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Analysis and Comment (371)

Julia Gillard’s My Story is about defending her legacy, but she is not blind to the faults of the Labor Party nor to her own mistakes. Julia Gillard’s My Story is about defending her legacy, but she is not blind to the faults of the Labor Party nor to her own mistakes. AAP/Dean Lewins

Book review: Gillard’s My Story, a defence of her prime ministership

Julia Gillard’s autobiography, My Story, presents a comprehensive defence of her prime ministership. Gillard dives straight into the heart of her story, beginning on the day she was sworn in as prime minister…
Do you need a degree to make a movie? Recent research shows that it will help you get a job. Do you need a degree to make a movie? Recent research shows that it will help you get a job. Jonathan Kos-Read

A degree helps for jobs in TV and film – eventually

It’s Open Day season at universities across Australia. Prospective students are pondering whether it’s worth doing a degree or not – and in particular, whether it will increase their chances of gaining…
Learning and having fun aren’t mutually exclusive: videogames (such as Portal) bridge the two perfectly. Learning and having fun aren’t mutually exclusive: videogames (such as Portal) bridge the two perfectly. Steve Elgersma/Flickr

Videogames should be a teacher’s best friend

Although videogames are seen by many as a waste of time, one thing they do undeniably well is teach. The problem is that educational games are about as much a game as low-fat ice cream is delicious. Both…
Where is education going for South Africa’s ‘Born Frees’? Where is education going for South Africa’s ‘Born Frees’? teachandlearn

South African education still fails many 20 years after apartheid

Since the dawn of democracy in South Africa 20 years ago, pass rates in the country’s end-of-school exam – commonly known as the matric – have been steadily on the rise, despite indications that the schooling…
Question 1: Where is the leaning tower of Pisa? Question 1: Where is the leaning tower of Pisa? Niall Carson/PA Archive

PISA education rankings are a problem that can’t be solved

With a heavy feeling of déjà vu, here we are again with another round of introspection on the OECD’s international Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings and the mediocre education…
Who disagrees with mom today? Who disagrees with mom today? Iowapolitics.com

Can home schooling make kids more politically tolerant?

When it comes to the topic of conservative Christian home schooling, the term “politically tolerant” usually doesn’t spring to mind. Even while the home schooling phenomenon continues to grow and diversify…
Are parents using technological devices as pacifiers rather than talking to them? Are parents using technological devices as pacifiers rather than talking to them? www.shutterstock.com.au

We’re not talking to our kids: are we causing speech delay?

A parent with a small child in a stroller is walking along the footpath with headphones in. The child is crying, the parent is oblivious. A parent walks into a cafe engaged in conversation on the phone…
British author and teacher Hanif Kureishi has slammed writing programs – but he’s missed the point as to the value of teaching writing at universities. British author and teacher Hanif Kureishi has slammed writing programs – but he’s missed the point as to the value of teaching writing at universities. Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M

Why writing programs are worth it: a reply to Hanif Kureishi

Having served in a more humble capacity at the University it is now an honour to call myself a professor at Kingston. – Hanif Kureishi. In October last year Hanif Kureishi, novelist and screenwriter, and…
Valeria Lukyanova: a ‘thinspiration’ pin up. Valeria Lukyanova: a ‘thinspiration’ pin up. Youtube

Anorexia advocates turn medical condition into self-expression

Decoration and modification of the body have become a contemporary form of fashion. Aesthetic sensibilities once considered quite deviant (and now ordinary) commonly articulate our sense of self through…
Years of schooling separate the rich kids from the poor kids. Years of schooling separate the rich kids from the poor kids. www.shutterstock.com.au

Why poor kids continue to do poorly in the education game

The Conversation is running a series, Class in Australia, to identify, illuminate and debate its many manifestations. Here, Stewart Riddle outlines the correlation between low socioeconomic backgrounds…
12 Years a Slave is to be mandatory viewing in all state-run US high schools. 12 Years a Slave is to be mandatory viewing in all state-run US high schools. Francois Duhamel

Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave is an artistic and educational triumph

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave walked away with the coveted prize of Best Picture at the Oscars last night. It faced fierce competition from contenders such as American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity…
Music is not cheesecake! It is an essential condition that is omnipresent in all human cultures. Music is not cheesecake! It is an essential condition that is omnipresent in all human cultures. he boden

Class matters when it comes to music education

The Conversation is running a series, Class in Australia, to identify, illuminate and debate its many manifestations. Here, Katrina McFerran discusses how access to music education can reaffirm social…
Students born in the Information Age are digital natives, but in an already crowded curriculum, where will technology subjects stand? Students born in the Information Age are digital natives, but in an already crowded curriculum, where will technology subjects stand? Lupuca/Flickr

Connecting to Australia’s first digital technology curriculum

Australia finally has its first digital technology curriculum which is mandatory for all Australian children from Foundation, the name replacing kindergarten, to Year 8. The Technologies area now has two…
I don’t want to be a care worker when I grow up. I don’t want to be a care worker when I grow up. DFID - UK Department for International Development

Zimbabwean graduate migrants are more than just ‘British bottom cleaners’

Zimbabwean migrants to Britain are often referred to by those at home as being the BBC – British bottom cleaners – fit only for the most menial roles in the former colonial “mother country”. But our research…
Nearly home time. Nearly home time. kmoliver

Finland puts flexible holidays ahead of longer school days

The length of the school year and school days, as well as the timing of holidays, is always a controversial topic. While the debate rages in the UK about whether children should spend more time at school…
Academics may find they are increasingly able to use altmetrics in the place of traditional modes of tracking reach. Academics may find they are increasingly able to use altmetrics in the place of traditional modes of tracking reach. Shutterstock

Are universities turning into giant newsrooms?

Like many of my fellow journalism lecturers, I often get asked for tips on turning academic research into journalism pieces. These requests have been getting more frequent. It’s a compliment, but why is…
Jobs for the girls. Jobs for the girls. By Rhoda Baer, via Wikimedia Commons

Stopping the brain drain of women scientists

You can be forgiven for assuming that gender is not an issue any more in higher education. There are more young women entering universities than ever before and they are graduating each year in their hundreds…
Would you admit to being a teacher? Would you admit to being a teacher? David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Would you admit to being a teacher today?

Are you a teacher? When you are at a party, a wedding or in the pub, and asked: “What do you do for a living?” – what do you say? Why might you lie? Is it too boring? Too complicated? Much too likely to…
Making words make sense. Making words make sense. Ben Birchall/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Don’t let reading wars hold back more able children

Some children arrive at school already able to read. They have enjoyed books with their parents and understand the exciting route that reading takes them into the wonderful world of stories. They may well…
Media studies? Another great idea! Media studies? Another great idea! Photo by Chris Boland / www.bolandactorheadshots.co.uk

Where would we be without Alain de Botton?

On Wednesday evening, after an afternoon of lecture preparation to teach my Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies class “Doing Media Research”, I settled down to watch Newsnight. Alain de Botton, “philosopher…
Back to school for Obama and his education secretary Arne Duncan Back to school for Obama and his education secretary Arne Duncan Charles Dharapak/AP/Press Association Images

Obama’s approach to education in the 2014 State of the Union

In 2008, I was full of hope that Barack Obama would change the American approach to education. I volunteered for his campaign’s educational policy committee and was selected as an Obama delegate for the…
There are now many sites that allow students to “review” their lecturers – but is this a good thing? There are now many sites that allow students to “review” their lecturers – but is this a good thing? shutterstock

Who’s afraid of ‘Rate your Professor’?

A number of years ago as a PhD student, I was told that you must “publish or perish”. The advice was clear: teaching should be secondary in any considerations. Instead, I should prioritise producing as…
Too easy to jump to conclusions. Too easy to jump to conclusions. Dave Thompson/PA Wire

False child abuse allegations take a heavy toll on teachers

These days it is heresy to suggest some teenagers may sometimes exaggerate – but when it comes to accusations of sexual abuse or misconduct, teachers who are falsely accused have little hope of salvaging…
We’ve all had good teachers… and bad ones. But how do you define quality teaching? We’ve all had good teachers… and bad ones. But how do you define quality teaching? Lecture image from www.shutterstock.com

What makes a good teacher?

Do you have a good university lecturer? What makes them good? Is it because they make their classes relevant? Are their lectures interesting or challenging? Or maybe they’re just fun to be around? Good…
History in schools is not engaging our students. History in schools is not engaging our students. History class image from www.shutterstock.com

Stop tinkering with school history, and start teaching it

In 2008, historian Dr. Anna Clark conducted a survey of the state of history education in Australian classrooms. The book that resulted from this study — History’s Children — presented a bleak image of…
There’s no one recipe for creating ‘innovation hubs’ but Australia can look to some of the success stories for answers. There’s no one recipe for creating ‘innovation hubs’ but Australia can look to some of the success stories for answers. Technology image from www.shutterstock.com

Could Australia ever have its own Silicon Valley?

