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Improving PNG teacher training to advance inclusive education for students with disabilities October 20, 2017

Posted by Editor21C in Inclusive Education, Teacher, Adult and Higher Education.
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By Katrina Barker and Danielle Tracey

One of the advantages of working at Western Sydney University in the School of Education is the opportunity to make a difference both locally and internationally to improving educational practice. As part of an Australia Awards Fellowship and in partnership with the Kokoda Track Foundation and the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Department of Education, Dr Danielle Tracey and Dr Katrina Barker have been working to develop the capabilities of 10 Fellows working in leadership positions in the Papua New Guinea education system. Their goal, to promote inclusive education within the Teacher College programs and schools across Papua New Guinea.

Inclusive education refers to the removal of barriers to education and increased participation of all children in schooling. In the PNG context, less than 2% of children who start Year 1 will continue through to Year 12. The school completion statistics for girls and children with disabilities are significantly worse given they are out of school more than their peers. To help meet the Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD), Papua New Guinea ‘s Universal Basic Education Plan 2010-2019 identifies that Special Education lecturers require professional development to strengthen their training offered at Teacher’s Colleges. This will ensure all children are affirmed the right to an education that advocates inclusiveness. Building the capacity of teachers to include children with disabilities in education will directly assist people with disabilities to participate, find pathways out of poverty and realise their full potential.

Australia has made significant advances to policy and practice in inclusive education. At Western Sydney University we have a team of leading academics who teach and research in this field for the purpose of ensuring best practice is translated across education settings. A vehicle which facilitates the driving of best practice is the Master of Inclusive Education. Advancing the quality of life and learning outcomes for individuals with additional needs requires specialists who not only hold the necessary knowledge, but possess skills and dispositions to work in a manner that builds the capacity of individuals with additional needs, their families and those working with them.

Drawing upon the expertise of both teaching and researching team members, 10 Papua New Guinea educators visited the School of Education to develop: knowledge and skills in how to structure College programs that include pre-service teachers; observe and critique pedagogy and curriculum used within Australian Universities and schools to promote inclusive education; critique policy and procedures within the education field in PNG; and develop skills in conducting research to support implementing changes following the Fellowship.

Danielle and Katrina have been privileged to work with the Fellows to educate them on best practice (universal design for learning and person-centred framework) for inclusive education and facilitate them to develop College and school (context-driven) policies and procedures. A key outcome of this project will be improving teacher educator quality and students’ College course experience and in-service teachers’ professional development courses, with the revitalisation of their inclusive education curriculum, policies and pedagogy.

Australia Awards Fellowships funded by the Australian Government build capacity and strengthen partnerships between Australian organisations and partner organisations in eligible developing countries in support of key development and foreign affairs priorities. By providing short-term study, research and professional development opportunities in Australia, mid-career professionals and emerging leaders can tap into Australian expertise, gaining valuable skills and knowledge.

 

Dr Katrina Barker and Dr Danielle Tracey are academics in the School of Education at Western Sydney University, Australia.

Listen with both ears. Deadly Aboriginal educators yarning up essentials for future success. October 19, 2015

Posted by sethuws in Education Policy and Politics, Social Justice and Equity through Education, Teacher, Adult and Higher Education.
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from Shirley Gilbert

October 1st 2015 marked the close of a key meeting of the minds and the knowledge holders at the “Our Mob Teach” conference. Hosted and run by the More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative (MATSITI), this day marks the end of a four year undertaking to change the way we think about Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and the preparation of teachers for the future who will work with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

This meeting of the minds saw representatives from a range of key government stakeholders, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers at all stages of their careers (current students, early and mid-career teachers, Deputy-Principals and Principals), as well as those of us working in the spaces of higher education and Initial Teacher Education (ITE) training. Part of the conference agenda for the two days was to make key recommendations back to government about how we create greater opportunities to produce more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers given MATSITI’s role in this space. This occurred under the leadership of BHP, as we in Aboriginal Education know them (Professor Peter Buckskin, Emeritus Professor Paul Hughes and the deadly Dr Kaye Price). BHP have led this space for more than three decades. Part of the operational focus of the two days was to hear about what our communities and people supporting us in the education space see as key yarns we need to turn into actions for the future.

