and practices “match up” with the intents of official curriculum documents. The information will also provide a baseline for tracking whether practices and beliefs change with the implementation over the next few years of the Australian curriculum.

monograph “Teachers’ professional development: it is union work” by Nicole Calnan. Calnan is a NSWTF member who was a recipient of an Eric Pearson Study Grant in 2010 to investigate the approaches taken to professional development by teacher unions in North America, England and Australia. The second work reviewed by McCollow is Denis Fitzgerald’s lively account of the NSWTF over the period 1975-2007. According to McCollow, though “Teachers and their times” is not a scholarly work, it provides an important contribution to understanding a union that has “baffled and enraged” a number of those who have had to deal with it over the period in question.

This edition is rounded off by reviews of three works about teacher unions. QTU member Adrian Skerritt reviews John Cunningham’s recent history of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ATSI). The union arose in the early 20th century in response to the appalling working conditions endured by Irish teachers. The struggles of the union intersected over time with a number of wider social issues, such as Irish identity, nationalism and republicanism and the vexed relationship in that country between the Catholic Church and the state. According to Skerritt, Cunningham’s approach of writing history “from below” is well suited to a book on a teacher union, as it allows him to foreground the activism of members. QTU Research Officer John McCollow reviews two works emanating from the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF). The first is a relatively brief

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Catherine Day

Analysing Hattie Some policy makers and some school leaders, like our Prime Minister, have been tempted by the attraction of looking for simplistic and over-generalised links that add authenticity to the claim that if student achievement is low, then it is because teacher standards and quality have dropped (Zyngier 2009). If you are a teacher or school leader who has been exposed recently to the work of John Hattie (2009) being used to legitimise the badgering of teachers to focus on “using data more effectively” (code for raising the school’s NAPLAN results), it might be a good time to apply your critical literacy skills and ask –who benefits from the text? Teachers and school leaders fortunate enough to have attended the QTU’s 2009 Professional Issues Conference would have heard Professor Martin Thrupp and Professor Bob Lingard explain how the “politics of blame” (Thrupp 2009) and the “evaluation message system” (Lingard 2009) place unhelpful pressures on teachers. “The top-down, one way gaze upon teachers as the sole source and solution to all school problems” (Lingard 2009) is doing nothing to earn the trust of teachers, and as Thrupp pointed out, it is a misleading proposition. In his words “Yes, of course we can improve our practice and make a difference to the achievement

of young people and to their lives, but don’t look to us to solve all the problems of student underachievement, because it’s not fair on us and you are going to be sorely disappointed too” (Thrupp 2009). Thrupp and Lingard’s speeches were, in different ways, a response to documents like the Masters Report (2009). In Queensland in 2009, the work of Masters was used widely at a system level by the Department of Education and Training and by those in government to add

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authenticity to statements about teachers making the biggest difference. At the time, Professor Peter Renshaw (2009 - on behalf of the School of Education at the University of Queensland) presented Education and Training Minister Geoff Wilson with a response to the Masters Report highlighting its deficiencies, especially its failure to take into account contextual and structural factors that influence educational achievement. The paper warned that failing to consider

these factors in recommendations for change will not achieve the desired result. In 2011 it may be that John Hattie becomes the preferred authority to add weight to calls from those who would benefit the most for more focus on the teacher as the fault in the system. If you are a school leader or an officer of the department hoping to add brevity to your next job application, one way of doing that is to show how you have been able to influence an improvement in NAPLAN scores or other easily measured scoring devices. For some, it may be very tempting to devote all the powers of persuasion you have to look to teachers to make that a reality. Teachers and school leaders who wish to “analyse the text” at the next staff or district and regional leaders meeting where Hattie’s supposed message is espoused may be interested in critiques of his work, and, in fact, in Hattie’s own descriptions of the limitations of his research. Hattie himself emphasises that his book isn’t about “what cannot be influenced in schools – thus critical discussions about class, poverty, resources in families, health in families, and nutrition are not included – this is NOT because they are unimportant, indeed they may be more important than many of the issues discussed in this book. It is just that I have not included these topics in my orbit” (Misa, 2009). Snook et al (2009) note that Hattie’s book does much to explore what it is that makes successful teaching, but raise concerns about how much damage may be done by policy makers unaware of the significant limitations to the study. They describe the limitations that Hattie himself acknowledges, including: •

social effects/background/context effects are ruled out

the various studies have not been appraised for their validity


the research is limited to one dimension of schooling i.e. achievement that is amenable to quantitative measurement

Australian Education Union (South Australian Branch) NAPLAN submission http://www.

the research may not be applicable to regular classrooms – in at least one study the class size was kept artificially low

naplan/submissions.htm Hattie, J. (2003) Teachers Make a Difference: What is the research evidence? Australian

low quality studies are included in the meta-analyses.





w w w. au/documents/Hat tie_ TeachersMakeADifference.pdf

Hattie himself may be surprised to find his work is being used to place downward pressure on teachers in ways that do much to erode morale. In fact, as noted in the South Australian AEU Branch’s submission to the Senate Enquiry on NAPLAN, Hattie holds teachers in high esteem. His advice on how to “esteem and grow those who have powerful influences on student learning” is “not by … promoting different topics for these teachers to teach, or by bringing in more sticks to ensure they are following policy” (AEU-SA 2010).

Lingard, B. Testing Times: The need for new

Teachers and school leaders interested in removing barriers to improving the professional lives of teachers as a legitimate means of improving the education of children might like to access some of the sources referenced. Questioning an over-devotion to and uncritical use of John Hattie’s research – especially when it is used to justify micro management of teachers – is just another way to be professionally responsible, or for those of you enamoured of good literacy pedagogy, modelling the role of text analyst.

Snook, I., Clark, J., Harker, R., & O’Neill, J. (2009)

A slightly abridged version of this article, “Time to question simplistic interpretation of research”, appeared in the March 2011 edition of the Queensland Teachers’ Journal. It was drawn to the attention of Professor Hattie, who provided a response. The response, “The purposes and uses of educational research”, is published on the next page.

a barrel - and up the creek: Reframing the

intelligent accountabilities for schooling, QTU Professional Magazine, http://www. Masters, G. N. (2009) A Shared Challenge: Improving Literacy, Numeracy and Science Learning in Queensland Primary Schools. Camberwell, Vic: Australian Council for Educational Research. Misa, T. (2009) League tables are an unhelpful sideshow, New Zealand Herald, 6 July http:// cfm?c_id=252&objectid=10582708. Invisible Learnings? A commentary on John Hattie’s “Visible Learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement” misc%20documents/Invisible_Learnings. pdf Thrupp, M. Teachers, social contexts and the politics of blame, QTU Professional Magazine, 2009, vo24_thrupp.pdf University of Queensland (2009) Review of the Masters Report Zyngier, D. Teachers under the pump - and over current debates about ‘quality’ of education Curriculum Perspectives 2009, 29(1) http:// monash. Pap ers/109779/ Teachers _under_the _ p u m p_ - _ a n d _ ove r_ a _ b a r r e l _ - _ a n d _ up_the_creek_Reframing_the_current_ debates_about_quality_of_education

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John Hattie

Purposes and uses of educational research

The article “Analysing Hattie”, published in this Professional Magazine, examines the simplistic use of the research of Professor John Hattie to justify shifting the blame for low student achievement on to teachers. Here Professor Hattie responds. Day’s article raises a critical matter about the mis-use of research. We so often

hear “research says”, and indeed it does not take much searching to find some academic who has published something that agrees with almost anything. My own research has been used to justify many claims opposite to what I have argued, and yes it may be because I was not as clear as I could or should have been – although I have published many articles on the theme of teaching and learning

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and checking could avoid many of the mis-quotes. The theme of the article was that my work is being used to “legitimise the badgering of teachers to focus on ‘using data more effectively’”. I certainly see much evidence about the critical role of teachers (but this is not novel) but do not want to claim that it is