Silicon Valley is a bit like the ancient city of Babylon. A confluence of the right geography, right timing, and the right mix in the melting pot allowed them both to thrive. Even the mythological status…
This year saw turbulent times –from childcare centres to universities. This year saw turbulent times –from childcare centres to universities. AAP Image/Dan Peled

2013, the year that was: Education

For most education watchers, this year has rushed by in a policy blur. So much so that we thought we had better launch our very own shiny Education section just to help you keep on top of things. The launch…
Education is well financed in Australia but a number of inefficiencies need to be addressed. Education is well financed in Australia but a number of inefficiencies need to be addressed. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Securing Australia’s future: education

SECURING AUSTRALIA’S FUTURE: As the Commission of Audit reviews government activity and spending, The Conversation’s experts take a closer look at key policy areas tied to this funding – what’s working…
Universities could soon become a Commonwealth responsibility – so why would the states give up the power? Universities could soon become a Commonwealth responsibility – so why would the states give up the power? University image from www.shutterstock.com

Taking over universities: why the states would give up control

State and federal relations are almost always a bumpy ride – you only have to look at the recent stoush over schools funding to see that. So when relations go well and we see a glimpse of that perfect…
A debate over whether children should be forced to say ‘sorry’ misses the point. A debate over whether children should be forced to say ‘sorry’ misses the point. Child image from www.shutterstock.com

Teach children to say ‘sorry’: why the word is only the first step

Lawyers have conniptions whenever they hear it, Parliamentarians routinely avoid using it, and all over the world, people have arguments about who should say it first. The latest grumblings about the humble…
Students with disabilities are still being left out at mainstream schools. Students with disabilities are still being left out at mainstream schools. Child with a disability image from www.shutterstock.com

Students with and without disability: it’s always better when we’re together

I was shocked when the local preschool teacher asked me when my son was coming to preschool… I had no idea he was even permitted to attend the local preschool. Those are not the words of a mother during…
Many young teachers, even the good ones, are leaving the profession. Many young teachers, even the good ones, are leaving the profession. Struggle image from www.shutterstock.com

Why good teachers leave teaching

As another school year comes to a close, there are some early career teachers quietly packing up their desks and walking out the school doors with no plan to return next year. Some estimate the attrition…
The policy solutions of Labor and Liberal governments are not facing up to the big challenges in childcare. The policy solutions of Labor and Liberal governments are not facing up to the big challenges in childcare. Childcare image from www.shutterstock.com

Higher wages vs more training: why the government is going the wrong way on childcare

At this point in the history of early childhood education and care in Australia, we’re at a policy crossroad. The Coalition has the choice to either continue the reforms begun by the ALP or take a different…
Australia should adopt a US program that brings students into prisons to learn with prisoners. Australia should adopt a US program that brings students into prisons to learn with prisoners. Prison image from www.shutterstock.com

Inside out: why we need to bring students and prisoners together

Over the past 15 years, a criminal justice professor in Philadelphia named Lori Pompa has quietly grown an innovative education program that brings together university students to learn alongside prisoners…
Can you pick a good teacher out from the pack before they enter the classroom? Can you pick a good teacher out from the pack before they enter the classroom? Chalk image from www.shutterstock.com

A winning formula: how to pick the best teachers

It’s one of those debates that has seemingly gone on forever. All the way back to the ancient Greeks, people have been trying to figure out the best way to choose teachers. Australian governments, most…
Gonski isn’t everything and we need to refocus the debate back to equity. Gonski isn’t everything and we need to refocus the debate back to equity. School image from www.shutterstock.com

Curriculum, equity and resources: how we got lost in the Gonski debate

It’s been a big week for education. Amidst all the confusion and politics on school funding of the last week there have been a couple of repeated mantras by the federal education minister – namely that…
Our narrow view of Asian education is preventing us from improving our own education system and learning from Asia’s success. Our narrow view of Asian education is preventing us from improving our own education system and learning from Asia’s success. Reading image from www.shutterstock.com

Not just tiger mums and rote learning: it’s time for a balanced view of Asian education

International test results on maths, reading and science literacies, released this week, continue to show one thing for sure: the outstanding performance of Asian education systems. Each time the results…
Education minister Chris Pyne says the Gonski model was addressing a problem that doesn’t really exist in Australian education: equity. Education minister Chris Pyne says the Gonski model was addressing a problem that doesn’t really exist in Australian education: equity. AAP Image/ Nikki Short) NO ARCHIVING

FactCheck: is Australian education highly equitable?

“The OECD says that we are a high equity nation in terms of our students… I don’t believe there is an equity problem in Australia.” – Education Minister Christopher Pyne, Lateline interview, 26 November…
International tests show a decline in Australian educational outcomes, but even more serious than that, is the story of educational disadvantage. International tests show a decline in Australian educational outcomes, but even more serious than that, is the story of educational disadvantage. Class image from www.shutterstock.com

Australia’s PISA slump is big news but what’s the real story?

The 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results out today will no doubt see shock headlines about Australia’s falling education standards and our failing school system. PISA – which…
Australian results from international tests in maths, science and reading are on the decline. Australian results from international tests in maths, science and reading are on the decline. Class image from www.shutterstock.com

New PISA results show education decline – it’s time to stop the slide

New international test results in reading, science and maths show that Australian education is going backwards – a declining trend that has been going on for the past decade. The 2012 Program for International…
The Gonski money is back with an extra boost for some states that have signed up. But schools need to look for simpler solutions. The Gonski money is back with an extra boost for some states that have signed up. But schools need to look for simpler solutions. AAP

Pyne finds extra Gonski money, but how should it be spent?

During the Cold War, both the Soviets and the Americans were trying to develop a way to write in space. American entrepreneurs spent an unknown sum developing a “space pen”, while the Soviets initially…
It’s not too often you see a backflip on a backflip, but education minister Christopher Pyne has managed it. It’s not too often you see a backflip on a backflip, but education minister Christopher Pyne has managed it. AAP/Stefan Postles

From Gonski to gone to Gonski again: school funding future remains uncertain

It seems we’re in Gonski groundhog day. The repeated backflips and policy position switches from the Abbott government – only three months into its term – have been astounding. After announcing last week…
Inadvertently, universities may be constructing courses and learning environments that encourage cheating. Inadvertently, universities may be constructing courses and learning environments that encourage cheating. Cheating image from www.shutterstock.com

Universities could be encouraging students to cheat, without even knowing it

A few years ago a group of psychologists from two North American universities ran a fascinating experiment designed to see whether the quality of light in a room influenced people’s willingness to cheat…
The government still needs to address the underlying problems that the Gonski reforms sought to address. The government still needs to address the underlying problems that the Gonski reforms sought to address. AAP Image/Dan Peled

Back to the drawing board on Gonski: no logic in abandoning school reforms

Education minister Christopher Pyne says it’s necessary to go “back to the drawing board” on schools funding and abandon the previous government’s funding reforms – commonly known as the Gonski model…
The Coalition government’s deal with the states over schools funding should not be broken so easily. The Coalition government’s deal with the states over schools funding should not be broken so easily. AAP Image/Tim Dornin

Legally binding or not? Why breaking the Gonski funding deals matters

Education minister Christopher Pyne has announced the new government will dump the agreements with the states on the Gonski school funding reforms, negotiated by the former Labor government. Pyne has said…
New education minister Christopher Pyne has effectively dumped the Gonski model of school funding. New education minister Christopher Pyne has effectively dumped the Gonski model of school funding. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Gonski is gone but can anything be salvaged?

Federal education minister Christopher Pyne has managed to upset the states and the education community with his declaration to “go back to the drawing board” on the Gonski funding scheme. Although Pyne’s…
The new government has fundamentally mislead the Australian public on school funding. The new government has fundamentally mislead the Australian public on school funding. AAP

Ditching Gonski: what’s so unfair about funding based on need?