OurMobTeach_sm
Speaker Mr. David Templeman

Sharing the raw realities was part of the conference. During day one of the meeting Mr. David Templeman’s presentation from ACDE stated that their own research found that today that universities are often viewed as being culturally unsafe spaces for many of our mobs and that many Aboriginal students leave their studies at critical points in their programs.

Knowing this, how important is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student success for our mobs, when we know the key to our success is to have more Aboriginal teachers? When communities walk out of these institutions and do not return to their studies, this affects our capacity to grow as communities. How can institutions reduce these walking points? If we are moving to close the gap in ITE and increase the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander teachers, how and what do tertiary sectors need to change, operationally and relationally, about the way they engage with our communities?

As the key providers and administrators of educational training and ITE programs, how can we make universities the safe spaces that Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander future teachers want to interact with? Our communities want more, our young learners need more, our schools need Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers as part of their staff, but all these spaces need to be safe. We know that generally these students rely of the ‘one’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Academic staff member to make their spaces safe – and often these academics are casually employed.

Pivotal to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students achieving success throughout their schooling is the effective preparation of preservice teachers (Buckskin 2015, Sarra 2014, Harrison 2011). Much of the conference heard the voices of future Aboriginal Teachers – many of them just about to embark into the profession – and what has resonated is how many of these young people spoke about cultural safety in their university experiences and the experiences that they have had during their practicums.

The need to develop deep understandings of how to meet the educational needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners is demanded by both policy makers and Aboriginal community (NSW AECG 2004, AITSL, ACARA, MATSITI and Ma Rhea 2012). The newly introduced accountability frameworks (AITSL, ACARA) provide some guidance for universities to prepare graduate teachers for the profession.

The Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE) will now feed back to the Deans about how they might ensure their institutions improve their own spaces. We need these spaces to harness the challenge to become culturally responsive institutions which are strengths based, not deficit focused. These challenges to universities are not new, and the review undertaken by Behrendt (2012) focused on the specific barriers preventing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from achieving their full potential in higher education.

Key to the review discussions was the point that attitudinal changes were required in institutions, as well as the development and implementation of cultural competency training for all sectors involved with Aboriginal education and the teaching of Aboriginal content.

In one of the forums I spoke about the necessity for quality teaching which included the preparation of initial teacher graduates which understood our community’s needs, saying:

Our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities expect our local schools to be able to work with their children in effective and positive ways to achieve standards in education which are equal to all other students. They expect high quality culturally responsive teaching and learning which maintains cultural and community links that is seen as relevant and engaging.

At Western Sydney University the Masters of Teaching (Secondary) program will see the first group of forty preservice teachers to have experienced a unit (subject) titled Aboriginal and Culturally Responsive Pedagogies. I developed this unit in response to the new teacher graduate requirements – AITSL standards 1.4 and 2.4. The standards are designed to give graduates the capacity to “demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds” (1.4), and “demonstrate broad knowledge of, understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages” (2.4).

Much of the two days of discussions at the conference linked into the issues it raises for ITE providers. Many mainstream educational providers of ITE programs in Schools of education have very limited engagement with these requirement and many of the new career Aboriginal teachers had been challenged by the mis-information these units had tried to impart to them about Aboriginal histories and cultures.

Many more spoke about the challenges for them in their spaces not seeing an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander academic in their courses. As the Academic coordinator, lecturer, tutor and initially the developer of a new unit at my university, other universities might also take up these challenges which are impeding their own successes creating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduate teachers. I am hoping that our graduates at this university, after undertaking a well-structured and culturally focused unit in a preservice teacher program, will be better equipped and able to work effectively with Aboriginal parents and caregivers to provide the required respectful partnerships which are absent of past histories and prejudices.

However, what makes a successful effective and inclusive institution? Can universities invest in the space which values community expectations about what is required? Universities Australia and all key stakeholders nationally will be soon be presented with MATSITI recommendations. How stakeholders listen to (and not just read) the document and then action these recommendations in their own spaces will be critical. Can we, as ITE providers, develop these educational spaces which not only deliver educational and professional success but also meet the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers? Some of this success could result from strategic employment in the institutions to make them more culturally safe.

So what is important?

To succeed we need to raise awareness about:
• How institutions can and will produce a well-trained culturally responsive teachers workforce.
• Developing a critical mass of full time Aboriginal academics in Initial Teacher Education teacher programs.
• Developing and monitoring Aboriginal core units in institutions which challenge worldviews about teaching and that are relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders future teachers.
• Developing Aboriginal teacher pathways which provide opportunities so that current teachers can return to higher degree studies and academic pathways.
• Developing and understanding the resilience factors ITE graduates develop despite the ‘white fragility’ factors in institutional settings.