“teachers who make the difference”. There are many parts to the learning equation – including the students, home, resources, community etc. But my reading of the research shows that the greatest source of variance in student outcomes that we (as the paid professionals in the room) have any control over is the variability in impact among teachers. We all know that some days we can have a major impact, and other days less. It turns out that the variance is large and our mission should be to enable all teachers to know, to have, and to be esteemed when they regularly have major positive impacts on student learning. I see the variance in teachers’ impact on students as key to understanding how to improve teaching and learning. I constantly reminded New Zealand politicians (and will do so in Australia) that we were in the top 10 in the world for a simple reason – the quality of our teachers in respect of their impact on students. But I have never said teachers were the sole source of low student achievement – how absurd. There are many other reasons, some in our control and many not in our control. I am more interested in the former, but do not deny the latter.  Yes, it would help to have financially gifted parents, students with high levels of inhibitory control, an extravagance of resources to wallow in, more time out of classes to prepare, and less pressure to engage in the mundane. But the teachers who are systematically gaining the highest impact have similar levels of resources, time, and pressure as those who do not have high impact. They have similar distributions of students. They have similar curricula and exam pressures. We need to understand these relations between our impact and what we think, know and do. I have often written about the importance of the home and family influences, but once the students cross the

school gates we can do little about this. As I commented to a recent political forum – if we firmly believe the fundamental reasons for low achievement are based in the home, maybe we should take money out of education budgets and put more into social and poverty budgets. But then I do believe we in schools do make a difference – and I have oodles of evidence identifying and supporting those teachers who do have this high positive impact. Like Lingard, I agree teachers are NOT the sole source and solution to all problems – but reducing the variability in the impact of teachers (or more importantly raising the impact of all) is important as a critical part of the solution. We require students to come to us because we do claim we have greater positive influences on achievement than others. And I do agree with the article that there are limitations in my research – and the best way to read these is Chapter 2 of my Visible Learning book, where I put these limitations out there. Some others have repeated these as if I did not acknowledge them, and some have made critiques which are not correct. So let us look at

some of the claims noted in the earlier article.

“Social effects/background/context effects are ruled out” These are not the major topics of my research and not the major players in my orbit, not because they are not important but because, as educators, we have little control over them. If we do not believe we can make differences to students then we are a) in the wrong business, and b) should be arguing for money to be transferred from education to the social services budget.  There are sections in the book about the large effects of these influences, although critics have ignored them.  There are so many teachers and schools making major achievement gains for students across all social/home backgrounds and we should value and esteem these gains – and give a lot of credit to an education system that does have mitigating effects on rebalancing some of the inequities in our society.

“The various studies have not been appraised for their validity” This is incorrect. I did not overspend time

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evaluating the validity of each metaanalysis (as others have done this) but where there were studies of low quality, I was quick to note them. The studies have indeed been appraised for their validity within most meta-analyses, it is just that a) meta-analysis is typically rigorous enough to attend to this issue of effects of quality (most studies are indeed medium to high quality), and b) I did rule out low quality meta-analyses.

“The research is limited to one dimension of schooling, i.e. achievement that is amenable to quantitative measurement” As a father, I am convinced by Henry Levin’s evidence that the best predictor of health, wealth, and happiness in adult life is NOT achievement, but the number of years of schooling. Hence my keenness to make the school experience “inviting to learn”. I have also published much on other outcomes (e.g., self-variables and I am working now in health outcomes). There are many critical dimensions of schooling, but achievement remains one of them. Yes, the achievement measures were quantitative and included many teacher-made assessments (essays, projects, portfolios) as well as standardised assessments. I have never said achievement was the only dimension (and say this clearly throughout the book) but do defend an investigation of achievement.

class size artificially low” means? Who invented this, and surely this is another illustration of citing what you “wished I had said” or thought I had said).

“Low quality studies are included in the meta-analyses” Each meta-analysis asks whether the results overall were affected by whether the studies were of low, medium, or high quality. Where there were differences relating to quality, the low studies were dropped. I do indeed hold teachers in high esteem – I spend many hours in classrooms and see extraordinary impact from many teachers. I work from a “success case” method and thus am primarily interested in success, and there is plenty to study, but I am not slow to critique (or move on) if the impact is not evident. I only ask that you read what I say, not what others would want me to say, believe me to say, or invent for me to say. I encourage critics (positive and otherwise) to read Visible Learning to help balance the misinterpretations. I realise some of the findings and arguments may be different from some well-entrenched views, but that is a major purpose of research – to question what is assumed, to provide directions to more appropriate questions, and to foster debate.

“The research may not be applicable to regular classrooms. In at least one study the class size was kept artificially low” There are 50,000 studies based on over 200m students – most were based on regular classes, and where they were not, this variability was investigated as a moderator. To pick out “one study” from the 50,000+ studies is not meaningful (although I am not sure what “keeping

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Vinesh Chandra

Integrating robotics in primary school activities As teachers, we know the importance of hands-on engagement in classroom activities. This is critical in tasks such as problem-solving because they draw upon learners’ high-order thinking skills. The partnership between the hand and head transforms problem solving challenges from abstract into concrete entities, which in turn simplifies problem-solving (Sennett, 2009). Such an approach also facilitates knowledge acquisition through knowledge “construction rather than instruction” (Rusk, Resnick and Cooke, 2009, p. 2). Papert (1991) proposed the idea of constructionism. He believed that individuals developed their knowledge as a result of their experiences – an idea extrapolated from Piaget’s constructivist theory. Papert also suggested that by constructing products (e.g. models and artifacts) which have a personal significance, the learning can be assumed to be more meaningful (Rusk et al., 2009). Models and artifacts have been used in classrooms for a long time, across a variety of subject areas, to simplify the complexity of certain concepts. Papert argued that “what you learn in the process of doing…sinks much deeper, its roots go deeper into the subsoil of the mind than anything anybody can tell you” (Madigan & Kroesch, 2011, p. 95). Robotics is one current example of using models and

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hands-on challenges toward rigorous problem solving, and is becoming increasingly popular in teaching concepts in areas such as mathematics, science, and technology. Robots simplify the problemsolving process because their use involves physical manipulations (Nersessian, 2009). The success of robotics in the learning environment has also been attributed to its: •

appeal to the youth culture

motivation and engagement value

technical challenge factor

social and problem-solving development options

alignment with academic disciplines (Grossman et al., 2002).

This article outlines the integration of robotics in two settings in a primary school. This initiative was part of an Australian Research Council project which was undertaken at this school. The article highlights how robotics was integrated in a technology unit in a year four class. It also explains how it was embedded into an after-school program which catered for students from years five to seven. From these experiences further possibilities of engaging with robotics are also discussed.

Robotics in a technology unit Investigation, design, production, evaluation, and reflection are all important aspects of ways of working of the Technology Essential Learnings (Queensland Studies Authority, 2007). They use these “essential processes” to enable students to develop and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. Robotics can be used effectively to achieve these outcomes. To explore this possibility further, a robotics unit was designed and implemented in a year four class over nine weeks. Each session lasted for 90 minutes. The LEGO Mindstorm kit was

used for these activities. The teacher organised the 24 students into groups of three – four. There was an open working area at the back of the classroom – this enabled groups to design, program and test their robots with ease. It also saved time because furniture did not have to be rearranged for the activities. Figure 1: A LEGO robot

students to this challenge. Through their engagement in this challenge, students were demonstrating their knowledge and understanding on how different ideas for designs and products are developed to meet the needs and wants of people (Queensland Studies Authority, 2007). In week nine, the students showcased their project solutions to their parents. Afterwards, the parents were invited to participate in a simple challenge themselves. For this task, the students acted as tutors and showed their parents how robots could be programmed and run in order to complete the challenge.

