Give a Gonski?..

“Give a Gonski? Funding myths and politicking derail school debate”
An article from Glenn C. Savage, published on July 9 on The Conversation

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A brief breakdown of some of the more nuanced aspects of the schools funding debate. Glenn Savage makes some good points about the way that the core of the debate is getting lost amongst the wrangling between the two major political parties. There is surely no doubt by now that the school funding models in Australia need to be reformed, yet neither Liberal or Labor are stepping up to really address education in a real and meaningful way.

Why teach?…

Often I think as educators we get so caught up in the chaos of every day – marking, meetings, lesson plans, reports, taking the roll, uniform checks, etc etc. – that it’s so easy to loose sight of why we are here in the first place. People come to teaching for a whole range of reasons, from all walks of life. I think it’s truly a catch-all profession and I love this because I think it adds to the diversity of perspectives that students can be exposed to in schools.

So today, as the school year in Taiwan is drawing to close and I am facing exam marking, grades to enter, and reports to write, I am reminding myself why I teach. And it’s not because I’m a sucker like this guy…

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1. To give back.
I benefitted from some truly incredible teachers who had a huge impact on my life. These role-models showed me the potential for education – and great educators – to impact people’s lives in a significant way. I believe that education has the power to change the world & make it an even better place by empowering young people to do great things. If I can pass on even a shred of the positivity and inspiration some of my teachers showed me, I’ll be happy.

2. Love of learning.
One of my very favourite parts of teaching is the fact that I am continually learning! I love expanding my knowledge and learning knew skills and nuggets of information. One of the things I hope to express in my classes, and foster in my students, is this passion for being a life-long learner.

3. Young people are awesome!
Every day I am impressed by the young people I get to work with. They are so interesting and full of so much potential, it’s exciting to be a part of their journey.

So for those of you finishing up the semester, term, or year, I encourage you to take some time to remind yourself; why teach?…

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Soldier on educators!

What brought you to teaching? And more importantly, what keeps you going?

Inspiration…

Last week I didn’t quite get around to posting a piece of weekly inspiration, but luckily for me Shauna Mae posted an excellent TedTalk from the impressive Sarah Kay.

This week’s post will hopefully make you laugh. It’s a wikiHow guide to “How to be an Inspirational Teacher”. Unfortunately I’m not sure it’s quite as simple as wikiHow would have us believe…

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Click to find out How to be an Inspirational Teacher!

Professional development resource – @IRIS_Connect by @TeacherToolkit

WOW! I came across this technology via TeacherToolkit – UK based edublogger. This looks so awesome as a tool for improving teaching and learning and building a growth mindset/learning community within a school. Scary at first but I think it really could be transformational.

He also finds it transformational and talks more about it here.

When I was at university we had to record ourselves teaching and then watch and reflect on the lesson, with our peers. It certainly helped me to see lots of things I was doing from a very different perspective. It was also amazing to reflect after a period of time, but while still being able to have the reality of the lesson fresh in memory – right in front of you!

I don’t know of anything like this in Australia but surely something exits… Does anyone have experience using video as a method of professional development in schools? Or know of similar programs?

Public vs Private & ‘value-adding’

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Yesterday (June 2nd 2015) ‘Private, Catholic schools do add value to student results’ was published on The Conversation by Gary Marks, a professor at the University of Melbourne. It outlines his recent research which has found that so-called ‘private’ schools* do ‘add-value’ to students’ education, particularly when looking at ATAR scores for university entrance. The article is brief, and I found some of the more technical aspects of the discussion a bit confusing, but it is an interesting contribution to a debate that has been building momentum over the past two or three years. Namely, what are the educational benefits that come with paying large amounts of money to educate your child in a non-public school? The article is followed by lots of interesting comments that build in a great deal of complexity to the discussion.

It seems interesting to me that this research has come to a very different conclusion to other recent studies into this same issue. Personally, I am interested to know to what extent Marks’ study accounted for the fact that public schools tend to cater for a much broader range of students – from different backgrounds, with different educational ambitions – and the fact that it is fairly common practice for private schools to encourage lower-performing students to find somewhere else to complete their schooling. Both of these factors are likely to result in a higher average score in private school ATAR results. And if students are shifting from private to public schools before their final years of schooling at year 10, after the year 9 NAPLAN results, surely this will skew comparisons of how students progress from year 9 to year 12. Perhaps a longitudinal study of individual high-performing and ambitious students attending a range of different schools would provide a clearer comparison? I don’t know if this already exists… or perhaps I have misinterpreted aspects of Marks’ argument. It is interesting that in some of the later comments Marks responds that “my general conclusion is that the whole system is mainly driven by student ability with SES having a much less important role”– a very different emphasis to that suggested in the article and certainly in the title.

Also published yesterday in The Age was an article by David Zyngier, from Monash University; ‘Public schools’ good report card on value for money’. Zyngier suggests the reverse of Marks’ argument – that private schools do not significantly value-add. While Marks focused on ATAR scores, the research Zyngier discusses is focused on NAPLAN results.

Obviously this is a vexed issue with all schools invested in showing their families and the public that they are a good choice for students’ education. Increasing numbers of parents are sending their children to private schools, but with more and more research coming out that says public schools are offering an equal, if not better, education, is this trend likely to reverse? Or are the main reasons for choosing a private education less to do with educational benefits, and more to do with social benefits? What do you think about the ‘value-adding’ of private schools compared to private? Is any possible advantage worth the cost of a private education?

*I say ‘so-called’ because of the significant amount of public funding they receive