Recommendations and actions that move higher education outcomes which can reduce the levels of racism towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can become effective teachers for their communities will be presented in a MATSITI report soon to all sectors.

References
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) http://www.acara.edu.au/default.asp

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) http://www.aitsl.edu.au/about-us

Behrendt, L. Larkin, S. Griew, R and Kelly, P.(2012) Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Final Report https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/heaccessandoutcomesforaboriginalandtorresstraitislanderfinalreport.pdf

Ma Rhea, Z., Anderson, P.J., Atkinson, B., 2012, Improving Teaching in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education: National Professional Standards for Teachers Standards Focus Areas 1.4 and 2.4, Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, Melbourne Victoria Australia, pp. 1-77.

NSW Department of Education and Training and NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc, August (NSW DET & NSW AECG), 2004. The Report of the Review of Aboriginal Education Yanigurra Muya: Ganggurrinyma Yaarri Guurulaw Yirringin.gurray Freeing the Spirit: Dreaming an Equal Future.

Shirley Gilbert is a Gunditjmara academic working in the School of Education at Western Sydney University, Kingswood campus in the Master of Teaching (Secondary). She is currently undertaking a Doctor of Education (EdD) focussed on Aboriginal Education issues and the profession of initial teacher training.

Deschooling Senior Secondary: Young Adults learning-earning and the New Spirit of Capitalism March 24, 2015

Posted by Editor21C in Directions in Education, Education Policy and Politics, Educational Leadership, Secondary Education, Social Justice and Equity through Education.
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from Michael Singh and Bobby Harreveld

 

Classroom-centric schooling need not interfere with learning-earning in senior secondary

Deschooling L’earning (Sing & Harreveld, 2014) has been written for twenty-first century senior secondary teachers interested in the lives of young adult’s life/work trajectories. Unlike orthodox school-centric teacher educators there are those teachers whose ‘calling’ or vocation is to broker young adults’ learning and earning – or l’earning – through networked l’earning webs. Research during the course of the last decade has documented changes that extend and deepen the integration of young adults’ education, training, work, in the face of separatism agenda for education and production. There are now senior secondary teachers who invest considerable time in brokering new forms of partnership-driven l’earning for young adults to make real world contributions to adult life as part of accredited curricula. The findings from this research means for teachers’ professional learning, posing challenges for teacher education to further the education of teachers employed as network leaders.

Young adults’ disenchantment with disengaging classroom-centric schooling

Young adults’ disenchantment with disengaging classroom-centric schooling is evident in their disaffection and alienation from education. The research literature questions disengaging senior secondary schooling for its the separation of education from production, especially as many disenchanted young adults find its failure to contribute to a life worth living. Young adults’ critiques of classroom-centric schooling have seen the generation flexible l’earning services and work-integrated l’earning along with the reconfiguration of national qualifications frameworks. However, young adults’ confront continuing sources of insecurity, due in part to government policy adversity impacting the deschooling of their l’earning. Further, the international competition for high skilled, well-paid jobs adds to politically regressive policies of selection/exclusion that are adversely affecting young adults’ life/work/ security.

Brokering capital friendly l’earning webs

The changing spirit of capital accumulation has given rise to the brokering capital friendly l’earning webs for young adults. These capital friendly l’earning webs, which involve the brokering of their l’earning through outsourcing and subcontracting, are meant to contribute to the capability development of young adults. Teachers are now working as l’earning brokers. These l’earning brokers are integral to the flexible l’earning required for forming and maintaining capital friendly l’earning webs. Despite counter-moves that would seperate schooling from production, Illich’s (1973) critique which is directed at deschooling society now seems compatible, even if it is in a wayward fashion, with the new spirit of capitalism via the brokering of capital friendly l’earning webs.

Networking policy for deschooling l’earning

Government policy changes in young adults’ l’earning, and thus the work of teachers, are displacing classroom-centric schooling with the ethos of deschooling l’earning. This points to the importance of teacher education providing innovative opportunities and choices for the capability development of teachers. Structured by government legislation, participation in l’earning is now compulsory for young adults. This has given rise to the possibilities for interactional policies that maximise young adults’ participation and enhance their continuous transitions through cycles education, employment/unemployment and training. However, the international convergence in government testing regimes is doing little to counter the changes in international competition for high skilled and relatively well-paid labour. Given that international standardisation in government policy agendas around OECD tests works against the divergence that is necessary for innovation, changes in the mode and content of tests are now warranted.

