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New secondary research program at UWS: Innovation and the future learner June 12, 2010

Posted by Editor21C in Directions in Education, Secondary Education.
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from Associate Professor Wayne Sawyer

Recently representatives of the School of Education’s secondary program met with representatives of the two NSW Dept of Education regions served by the university – Western Sydney region and South-Western Sydney region – as well as representatives of particular units and bureaus within the DET. The aim of the meeting was to begin a discussion about aligning a new School of Education research agenda with the forward planning of the regions. The School of Education is currently re-thinking its research agenda to more closely link to its teaching programs. The secondary program is the first to begin to shaping this initiative. Thus the School is focusing a research agenda in response to the challenges facing secondary schooling today and into the 21st century.

We aim for the proposed research agenda to be constructed in a strategic way that is going to be of practical value to the DET and its priorities in policy, research and practice. Current policy initiatives in education, especially at the Federal level, reflect a widespread imperative for educational change in response to the expectations of a dynamic social and economic environment. Yet the current national and state policy landscape contains a number of tensions, if not contradictions, that create a confusing picture of what is demanded of secondary education today. In this context, we are seeking to re-focus our research efforts towards developing a futures-oriented research agenda that will address challenges confronting secondary schooling in a coherent and useful way.

Our current thinking is that the agenda will focus on the central themes of: innovation and the future learner, with related themes being: the future curriculum; future pedagogy, the future and equity; the future teacher; the future leader and the future community. We see these themes as connected and mutually interdependent. We feel that in practice attention to each is necessary to the sustainable development of schools into effective 21st century sites of learning, and that each needs to be represented in our research program if it is to make a contribution to real and sustainable improvement. We also see a good research program as involving teachers and school leaders inquiring into questions of innovation and practice in their classrooms and will be looking for a consistent expression of this in our research program.

Wayne Sawyer is Head of Research in the School of Education, University of Western Sydney. He is also a member of the Centre for Educational Research at UWS.

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