Robotics in the MediaClub Each lesson generally started with a story or news item which was topical. For instance, when Google launched its driverless car last year, a news clip of this event set the scene for one of the weekly robotics activities. It served as an ideal opportunity to start a conversation with the students. Each student was also asked to complete a worksheet which focused on this event. The questions on these sheets (e.g. Are driverless cars a good idea? Why?) not only enabled them to continue the discussion on this innovation, but also created opportunities for reading and writing print texts. The challenges for the sessions were generally aligned with the stories. For instance, the challenge which followed Google’s driverless car activity was that students had to program a robot to travel from Brisbane to a town or city in Western Australia. Google maps were used by the students to identify “their town”. The complexity of the challenges increased progressively and culminated in an openended project. For this task, students had to rescue a miner (LEGO man) by using their robots. News clips from the Chilean mine rescue connected the

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The MediaClub is run as an outside school program and is a part of this research project. The aim of this initiative is to investigate the opportunities that this increased capacity gained in an outside school setting affords to young people inside school in their classroom and school learning contexts. Extracurricular or outside school programs generally aim to offer young people a different learning environment to that provided by the everyday classroom. Outsideschool programs such as MediaClub offer students an opportunity to engage with substantial content and skills in an informal learning context. The robotics challenges for the students who engaged in the MediaClub robotics program were similar to those presented to year four students. They were expected to find creative solutions to problems in a constructivist-learning environment using the LEGO NXT robots. However, the challenges were more complex – these students also had to use sensors in their robots. The 15 participants, aged between nine and 13, worked in groups of three to four, facilitated by an instructor and other

support staff in weekly two-hour sessions for eight weeks. Each week a challenge was presented to the participants. Over time, the complexity of these challenges increased as the level of scaffolding from staff decreased. Apart from handson problem-solving, the sessions also created numerous opportunities for collaborative learning and teamwork. Upon the completion of their tasks, the participants demonstrated their solutions to the problems to the rest of the group. This enabled opportunities for reflective feedback.

Students’ reflections Across all key learning areas, reflecting is a critical step of ways of working. In both these approaches, De Bono’s six hats served as an effective framework to immerse students in the reflection stage (De Bono, 1999). The white hat question (“What was this challenge about?”) gave an idea of whether participants’ understood what the challenge was about. The green hat question (“Draw a diagram to show how you tackled this challenge”) enabled participants to demonstrate their idea pictorially with some text. The yellow and black hat questions (“You had an idea on how you could tackle the challenge. What was good about your idea?” and “What was something about your idea that did not work the way you had planned?”) enabled the participants to critically reflect on the successes and failures of their ideas. Perhaps the most significant questions were the blue and red hat questions (“What did you learn from this challenge?” and “If you did this challenge again, how would you change your idea?”). These reflections were completed on a worksheet. For the year four students, it served as good evidence for assessment.

value of robotics as an education tool in classrooms. Some of these benefits have also been identified in previous studies (e.g. see Grossman et al., 2002). Intrinsic motivation is one of the most significant benefits of using this technology in classrooms. A common response of students is that they find robotics fun and challenging. By designing and appropriately scaffolding challenges with a moderate level of difficulty, students tend to get hooked to the task. Sometimes this can occur for extended periods. By programming and running a robot, students get instant feedback on the progress they have made in tackling a challenge. Engaging in the technology practice cycle (Queensland Studies Authority, 2003) occurs effectively because designing/re-designing, building/rebuilding, programming/re-programming, and testing/re-testing a robot is easily achieved.

Through hands-on engagement, students are not only solving problems but also finding new ones and as a consequence constructing their own knowledge (Sennett, 2009). They develop their own strategies in acquiring this knowledge. Situating these challenges in a real life context further enhances its value. Teamwork and learning collaboratively is another significant benefit of using this technology. Teamwork enables students to pool their ideas and knowledge in solving a challenge. They also develop their own strategies as their teams go through the stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing (Tuckerman, 1965). Seeing how other teams solve their problems demonstrates that there is more than one way to tackle a challenge. Robotics competitions such as the FIRST LEGO League ( and RoboCup ( create opportunities for schools to take their

Findings and future directions In-class observations and student and teacher interviews have reiterated the

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students to the next level. The popularity of robotics and competitions such as these is growing globally. They work to encourage students to perform outside their comfort zones. One of Albert Einstein’s famous quotes is “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer”. As teachers, we need tools and strategies which can engage our students. Robotics may be one of the feasible options to achieve this goal.

Clubhouse. In Y. B. Kafai, K. A. Peppler, & R. N. Chapman. (Eds.). The computer clubhouse: Constructionism and creativity in youth communities. (pp. 17-25) New York: Teachers College Press. Sennett, R. (2009). The craftsman. London, Penguin. Tuckman, B.W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 16, 249-272 Parts of this article have been summarized from: Chandra, V., Woods, A. & Levido, A. (In print). Primary school students engaging in an


after-school robotics program. In A. Cohan

De Bono, E. (1999). Six thinking hats. New York: Back Bay Books. Grossman, J. B., Price, M.L., Fellerath, V., Jucovy, L., Kotloff, L., Raley, R., & Walker, K. (2002). Multiple choices after school: Findings from the Extended-Service Schools initiative.

& A. Honigsfeld (Eds). Breaking the Mold of Classroom Organization and Management: Innovative and Successful Practices of Engagement, Motivation, and Student Empowerment for 21st Century Schools. New York: Rowman & Littlefield

[On-Line]. Available at content/reports/ess-multi-full.html Madigan, B., & Kroesch, G. (2011). What We Need To Face In American Education. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse Nersessian, N. J. (2009). How do engineering scientists think? Model-based simulation in




laboratories. Topics in Cognitive Science. 1, 730-757. Papert, S. (1991). Situating constructionism. In S. Papert & I. Harel (Eds.), Constructionism (pp. 1–11). Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Queensland




Technology years 1 to 10 syllabus. Brisbane: The State of Queensland (The Office of the Queensland Studies Authority). Queensland




Queensland Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Framework. (2007). Retrieved September 30, 2011, from http://www.qsa. el_technology_yr5.pdf Rusk, N., Resnick, M., & Cooke, S. (2009). Origins and guiding principles of the Computer

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Michael Dezuanni and Amanda Levido

Year three media arts: teaching the key concepts through video editing This article outlines the knowledge and skills developed by a group of year three students in a low socioeconomic status state primary school as they undertook media arts learning during a basic video editing activity. This is an example of the type of learning students across Australia can expect to encounter after the implementation of the arts component of the Australian curriculum. The Shape Paper for the Australian Curriculum: the Arts was released during 2011 (ACARA, 2011) and includes media arts as one of the five arts “subjects” to be taught in all Australian schools from preschool to year six . This will present a challenge for many teachers and there are fundamental questions to be asked about what

will be taught and why (content) and how that learning will occur (pedagogy). This article explores how media arts key conceptual knowledge and pedagogic practices might be better understood.

Background Young people are increasingly able to be “writers” of media through online publication, creative video production, animation production, recording and mixing podcasts, and designing and producing aspects of video games. Media arts draws on these abilities to offer a powerful and engaging way to creatively use ICTs and it allows students to develop their multi-modal literacies as they work with print, still and moving images, sound and digital effects. There is a great deal

of literature that supports the idea that literacy must include the ability to read and write across these different modes (Burn, 2009; Jewitt, 2008; Kress & van Leeuwen, 1996; Share, 2009). Furthermore, media arts allows students to productively participate in the digital culture that they use on a daily basis. Students are required to critically engage with their own and others’ media creations and in this sense, media arts is “critical” and provides opportunities for ethics education. A specifically detailed media arts curriculum outlines knowledge and skills to support teachers to bring these creative and critical elements together. The work described in this paper is part of a larger project under way in a school identified by the Australian federal

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government as a national partnership school. NPA schools have significantly lower levels of achievement in literacy and numeracy as measured by the National Assessment Program in Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). The project aims to investigate the links between digital learning and the development of “traditional” literacies in low SES schools. This article aims to address two questions: first, what is successful media arts pedagogy and how is it a form of digital literacy learning? And second, how do the media arts key concepts help to describe the learning that occurs while students are undertaking digital video editing?

Learning experience overview The aim of this learning experience was to introduce a class of year three students to the video editing software iMovie, which is freely available on all Macintosh computers. In this lesson, four Macbook laptops were used in a covered outdoor space adjoining the main year three classroom. The lesson was repeated every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm throughout term four and the aim was for every member of the class to experience two of these hour-long sessions – once as a learner and once as a mentor. The lesson involved four stages: an introduction to the iMovie interface; selecting key sequences of video footage and adding them to the timeline; adding video effects, transitions and titles; and sharing the results with each other. The students were provided with previously uploaded footage shot around the school grounds.

