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Falling Ontario test scores add to national math debate

Falling Ontario test scores add to national math debate | education reform | Scoop.it
Fewer than half of Ontario’s Grade 6 pupils met the provincial standard in math in the 2017-18 academic year
John Gougoulis's insight:

This is not an unfamiliar scenario for many of us.
So falling test scores means a re-focus on how maths is taught and the typical political cry of we need to get ‘back to basics’.
Before we hastily jump to conclusions or easy political rhetoric, lets ask some questions:
Are the tests aligned to the curriculum and the implicit pedagogical approaches it privileges? If there is a mismatch, what do we privilege and why? For example, hands on problem solving approaches or memorisation and rote learning? Once that is confirmed, then necessary adjustments need to be made either to the tests or to the teaching.
Is the curriculum concept based? Why and should it continue to be? Are the performance standards aligned to the content standards and are they consistent with the test scoring? If not, let’s make them so.
Have the standards (the provincial standards in this case) been benchmarked internationally? That is are they too high? Too low? Compared to which standards? If not let’s get it done.
Are the teachers confident and competent in teaching the maths curriculum? Do they need further upskilling and professional learning in some aspects? What should be the best approach to professional learning? Courses? Coaches? Specialist teachers?
If we are going to reform the curriculum or approaches to pedagogy are we clear about the educational rationale? Are we doing so for short term political convenience or for long term educational outcomes? Are we swinging the pendulum to the other extreme for political expediency? Have we given the previous reform sufficient time, resources, support?
So overall are we clear and all on the same page about what we really believe about good maths teaching and learning? There are many different stakeholders with different views. Have they sat around the table to listen to each other?

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Education Talks: Changing school education systems

Education Talks: Changing school education systems | education reform | Scoop.it
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Yes it makes sense that curriculum reform efforts begin with the question of the purpose of schooling and what it is we want our young people to be able to know, do, value as they continue on in their lifelong learning journey beyond school. And all those who have a stake including students, teachers, parents, must contribute to and own that agenda. This then becomes the foundation for a curriculum framework and a curriculum developed by a range of domain and discipline experts. It is then enacted, elaborated and brought to life with rich detail and context at the school and classroom level. This is where greater school ownership and autonomy rests. It will be interesting to see how the Welsh curriculum co-construction approach with 170 schools goes.

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Interview: Teachers need a sense of mission, empathy and leadership – Pasi Sahlberg

Interview: Teachers need a sense of mission, empathy and leadership – Pasi Sahlberg | education reform | Scoop.it
- Finnish educator, author, and scholar
John Gougoulis's insight:

Finland is a small country with municipal regulatory authority and as a result the Finnish education system is not a unified one. So we need to look at the higher order principles that emerge here as part of a culture that could be adapted in different ways and embedded in our specific contexts. Things like: the overall purpose and broad framework is at a government level but teaching autonomy and accountability is at a school level; that parents and community value schools’ expertise and have the utmost trust in the schools; that the quality of teachers is paramount and is reflected in the selection and recruitment process including high expectations and requirements about formal qualifications as well as personal qualities like having a mission, being empathetic and demonstrating willingness to lead and being a good communicator, creative and a team player (interestingly all things that employers in other western countries are saying they don’t always see in young graduates); and ongoing growth of each teacher is linked inextricably to their school’s growth.

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Educating Girls, The Only Road To Achieve the SDGs - World

Educating Girls, The Only Road To Achieve the SDGs - World | education reform | Scoop.it
News and Press Release from Inter Press Service, published 27 Jul 2018
John Gougoulis's insight:

There is such great work being done by agencies and individuals globally who recognise the long term and exponential benefits for society and future generations of ensuring girls are educated and have access to quality education. It is a key way in many African countries and other places in the world to break the cycle of poverty, poor health, exploitation and sexual abuse, enabling women to become empowered as future decision makers and influencers. Much more still needs to be done.

