There have been two parallel discussions in recent weeks related to religion in schools: the Federal funding for chaplains in schools programs and the issue of religious instruction (mostly Christian education classes) being held in class time in state schools. In some of the media coverage and some talk back discussions both issues have become confused. Our organisation wishes to comment upon the first and very significant issue of the Federal funding of chaplains in schools program.
It was with great relief to hear that Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education at Stanford University and a chief education adviser to US President Barrack Obama report that NAPLAN-style testing and reporting have failed in the United States by narrowing the curriculum and corrupting education standards. But within the same week our relief rapidly deflated to despair as we read in the Melbourne Age (Saturday 7th May 2011) that the results of national literacy and numeracy tests are one of the elements expected to be used to determine which teachers receive bonuses; and that primary schools that lifted their performance in literacy and numeracy tests bonuses of $75,000.
We are often asked by parents many questions about schooling, teaching and learning and school environments. Over the past 12 months however there has been a shift in parent enquiries. More often than not we are asked questions along these lines: "How does the BER (Building and Education Revolution) work for our children?" "Will these fancy new buildings make a difference to our children's learning?"
Plato is attributed to saying, "the beginning of something is always important, especially when it is young and needs time to grow." A new year! Adults often view the New Year as an opportunity to start a fresh; take a breath and begin with renewed vigor; resolutions, ideas, strategies, careers, studies, hopes, plans, family, work, relationships. For children the New Year is a timeless intangible concept - time is some bizarre thing that adults get hysterical about but is completely nonsensical to young children.
We are continually affronted by the pressure on teachers and schools to perform in the NAPLAN test - responding to government and community pressure that the NAPLAN provides an informative and meaningful representation of students and schools. We work in schools across the country from elite private schools to remote indigenous communities in Arnhem Land and we hear over and over these types of comments.
The question of 'boys being boys' and 'girls being girls' (nature-nurture debate) has been discussed at length for decades.
Stay tune for our next Editorial on meaningful assessment and reporting.
When parents are asked the question, "What do you want most for your children?" the common three top responses are to be;
"Today's child has become the unwilling, unintended victim of overwhelming stress- the stress borne of rapid, bewildering social change and constantly rising expectations" (Elkind 2001).
As I write this I am sitting in the Cairns Airport waiting to catch a plane for the Gove Peninsula in the NT, part of Arnhem Land.
As an educator, having been a teacher, academic and now a consultant in education, I am familiar with the trends in the UK and particularly the USA in recent years where students are "taught to the
Parenting and family life
Welcome to my first editorial for 2010: it has been an exciting start to the year with the release of my latest book for parents through Penguin Publishing.
This is our last editorial for 2009.
It has been an amazing year in relation to the amount of research and number of studies that were released from across the world in terms of what young children in their preschool and primary years need most to learn effectively and to gain a range of important life skills (two of the most impressive studies have been attached as PDF files at the bottom of this document).
I am often asked by parents what I regard as the most important things that young child in their early childhood and primary years most need.
Starting school should not be like hopping onto a conveyor belt as soon as you can hop, and getting off as early as you can. Staring school, part of being educated, is a journey that needs special preparation, care, and a wonderful time where one can make the most of the opportunities.