Learning through digital editing The first phase of the lesson involved the students learning about the iMovie interface and lasted for approximately 15 minutes. The students were asked to turn on the computers and launch the

software. Once the program was running, the students were asked to click the play button to make each of the video clips play in the viewer. The teacher described these as “little movies” and suggested “we are going to create our own ‘good movie’ from the little movies”. She showed the students how to select a clip and drag it to the top section of the software. She carefully demonstrated this process to the small group and answered questions and repeated the process as required. The teacher allowed the students to experiment with this process and only intervened when they required help. In media arts classrooms, emphasis is typically placed on students using software for creative purposes and problem solving. The pedagogy used in this part of the lesson was play-based and the students were free to choose whichever clips they preferred, and they responded very well to this. They seemed excited to be making movies and were itching to get their hands on the laptops. They became impatient when the process was being explained to them, although they still carefully listened to the instructions. Some of the students initially had trouble with the clip selection process and dragging and dropping in iMovie. This was clearly a skill that had to be mastered, but it was one they seemed to quickly attain with individual help. Next the teacher shifted the focus from the technical process of moving clips using the software to a creative and conceptual focus. She asked the students to consider the length of the clips they had added to their “good movie”. She pointed out a clip on her timeline that was 36 seconds long. She asked the students to close their eyes and quietly count to 36. All agreed that the clip was longer than most clips they had seen on television. One of the media arts key concepts was introduced here: media languages. The languages

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key concept focuses on how text, images (still and moving) and sound are used for communication through the use of codes and conventions. The teacher followed up by showing the students how to use the software to trim their clips to shorten them. In the next phase of the lesson, the students were introduced to special effects. The teacher showed the students how to use the software to add video effects to their clips. This included changing colour saturation, adjusting clip speed to enable slow motion, fast motion and reverse motion, adding x-ray effects and other creative effects. This only took about five minutes and then the teacher allowed the students to explore. The students began experimenting without hesitation and altered their clips in an array of different ways. They were highly engaged during this process, making a range of comments to each other and the teacher: “This is sooo cool”, “I’m having pretty much fun here”, “Holy” and “This is a lot of fun”. The students also developed their creative knowledge base through this activity. Some of the comments made by the students to the teacher and their peers reflected the students’ creative and experimental processes: “Oh look – the sky is golden”; “It looks like a cartoon” and “I flipped it around the other way”. The students began to see that the clips were malleable and could be altered to communicate a message to an audience. These comments started to connect the students’ learning to their knowledge of storytelling, representation and other conceptual elements. For example, after adding an effect to a clip, one student said: “Oh no! We’re back in the olden days – black and white”; to which another student replied: “We’re in the old world”. The students linked their own creative process with their understanding of

image codes and conventions, in this case recognising that black and white images are often associated with historical images and, from a story telling perspective, perhaps time travel. Another studentteacher interaction was also interesting: Student: “Oh look, x-ray.” Teacher: “You should use that one... I love it... I think using x-ray makes it look a bit spooky.” Student: “It looks like it is a ghost.” To make the connection between the x-ray effect and a ghost, the student drew on elements of film genre, linking the effects of their creative work to familiar storybased elements such as characterisation. The quick connections made by the students between the effects and representational aspects of storytelling demonstrate that important aspects of media arts learning occur when students link their own creative processes to stories they have previously encountered. In this sense, the students were working with the representations key concept from the media arts framework. There are also broader implications for literacy, as discussed in the final part of this paper.

Media arts pedagogy and conceptual understanding The lesson outlined in this paper includes elements of typical media arts pedagogy, including scaffolded experimentation and play-based learning; training a core group of experts and peer mentors; focusing on making a media product; and learning through doing. The overall emphasis in this approach is on using a creative communications tool to tell stories to an audience and explore concepts through a collaborative and social process. Even in lessons where the focus is on the development of a particular skill, such as the focus on video editing in this lesson, the overall motivation is to teach a skill that

will eventually be used for storytelling. The development of technology skills occurs in a context of creativity with an emphasis placed on technology being an everyday tool for communication. This is a crucial link to literacy development. Digital technology becomes a tool for multimodal communication and allows students to “write” stories in new ways. Pencils and paper are replaced by digital footage and computers. The focus on the development of digital literacy for storytelling places emphasis on making media products, because the media product is the text that communicates to an audience. Of course, the process of making the product is important and many skills must be developed for communication to take place, but emphasis is placed on the production of the text which draws together different multimodal elements: text, images, sounds and effects. This helps to explain why media arts places less emphasis on mastering technology skills and more on play, creativity and experimentation. It becomes less important that students know how to

operate a piece of software, if they are able to achieve their purpose of making a product to share with an audience through trying things out and learning through doing. One of the most important outcomes of this research is that it demonstrates how the media arts key concepts emerged as the students began to experiment through video editing. The students’ comments to each other and the teacher connected their existing knowledge of moving image-based languages, representations and audiences to the work they were undertaking in the lesson. It was surprising the extent to which this began to emerge with eight-year-olds in a lesson ostensibly more focused on teaching about the operational aspects of the iMovie editing software than on storytelling or conceptual exploration.

Concluding thoughts The lesson outlined in this paper was a relatively straightforward media arts activity, although the knowledge, skills and concepts dealt with were quite

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sophisticated. The students have applied a creative communications technology to learn how they can start to craft a cohesive story from raw footage, using editing, transitions, special effects and titles, which is a fundamental process in media arts practice. They have also started to apply some of the broader theoretical concepts related to storytelling with video, such as moving image language, audience and representation. A key challenge for educators as the Australian curriculum is implemented across the country will be how they can use the communications technologies already available in many classrooms – computers, digital still and video cameras and software – to implement media arts experiences that allow students to build on their media-related conceptual knowledge. Teachers will need access to high quality professional development, a strong support network and access to resources in the form of lesson ideas and technical know-how. It is hoped that this article provides some insight into what media arts education might include and how it might be effectively approached.

colleagues (Annette Woods, Allan Luke, Karen Dooley, Beryl Exley, Vinesh Chandra, Kathy Mills, and John Davis), the Queensland Teachers’ Union (in particular Lesley McFarlane and John McCollow), and the staff, students and community of the school where the research is based.

References ACARA. (2011). The Shape of the Australian Curriculum: the Arts. Sydney: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Burn, A. (2009). Making New Media: Creative Production and Digital Literacies. New York: Peter Lang. Jewitt, C. (2008). Multimodality and Literacy in School Classrooms. Review of Research in Education, 32 (February), 241-267. Kress, G., & van Leeuwen, T. (1996). Reading images: the grammar of visual design. London: Routledge. Share, J. (2009). Media literacy is elementary : teaching youth to critically read and create media. New York: Peter Lang.

This article is an edited version of an article by the same name. The full length article can be accessed through Screen Education with the following reference: Dezuanni, M. & Levido, A. (2011). Year 3 Media Arts: teaching the key concepts through video editing. Screen Education. 62 (Winter).

Acknowledgement Michael Dezuanni and Amanda Levido’s research is supported by the Australian Research Council linkage scheme project LP0990289 (2009-2013). The views expressed herein are those of the authors, and are not necessarily those of the Australian Research Council. The authors would like to thank their research

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John Davis-Warra, Karen Dooley and Beryl Exley

Reflecting on the “Dream Circle”: urban Indigenous education processes for student and community empowerment The “Dream Circle”1 is a space designed by and operated through Indigenous educator footprints as a safe space for the school’s deadly jarjums (Indigenous children). It uses a kinnected methodology2 drawing on the rich vein of Murri cultural knowledges and Torres Strait Islander supports within the local community to provide a safe and supportive circle. The “Dream Circle” operates on a school site in the Logan area as an after school homework and cultural studies class and embodies practices and ritualises processes which ensure cultural safety and integrity. In this way, it balances the measures that Sarra (2005) purports are the stronger, smarter realities needed for positive change in Indigenous education. To be understood in context, the “Dream Circle” is a hook – one part of the school’s approach to Indigenous education but one where jarjums and their families can interact and interface with cultural knowledges and practice as core rites and rituals to be respected and understood. 1 In line with ethical considerations, ‘Dream Circle’ is used as a pseudonym. 2 Kinnected




meaning connections between Murri and Torres Strait Islanders. It is linked to Karen Martin’s “relatedness theory”.