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The 5 most important soft skills, according to 100 employers | EAB

The 5 most important soft skills, according to 100 employers | EAB | education reform | Scoop.it
Nearly two-thirds of employers say recent grads are not well-prepared to perform at a high level in a professional environment, according to a recent survey by Bloomberg Next and Workday.
John Gougoulis's insight:

Let me throw in at the start that the hard and soft skill dichotomy does not work for me but I’m over it. The important messages here, and with similar evidence in other countries, is that what is equally, if not more, valued in the world of work are competencies and skills beyond the technical and discipline specific ones. Can you get on and work well with others, can you think clearly and creatively, can you work through problems, challenges and come up with possible solutions, are you flexible, agile and responsive, do you have a solid core integrity and ethical demeanour and behaviour? Are these not important qualities for all of us who hire and employ staff? Those institutions that contribute to producing workforce ready active citizens, including schools, colleges and universities, need to reflect on what they are doing to better prepare our young people for life beyond formal schooling. I would and have argued that these competencies and skills: need to be explicitly stated and understood (with shared language and exemplification); need to be explicitly integrated into the curriculum (both content and standards); and need to be explicitly taught and demonstrably learnt via a range of instructional strategies, explicit assessment, feedback and challenge.

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Department for Education and Ofsted clash over exam results

Department for Education and Ofsted clash over exam results | education reform | Scoop.it
The Dfe has defended the use of exam results to judge school performance.
John Gougoulis's insight:

Never thought I would be agreeing with Ofsted but yes its a good shift backed by reasonable evidence - don't just think about how you get exam results but what is best for the students to learn and giving them a richer and more in-depth education. Again its a  mind shift about exams, the results, their purpose, and not having a one size fits all approach!

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The Testing Tragedy - Top Performers - Education Week

The Testing Tragedy - Top Performers - Education Week | education reform | Scoop.it
Marc Tucker discusses the importance of getting testing right now that the number of PARCC and Smarter Balanced states have declined significantly.
John Gougoulis's insight:

This is a story from a US education researcher about the common core standards and testing. Take or leave the story and the perspective of the writer, what I would like to focus on is the salutary conclusions reached, namely (and I paraphrase) - there is nothing wrong with standardised testing BUT: test less and test better (e.g. not multiple choice tests and more adaptive personalised items); avoid teaching to the test by making sure there is a strong curriculum that is the reference point for the tests; test what is important to measure but you can’t test everything; do not use the test results to determine teachers’ worth or performance; tests are part of a teacher’s broader assessment regime; assess for deep understanding and on those skills and competencies beyond disciplines (and ensure teachers are supported to develop these deeper understandings too).

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How AI is revamping the state of the Indian education system

The world has entered into the digital age, and technology has touched every part of the human life, whether it is business, communication, travel, health, or education. The global education syste
John Gougoulis's insight:

This is more than just about the Indian education system as an example of a context. As mentioned in previous posts the next phase of education transformation will include AI and VR. I am not sure I would agree that as yet it has revolutionised education but certainly the applications in education are moving at an exponential rate. At one level AI can assist with administrative tasks but most significantly in helping teachers (and students) in areas like identification (e.g. dyslexia) and intervention strategies; in adaptive learning and assessment; providing grading and monitoring data and analyses; and in customising online and blended learning approaches. Education systems, schools and educators must be open to learning more about and embracing these transformative technology applications as they rapidly evolve and are deployed.

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Digital skills are key to 4th industrial revolution

Digital skills are key to 4th industrial revolution | education reform | Scoop.it
Paul Feldman, Chief Executive at Jisc, discusses how digital skills will be essential to coming IT revolution
John Gougoulis's insight:

A good summary. I don’t wish to be simplistic but I also am glad this discussion on essential digital skills is not focusing on this ubiquitous coding bandwagon everyone is jumping on. It’s only a small part of it. At a broader level, can we help young people to use digital technology to locate, review, utilise and create new information and in the process engage and develop their skills in research, critical thinking, problem solving etc? Whilst at the same time acknowledging educators can only help young people if they too are upskilled in these areas.

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Global education: 7 slide decks with key charts on progress and challenges

Global education: 7 slide decks with key charts on progress and challenges | education reform | Scoop.it
We have made a new set of presentation slides on education. We cover many aspects – schooling, learning, teaching, governance and much more.
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This data (education, social, economic, geographic) with the projections and analysis examining implications for different regions and globally is critical for all policy makers, governments, non-profits, private enterprise whose focus is on young people. The challenges are clear, the solutions will require thoughtful problem solving, collaborative partnerships, and targeted resource allocation.