In a bitterly disappointing move, it looks as though the government will now undo the vital Gonski school funding reforms of the previous Labor government. But perhaps it should come as no surprise. For…
Spelling tests aren’t teaching kids to spell. Spelling tests aren’t teaching kids to spell. Test image from www.shutterstock.com

Why some kids can’t spell and why spelling tests won’t help

A couple of years ago, early one morning, I received an SMS advising “resadents to stay indoors because of a nearby insadent”. I was shocked by the spelling, as much as the message. Surely, I thought…
Udacity’s founder Sebastian Thrun has over-promised and under-delivered. Udacity’s founder Sebastian Thrun has over-promised and under-delivered. Flickr/jdlasica

The failure of Udacity: lessons on quality for future MOOCs

The promise was simple, but the idea couldn’t have been bigger. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) would make courses from Harvard and MIT available free to anyone with an internet connection. The world’s…
Changing ways educational organisations use film content in learning environments could see major changes in the way film producers are paid for their copyright. Changing ways educational organisations use film content in learning environments could see major changes in the way film producers are paid for their copyright. Public Record Office Victoria

Copyrights and copywrongs: reforming educational film rights

At the end of November, after 18 months of deliberations, the Australian Law Reform Commission will hand down its report on the appropriateness of existing copyright laws in the new digital environment…
With access to a wealth of information, students no longer need a ‘sage on the stage’, but a ‘guide on the side’. With access to a wealth of information, students no longer need a ‘sage on the stage’, but a ‘guide on the side’. Computer image from www.shutterstock.com

Cloud schooling: why we still need teachers in the internet age

Education guru Sugata Mitra and his colleagues — who have pioneered the “School in the Cloud” — are sending ripples through the world of education. Their idea is simple: provide learning spaces with ready…
Are teacher fast-tracking programs really all bad? Are teacher fast-tracking programs really all bad? Teacher image from www.shutterstock.com

Fast-tracking teachers will lead to educational disaster? Not quite…

Reading David Zyngier’s recent article in The Conversation — ominously titled “Can anyone teach? Fast-tracking our children to educational disaster” — one would conclude that Teach for Australia and other…
Can language nests revive endangered Indigenous languages? Can language nests revive endangered Indigenous languages? AAP/Tara Ravens

Language nests: a way to revive Indigenous languages at risk

More than 90% of Australia’s Indigenous languages are critically endangered and two-thirds of those languages spoken a hundred years ago are now dormant. The seeds of the current situation were sown long…
Technology is everywhere now and it’s beginning to affect learning in the classroom. Technology is everywhere now and it’s beginning to affect learning in the classroom. Technology image from www.shutterstock.com

Driven to distraction: bringing your own device to school could hinder learning

With technology becoming cheaper, more powerful and more mobile, a new trend in education is emerging – bring your own device (BYOD). Borrowing from the business world, bringing your own device simply…
Moderating your behaviour, emotions and thinking in the face of change is not easy – but can it be taught? Moderating your behaviour, emotions and thinking in the face of change is not easy – but can it be taught? Emotion image from www.shutterstock.com

Coping with change: teaching adaptability will help kids grow

Across a student’s lifetime, their world will change and change again. They’re likely to see industry reshaped, medical advancements, and huge changes to technology. In their own life too, they will begin…
Are “teacher fast-tracking” policies a good idea? Are “teacher fast-tracking” policies a good idea? Teacher image from www.shutterstock.com

Can anyone teach? Fast-tracking our children to educational disaster

Governments in Australia are increasingly looking to “fast-track” professionals or high-performing graduates into teaching in schools. It’s a policy idea that has surface appeal. After all, you can get…
Julie with Jack in a film about Applied Behaviour Analysis. Julie with Jack in a film about Applied Behaviour Analysis. BBC/Dartmouth Films/Two Step Films/Fran Robertson

Behavioural method is not an attempt to ‘cure’ autism

Treetops School in Essex is a state school that uses ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) to educate children with autism. ABA has generated controversy and BBC4’s film, Autism: Challenging Behaviour, follows…
Some have suggested there’s a rise in the use of so called ‘smart drugs’ – but how much do we know about their use and effects? Some have suggested there’s a rise in the use of so called ‘smart drugs’ – but how much do we know about their use and effects? Brain image from www.shutterstock.com

Drugs for grades: the realities of academic doping

The use of drugs to improve academic performance goes by a number of names – “academic doping”, “cosmetic neurology”, “neuroenhancement”. A recent survey suggested that Australian university students are…
It’s not what you know, it’s what you do with it. It’s not what you know, it’s what you do with it. Gold image from www.shutterstock.com

Research is useless, innovation is gold

Most agree that it’s worth knowing more about the world and everything in it. Research, in that sense, is intrinsically valuable. But for pragmatic governments, intrinsic scientific or scholarly worth…
Young people are harbouring misconceptions about climate change. But what can be done about it? Young people are harbouring misconceptions about climate change. But what can be done about it? Thinking image www.shutterstock.com

What do young people really know about climate change?

The next generation will be the ones to feel the increasing effects of climate change. But how much do they really know about it? After all, it’s one thing to say: yes, I believe in climate change. But…
Does it matter if most Massive Open Online Courses are in English? Does it matter if most Massive Open Online Courses are in English? Language image from www.shutterstock.com

MOOCs and the language barrier: is open education not so open after all?

For many educators, the dream feels tantalisingly close: free, quality education for everyone in the world. The arrival of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs led to predictions of a great new age of…
Hate to burst your bubble but there’s a lot more left to do in reforming early childhood education. Hate to burst your bubble but there’s a lot more left to do in reforming early childhood education. Child image from www.shutterstock.com

Fragile progress in early childhood education could be undone

The latest Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reform council report released this week showing small improvement in the quality of Australia’s early childhood education comes as federal and state…
Potential changes to the ownership of student loan repayments could make reform of the system more complicated. Potential changes to the ownership of student loan repayments could make reform of the system more complicated. Student loan image from www.shutterstock.com

Don’t sell off HECS: reforming student loans could bring in real savings

According to the budget papers, Australian students and former students could owe the government more than $40 billion in unpaid Higher Education Loan Program debt by 2017. Unsurprisingly, HELP, formerly…
Doing a PhD can feel pretty lonely but online social platforms are here to help. Doing a PhD can feel pretty lonely but online social platforms are here to help. PhD image from www.shutterstock.com

Doing a PhD can be a lonely business but it doesn’t have to be

Completing a PhD is no small feat. It requires both high intellect and a great deal of tenacity. But it can be lonely at the top, with many PhD students struggling with stress, feelings of isolation and…
We know what better literacy can do, so what would a more literate world look like? We know what better literacy can do, so what would a more literate world look like? World image from www.shutterstock.com

What would a more literate world look like?

Let us suppose for a moment that there is a magic bullet for curing illiteracy. In fact, what if we were able to take the global literacy rate from 84% worldwide to something closer to 90% or even 99…
You might have never heard of them but the Dawkins reforms changed pretty much everything about higher education in Australia. You might have never heard of them but the Dawkins reforms changed pretty much everything about higher education in Australia. AAP Image/National Archives of Australia

Book review: The Dawkins Revolution, 25 Years On

Why is Australian higher education the way it is today? To answer this we must go back to Labor minister John Dawkins, who initiated a radical suite of reforms a quarter of a century ago. His impact on…
Ja'mie feeds us all the stereotypes we love and hate about private school education. Ja'mie feeds us all the stereotypes we love and hate about private school education. AAP/EckFactor

Like, no offence but Ja'mie’s private school stereotypes will make you laugh… and cry

I admit it; I loved Ja'mie: Private School Girl. The new comedy series, which premiered last night on ABC1, fed all my prejudices and biases, unconscious or otherwise. The show’s writer, Chris Lilley…
Some say the academic book is dead, or at least, dying. But is that true? And is there anything to be done about it? Some say the academic book is dead, or at least, dying. But is that true? And is there anything to be done about it? Book image from www.shutterstock.com

The death of the academic book and the path to Open Access

Is publishing academic books a dying trade? And if so, are free e-books from universities likely to deal the final blow? The future of book publishing in general is hotly contested, but particularly so…
The way we pick which students are let in to university is not a fair system. The way we pick which students are let in to university is not a fair system. School image from www.shutterstock.com

ATARs – you may as well use postcodes for university admissions

For the next couple of months, young people across Australia will be sitting their final Year 12 examinations. For them, it’s the end of more than a decade of schooling looming large. Their soon to be…
Will philanthropy in Australia change because of the recent donation by Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest to Wes Australian universities. Will philanthropy in Australia change because of the recent donation by Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest to Wes Australian universities. Seed image from www.shutterstock.com

Of Forrests and acorns: philanthropic gift may seed other university giving

This week’s A$65 million pledge by Nicola and Andrew Forrest to all five West Australian universities alters the philanthropy landscape in Australia. The Forrests' donation comes less than a year after…
Will the hype around free high quality higher education last? Will the hype around free high quality higher education last? Online image from www.shutterstock.com

From MOOCs to HARVARDs: will online go mainstream?