The circle is coordinated by three local Indigenous education leaders and a handful of volunteers from QUT’s teacher education program. Other realms of Indigenous identity within school space include cultural studies classes, Didj lunchtime lessons, Indigenous language classes, Indigenous student field trips and the school operationalisation of the Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives (EATSIPs) program. In this space, Indigenous identity is a strength; discourse on “gaps” and “deficits” has no place here. The “Dream Circle” is a positive strength-

based circle concerned with the cultural safety and mores of Murri people. Its foundation is the yarning circle. This is a form of communication used to develop oral skills, confidence and understanding of ritual; it is a means for practising social skilling. As a process, the “Dream Circle” draws on the knowledges and practices shared locally through Durithunga yarning circles. Core principles of respect and reciprocity (Sheehan & Walker 2001) are at the core of how the “Dream Circle” is set. To get the most out of the space, the jarjums, Indigenous educators and the QUT volunteers alike must respect the processes and privilege Murri ways in the

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circle. Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing are integral to the full and proper setting of the “Dream Circle”. The safe space is created through the students forming or sitting in a circle. The signalling of the “Dream Circle” is done through calling of the circle by the senior leaders and the sounds of the yidiyidi or clap sticks. These sounds are not used in a tokenistic way; they are essential because they form part of the cultural educational yarns shared through song and dance. The ceremony starts with acknowledgement to country. Practising this skill enables the jarjums to build confidence in public speaking. These roles are extended at school through oral tasks and in the instance of school parades. Student leaders take turns in delivering the acknowledgments as ways to express their respect and understanding of country. Practising and living these processes is a core community learning protocol. Following circle time, food which has been prepared by the Indigenous education leaders and the QUT volunteers is shared. While at a pragmatic level, this food nourishes the jarjums and provides invaluable lessons on nutrition and diet, at a deeper level, it provides the ritual of sharing and sitting and eating. These are important skill sets to learn, develop and grow. Jarjums express their gratitude through openly acknowledging the helpers and senior jarjums are tasked with washing up duties. Moving from the circle, time is dedicated to reading, writing and viewing time or art tasks. Students refer to this time as “homework time” but there is much more going on. The adults ask the jarjums to choose or nominate their tasks. These tasks take many forms, from homework set by the class teachers to skills development through cultural worksheets – what the jarjums call “folder work”. Multimodal production or digital projects are an

essential part of this process too. This is a time and place for positive interactions and open communication between jarjums and Indigenous teachers and the QUT volunteers. The yarnings that happen with and between jarjums and adult helpers develop the students’ ability to interact and interface. Senior jarjums are smart models for the younger ones. All tasks are wedded in a kinnected methodology grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. Again this approach centres student identity and allows for the development of more “authentic Indigenous education” (Davis 2007). Students are tasked with keeping and maintaining a learning log to record and maintain a track of their work. These logs form part of the “Dream Circle” student identities as well. The logs are folders and each folder is designed with a hand print. Handprints are the signatures of personal identity and are powerful symbols in Indigenous culture (Knox 2001). No one handprint is the same; no one footprint is the same. Students are tasked with designing the logs with a handprint – their handprint to represent themselves and their story. This story work or identity work is part of the log of activities for jarjums to complete. Positive Indigenous education development is predicated on positive identification of self, family, kinnections and school. Thus, the “Dream Circle” is part of the positive identification of Indigenous identity. The positive sense of self and expression of Aboriginality is shown and developed well through the last phase of the “Dream Circle” - cultural education. Cultural education, or Kultja, is specific task time set aside for student skill development and Indigenous cultural practice. Murri song and dance has been the corner

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stone of the skills development. Song men come to the “Dream Circle” and share story, dance and song of the lands kinnected to their peoples. To come and share song and dance, permissions are needed and this is part of jarjums’ learnings – knowing and understanding rites and rituals. Here the power of the circle, sound of the clapsticks, listening and respect to the voices of song men is melded into one space. Cultural education is an essential part of Indigenous education. This is not a regular practice in school. Knowing, being and doing Indigenous ways builds a confidence in self and ability to understand more about the world; it is learning from Indigenous footprints. In summary, the “Dream Circle” is about Indigenous students having a go – being connected and kinnected to the school and the school understanding more about the community context. The jarjums show an amazing amount of appreciation and love for their space and the people connected to it. The jarjums shape their futures through active participation and recognition of their cultural footprint. This is their “Dream Circle”, a dream space, a safe space.

Acknowledgements We thank the Indigenous community, specifically members of community Durithunga, for their active participation and advice. We thank the jarjums and their families and the QUT volunteers. We extend our thanks to the teachers and administrators who are our research partners on this project and we acknowledge the partnership of the Queensland Teachers’ Union and the support of the Australian Research Council. Our colleagues on the project are: Vinish Chandra, Michael Dezuanni, Allan Luke, Kathy Mills and Annette Woods of Queensland University of Technology and

John McCollow and Lesley McFarlane of the Queensland Teachers’ Union.

References Davis, W. (2007) ‘Spear Making…’ University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Masters Thesis (Unpublished). Knox, R. (2001) Personal Communication. Martin, K (n.d) Ways of Knowing, Being and Doing: A Theoretical Framework and Methods for Indigenous and Indigenist Research The Australian Public Intellectual Network, retrieved Sept 5th 2009. apply=scholars&webpage=default&flexedi t=&flex_password=&menu_label=&menuI D=54&menubox=&scholar=105#35 Martin, K. (2008) Please knock before you enter – Aboriginal regulation of Outsiders and the implications for researchers, Post Pressed, Teneriffe, Queensland. Sarra, C. (2005) Strong and Smart: Reinforcing Aboriginal Perceptions of Being Aboriginal. PhD




(Unpublished) Sheehan, N., & Walker, P. (2001) The Purga Project: Indigenous Knowledge Research. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 25 (1), 23 – 29.

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Annette Woods, Julie Dillon-Wallace and Madonna Cullinan

What teachers do with the official curriculum: the syllabus survey The Australian curriculum context is currently focused on the introduction of a national curriculum. Debates about the need for a nationally consistent curriculum are not new, and at different instances throughout Australia’s history there has been political support for the implementation of a consistent approach across state systems.

Under the Hawke government (1987), there were calls for the development of a national curriculum. The proposed curriculum failed to materialise. These discussions did spark other moves by Liberal governments in the late ‘90s and 2000s to develop national benchmarks and disciplinary categories framed as key learning areas. With the election of the 2007 Labor government and the

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announcement of national testing to replace state-based testing regimes, the stage was set once again for discussions of a national curriculum. After his election in 2007, then Prime Minister Rudd announced his commitment to the “Education Revolution”, with one of the key policy strategies being the implementation of an Australian curriculum. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting

Authority (ACARA) had its first forum in April 2008, the outcome being a plan for a phased approach to the development and implementation of an Australian curriculum across key learning areas. While the introduction of the ACARA materials is currently a main focus of systems, curriculum bodies, schools and teachers across Australia, there are other key curriculum issues that we must continue to consider and discuss. Not least of these is the issue of curriculumin-use. The ways in which curriculum is enacted (Ball & Cohen, 1996) by teachers and students in classrooms and the implications of this translation process continue to be a consternation to systems in current accountability contexts, and resorting to high levels of prescription has been seen as an answer to consistency. In the day-to-day exchanges between teachers, students and texts in classrooms, knowledges, understandings and capacities are shaped, formed and (re) presented. This occurs as both teachers and students interpret, judge and evaluate what is relevant to their lives across school and outside school contexts, and across their pasts, presents and futures. The What Teachers Do With the Official Curriculum research project has aimed to interrogate some of these issues. It is the first large-scale, state-wide survey of teachers in Queensland on curriculum issues. The research project originally focused on teachers’ reported use of the official curriculum documents as they related to teacher experience and training, teaching contexts and systemic support provisions. The project was a joint initiative of major curriculum stakeholders in Queensland – the Queensland Teachers’ Union, the Queensland Studies Authority and one of the state’s large teacher training institutions, the Queensland University of Technology. The project had been

designed as a way to inform future syllabus design in Queensland as the QSA prepared for the next round of syllabus review and development. As we began survey development, the Australian and Queensland curriculum contexts shifted – ACARA was announced and with it the decision that no further new state syllabus design will be initiated until the Australian curriculum processes were put in place. The research team believed that these shifts in the curriculum context raised the urgency to provide teachers with a space to express their position on curriculum. Survey development continued with some adjustments made to include information about the Australian curriculum in participants’ responses. In the section that follows, we summarise the response to the survey from Queensland government school teachers. We consider this response to be indicative of teachers having important things to say about curriculum and needing to have a space to have their voice heard.

