Friday, December 1, 2017

Catholic Schools Action Research Showcase

Greetings from the National Convention Center in Canberra, where the Catholic Schools are holding an Action Research Showcase. The keynote speaker is Jane Hunter from UTS, with some "provocations". Her first provocation was to describe how she was taken to hospital in an ambulance and how her recovery depended on highly trained medical personnel. Jane explained we have a shortage of students studying STEM in schools, resulting in a shortage of medical and other professionals.

The audience at the conference is predominately from primary schools. You might ask what a university lecturer is doing at a schools event, but one conclusion from looking at education is that the same general principles apply at all levels.

Jane cautioned about the Global Education 'Reform' Movement (GERM), pushing for reforms to Australian education based on countries very different to Australia.

Dr Hunter then went on to talk about research on "High Possibility Classrooms" (HPC) and pointed to resources for it. This is a form of student centered learning, with projects and experiments. This would fit well with a change university teaching, where students are encouraged to do things, rather than listen to lectures.

Dr. Hunter pointed out that many schools are not equipped for this approach, with small classrooms and old equipment. This is also an issue for universities. Old cramped lecture theaters with fixed furniture are not suitable for students working in groups.

Dr. Hunter proposed getting rid of the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) and the NSW Higher School Certificate (HSC). She urged teachers to engage with AI to support teaching, or teaching will be dominated by the FANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google).

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