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Muslim learners in multicultural Australian classrooms — EducationHQ Australia

Muslim learners in multicultural Australian classrooms — EducationHQ Australia | education reform | Scoop.it
Contemporary Australian classrooms more than ever before reflect the cultural diversity of the globe calling upon educators to increasingly navigate teaching and learning in multicultural classrooms.
John Gougoulis's insight:

The focus here is on Muslim leaners but some terrific illustrative points that can be extrapolated about the importance of global and citizenship education ie. how prepared are lots of educators to engage in socially just educational practice and responsive pedagogy; how best to address the ‘learning strengths and needs’ of learners from ‘diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds; and how can we move away from just being tolerant and appreciating difference and move towards genuine pluralism, inclusion and promoting greater social cohesion. These all point to the significance of incorporating global competency and intercultural understanding into the curriculum. However, integrating any of these so called 21st century competencies into the curriculum with the expectation that it be taught, learnt and assessed can only work in my humble opinion if teachers know what they mean, how they can be demonstrated, have a language to describe them and very importantly have the relevant experiences to be able to demonstrate these competencies themselves. The first bits can be addressed through research, descriptors and rubrics. The last bit, the experiences held be teachers, is the tricky bit. Professional learning can help but how can you be involved in the teaching and learning of intercultural understanding, for example, when you have not experienced it? Seminal moments in my career, amongst others, that have broadened my understandings as an educator have been experiences I have had (with coaching) working with indigenous students and communities and students with learning difficulties; participating in Asia Education initiatives that embedded me in different Asian cultures and experiences; and working for a few years in a predominantly Muslim country.

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NAPLAN is on its way out, but don't abolish national testing

NAPLAN is on its way out, but don't abolish national testing | education reform | Scoop.it
The bottom line is that NAPLAN and the reporting of schools' results has not led to improvements in Australia’s education performance.
John Gougoulis's insight:

Can NAPLAN achieve these different purposes i.e. providing individual student performance information to parents; providing comparative school performance information for schools and their communities; and provide information on national education performance. If it’s a strong adaptive assessment tool across whole cohorts with access to longitudinal data why not? Well the caveat has to be, “not by itself”, but only as part of a more comprehensive assessment process. That is why we have to dramatically shift the narrative: it’s not the tests per se that are stressing students, parents and teachers but what the tests have come to represent, that is, that they are best and sole measures of both children’s progress and future success; and school performance. They are not!
Yes, as a parent I do like seeing how my child is doing on a national test and also in relation to other children at the same year level. But I, and the children and the teachers, also need to understand that not only is this a one-off albeit standardised test, but that it only supplements what should be a large volume of information continuously collected, analysed and acted upon at classroom and school level about my child’s progress and achievement. In the scheme of things it is important but provides only one bit of a much larger and richer picture of my child and most importantly what the teacher/school is doing to ensure my child improves and continues to do even better.
Now this is all well and good and as a parent and community we can feel confident about the class/school-based data and actions if: we are confident the teachers understand and are working to well defined standards; they are providing good formative and summative assessments; and they are making good comparable judgements. Not all parents would articulate it in that way but that is the gist of public confidence in our schools. It’s when we don’t have that confidence that we tend to over-rely on measures like NAPLAN and thereby place enormous strain on our teachers, students and parents. So how can the parents and public be confident in their school’s standards? I remember asking my son’s Year 7 teacher: “I understand my son is in the top part of his class for maths but where will he sit when he goes to high school next year and how do you know?” Parents need to have access to evidence that can give them confidence and there is a swathe of quality measures of school standards including comparative school performance data available. We must be transparent about these and hold our schools accountable for their performance and plans for improvement. Reporting on schools’ standardised test results for cohorts nationally should be part of that information set.