The “good news” about participation rates: teachers talking about curriculum In original discussions about this research project, there was some doubt as to whether teachers would respond to a survey on issues related to curriculum. The general belief seemed to be that teachers were over-surveyed and too busy to have the time to respond to questions about how they used curriculum documents. These opinions proved to be unsubstantiated. In early October 2010, the QSA sent an email to notify principals that their teachers would receive an invitation to respond to the survey over the following few weeks. At this point teachers began to email the researchers to find out more

about ways to participate. Then on 19 October the survey was launched, with the QTU sending information about how to participate through its email distribution procedures. The first day that the survey was open saw over 300 participants respond. When the survey was closed approximately eight weeks later, a total of 2,982 teachers working in Queensland Government schools had responded. To ensure that teachers who might not receive the email notification through the QTU distribution lists had the opportunity to respond also, principals were sent an email asking them to distribute a flyer advertising the survey to all staff; particularly to those staff members who they thought likely to have not received the QTU communication. This response rate was very high, with the result that the sample sizes across categories of teacher types, key learning area teaching, and other demographic categories were more than adequate. As important though is that this demonstrates that curriculum issues are important to teachers’ work and their professional lives. Teachers, as curriculum workers in schools, have opinions and want a voice about the current curriculum context and issues of the enacted curriculum.

Who responded to the survey? Of the almost 3,000 respondents to the survey, the largest number of those teachers worked as general primary teachers. One thousand, one hundred and sixty nine (1,169) teachers listed their duties as being a primary classroom or prep teacher1 (1,036 primary classroom teachers and 133 prep teachers). Additionally 39 primary specialist music 1 Prep teachers were asked to identify separately from primary teachers so that the survey could direct them to questions about the Early Learning Curriculum Guidelines rather than the Essential Learnings.

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teachers and 38 primary specialist HPE/ PE teachers, and 103 special education teachers identified their work place as being a state primary school. Secondary teachers also responded in large numbers, with 730 teachers across disciplinary and key learning areas responding. In addition, 61 special education teachers reported working in secondary schools. There were 267 HODs across a variety of portfolios and 76 HOCs who responded. Of the 217 teachers who identified their duties as being a special education teacher, 103 reported working in a primary school, 53 in a special school and 61 in a secondary school. Table 1 below provides the number of respondents who replied to each teacher category when asked to report their current duties. Approximately one third of respondents are primary classroom teachers and one fifth of respondents are secondary teachers.

Head of curriculum (HOC) Head of department (HOD) Other Total

Per cent

Teacher type Primary classroom teacher – years 1-7 Primary specialist music teacher Primary specialist HPE/ PE teacher Primary classroom teacher -prep Special education teacher Secondary classroom teacher


Table 1: Teachers’ reports of current duties.

















446 2982

15.0 100.0

Some initial descriptive findings from early analysis

Secondary teachers and subject areas taught

Analysis of the data is in progress and findings will be forthcoming over the next 12 months. At the current time there are some findings of a descriptive analysis that are of interest.

When secondary teachers were asked to report the KLA areas in which they taught, there was a good spread across the full sample. Many respondents replied to teaching across two or more KLAs as would be expected. Table 3 provides details of the KLAs taught by the secondary teacher respondents to the survey.

Primary teachers working in multiple year levels When asked to provide the year levels in which they taught, almost one third of the primary school teacher respondents indicated teaching more than one year level. This has implications as we move to a curriculum document which is organised by year level rather than by school phase, as was the case in the format of the Essential Learnings. Of course, there were teachers who had to work with more than one set of Essential Learnings, but the year level organisation of the new ACARA documents will increase the number of multi year level teachers using multiple sets of content descriptors. Table 2 below reports the year levels taught by the responding primary teachers. This will need to be considered as inservice professional development is planned and support documents are designed and written for teachers in the implementation of the new ACARA curriculum materials. Respondents who selected “prep teacher” as their role descriptor were not asked to indicate other year levels that they taught because of survey design issues and so are not included in this table. Table 2: Year levels currently taught by year 1-7 primary school teacher respondents. Year Level Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7

Frequency 229 256 206 230 234 243 214

Per cent 22.1 24.7 19.9 22.2 22.6 23.5 20.7

Table 3: Secondary teacher respondents KLA teaching responsibilities. KLA English Mathematics Science SOSE Technology HPE

Frequency 251 250 200 202 187 72

Per cent 34.4 34.4 27.4 27.7 25.6 9.9

The arts LOTE None of the above

98 28 28

1.4 3.8 3.8

Of interest in this secondary sample is the number of teachers who reported teaching outside subjects that they were trained to teach as part of their initial training. While 358 secondary teachers reported that they were not teaching subjects other than those that they were trained in as part of their initial training, almost the same number reported that they were. Figure 1 below represents the percentage of teachers who reported that they were teaching subjects outside those they were initially trained to teach. This finding has implications for both pre and inservice teacher training and professional development. Figure 1: Secondary school teachers currently teaching subjects outside initial teacher training.



yes no

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2 year Certificate 3 year Teaching Diploma 3 year Bachelor Degree in Education Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Education 3 year Bachelor Degree + 1 year Graduate Diploma in Education 3 year Bachelor Degree + 2 year Graduate Certificate in Education 4 year Bachelor Degree in Education Masters Degree Other Total Missing Total

Per cent

Initial qualification


Table 4: Initial qualifications for teacher training of survey respondents

48 544 128

1.6 18.2 4.3









50 237 2508 474 2982

1.7 7.9 84.1 15.9

Figure 2: Teachers with additional qualification


yes no


reported use of curriculum documents and their opinions about the usefulness of specific documents is progressing. The survey also collected data about the current Australian curriculum context, preparation for the implementation of the Australian curriculum and teacher reports of pedagogical approaches. The analysis will continue over the next six to 12 months. Queensland teachers will be advised of progress and outcomes through publications similar to this.

Acknowledgment Table 5: Additional qualifications held by the respondents Additional qualification VET Certificate 1, 2, 3 VET Certificate 4 VET Diploma Graduate Certificate, Education related Graduate Certificate, not Education related Graduate Diploma, Education related Graduate Diploma, not Education related Bachelor Degree in Education or related Masters of Education or related Masters not related to education Professional Doctorate in Education Doctorate of Philosophy

Per cent

More than 70 per cent of the respondents were initially trained in Queensland and the majority have taught in Queensland for the majority of their teaching careers. The data indicates that teachers in the sample were well trained, with 55 per cent of respondents having a degree as their initial training and almost 35 per cent with at least four years of tertiary education as their initial training. In addition, almost half of the sample (46.3 per cent) reported having additional qualifications, including more than 12 per cent who reported having a degree as an additional qualification. Just over 7 per cent of the teachers reported having completed masters or doctoral studies as an additional qualification. Table 4 below provides details of the respondents’ initial training and Table 5 provides

details of the additional training of the 1,162 respondents who reported having yes no additional Figure 2 represents 50.28training. 49.72 the percentage of the sample who reported having or not having additional qualifications.


The teaching workforce in Queensland is well trained and educated

104 227 40 106

3.5 7.6 1.3 3.6

















There is a small percentage (.02 per cent) of teachers that have more than one additional qualification.

This research is a collaboration between the QSA, QTU and researchers at QUT. We acknowledge the Australian Research Council for its support through an ARC Linkage Grant. We thank the teachers and administrators who have generously given their time, beliefs and opinions as part of participating in this research. The What Teachers Do With the Official Curriculum research team are Allan Luke, Annette Woods, Madonna Cullinan, Nerida Spina, Julie Dillon-Wallace and Diana Weiss and Gillian Albiez from QUT; John McCollow and Lesley MacFarlane from QTU; and Paul Herschell and Janice Chee from QSA.

References Ball, D. L., & Cohen, D. K. (1996). Reform by the book: What is – or might be – the role of curriculum materials in teacher learning and




Researcher, 25(9), 6-8.