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) draw a spectrum of responses. Should we be spruiking MOOCs? Spooked by MOOCs? Or hoping the hype will fade and the fad will pass? Most of us know the headlines. Free…
A new academic work which covers all of Australia’s history is a timely addition to Australian historical scholarship. A new academic work which covers all of Australia’s history is a timely addition to Australian historical scholarship. Australia image from www.shutterstock.com

Our past revisited: new Cambridge History of Australia gives us the big picture

This week’s launch of the two-volume Cambridge History of Australia comes just as the Coalition government fires the opening salvo of a new battle in the Australian history wars. Over the past 12 months…
Each time a new ranking is released, universities and rankers dance the international higher education two-step. Each time a new ranking is released, universities and rankers dance the international higher education two-step. Dance image from www.shutterstock.com

The ritual dance of university rankings

Whenever an unfavourable political opinion poll comes out, you can count on one thing: at least one politician saying they never pay attention to polls. And so it goes for university leaders when the results…
Does poor literacy come down to a matter of teaching bias? Does poor literacy come down to a matter of teaching bias? Reading image from www.shutterstock.com

My first ideology: teaching reading falls victim to the culture wars

When teaching students how to read, teachers are ignoring the best, scientifically-proven approaches according to a report out this week from libertarian research institute the Centre for Independent Studies…
Elite sports training is starting earlier and earlier – but is this always a good thing? Elite sports training is starting earlier and earlier – but is this always a good thing? School sport image from www.shutterstock.com

Do we really need elite sports training in schools?

A short conversation with a parent a number of years ago made me realise the extent of the problems we have in youth sport. This parent wanted advice on how to make his child faster and stronger to ensure…
There’s been outcry over Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Breivik’s plans to study at the University of Oslo. There’s been outcry over Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Breivik’s plans to study at the University of Oslo. EPA/Stian Lysberg Solum/Pool Norway out

Anders Breivik and the humanity of education in prison

Anders Breivik ensured his place in history the day he shot dead 69 people on a small Norwegian Island, having earlier killed eight others with a bomb planted in government offices in Oslo. Breivik’s horrendous…
How should we teach our kids so they’re prepared for the future? How should we teach our kids so they’re prepared for the future? Old school image from www.shutterstock.com

Old school or new school? Teach future skills and traditional subjects together

There has been a high profile debate recently about the merits of teaching so-called “21st century skills” in the new Australian Curriculum. The national curriculum, some argue, has too much focus on these…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has signalled he’d like to see the history curriculum change. But is it a good idea for government to intervene? Opposition leader Tony Abbott has signalled he’d like to see the history curriculum change. But is it a good idea for government to intervene? AAP Image/AFP Pool, Saeed Khan

Culture wars II: why Abbott should leave the history curriculum alone

In the last week of the campaign, some naggingly familiar comments came out from the Coalition. Then opposition leader Tony Abbott said he wanted to see the national curriculum in history changed because…
Unfair working conditions are nothing new in academia. Unfair working conditions are nothing new in academia. chancellorgriffin

Zero-hour contracts shame British universities

Further and higher education institutions have a long and ignoble history of employing staff on zero-hour contracts, so figures released last week by the University and College Union come as no surprise…
Investing in libraries could be a good way to boost Australia’s economy. Investing in libraries could be a good way to boost Australia’s economy. Library image from www.shutterstock.com

Forget mines: Rudd and Abbott should look to libraries to drive our next boom

The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that information technology and biotech entrepreneurs are beginning to displace mining magnates at the top of the nation’s rich lists. Out goes resources tycoon…
What comes next after the election? Maybe it’s better not to watch… What comes next after the election? Maybe it’s better not to watch… School image from www.shutterstock.com

Getting past Gonski: school equity beyond the election

The last few years have been a rollercoaster ride for anyone who has followed the politics of school funding. There was a low after the 2007 election when Labor dragged its heels on a review, a high when…
‘One book … can change the world’: Malala Yousafzai. ‘One book … can change the world’: Malala Yousafzai. John Blewitt

Malala: pens and books can defeat terrorism

Malala Yousafzai is no ordinary young woman. She has addressed the United Nations, won international prizes and was subject of a short documentary on her life by the New York Times. This is in addition…
Independent public schools are a highly charged issue in education circles – but do they get results? Independent public schools are a highly charged issue in education circles – but do they get results?

FactCheck: will more independent public schools mean better education outcomes?

“A programme to implement independent public schools will lead to higher productivity, better quality education outcomes for students.” - The Coalition’s Policy for Schools, August 2013. The Coalition…
Does Labor’s most recent attack ad pass the truth test? Does Labor’s most recent attack ad pass the truth test? Labor Party

FactCheck: Labor’s ‘If Abbott wins, you lose’ attack ad

Election FactCheck is checking key claims in political advertisements. Here we look at the “If Tony Abbott Wins, You Lose” ad from Labor. Families will lose the Schoolkids Bonus The Coalition has made…
Being charitable should be part of what children are taught at home and at school. Being charitable should be part of what children are taught at home and at school. Gift image from www.shutterstock.com

Giving the gift of giving: why children should be taught philanthropy

“Philanthropy” is usually a word we associate with the world of adults and rich people. Increasingly though, children from a spread of socio-economic backgrounds are participating in and learning about…
Children receive little guidance on how to use the internet safely. Children receive little guidance on how to use the internet safely. Enokson

Children need help to understand online bullying perils

I can only begin to imagine the pain, grief and suffering of the family of Hannah Smith, who committed suicide recently after apparently being bullied online, and Daniel Perry, who appears to have killed…
Is it fair that parents on 457 visas need to pay for their children to access public education? Is it fair that parents on 457 visas need to pay for their children to access public education? School image from www.shutterstock.com

Free universal education? Not if your parents are on a 457 visa

Last week Western Australian state treasurer Troy Buswell announced as part of his budget that any temporary 457 visa holders would be charged A$4,000 a year to send each child to state schools. Justifying…
The Coalition claims that infrastructure costs in Australia are spiralling out of control. The Coalition claims that infrastructure costs in Australia are spiralling out of control.

FactCheck: does building hospitals, schools and airports cost more in Australia than in the US?

“Resource projects are 40% more costly in Australia than the United States, building hospitals cost 62% more, schools 26% more and airports a staggering 90% more.” – The Nationals' leader Warren Truss…
Kevin Rudd may be king of the kids, but how does his Better Schools policy compare with the original Gonski review of schools funding? Kevin Rudd may be king of the kids, but how does his Better Schools policy compare with the original Gonski review of schools funding? AAP/James Elby

Gonski watered down: how does the current policy compare?

It’s been a very long road for those wanting school funding reform. But it looks as though now the government version of the Gonski review is here to stay. Five states and territories are now on board…
What’s working in Australia’s education system and what’s not? What’s working in Australia’s education system and what’s not? Learning image from www.shutterstock.com

Election 2013 Issues: The way we learn

Welcome to the The Conversation Election 2013 State of the Nation essays. These articles by leading experts in their field provide an in-depth look at the key policy challenges affecting Australia as the…
Bipartisan support of the Gonski reforms will come at a price. Bipartisan support of the Gonski reforms will come at a price. (AAP Image/Julian Smith

Abbott’s Gonski backflip will wreck school funding accountability

For six years the Coalition has repeatedly told us that the Howard government’s model for school funding was working. They said the schools were getting the funding they needed and as education spokesperson…
More students are attending university, but how many drop out? More students are attending university, but how many drop out?

FactCheck: are university drop-out rates higher than ever?

“Today’s drop-out rates are higher than ever before, 20% across-the-board, and in some cases one-in-two. And that’s just one side effect of the demand driven system.” National affairs correspondent Heather…
Australia has had a grand experiment in providing greater university access to disadvantaged students. Australia has had a grand experiment in providing greater university access to disadvantaged students. University graduates from www.shutterstock.com

Does equality come at the cost of quality in universities? Let’s look at the evidence

With a new leader at the helm, a new higher education minister and an election not too far away, university policy seems to be up in the air. Since starting his new portfolio, minister Kim Carr has floated…
We need to ask more questions before we plunge academia into a world of free and open journal research. We need to ask more questions before we plunge academia into a world of free and open journal research. Golden book image from www.shutterstock.com

All that’s gold, may not glitter: the harsh reality of open access

A recent article on The Conversation, “Busting the top five myths about open access publishing” is a spirited defense of open access (OA) publishing. The article, by ANU’s Danny Kingsley, outlined “myths…
The increase in medical graduates means there’s not enough internships to allow them to practice. So who is given priority and why? The increase in medical graduates means there’s not enough internships to allow them to practice. So who is given priority and why? Doctor image from www.shutterstock.com

FactCheck: are international medical graduates given priority over Australian doctors?

“At the moment, we’ve got international graduates who are getting preference over Australian doctors in some states.” - Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton, National Press Club Address…
Around 20% of people are maths anxious. To decrease this figure, we need to bust some stereotypes. Around 20% of people are maths anxious. To decrease this figure, we need to bust some stereotypes. Tom Lin :3=

To overcome fear of maths, let’s confront the myths

We all know someone who gets the jitters when they have to make a speech, or breaks out in a cold sweat at the mere thought of being in an enclosed space. That person might even be you. But do you know…
What matters more when it comes to intelligence: nature or nurture? What matters more when it comes to intelligence: nature or nurture? Brain image from www.shutterstock.com

Are genes really the reason more poor kids do badly at school?