Networking l’earning webs is not so radical

Teachers are attending to the organisational learning and changes required to move beyond classroom-centric schooling in order to deal with young adults’ project-driven networked l’earning. Deschooled leaders are creating divergent forms of networked l’earning webs for young adults. They interrogate government policies, legislation and national qualifications frameworks as part of their work to grasp the opportunities and choices they have for deschooling of young adults’ l’earning. These deschooled networked leaders have established their reputations for adaptability, flexibility, mobility, availability and, perhaps ironically loyalty to capitalist enterprises in which they have minimal control. To serve the common good, their networked l’earning webs are expected to advance young adults’ capabilities to enhance their security through a precarious life/work trajectory that is characterised by project-driven employment/unemployment.

Deschooling network leadership

The deschooling of schooled leadership can be examined in relation to three character types, namely bureaucratic system-thinking leadership, tradition-bound leadership and charismatic leadership. Increasingly, principals and teachers work through and across a multidimensional mosaic of these that can be described as deschooled network leadership.

Deschooling, democracy and government accountability

Subjecting the powers governing young adults’ l’earning to electoral accountability through monitory democracy is an important focus of deschooled network leadership. Democracy – demos the people, kratos power – means that ‘the people’ subject power – across all forms of institutionalised power at all levels of organisational management – to accountability. Increasingly, monitory democracy provides an important vehicle for holding those in power to account to the people. The instrumental values expressed in government policies provide one focus for having governments account for the sources of young adults’ life/work insecurities. Governments may make good policies, but deschooled network leaders can contribute to making better interactional education-employment/unemployment-training policies.

Tests of government accountability for deschooling l’earning

New tests of intersectionality of governments’ policy actions for deschooling young adults’ l’earning are required. Such tests of government policies might focus on their value for building young adults’ commitment to capital accumulation, for assuring their security through capital accumulation, and for determining whether new forms of capital accumulation serve the common good. These are tests which provide one vehicle for holding governments accountable for deschooling the l’earning opportunities and choices of young adults. The disability care and insurance industry, which relies on unpaid as much as paid labour, provides an important focus on monitory democracy so as to hold elected government representatives accountable for policies – or the lack therefore – in this field. A transformative intersectional policy agenda for young adults’ l’earning could link the government sponsored disability insurance industry with innovation in the assistive technology industry providing new directions for their education, employment and training, including in advanced research and development.

Implications for deschooling l’earning

Classroom-centric schooling research and policies offer a limited understanding of the complex l’earning partnerships and networking that is now a defining feature of young adults’ precarious life/work trajectories. A multi-stranded coalition of partnerships among intersecting fields of education-employment-training interests can test government policies and practices for their capacity to build young adults’ commitment to new modes of capital accumulation, to realise the security they claim to assure, and their capacity to serve the common good. Deschooling through networking l’earning provides possibilities for robust responses to, and expressions of renewed struggles regarding, young adults’ capital accumulation in the twenty-first century.
deschooling learning

Note well – All references can be found in:  Singh, M. & Harreveld, B. (2014). Deschooling L’earning: Young Adults and the New Spirit of Capitalism. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Michael Singh is Professor of Education in the School of Education and Centre for Educational Research at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, where he leads the Research Oriented School Engaged Teacher-Researcher Education Program.

Bobby Harreveld is Professor in Professional and Vocational Education and Deputy Dean at Central Queensland University, Australia.

Teachers and Pavlovian ideals October 21, 2014

Posted by Editor21C in Education Policy and Politics, Social Justice and Equity through Education, Teacher, Adult and Higher Education.
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from Associate Professor Carol Reid

Professor Stephen Dinham of the University of Melbourne was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald saying: “It is quite unethical to let people train in an occupation profession [sic] they are not going to be employed in”. Hot on the heels of this piece was another in Campus Review with the strapline ‘Teachers say training leaves them unprepared’. This foray into such ‘hot’ topics is to highlight a central problematic. The notion that teachers are to be ‘trained’. Like dogs you think? Rats on wheels? Think of the discourses around teachers. Rewards for getting scores up. Penalties for not doing so. The list is extensive and conjures up a plethora of metaphors.