Where to now? The analysis of this data as it relates to the formal research questions is currently under way. Relationships between training, experience, teaching context, systemic supports and authority and teachers’

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Adrian Skerritt

Review essay: Battlegrounds in the history of Irish teacher unionism

Unlikely Radicals: Irish Post-Primary Teachers and the ASTI, 1909-2009 John Cunningham Cork University Press, Cork, Ireland (2009) Unlikely Radicals chronicles a union’s difficult transition from a professional association to an organisation that fought for industrial rights. Author John Cunningham carefully shows how debates about teacher unions in Ireland

were conditioned by the formation of the Republic, nationalism and the needs of the economy. Many union histories are purely institutional histories and make for dull reading. This history of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ATSI) artfully combines an outline of structural changes within the union alongside a portrait of teachers’ lives during episodes of workplace stress and industrial conflict.

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At the turn of the last century, women secondary teachers endured some the most precarious and difficult working conditions in Ireland. They were on contract but their employment could be terminated at any time. Though not nuns, they lived in the convent and were essentially on duty for all their waking hours. They received no pay during the holidays. Their male counterparts were forced to take on labouring outside of school. Cunningham

writes empathetically about teachers’ lives during these difficult times. He carefully describes the bitter lesson for all new teachers that dedication alone did not give them job security. The formation of the ATSI in the summer of 1909 was a bold initiative to give teachers a collective voice. In the early chapters, Cunningham shows how the fledgling union developed during great social turmoil. Indeed many ATSI members were active participants in the uprising against British occupation. The poet Thomas MacDonagh, who was executed after the 1916 Rising, helped Padraic Pearse establish the Scoil Eanna in 1908. Eamon de Valera was an early provincial leader of ATSI. Social forces, far more powerful than the ATSI, had already made education an ideological battleground. The Intermediate Education Act of 1878 had institutionalised rather than resolved conflict between Church and state over education. The act ensured that the powerful Catholic Church had a prominent role in curriculum and operational matters at a school level. However, the state provided the funding based upon student performance in examinations. Much to its annoyance, the Church was unable to prevent girls also competing in the exams. During its battles with the state over education, the Church was often able to play the nationalist card to bolster its position. Cunningham demonstrates how many conflicts over education took place against a nationalist background. For example, the Gaelic League’s lobbying succeeded in having Gaelic introduced as a language of instruction and for Irish content in subjects like history and geography to be given prominence. By 1924 the government awarded bonuses to

schools that were able to deliver lessons in Gaelic. This context provided a significant challenge to the early leadership of the ATSI. Affiliation with the Irish Labour Party and Trade Union Congress made the ATSI a part of a union movement radicalised by powerful strikes, the influence of socialist activists like James Larkin and James Connolly and the impact of the Russian Revolution. In this context Cunningham shows how it became absurd for teachers to hold on to the illusion that they were professionals when they endured proletarian conditions. Moreover, the intoxicating confidence of the Irish unions at the time gave teachers hope. In the lead-up to the first ATSI strike in 1920, teachers began to use the language of class struggle. They argued that they should not accept a wage freeze when teaching the children of farmers who had benefitted from rising wartime food prices. Cunningham describes the way the Limerick Trades Council began helping striking teachers maintain picket lines outside of schools. The pickets practically stopped the delivery of supplies, a considerable problem for boarding schools. By 1926 the ASTI’s relationship with the Labour Party had soured. Many in the leadership felt that affliation with Labour

was an obstacle to recruitment, especially following the rise of Fianna Fail during 1926. By the end of the decade, the ATSI had no formal connection with either the Labour Party or the Union Congress. This was clearly a watershed in the ATSI’s history, but it does not receive a very convincing analysis from Cunningham, other than a brief discussion about the dual character of the union. Some members saw the union as a professional association, others an industrial organisation. Through energetic lobbying over the next couple of decades, the ATSI steadily achieved an improvement in conditions. Registration had been a significant gain in the 1920s. Only fully qualified registered teachers were able to receive incremental wage increases and pensions. However, many schools were still hiring unregistered teachers in the 1930s. The ATSI’s constant campaigning on the issue made it increasingly difficult for rogue administrations to hire untrained, unregistered teachers. Cunningham writes insightfully about the way the industrial landscape – laws and school customs – affected teachers’ working lives. Like many other societies during the 1960s, Ireland experienced profound social change. The new atmosphere of energetic questioning and the broad challenge to autocratic institutions made by civil rights activists in the North, feminists and the peace movement influenced a new generation of teaching graduates. Teachers were more prepared to go on strike and once again they affiliated with the ICTU. As the union began mobilising more members, leading officials made an argument for the ATSI to be professionalised, which meant increasing the number of paid positions. This certainly helped with administrative issues but

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many young teachers felt that the growing bureaucracy was now remote from the classroom and was becoming increasingly undemocratic. Rank and file unease grew as the ATSI leadership tried to wind down strikes and convince members to accept deals that had earlier been condemned as inadequate. The method of writing history from below serves Cunningham well when analysing the disappointment many young teachers felt towards the ATSI’s direction. He takes the reader into meetings and brings to life the serious debating culture of the branches. This methodology is the main strength of the book. Cunningham acknowledges that an institutional labour history will necessarily spend time looking at the machinations “at headquarters level”. However he writes that “the approach and effectiveness of headquarters will ultimately be determined by the activism of its members”. This is an excellent principle to animate a union history. The latter chapters of the book will be very familiar to those who have participated in debates about education in Australia over the last 15 years. The key policy shift during the Celtic Tiger era was to treat education as a commodity, an approach in keeping with the global rise of neoliberalism. Unlikely Radicals draws on the research of David Harvey and Naomi Klein to describe the way neo-liberalism, with its rampaging hostility towards the public sector, threatened both public education and the ATSI. The results from high stakes standardised testing became the key benchmark in discussions about funding. Poorly regulated but expensive “cram” schools sprang up to drill students in the dreary art of sitting exams. During the Celtic Tiger assault, the ATSI consistently fought for a reduction of class sizes. It also rejected the idea that market forces be allowed to dominate education.

When the boom times ended, teachers were still confronted with the ideology of the market but now in the context of economic hardship. Young teachers were unable to buy a home and conditions worsened for most Irish workers. Teachers reached boiling point. On November 14, 2000, 600 schools were shut down during a massive teachers strike for a pay increase. It wasn’t until late 2002 that they received anything. It was not what they fought for but it was a much better outcome than for those unions that had not taken action. During the strike, Jean Rogers, a teacher, wrote a letter published in The Irish Times criticising the new trend of benchmarking that aimed to measure educational success only in terms of numbers. She expressed an opinion shared by most teacher unionists in Australia today: “I saw these underpaid teachers take time out to help students, working from an ethos that is as much about inclusion as it is about performance… It is not possible to benchmark interventions so important in making a school day run smoothly. It is not possible to benchmark motivation, compassion, interest and care.” The fact that Irish teachers moved from the wretched circumstances they endured 100 years ago to a situation where they can bargain collectively, receive more than subsistence pay, can access maternity leave, play a key role in curriculum planning and are able to campaign in the workplace for improved conditions, owes everything to their union. Thousands fought tirelessly, often anonymously and often at tremendous personal cost to build the union. Cunningham names heroes like P.F. Condon, who was sacked for being a unionist. The union journal described him as “one who never paraded what he was doing, but was content to labour in spite of misrepresentation and opposition, without fee or reward for the furtherance

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of a cause from which he knew he would reap no personal advantage”. Such people are the pride and strength of teachers unions and it is to Cunningham’s great credit that he gives them a prominent place in this fine union history.