A news report recently informed readers that the reason children from poorer backgrounds struggle is due to genetic “inherited abilities”. According to the article, a new Productivity Commission report…
The health and wellbeing of Australia’s principals is in doubt after a new report released this week. The health and wellbeing of Australia’s principals is in doubt after a new report released this week. Stressed image from www.shutterstock.com

Bullies, threats and violence: who would want to be a school principal?

School principals are five times more likely to face threats of violence than the general population, and seven times more likely to face physical violence, according to a new report released today. The…
A new report shows that universities that conduct a large amount of research aren’t necessarily better at teaching. A new report shows that universities that conduct a large amount of research aren’t necessarily better at teaching. Lecture image from www.shutterstock.com

Is university research good for teaching?

Australian higher education is dominated by its universities, and therefore by institutions that have dual teaching and research missions. There is a long debate about whether these two activities complement…
There are plenty of myths about open access – are any of them true? There are plenty of myths about open access – are any of them true? Open lock image from www.shutterstock.com

Busting the top five myths about open access publishing

Rather than lock up knowledge in costly journals, increasingly universities and governments are recognising that publicly funded research should be open to all. This past year has seen new open access…
The government is considering changing a fundamental part of its higher education policy – but does it need to? The government is considering changing a fundamental part of its higher education policy – but does it need to? University image from www.shutterstock.com

Searching for equity or excellence in universities – or is it just about the money?

The recent news that higher education minister Kim Carr may reconsider A$900 million worth of cuts imposed on universities at the expense of the demand-driven system for funding undergraduate places has…
Mathematics and Aussie Rules have quite a lot in common, which should be used when considering curricula for Indigenous – and non-Indigenous – students. Mathematics and Aussie Rules have quite a lot in common, which should be used when considering curricula for Indigenous – and non-Indigenous – students. AAP

It’s time we draft Aussie Rules to tackle Indigenous mathematics

When discussing how to embed Indigenous Australian knowledge and practices into the Australian national curriculum effectively - particularly the maths curriculum - there’s no better place to start than…
New higher education minister Kim Carr is considering a rethink on the opening up of university places. New higher education minister Kim Carr is considering a rethink on the opening up of university places. AAP/Julian Smith

Should higher education student numbers be capped?

Australia may be going through higher education ministers at an extraordinary rate, but they seem determined to use their time in office. First Craig Emerson announced major funding cuts to universities…
How do NAPLAN tests compare? How do NAPLAN tests compare? Test image from www.shutterstock.com

NAPLAN doesn’t stand up to international tests

A new parliamentary report on the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) finally takes a long, hard look at the calibre of these controversial tests. As part of the committee process…
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced changes to the ALP’s education reforms. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced changes to the ALP’s education reforms. AAP

Change the name but ‘Gonski’ has a future under Rudd

Newly reinstated prime minister Kevin Rudd has publicly committed to Labor’s school reform agenda and extended the deadline for states and territories to sign up to the National Plan for School Improvement…
Is there a crisis in maths and science education in Australia? Is there a crisis in maths and science education in Australia? Maths image from www.shutterstock.com

Live stream: maths & science education symposium

We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. Today, our series wraps up with a panel discussion in Canberra chaired by ABC Catalyst presenter…
Why should arts and science curricula be developed separately? Why should arts and science curricula be developed separately? Person image from www.shutterstock.com

Why arts and science are better together

MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. In our final instalment, Benjamin Miller and Fiona White examine…
Science needs a better image and better science journalism is part of the answer. Science needs a better image and better science journalism is part of the answer. Journalist image from www.shutterstock.com

Journalism teaches the public about science, but who’s teaching the journalists?

MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. Today Kayt Davies looks at the connection between respecting science…
Worried about the future of maths and science in Australia? More graduates is not the answer. Worried about the future of maths and science in Australia? More graduates is not the answer. Bubble image from www.shutterstock.com

A bubble about to burst: why we don’t need more maths and science graduates

MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. Today, Andrew Norton argues that government promotion of science…
The skills that underpin science should be better incorporated into the rest of the curriculum. The skills that underpin science should be better incorporated into the rest of the curriculum. Thinking image from www.shutterstock.com

Thinking critically on critical thinking: why scientists' skills need to spread

MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. Today, Rachel Grieve discusses why we need to spread science-specific…
Creating ways for PhD graduates and other science researchers to go into teaching could be a way to improve our science education. Creating ways for PhD graduates and other science researchers to go into teaching could be a way to improve our science education. Phd student image from www.shutterstock.com

Inspiring science: fast-track PhD graduates into teaching

MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. In this instalment, Marguerite Evans-Galea, Darren Saunders, and…
We’re shortchanging our students by waiting to introduce the big scientific ideas until high school. We’re shortchanging our students by waiting to introduce the big scientific ideas until high school. Young mozart image from www.shutterstock.com

Searching for scientific Mozarts: get em' while they’re young

MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. In this instalment, Jennifer Donovan, Carole Haeusler and Ian…
Hands-on problem solving methods will help students become - and stay - engaged with maths and science. Hands-on problem solving methods will help students become - and stay - engaged with maths and science. Thompson Rivers

Let’s be practical here: active learners are most engaged

MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. In this instalment, Chancellor of Monash University Alan Finkel…
Science teachers in Australia have copped a lot of flack - so what are our options? Science teachers in Australia have copped a lot of flack - so what are our options? Michael Mueller

Boosting the status of science teaching: what can we do?

MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. Over the next 10 days, we’ll be running a selection of their responses…
Universities are increasingly using “aptitude” and “character” tests to admit more students. Universities are increasingly using “aptitude” and “character” tests to admit more students. Test image from www.shutterstock.com

Can aptitude tests pick the ‘right’ students for university?

Since 2007, the Australian government has been evaluating a pilot aptitude test for future university students. The test is meant to help universities select students who might have the ability to undertake…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is promoting her government’s schools funding plan – but should the same model be applied to university funding too? Prime Minister Julia Gillard is promoting her government’s schools funding plan – but should the same model be applied to university funding too? AAP Image/Dan Peled

Should we copy Gonski in higher education funding?

The Australian Education Bill, introduced to the parliament last week, sets out the government’s Gonski reforms to school funding. One of the reform’s key tenets is that extra money should go to schools…
Despite myths to the contrary, humanities graduates can enjoy their passions and look forward to job opportunities too. Despite myths to the contrary, humanities graduates can enjoy their passions and look forward to job opportunities too. Student image from www.shutterstock.com

Honing the mind and nurturing the soul: why the humanities are underrated

As a vice chancellor, I conducted many graduation ceremonies and welcomed scores of proud graduates to the fellowship of educated men and women. One regular feature of these ceremonies was a queue of students…
The open education movement seems as though it’s here to stay – but why would anyone give away their work for free? The open education movement seems as though it’s here to stay – but why would anyone give away their work for free? Open book image from www.shutterstock.com

Giving it away for free: sharing really is caring in the open education movement

The New York Times dubbed 2012 the year of the MOOC. And for many, the seemingly unstoppable rise of Massive Open Online Courses – courses which are offered for free by prestigious universities – is where…
A longer academic year would have serious drawbacks for university students and staff. A longer academic year would have serious drawbacks for university students and staff. Academic image from www.shutterstock.com

Idle time? Why we don’t need a longer academic year

This week Coalition MP Alan Tudge wrote a piece in the Australian Financial Review calling for an end to the 26-week academic year. In his article, he said students were spending the remainder of their…
What are you paying for when you choose a private, non-government school? What are you paying for when you choose a private, non-government school? Private school image from www.shutterstock.com

Buyer beware: are you really purchasing a ‘better’ education?

Australian parents are increasingly choosing to spend more money on their children’s education. A report released last week showed parents who chose private education for their child were paying an average…
It’s time to move past outdated ideas about porn. It’s time to move past outdated ideas about porn. hansol

Academia needs a porn journal: here’s why

The launch of a new academic journal doesn’t usually grab popular media interest. But the first journal of Porn Studies seems to have bucked the trend. For the most part, media coverage has contained more…
School music proponents like to big note the effectiveness of such programs, what what evidence of genuine benefit is there? School music proponents like to big note the effectiveness of such programs, what what evidence of genuine benefit is there? Music image from www.shutterstock.com

Striking a chord: what can music really do for students?

School music is a big fish within the small pond of the Creative Arts curriculum. In lobbying for more space, music advocates often use an array of arguments – some backed by evidence, some not. Many argue…
There are many reasons a child could be held back from reaching their learning potential – will extra money help? There are many reasons a child could be held back from reaching their learning potential – will extra money help? Children image from www.shutterstock.com

Battling disadvantage through Gonski: will it work?