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Why American schools fail low-income high achievers, and what can be done | The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Why American schools fail low-income high achievers, and what can be done | The Thomas B. Fordham Institute | education reform | Scoop.it
By Timothy Daly
John Gougoulis's insight:

The issue is recurring and enduring and not just relevant in the US. The points made about the challenges are valid. The general strategies identified are sound but easier said than done. My experience teaching in low SES communities was that what needed to be done lay on the shoulders of decision makers, school leaders, teachers and parents. You need:

1. leaders who can attract and retain high achievers with rigorous academic standards and a high standard of pastoral care - where there is a small or non-existent peer group of motivated and/or high achieving students, any high achievers present will struggle

2. teachers who are not just able to engage the learners and develop their social/emotional capabilities and their self-confidence but are also skilled and knowledgeable in the fundamentals of literacy, numeracy and subject knowledge - I was faced with high school students who could not engage with the curriculum because of their poor literacy skills and I had to learn on the job about strategies in learning to learn and effective reading in the content area

3. parents with the skills, desire and motivation to help their children despite the fact that their own experience of schooling may not have been very positive nor engaging - where parents are interested in their childrens' learning and supportive of the school it makes an enormous difference to effective teaching and learning taking place

4. resources, relevant training and flexible inclusive policies at all levels of decision making

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Planned closures of charter schools in New Zealand prompt debate about Māori self-determination

The New Zealand government's move to close charter schools as part of its education reform has prompted strong Māori criticism.
John Gougoulis's insight:

There are many aspects of the NZ education system I was familiar with a few years ago that I admired greatly. I am less familiar with more recent developments but this debate about the rationale and efficacy of charter schools does seem to go beyond an evidence base about teacher quality and student outcomes. At the core is the matter of Maori citizenship and the philosophical divide between universal and differentiated citizenship. I am not close enough to have a view about this but any decisions made must be made with the aim of ensuring no student or groups of students are disadvantaged in their access to quality schooling, curriculum, teaching that best meets their particular needs and that enables them to become informed and active local and global citizens.

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Canberra education system set for 10-year overhaul in move to 'personalised learning' - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Canberra education system set for 10-year overhaul in move to 'personalised learning' - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) | education reform | Scoop.it
Imagine a school curriculum where critical thinking and creativity subjects replace traditional maths and English. That could soon be reality for Canberra students as the ACT Government reveals a 10-year education overhaul.
John Gougoulis's insight:

Having these conversations about the purpose of schooling and core learning are absolutely important. They are happening in many other places like Finland, Singapore and the OECD. Just let’s be mindful not to get into what I call “the pendulum swing” mentality that seems to happen a bit in education. This is where one supposed failed systemic policy initiative (after 4 or 5 years of research and development and possible poor implementation) compels some to believe that a large swing to reform rooted in the opposite direction is required. These counter reform swings are a product typically of changes in government or public pressure for change or a lack of will and patience in long term reform and mostly due to rushed, ill conceived, under resourced implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In education, you don’t need to have whole sale and scale change unless there is overwhelming evidence from the grass roots of undeniable failure and even then the shift can’t be radical and immediate because it involves teachers, parents, students, communities–it needs to be more measured and we need to resist the short term ‘fads’. You need time for those who have to implement or who will be impacted to be on board and make the change and be supported through it. What you can do is retain the best of what is happening and improve on those things that are not working. The language of change is (needs to be) far more nuanced but sometimes the implied message received is more stark, for example: lets drop inputs and focus on outcomes; lets drop content and focus on standards; lets drop traditional subjects and focus on 21st century competencies; or lets drop tests and focus on formative assessment. In each of these cases I believe we need both and that requires more sophisticated approaches. Education and children’s lives are not a zero-sum game.

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Five Ways the United Nations Empowers Women Globally

Five Ways the United Nations Empowers Women Globally | education reform | Scoop.it
The United Nations empowers women of all backgrounds and proves that “she” can do anything, giving hope to millions of women and girls.
John Gougoulis's insight:

Following my last post, here is the UN doing its  bit to empower women via access to quality education and other initiatives...

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How to Teach Social Skills in a Connected World – Jordan Shapiro –

We are living in times of connection. And it’s not just about networked information technologies. Today, cross-continental travel is easy. Economic interdependence among nations is a ubiquitous…
John Gougoulis's insight:

As a follow up to my last post, this conversation with Andreas from the OECD about the importance of collaborative problem solving highlights some important points: schools do have a responsibility to prepare students in life to “collaborate with others of diverse cultural origins and appreciate different ideas, perspectives and values” but so do parents and the community more broadly; where teaching fosters and promotes interactive, participative activities, students value relationships and teamwork-interestingly girls more intuitively than boys; where schools have a positive inclusive learning environment where students have a sense of belonging and do not feel threatened, they tend to embrace collaborative problem solving.

