While my opening gambit may appear digressive, groping around the periphery to make sense of this broad and complex subject yielded interestingness:
Peter Taubman does not appear on the reading list for next semester’s study of Education Policy Trends: Global to Local at UWA, yet ideas explored in this video offer a frame of reference to consider:
- audit culture
- commodification of education
Here, policy can be seen as a complex interplay of processes connecting both central authorities – governing departments, vested interest groups, market forces – and practices in schools identified as classroom-based learning experiences.
What does it mean, really? The classroom is a fraught political space.
I appreciate that might not be revelatory, but the qualms were real. Initial trepidation I experienced while downloading PDF files and skimming through prevailing wisdom forced me to confront a global scale of operations that could leave us – as individuals – winded, if not bruised. Critics carved soundbytes with terms like disdain, losers and reductionist.
Persisting with exploration revealed potential benefits to emerge from applied understanding of these trends to enable a re-framing of the discourse about how best to lead/ manage change within our own contexts.
For example, the literature urges us to
…study the consequences of national testing, especially the unintended consequences that lead to the de-skilling of teachers, a focusing on results rather than learning, and teaching to the test. We can learn from these experiences, however, caution is needed in borrowing practices and policies developed in other contexts and for differing purposes (Klenowski, 2009, p. 1-2).
So far, then, both recommended and tangential reading serves as an advance warning system and demystification guide.
Creative Commons Source
Human elements re-emerged for me. Want to know more about the public good?
Alan Reid argues there are
three purposes of education – individual, economic and democratic – [which] will usually be present in education policy and practice, but it is the emphasis that is placed on each and the interrelationships between them that will determine the extent to which they are likely to achieve public purposes (Reid, 2012, p.7).
Here I am occupying familiar territory once more.
Complex bearings given slight adjustments as information processing gets underway; internal calibration scale shifts. Feels like this:
Creative Commons Source
What I come to appreciate about Study (in the formal, capital-S sense, as opposed to an informal process of learning with others which teachers tend to undertake as an unconsciously skilled, or naturalised, process) is that you have to hold tight while bearing up to the likely disorientation. Eventually, hope and possibilities emerge in any investment, since commentators will consider how
By taking context seriously we argue that policies are intimately shaped and influenced by school-specific factors, even though in much central policy making and research, these sorts of constraints, pressures and enablers of policy enactments tend to be neglected (Braun, Ball, Maguire & Hoskins, 2011, p. 585).
Braun, A., Ball, S.J., Maguire, M. & Hoskins, K. (2011). Taking context seriously: Towards explaining policy enactments in the secondary school. In Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education, 32(4), pp. 585-596.
Klenowski, V. (2009). Raising the stakes: The Challenges for teacher assessment. Canberra: Paper presented at the AARE conference. Retrieved July 20, 2014 from http://www.aare.edu.au/data/publications/2009/kle091607.pdf
Reid, A. (2012). Perspectives: Federalism, public education and the public good. University of Western Sydney: Whitlam Institute. Retrieved July 17, 2014 from http://www.whitlam.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/399624/Perspectives_7_-_Professor_Alan_Reid_AM.pdf
Mulford, B. (2010). Recent developments in the field of educational leadership: The challenge of complexity. In Hargreaves, A., Lieberman, A., Fullan, M. & Hopkins, D. (Eds). Second international handbook of educational change. London: Springer.
We departed Perth last week, seeking cooler climes on a school-holiday whim. Everyone from my interactive-whiteboard-face seemed headed towards Bali.
We are in Hobart.
How is that for a view? Mountainous backdrop becomes obscured by clouds; rainbows’ ends hover in the southern valley; and gulls arc in buoyant streams across our window panes as we cloudspot and monitor sunscapes.
Trek highlights so far:
- Pigeonhole bread
- Tassie butter and creme fraiche (both from the Hill Street grocer)
- Custard tarts from Little Missy Patisserie
- French-style gnocchi with brown butter and truffles from the Wrest Point Revolving Restaurant
- walk trails through Mount Knocklofty
- Fullers bookshop on Collins Street for the drumstick HB pencils, prints and notebooks.
Common thread of purposeful wandering seems to be foodie treats… Good job the hills are steep, and our 5km roundtrip walks each day have me removing woollen layers.
…so to thinking.
Heading into next semester’s study of Education Policy Trends: Local to Global, my well-mined Documents folder is stacked with PDF treasure downloaded from Course Materials Online. This extract left me wondering:
What is it about system change for improvement that yields the opposite of desired states? Grand in design, yet flawed in execution?
Barker points to the barrel, not the apples, as cause for concern. I appreciated his contextualising which draws a tangent from 1988 to link the 2008 credit crunch while leaving subsequent global fallout sharply defined. His landscape may be English, but the same “policy imperatives” here in Australia “have led to the current crisis” (Barker, 2010, p.4).
Fear not! Future freedom is outlined as a forward trajectory… A bit like tonight’s meal-in-the-making pictured here deceptively nestled within a reflective window pane:
Root vegetable tagine (sans pot) sourced from a Salamanca organic store this morning along with bread and butter pudding now baking in a water bath. Wish us luck – the fan-forced electric oven is something of an unknown quantity.
Perhaps the full moon bodes well…
Barker, B. (2010). The pendulum swings: transforming school reform. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.
Barker, B. (2010). The pendulum swings: Transforming school reform. England: Trentham Books Limited.
Yesterday’s ritualised close to term 2 at our K-12 College emphasised rewards with Circus Skills:
Our students learned about:
- having a go
- taking a turns
- failure as an opportunity to learn
- mathematical applications
- scientific theory
- suspension of disbelief
- wonderment & awe
- performance/ humour/ timing/ toys and history
- interpersonal skills
The man at the drum-kit-helm of this enterprise was Joe Bolton:
Similar, though less public, collaborative processes were also underway with small group moderation of our stage 3B English Course:
My partner in scheming – colleague A.M. at a West Australian District High School – shared feedback via email, phone, Edmodo and Evernote both in designing activities to engage our Year 12 students, and record the learning. Strategies included role play, provocative questions, psychoanalytic reading practices and visible thinking tools.
Here’s what we concocted as a final task responding to the documentary film The Queen of Versailles:
Students’ self-reflective comments posted to Kidblog were favourable:
…I found this ‘Queen of Versailles’ one of the more interesting texts Teach has made us experience and found that I have not really changed my mind on anything. I still think rich people are ‘holier than thou’ arrogant fools; I still know that absolute power corrupts absolutely and hoarders cannot let go of anything… (Fox, 2014).
…Even though Jackie was aesthetically crass, she was the most favourable and redeemable character. Jackie did love the wealth – it seemed to rule her life – but in the end, when times were ‘tough’, she didn’t change her attitude towards money or her family… (Ahern, 2014).
…My view, at the beginning of the film, was influenced by the inclusion of specific voiceover comments such as “…guess what that is?…that’s my wardrobe”, which encouraged me to assume that Jackie was a self-centred person… (Fiske, 2014).
Our conversation around how these posts were received was also illuminating: A.M. claimed her students were intrigued by personal voice. Should make for interesting times next term when we all meet to share a meal in Northbridge before viewing the dramatised version of Jasper Jones at the resplendent State Theatre…