As the Gonski school funding debate heats up again, the political focus so far has been on the big billion dollar figures. In this crowded debate about who’s right or wrong on the numbers, there’s little…
Students and teachers could be missing out on real learning. Students and teachers could be missing out on real learning. Lightbulb image from www.shutterstock.com

Educational waste: what’s missing in Australian classrooms

Have you ever walked out of a class without having learned anything at all? Or maybe you were on the other end, watching your intricately planned lesson go off the rails because students didn’t prepare…
The Gonski reforms will mean different levels of funding for different schools according to a variety of factors. The Gonski reforms will mean different levels of funding for different schools according to a variety of factors. AAP Image/Dan Peled

Gonski: different funding arrangements for different schools

In an attempt to pressure state leaders on schools funding reform, prime minister Julia Gillard revealed new data showing the difference her package would make at the national and state level. The June…
Children are getting their (mis)information about some scientific concepts from mass media sources. Children are getting their (mis)information about some scientific concepts from mass media sources. Genetics image from www.shutterstock.com

‘You catch criminals with DNA’: What kids know (and don’t know) about genetics

“DNA is your blood in you, we can use DNA as evidence if someone’s been stabbed. We can run tests in suspects.” (Girl, 12, central Queensland) “DNA has to do with blood types and fingerprints, it helps…
Wayne Swan’s budget has been disappointing for Labor’s education legacy. Wayne Swan’s budget has been disappointing for Labor’s education legacy. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Does the budget make us a clever country?

The last Labor budget has seen the top half of the Education Revolution fizzle. The ideals that powered the 2009 Gillard policies are in fragments. Demand-driven higher education will survive until the…
We’re understanding more about how the school funding reform will work, but there is one important question that goes unanswered. We’re understanding more about how the school funding reform will work, but there is one important question that goes unanswered. Money image from www.shutterstock.com

More money for the classroom - or for bureaucrats?

Last night’s federal budget had few big spending items, but one standout area was the A$9.8 billion school funding reform. With most states still yet to sign on to the package, the budget papers reveal…
NAPLAN tests are only measuring a very small part of literacy and learning. NAPLAN tests are only measuring a very small part of literacy and learning. Writing image from www.shutterstock.com

NAPLAN only measures a fraction of literacy learning

Students across Australia in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are currently sitting for the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests. These tests are supposedly designed to identify whether…
A Palestinian farmer and Israeli soldier clash in an olive grove. Can academics in other countries affect this situation by boycotting one side or the other? A Palestinian farmer and Israeli soldier clash in an olive grove. Can academics in other countries affect this situation by boycotting one side or the other? AAP/Abed Al Hashlamoun

Academics and activism: Stephen Hawking and the Israel boycott

The news that famous physicist Stephen Hawking has decided to join the academic boycott of Israel has attracted some heated commentary. Hawking pulled out of attending an Israeli conference in June, explaining…
For all its faults, NAPLAN is helping Indigenous education. For all its faults, NAPLAN is helping Indigenous education. AAP Image/Melanie Foster

Closing the gap: NAPLAN will help improve Indigenous education

Federal education minister Peter Garrett confirmed late last week that education ministers from around the country had agreed to lift national efforts to improve Indigenous education results. Results from…
Science, like the benefits stemming from it, is international and should be viewed that way. Science, like the benefits stemming from it, is international and should be viewed that way. tuartpilbrow

Stupid science funding decisions? Australia’s not the only dunce

The Australian government’s ironic and perverse decision to better fund schools at the expense of already-promised university funding would make for a good episode of the 1980s sitcom Yes, Prime Minister…
Getting the mix right: we need to take a closer look at the future of science education. Getting the mix right: we need to take a closer look at the future of science education. Science education image from www.shutterstock.com

Science in schools: can we choose a better future?

Every now and then we manufacture a crisis in Australian school science. People write reports. These recommend change, including curriculum change, and point out the ways in which current patterns of school…
Are students “customers”? The answer is not so simple. Are students “customers”? The answer is not so simple. Piggy bank image from www.shutterstock.com

Students aren’t customers…or are they?

With the rise of mass higher learning, tight public funding and intense competition for students, universities are often encouraged to see students as “customers”. But should they? Commentators who criticise…
Universities Australia Chair Sandra Harding looks at the future of universities. Universities Australia Chair Sandra Harding looks at the future of universities. University image from www.shutterstock.com

National Press Club address: Sandra Harding on the future of universities

Professor Sandra Harding, the Universities Australia chair and Vice-Chancellor of James Cook University addressed the National Press Club in Canberra today. Here is a copy of her speech. In his novel set…
Let children run wild, run free: that’s the message of a new education movement called “unschooling”. Let children run wild, run free: that’s the message of a new education movement called “unschooling”. Children image from www.shutterstock.com

‘Unschooling’ – education fad or real alternative?

What do you think about the idea of allowing your children to stay at home all day and do whatever they like? Do you think you could trust them to learn without teachers or parents telling them what, when…
The recent cuts to universities are only likely to make the health problem growing in the academic community worse. The recent cuts to universities are only likely to make the health problem growing in the academic community worse. Stressed academic image www.shutterstock.com

Uni cuts will lead to health problems for academics

The consensus on the recent A$2.3 billion funding cuts to the tertiary sector is they will do more harm than good. Plenty of commentators foresee diminishing quality of teaching and research, possible…
Education used to be about striving towards the light of knowledge but this is increasingly less important. Education used to be about striving towards the light of knowledge but this is increasingly less important. Cave image from www.shutterstock.com

Out from the cave: have we lost the purpose of education?

It’s nothing new to say we have a problem in education. But I’m not here to discuss the usual gripes with teachers and test scores. I believe we have a more fundamental problem with defining what we want…
There’s renewed debate around whether universities need to specialise in research or teaching. There’s renewed debate around whether universities need to specialise in research or teaching. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Research and teaching – what do we actually want Australian universities to do?

“We must give universities more freedom to focus on what they are good at… If that means that some universities want to focus significantly more on teaching, then they should confidently do so… Government…
The institution you come from shouldn’t be the main factor in research funding allocation. The institution you come from shouldn’t be the main factor in research funding allocation. Evaluation image from www.shutterstock.com

The best and rest: why we should fund ‘average’ research

Increasingly, it’s not the quality of the research or researcher that is determining who gets funding in Australia’s universities but the reputation of the institutions they work for. This is now reflected…
Genetics and quality teaching both play a role in education – but what matters more? Genetics and quality teaching both play a role in education – but what matters more? Teaching image from www.shutterstock.com

Genes aren’t destiny but teaching isn’t everything either

To follow the public debate on why some children prosper in school and others falter, you’d think it was all down to teachers. The media – from the New York Times to the Sydney Morning Herald – as well…
There are no short-term fixes to the long-term issues surrounding education in Australia. There are no short-term fixes to the long-term issues surrounding education in Australia. shutterstock

A secret formula to learning? Extra money and quick fixes won’t improve education

Everyone, it seems, has a “fix” for education. The government has staked improvement on extra funding while others say a higher bar for teaching graduates is needed, and some view the prestige of the profession…
TV portrayals of forensic science sometimes border on the criminal. TV portrayals of forensic science sometimes border on the criminal. Derek Bridges

Get real, forensic scientists: the CSI effect is waning

You’ve heard of the so-called CSI effect – the manner in which the exaggerated portrayal of forensic science on crime television shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation influences public perception…
An essay you submit in an online course might not be graded by humans but by computers instead. An essay you submit in an online course might not be graded by humans but by computers instead. Keyboard image from www.shutterstock.com

Computer thinks you’re dumb: automated essay grading in the world of MOOCs

Let us consider the following scenario. You have enrolled in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offered by a world renowned university. After four weeks of solid work you have completed your first assignment…
The traditional grading system is now obsolete. The traditional grading system is now obsolete. ABCDE image from www.shutterstock.com

Testing times: making the case for new school assessment

When we were growing up, my father occasionally stood each of us against the back door and marked our height on the door in pencil. He wrote our initials and the date alongside each mark. For us, it was…
A universal student ID could be on way for Australian students. A universal student ID could be on way for Australian students. ID image from www.shutterstock.com

One student ID to rule them all?

Is a universal (and cradle to grave) identity number on the way for all Australian students? The government is now seeking to create a mandatory universal identifier for all Vocational Education and Training…
Schools funding has been a hot topic this week: here’s all you need to know on this important election issue. Schools funding has been a hot topic this week: here’s all you need to know on this important election issue. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Explainer: What is a ‘Gonski’ anyway?