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Why the NAPLAN results delay is a storm in a teacup

Much of the controversy over the delay in this year's NAPLAN data comes down to its misuse and a misunderstanding of statistical comparability.
John Gougoulis's insight:

Fantastic-agree wholeheartedly with Jim and as stated in previous posts, its not the validity of NAPLAN that is the issue, its how the results are viewed and used. It requires a reorientation of place and purpose of these assessments to shift the increasingly pervading and misleading mindset and culture about the high stakes nature of NAPLAN.

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Accountability in education: Meeting our commitments | Global Education Monitoring Report

Accountability in education: Meeting our commitments | Global Education Monitoring Report | education reform | Scoop.it
In 2017, the second report in the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report series continues its assessment of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal on education (SDG4) and its 10 targets, as well as other related education targets in the SDG agenda.
John Gougoulis's insight:

This GEMS Report lays out clearly what governments' accountabilities are and touches on the rights and responsibilities of schools, leaders, parents, teachers, students and others. This is not just about getting it right in "developing" countries but everywhere. People must be held accountable at all levels but it does start at the top with those who make laws, policies and have the resources! If you don't have time to read the full report, there is a summary report...otherwise there are short videos and I like the infographics!

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How will AI affect our jobs? Predictions from Uber, Microsoft, IBM, and more

How will AI affect our jobs? Predictions from Uber, Microsoft, IBM, and more | education reform | Scoop.it
Innovations in fields such as artificial intelligence, coupled with new ideas around why we work, could provoke changes across business and society. We asked some of the most prominent business leaders in the world for their thoughts on the coming revolution.
John Gougoulis's insight:

Following from my previous post on AI applications in education, here are some interesting business/industry perspectives about the impact of AI in the workplace.

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Is ability grouping harmful or beneficial? Experts weigh in — EducationHQ Australia

Is ability grouping harmful or beneficial? Experts weigh in — EducationHQ Australia | education reform | Scoop.it
Ability grouping has been an academic battleground for the last hundred years.
John Gougoulis's insight:

You know I have taught both-ability grouped classes and heterogeneous classes-albeit a few years ago now; and I have more recently observed classrooms where there were also both. My experience will be different to others but it has led me to conclude as follows:
• Students in streamed gifted or accelerated programs are able to engage and flourish as they interact with their peers and teachers but occasionally demonstrate a sense of entitlement and are deemed aloof and arrogant by some other students and staff.
• Students in streamed lower academic classes become less motivated and even those who aspire for better are dragged down to the lowest common denominator by other disaffected peers and on occasion by low expectations.
• In whatever streamed class along the continuum, the group of students are never homogeneous – they may be generally in an academic range for that subject but within that subject and across other domains of learning they have different areas and levels of strength and weakness.
• Generally (not always) the temptation for teachers and given the premise of ability grouping, is to treat these streamed classes as homogeneous. For the upper gifted end with trained teachers, individuals will continue to flourish and grow at their own pace. However, at the middle and lower ends, these students will typically be pigeon holed by relatively lower expectations and a lack of personalised instruction.
• For these reasons it is more difficult for students in lower ability grouped classes to develop and progress beyond “expected level”- given low expectations, the nature of the peer group and the limitations of curriculum and assessment that does not challenge them.
So ability grouping as a structure does have limitations for students –some of which could be overcome with effective approaches to teaching, curriculum and assessment.