Yet it isn’t really very funny as the idea that teachers receive ‘training’ goes to the heart of the professional identities of teachers. Teachers are educated. Just like anyone who enters a university. This means that they take a course and yes, sometimes they don’t end up doing what the course was focussed on. Sometimes teacher education leads people into totally new directions – like the Wiggles.

Why do we see teacher education graduands who don’t end up in schools as waste? Apart from the argument that Dinham mounts about numbers games in universities, which is another argument altogether, in our part of the world, Greater Western Sydney, a teaching qualification will open up a new life for someone who is the first in their family to go to university. While a teaching degree may not lead to standing in front of a classroom it may well lead to knowledge that is less quantifiable. It may create further opportunities for family members and contribute to social and cultural capital in communities. A teaching degree may lead to empowered parenting. How is this waste?

It’s only a small word but it carries so much veiled power in its clutches.

Carol Reid is an associate professor in the School of Education  and a senior researcher in the Centre for Educational Research  at the University of Western Sydney, Australia.

Suitability for teaching: Assessing the potential to be a teacher. July 2, 2013

Posted by christinefjohnston in Directions in Education, Early Childhood Education, Education Policy and Politics, Primary Education, Secondary Education, Teacher, Adult and Higher Education.
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by Katina Zammit

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the annual conference of the NSW Council of Deans of Education and listen to Minister Piccoli espouse the NSW Government’s views on prospective teachers. He spoke about the quality of entrants into teaching: their literacy and numeracy levels and their suitability to be teachers. The points he put are part of the Government’s 2012 blueprint Great Teaching, Inspired Learning (GTIL). In this post, I’d like to consider what is meant by ‘suitability’ and question if this can be assessed.

The Minister spoke about ‘suitability’ for teaching. In Greater Teaching, Inspired Learning this is stated as ‘entrants into teacher education will … show an aptitude for teaching’ (GTIL, 2012, p.7). He explained that NSW would develop ‘a framework of attributes for assessing suitability for teaching’. The development of the framework will involve the initial teaching education providers, school authorities and teachers. But how do you judge a person as suitable for teaching? Is it based on a psychological evaluation? Will everyone need to take a Myers- Briggs assessment of personality types and be a certain type to be considered for a teaching job? It didn’t work for the Peace Corps, in the US. Will there need to be a recommendation from a principal? Or other educator?

In the project Teaching and Leading for Quality Australian Schools: A Review and Synthesis of Research-based Knowledge, Zammit et al (2007) found that quality teaching could be considered as being influenced by three domains: contextual factors, professional practice, and attributes and qualities of teachers. In the domain of attributes and qualities of teachers, we categorised these as personal, relational and professional. In the personal area, the qualities were: enthusiasm, passion and commitment; high levels of communication; and, motivation to enter teaching. However, these were identified as not the only attributes that contributed to student outcomes and quality teaching. But these seem to be the ones implied in the Minister’s speech.

How do you measure a person’s interest, desire or passion for being a teacher? I remember in high school completing a test to determine which profession / job I would be ‘suitable’ for to help me make decisions about my career. The result was I could do anything. Not so helpful. 

We are not born teachers. Teaching is not ‘in the blood’. It is not a genetic predisposition – at least I don’t think it is. But you have to want to work with children; to put in the hours outside of school (the hidden requirements of the job). There are so many different and very good teachers, with a range of personalities, skills and backgrounds who have come into teaching from high school, from another course or from another career. The merchant banker has not changed her/her career to teaching for the money.

The framework for suitability is still to be developed. The form it will take is still to be decided. Let’s hope it isn’t a multiple choice, personality assessment… Watch this space.

 References:

NSW Department of Education and Communities, NSW Institute of Teaching, & Board of Studies (NSW) (2012) Great Teaching, Inspired Learning: A Blueprint for Action. Sydney: NSW Department of Education and Communities.

Zammit, K., Sinclair, C., Cole, B., Singh, M., Costley, D., Brown A’Court, L., & Rushton, K. (2007). Teaching and Leading for Quality Australian Schools: A Review and Synthesis of Research-based Knowledge. Canberra: Teaching Australia.

Dr Katina Zammit is Director of Academic Program (Primary) in the School of Education, University of Western Sydney 

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