This week you might have heard the word “Gonski” even more than usual. That’s because the Gillard government finally announced how it would pay for its school funding reform in the lead up to its meeting…
The Prime Minister was unable to get agreement with the states on the government’s school funding reforms. The Prime Minister was unable to get agreement with the states on the government’s school funding reforms. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Beaten but not Gonski: the wait for leadership on schools continues

The A$14 billion federal government proposal based on David Gonski’s call for a better school funding system has not been agreed to at this week’s COAG meeting. In fact, none of the states and territories…
The Business Council of Australia’s call for long-term thinking is moving in the right direction, but wants both expensive spending programs and lower taxes. The Business Council of Australia’s call for long-term thinking is moving in the right direction, but wants both expensive spending programs and lower taxes.

Business lobby yearns for a long-term view, but offers a contradictory wish list

There is much to consider when thinking about our future as a nation. We are a small, resource-rich, open economy facing a volatile global environment. We are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate…
Should the states sign up the federal government’s proposed school funding reforms? Should the states sign up the federal government’s proposed school funding reforms? AAP Image/Julian Smith

To sign or not to sign? States' Gonski D-Day approaches

Australian heads of government will gather in Canberra tomorrow to deliberate on the Commonwealth’s proposals for school funding reform. At the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, the government…
Selling the message: there’s a disconnect between what voters want, and what Labor wants out of education. Selling the message: there’s a disconnect between what voters want, and what Labor wants out of education. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Why Labor has failed to sell Gonski

On Sunday the federal Labor government announced reforms to school funding, that aimed to finally put in place the recommendations of the Gonski review. The proposed reforms – worth A$14.5 billion – are…
The reforms announced this week to school funding don’t make for a fairer system. The reforms announced this week to school funding don’t make for a fairer system. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

A fairer Australia? Gonski and Labor’s class war

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s announcement yesterday about a new school funding and resource standard does not deliver on Gonski’s promise. Gillard said that the plan would mean “better resourcing and…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is trying to get all the states on board to realise her schools funding reform plan. Prime Minister Julia Gillard is trying to get all the states on board to realise her schools funding reform plan. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Gonski package: the government’s big test will be NSW and Victoria

The Gillard government has two immediate problems with the politics of its A$14.5 billion education funding plan. First, and most seriously, the six-year blueprint, which requires the states to pay one…
Tertiary education minister Craig Emerson yesterday announced significant changes to higher education funding. Tertiary education minister Craig Emerson yesterday announced significant changes to higher education funding. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Should universities suffer to pay for school funding?

Anyone believing new tertiary education minister Craig Emerson was just minding the higher education shop until the election has been proved wrong by this weekend’s announcement of funding cuts. About…
Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz talks with one of our academic experts about the changing role of universities. Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz talks with one of our academic experts about the changing role of universities. Cambridge University

Leszek Borysiewicz and Lynn Meek In Conversation – full transcript

To listen to the conversation between Leszek Borysiewicz and Lynn Meek, please see the link below. An edited transcript is available here. Lynn Meek: Hello, I’m Professor Lynn Meek from the LH Martin Institute…
Universities do have a role to play in helping developing countries. Universities do have a role to play in helping developing countries. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Universities and the poorest billion

The following is based on the Monash Richard Larkins Oration given by Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University last night in Melbourne. You can read and listen to our In…
If you want to improve science education, standardised science literacy tests is not the way to go. If you want to improve science education, standardised science literacy tests is not the way to go. Test image from www.shutterstock.com

NAPLAN science tests unlikely to improve science education

The federal Labor government’s proposal to expand the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) franchise and include science literacy is not a surprising move. Once national testing…
The Gonski recommendations on schools funding is no longer a political fight – it’s a moral one. The Gonski recommendations on schools funding is no longer a political fight – it’s a moral one. School children image from www.shutterstock.com

An ethical education: why Gonski is a moral issue

In the lead up to negotiations with the states on schools funding reform, the government has armed itself by labelling the reforms as a moral issue. It’s easy, of course, for a politician to bring an issue…
Here’s why the old teaching methods are not necessarily the best. Here’s why the old teaching methods are not necessarily the best. School image from www.shutterstock.com

Why we should never return to the three Rs

Ongoing calls for a rejection of “intellectual fads” and a return to “more traditional teaching methods” seem to be ramping up in the education debate. But if these advocates were talking about rejecting…
There is a danger that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) may end up being more about money and less about education. There is a danger that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) may end up being more about money and less about education. Mouse and money image from www.shutterstock.com

Public good or playing markets? The real reason for MOOCs

The astonishing idealism and energy manifest in the advance of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has taken the higher education world by storm. Universities have been shaken to their foundations by the…
Last week’s wholesale sackings of TAFE leaders is just another chapter in the chaotic story of the vocational reforms. Last week’s wholesale sackings of TAFE leaders is just another chapter in the chaotic story of the vocational reforms. AAP Image/Joe Castro

Excuses for heavy-handed TAFE sackings don’t hold up

On the eve of Good Friday, in apparent attempt to bury a bad news story, the Victorian government sacked seven of the chairs of its 14 standalone TAFEs and two more were to “retire”. These sackings came…
Storytelling is increasingly being left behind in a crowded curriculum. Storytelling is increasingly being left behind in a crowded curriculum. Storytelling image from www.shutterstock.com

Once upon a time: reclaiming storytelling in schools

With high stakes testing and a crowded curriculum, something fundamental is being left behind in education – storytelling. Some might argue that speaking and listening have always been undervalued in schools…
It would be a mistake to assume that any private money funding research creates a conflict of interest. It would be a mistake to assume that any private money funding research creates a conflict of interest. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Conflicting research: ARC linkages and the tightrope of academia

The research funding world is not often filled with controversy, but the story of indigenous academic Marcia Langton’s research funding has recently garnered a lot of attention. Langton, who in her recent…
There’s lots of “problems” to be fixed in education, but what does the evidence say? There’s lots of “problems” to be fixed in education, but what does the evidence say? Teacher image from www.shutterstock.com

Millions wasted in education? That’s not what the evidence says

Over recent years we have seen a wave of angst about Australia’s school education. The complex issue of teacher quality is, of course, part of the equation, but state governments are also concerned that…
There are other ways to improve undergraduate writing that don’t involve teaching grammar explicitly. There are other ways to improve undergraduate writing that don’t involve teaching grammar explicitly. Writing image from www.shutterstock.com

Grammar lessons not the solution to undergrad writing woes

University students across the nation will be handing in their first assignments of the academic year over the next few weeks. Academic staff will sigh, as they do every semester: “my students can’t write…
The vast majority of childcare workers are women. The vast majority of childcare workers are women. Childcare image from www.shutterstock.com

Childcare wage reforms stop short of real change

The federal government’s announcement this week on pay equity for the early childhood workforce is an important step for the childcare sector. But in the long term, it will provide little more than a stop-gap…
What should students really expect after doing a PhD? What should students really expect after doing a PhD? PhD image from www.shutterstock.com

Are PhD graduates expecting too much?

When it comes to PhD graduates, it’s clear that supply now far outstrips demand. It used to be that doing a PhD almost guaranteed you an academic position but now, any guarantees are long gone. My own…
Online learning offers plenty of opportunities but only if it’s done right. Online learning offers plenty of opportunities but only if it’s done right. Online learning image from www.shutterstock.com

Online students need more face-to-face time, not less

Higher education, we’re told, is rapidly heading towards huge transformation and technological disruption. Advocates of online education promise that advances in online learning technologies – by permitting…
New tests could be in store for trainee teachers to demonstrate their emotional intelligence. New tests could be in store for trainee teachers to demonstrate their emotional intelligence. Emotions image from www.shutterstock.com

Do we need emotional intelligence tests for teachers?

With the newly announced federal government reforms to teacher training announced this week, emotional intelligence is now firmly on the agenda for trainee teachers. Under the proposed rules, prospective…
The announcement this week of funding for Victorian TAFEs won’t make up for previous cuts. The announcement this week of funding for Victorian TAFEs won’t make up for previous cuts. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Napthine falls short: TAFE needs more than a bandaid

There might be a new premier in Victoria, but it seems there’s still no good news for TAFEs. The $200 million in structural adjustment funding announced this week is certainly welcome, but it is simply…
What is it that we’re trying to fix in teacher education? What is it that we’re trying to fix in teacher education? Teacher image from www.shutterstock.com

Teaching standards to fix a ‘crisis’ that doesn’t exist

The past week has been a tumultuous time for university education faculties. First the NSW government announced minimum entry requirements for teaching degrees, and then the federal government trumped…
There is a clear link between communication disorders and young offenders – but what can we do about it? There is a clear link between communication disorders and young offenders – but what can we do about it? Youth justice image from www.shutterstock.com

Young offenders need a verbal toolkit to unlock literacy

Half of Australia’s young male offenders have a clinically significant, previously unidentified language deficit. It’s a shocking figure that comes after ten years worth of research into the oral language…
The Coalition looks set to only tinker around the edges of higher education policy. The Coalition looks set to only tinker around the edges of higher education policy. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Decoding Tony Abbott’s plans for universities

What should universities expect from a Coalition government if Tony Abbott wins the September election? In his address to the Universities Australia conference in Canberra, the signals were fairly reassuring…
In his new role as tertiary education minister Chris Bowen said enroling more disadvantaged students would not drag down quality. In his new role as tertiary education minister Chris Bowen said enroling more disadvantaged students would not drag down quality. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Equality or quality? Measuring the effect of more uni students

Quality in education is something that seems so obvious - until you try to define it. This week the new Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research Chris Bowen said that “the quality…
Copyright law could make the job of creating Massive Open Online Courses more difficult. Copyright law could make the job of creating Massive Open Online Courses more difficult. Legal image from www.shutterstock.com

Legal learning: how do MOOCs and copyright work?