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Experts divided on Govt push for specialist STEM educators — EducationHQ Australia

Experts divided on Govt push for specialist STEM educators — EducationHQ Australia | education reform | Scoop.it
Simon Birmingham’s new proposal to direct more specialist STEM teachers into Australian high schools has received a mixed reception from experts in the field.
John Gougoulis's insight:

Ok but in addition to appointing maths and science specialists; and specifically STEM trained leaders/coordinators, you make STEM better with a more comprehensive strategy that includes some of the following:
• Identify ways to attract more STEM graduates to teaching, to ensure a supply of qualified teachers into the future.
• Build expertise in our current teachers and leaders to deliver exciting and effective STEM teaching and learning programs.
• Create culture where the importance of STEM is recognised and valued, and there are high expectations for all students to engage with STEM education opportunities.
• Promote positive early experiences of STEM and support more students, including girls and other underrepresented groups, to excel in STEM.
• Connect educators, learners and families with STEM resources, programs, and specialist support.
• Address the STEM-related training needs of industry and build external STEM partnerships between schools, industry, tertiary institutions.
Further, as someone with a background in social science teaching, STEM must also relate to valuable work in the social sciences and humanities. These disciplines are critical to our understanding and recording of our world: our cultures, our knowledge of society and the relationships within society.

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The Global Search for Education: Teachers Talk Literacy Skills for a Digital World

The Global Search for Education: Teachers Talk Literacy Skills for a Digital World | education reform | Scoop.it
Education News - Some of the newer literacies he concentrates on this month are Global Literacy, Emotional Literacy and Informational Literacy.
John Gougoulis's insight:

How are literacy skills different in a digital world? Well for some of these teachers and for me the answer is not much. My experience lends me to agree with the stated view that “If you want life-long learners, then you need life-long readers. With English not being my first language and books not being a part of my early life, I started late. If not for the active intervention of my grade 7 teacher who set me on a path of the love of reading for pleasure, my literacy skills would have been totally inadequate. We made sure our children were exposed to books and reading from day one and they are blossomed literate thinkers. Whether then or now in the world of social and digital media, reading, for pleasure or for information builds and enhances your understanding and your command of language. It’s not the be all but it is the foundation.

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Three Key Questions on Measuring Learning - Educational Leadership

Three Key Questions on Measuring Learning - Educational Leadership | education reform | Scoop.it
John Gougoulis's insight:

Reading this I was struck by how these ideas about assessment are not new. For those of us who have been around for a while, you recall that research on effective practice does not change that much over time. What changes is the context and the culture of accepting change. Moving away from what some people have called pedagogical or cultural legacy where you are used to teaching or doing in a certain way and even though you know there are better ways and you may start to change, you find yourself slipping back because its either more comfortable or because you don’t feel supported sufficiently. That’s where a collaborative culture helps - what Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan call collaborative professionalism where teachers with a degree of autonomy interact with colleagues to figure out the best way to approach things to get the best results for their kids. Its also where you have leadership that is open and flexible and as they say where you ask for forgiveness not permission.

 

Nonetheless, the case is presented well here. There are important things that we value and that matter beyond discipline knowledge and skills whether we call them transfer abilities, cross curriculum skills or 21st century competencies. We need to be able to describe them and how students show growth in these areas in order to be able to devise relevant and authentic assessment opportunities to generate evidence of performance. We have begun this work through the OECD, through other agencies and private organisations and through education systems globally but has will take some more time to be fully tested and embraced.

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We need to 'slow the row' when approaching curriculum overhaul — EducationHQ Australia

We need to 'slow the row' when approaching curriculum overhaul — EducationHQ Australia | education reform | Scoop.it
In such a dynamic landscape of technological development, with changes to the way we work and the kinds of jobs on offer, it can be hard to know whether what we’re teaching students in schools is exactly what they need for a successful future.
John Gougoulis's insight:

You know when the ministers agreed to a national Australian Curriculum a few years ago, I was hopeful that a national collaborative approach to curriculum research, design and development would render the fragmented, inefficient, expensive, duplicative state based approaches redundant. I continue to be astounded by my own naivete. So we have those who want to go 'back to the basics' a rigid narrow approach, others who want a free wheeling "curriculum free" approach, and then others who want both - at the same time! The angst about Australia's relatively poor showing on international assessments has resulted in decrying our poor standards and our ineffectual national curriculum. This is not the problem. The implementation of the Australian Curriculum content and standards has only just started (3-4 years) and has not yet had the chance to make an impact. The real problem is, and will continue to be, in the varied implementation and in the fact that in Australia's overall education system there are minimal quality assurance processes and inadequate accountability for school performance and improvement in student learning, progress and achievement (certainly when compared to some other countries and systems).

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