John McCollow

Review: Teachers’ professional development: it is union work Teachers’ professional development: it is union work Nicole Calnan Eric Pearson Study Report, NSW Teachers Federation (2010) The Eric Pearson Study Grant, named in honour of a past President of the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF), has been awarded by that union since 1980 to members to study issues affecting teachers and the role of the union. Previous reports have covered a broad range of topics, for example, rural education, peace education, issues affecting lesbian, gay and bisexual teachers, and union organising strategies. Nicole Calnan studied six teacher unions in the United Kingdom and North America, looking at the professional development (PD) programs offered by the unions, “particularly in light of conservative government agendas and, the education reforms aimed at improving ‘teacher performance’ and greater ‘teacher accountability’” (p.5). Calnan also provides a summary of the professional development activities of some of the

branches and associated bodies of the Australian Education Union (including the QTU). The report concludes with a series of recommendations for the NSWTF regarding possible changes and improvements in its approach to PD for members. Calnan’s report is brief (34 pages) and readable and provides plenty of food for thought. Calnan acknowledges the validity, to a degree, of the argument that “it is primarily the responsibility of the employer to provide appropriately funded professional development for teachers” (p. 5) and stresses that unions must ensure that the employer does not “escape its responsibility” (p. 31) in this regard. However, she argues that the NSWTF (and other Australian teacher unions) have missed some important opportunities to define their roles in the professional development of members and expand their programs beyond the “trade union based training programs” (p.5). Calnan notes that more and more employer-provided PD is linked to

ensuring compliance with government or departmental policies and initiatives. It is top-down and uncritically accepting of current neo-liberal management and educational orthodoxies. Alternatively, privately-provided PD is often oriented towards “what will turn a quick dollar and make a profit” (p.9). Unions are well-placed to develop professional development programs that allow for critical reflection on important educational policies and practices, and which relate to issues that teachers themselves identify as important. More fundamentally, if we believe that to be a good teacher unionist you need to be a good teacher first, then it just makes sense for unions to contribute to the ongoing professional enrichment of members. Calnan describes a variety of activities, programs and arrangements relating to

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PD in the unions that she reports on. Some unions have dedicated internal organisational units with specific responsibility for PD. Others have established separate organisations to develop and provide PD, sometimes in association with other bodies such as employers or educational institutions. The National Education Association (NEA), America’s largest education union, has established an online academy with a wide array of courses. The relatively small (3,800 members) Albuquerque Teachers Federation organises study groups and mentoring for members. The British Columbia Teachers’ Federation provides PD on social, as well as educational issues, including anti-racism, gender equity and environmental issues courses.

one union officer, however, rejected a “compliance” model of PD and argued that the real opportunity for unions was to develop approaches that value teacher discussion and collegiality – approaches that other PD providers were ignoring.

Calnan suggests that a good union PD program can attract to the union and retain teachers who are unfamiliar with or uninterested in traditional industrial issues or the culture of unionism (and there is some evidence that younger entrants to the profession are less union-oriented than previous generations). She also suggests that union PD on educational leadership could be an important tool for encouraging cooperative, collective practices in schools in an era of neo-liberal managerialism. There is an interesting diversity in rationales and priorities for PD among the unions. The NEA puts its rationale for involvement in PD in these words, “who should know better what teachers need?” (p.20). The New York State United Teachers advertises its programs of PD by members, for members with the words, “To be the best, learn from the best” (p.19). Several unions see the growing requirements to demonstrate professional competency for ongoing certification or career advancement as providing a major opportunity for unions to support members through relevant PD. At least

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John McCollow

Book review: Teachers and their times Teachers and their times: History and the Teachers Federation Denis Fitzgerald UNSW Press (2011) Denis Fitzgerald has written an extremely readable and entertaining account of the trials and triumphs of the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF) in the period 1975-2007. Unlike several earlier works on the Teachers’ Federation (e.g. Mitchell, 1975; O’Brien, 1987), this is not a scholarly history. As a long-time activist and former federation President, Fitzgerald writes from the perspective of a prominent participant (though a description of his own role is curiously absent in the narrative of events) and as one who is unabashedly proud of his union. Readers from other education unions will recognise many of the challenges faced by the NSWTF over the period covered in the book as ones that their own unions have wrestled with. These include the imposition of neo-liberal reforms in schools (which Fitzgerald views as the latest manifestation of a much longer struggle between “reason” and “privilege”), efforts to improve Indigenous education, ever-increasing government funding for private schools, teacher housing, and the quest for gender equity. The approach taken and tactics pursued by the federation provide an interesting point for comparison. Fitzgerald makes an important contribution to understanding the NSWTF

(the conduct of which has regularly baffled and enraged successive Liberal and Labor governments, other unions in NSW – particularly on the right – and even, at times, colleagues in other AEU branches and associated bodies). As he recounts events occurring over a period of some 30-odd years, Fitzgerald sets

out in some detail the ongoing culture, values and principles that inform the union’s actions. And, as it turns out, once you understand these, the seemingly inexplicable becomes explicable and consistent – though it seems unlikely that many of the federation’s detractors will be persuaded to change their views.

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A key feature of the NSWTF is its brash self-confidence, well encapsulated in Fitzgerald’s observation that “the union does not ever have defeats in campaigning – it simply has setbacks, goals not yet achieved” (p. 166). According to Fitzgerald, the federation “knows what it believes in and attempts to stick with the principle, ‘be just and fear not’” (p. 245). On matters of principle, the federation’s approach is “not then, not now, not ever” (p. 228). This has made the federation a force to be reckoned with, but it also explains the reputation, among some of its more pragmatically-orientated comrades in other unions, of federation representatives as more interested in hectoring than negotiating. At what point does doggedness become rigidity? And does disagreement over a fundamental point of principle necessarily rule out development of a working relationship? Fitzgerald is scathing in his comments about the Independent Education Union and the relationship between it and the NSWTF is clearly poisonous. In Queensland, on the other hand, the QTU and IEU agree to disagree (profoundly) on the fundamental issue of funding of non-state schools, but work together productively on a number of other educational and industrial issues. Another significant feature of the NSWTF is its culture of active internal debate. Those of us who sit outside the federation can get a taste of this in the letters section of its journal, Education, which is by far the largest and liveliest such section among journals of AEU branches and associated bodies. Fitzgerald describes a State Council which, at times, is quite willing and able to take on and roll the union leadership’s preferred position on an issue – a feature that he regards very positively. A related feature is the strong emphasis on internal democracy. All full-time officers of the NSWTF are drawn from its own

membership and are elected for limited terms by its Council (or by the general membership in the case of presidential officers). As far as I am aware, this is an arrangement that is unique among Australian unions. From Fitzgerald’s point of view, it is “central to its strength”. Others have argued that it contributes to “populist” positioning by the officers, and by the union generally. The NSWTF is fiercely proud of its political independence. Like all AEU branches and associated bodies, it is unaffiliated to the Labor Party. However, the federation takes political independence further; Fitzgerald is almost disdainful of any kind of political involvement. One is left wondering whether things might have been different had the federation not had to deal over many years with the particularly ruthless and odious right-wing of the NSW Labor Party. Two historical episodes that are dealt with in the book are worth noting. The first is Fitzgerald’s documentation of ASIO’s spying – with the apparent support of the NSW Labor Party and Trades Hall – on the federation (using paid informants) in the 1970s. The second is the surprise election in the 1980s of a Labor rightwinger (Ivan Pagett) to the presidency. Fitzgerald argues that, consistent with its culture of accommodating diverse views, though there was “not much love in the room” (p. 69) at Pagett’s first conference as President, Pagett’s opponents in the NSWTF resolved “to give all necessary support to the new presidential officers” (p. 70). In contrast, the NSW Labor Party, which helped to fund Pagett’s campaign, soon dumped on him, leading him to resign in disgust from the party.

References Mitchell, B. (1975) Teachers, Education and Politics: A History of Organisations of Public School Teachers in New South Wales University of Queensland Press, St Lucia.

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O’Brien, J. (1987) A Divided Unity: Politics of Teacher Militancy Since 1945, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

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Code of ethics Preamble Teachers have an important responsibility in guiding their students’ educational and social development. Therefore, teachers should possess the following attributes: •

social and emotional maturity


breadth and depth of learning

an understanding of human experience.

The Queensland Teachers’ Union trusts that all members in the exercise of their professional duties will exemplify this code. The code •

The primary professional responsibility of teachers is the welfare of all students within their care.

Teachers shall endeavour to promote such relationships between school and home as will contribute to the welfare and comprehensive development of each student.

Teachers shall strive to achieve standards of professional conduct and to display attributes towards their colleagues which will create mutual respect.

Teachers shall assert their professional, industrial and civil rights and support their colleagues in the defence of these rights.

Teachers shall strive to fulfil their responsibilities in a manner which will enhance the prestige of their profession.

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