Another university has jumped on the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) bandwagon this month, with the Australian National University joining up with Harvard venture edX. In ANU’s case, it will enable Nobel…
Funding schools to reduce class size is not a waste of money. Funding schools to reduce class size is not a waste of money. Class image from www.shutterstock.com

Class size, Gonski and schools funding: what are the facts?

The Gonski reforms to school funding are front and centre in this election year. But despite their prominence, much of the plan – including who will pay – is yet to be decided. But while we watch what…
Homophobic bullying is a problem that needs urgent attention in Queensland schools. Homophobic bullying is a problem that needs urgent attention in Queensland schools. Bullying image from www.shutterstock.com

Why Queensland schools are failing gay students

There has been a series of disturbing homophobic bullying incidents in Queensland schools in recent months. Some of the cases reported in the media included a Brisbane student being allegedly told by male…
We can’t go backwards on early childhood education, it’s just important. We can’t go backwards on early childhood education, it’s just important. Early childhood education image from www.shutterstock.com

Kindergarten cop-out: early childhood reforms must continue

The Labor government is not often celebrated for its policy achievements, but there has been one area where it deserves some recognition – early childhood education. It started reforms to the sector in…
Some pre-schools and early childhood centres are teaching young children self-defence – but is this ok? Some pre-schools and early childhood centres are teaching young children self-defence – but is this ok? Child/self-defence image from www.shutterstock.com

Karate kids: should we be worried about martial arts in pre-schools?

When you think of martial arts, you probably think of bare fists and bloodied faces, not a four year-old in a child care centre. But martial arts and self-defence programs do appear to be growing in popularity…
Our religious education system is out-dated and it needs to change. Our religious education system is out-dated and it needs to change. Religious image from www.shutterstock.com

Religion should be taught in the home, not at school

It might come as a surprise to most Australians that our religious education system is not only out-moded but is doing damage to students, families and teachers. Special Religious Instruction (SRI) is…
Allowing mining companies to help educate children is not without benefits, but it is problematic. Allowing mining companies to help educate children is not without benefits, but it is problematic. Mining image from www.shutterstock.com

Mining young minds: the challenges of private interests and education

The recent partnership announced between Nucoal Mining and Narara Valley High School in NSW has drawn some divided reactions. The mining company says the aim of the new venture will be to improve the maths…
A PhD is never easy but is there a way to make it easier? A PhD is never easy but is there a way to make it easier? Phd graduate image from www.shutterstock.com

A PhD by publication or how I got my doctorate and kept my sanity

Doing a PhD is a difficult business. Long hours, personal stress, institutional pressure to complete on time – and all this for what? Increasingly a PhD alone does not guarantee an academic career. We…
In light of the Australian Crime Commission report into doping, we need to look at how sport scientists are taught. In light of the Australian Crime Commission report into doping, we need to look at how sport scientists are taught. Drugs in sport image from www.shutterstock.com

Doping shock: pointing the finger at sports scientists

The report recently released by the Australian Crime Commission sent shock waves through the sporting world, implicating sport scientists and other support personnel in unethical doping practices. The…
Are students really paying for their degrees in exchange for sharing their beds? Are students really paying for their degrees in exchange for sharing their beds? Degree image from www.shutterstock.com

Swapping sex for a degree: the myth of the ‘sugar daddy’

This year has already seen a flurry of media commentary regarding the “sugar daddy” phenomenon, much of it self-generated for publicity reasons by sites such as SeekingArrangement.com. Sugar daddies (and…
The PM has zoned in on education policy this election year, but maybe education needs less political attention, not more. The PM has zoned in on education policy this election year, but maybe education needs less political attention, not more. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

The election crusade? Schools will come second to politics in 2013

Today, as part of an Australian Education Union (AEU) campaign, academics, business and political leaders have signed a letter urging state and federal governments to move on the Gonski reforms to school…
The future of higher education doesn’t look so bright. The future of higher education doesn’t look so bright. Higher education image from www.shutterstock.com

University 2060: the brave new world of higher education

Higher education, 2060: academics are out of a job. All the brand name universities have made all their courses free online, easily doing away with one side of the teaching and learning equation. Pretty…
Keeping students engaged in school for longer is a wise investment. Keeping students engaged in school for longer is a wise investment. Student image from www.shutterstock.com

Closing doors: what do school dropouts cost us?

As students head back to school this year, it’s worth sparing a thought for the many students who won’t return. In fact, each year thousands of young people leave school without a Year 12 qualification…
Australia is one of the few developed nations to not require graduating high-school students to study maths. Australia is one of the few developed nations to not require graduating high-school students to study maths. Flickr/bootload

Make maths mandatory and we’ll improve our international education rankings

Australia is not doing well in the international literacy and numeracy attainment rankings and many rightly point out the funding issues, clearly identified in the Gonski Review, as central contributing…
Teacher education is typically the largest undergraduate program in most universities and is therefore a cash cow. Teacher education is typically the largest undergraduate program in most universities and is therefore a cash cow. Cash cow image courtesy of www.shutterstock.com

Standards will slide while teacher education is used as a cash cow

Despite all the talk about improving the quality of teachers and teaching in Australia, the general downward slide of entry standards to undergraduate teacher training courses continues. While the top…
Sorting high achieving students from their peers may be sending the wrong message. Sorting high achieving students from their peers may be sending the wrong message. AAP/Dean Lewins

Our obsession with ‘natural’ talent is harming students

Results released from a major Victorian study on student learning show high achieving children’s performance in tests is “flat-lining”. The study, by Professor Patrick Griffin, followed 36,000 students…
Will open educational resources affect all stages of education? Will open educational resources affect all stages of education? Child computer image from www.shutterstock.com

In 2025, will we still be sending our kids to school?

By now, most of you have probably heard of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – courses by universities like MIT and Stanford that are available for free online. But what about Massive Open Online Kindergartens…
It’s time we looked at the idea of for-profit education in Australia. It’s time we looked at the idea of for-profit education in Australia. EPA/Guillaume Horcajuleo

Do we want for-profit schools in Australia?

For-profit education is something that really doesn’t exist in Australia… yet. But in many other countries around the world it has become a normal part of education and there are now many companies providing…
There have been two major reports this year looking into how university places are funded – so which was right? There have been two major reports this year looking into how university places are funded – so which was right? Student money image from www.shutterstock.com

Undergraduate study: who should pay?

The past year has seen two major reports on the economics of higher education, each seeking to reform the way undergraduate study is financed. The Grattan Institute’s Graduate Winners appeared in August…
An Indigenous MP in Western Australia has highlighted the tensions in Indigenous education around culture and. An Indigenous MP in Western Australia has highlighted the tensions in Indigenous education around culture and. Indigenous image from www.shutterstock.com

Learning for the western world? The Indigenous education dilemma

Last week the Western Australian Indigenous Labor MP, Ben Wyatt, told a conference in Perth that Aboriginal children in remote communities need a “full Western education”. Wyatt went on to say that the…
New reports show Australian education is slipping, but what can be done about it? New reports show Australian education is slipping, but what can be done about it? Education image from www.shutterstock.com

Test shock: is our education system failing students?

The results of international literacy, numeracy and science tests released this week should be cause for alarm. In what the minister for education Peter Garrett called “disappointing” results, the Progress…
Two new international reports on school performance should be put into perspective. Two new international reports on school performance should be put into perspective. Education image from www.shutterstock.com

Are we headed for an educational disaster? Hardly

The recent release of Australia’s performance in the TIMMS (2011) and PIRLS (2011) test results has sparked much media comment about what this means for the quality of Australian education. The focus so…
The latest results of international testing in maths, science and reading means Australia’s education outlook does not look good. The latest results of international testing in maths, science and reading means Australia’s education outlook does not look good. Test image from www.shutterstock.com

Latest tests show PM’s 2025 education goal is in doubt

Prime Minister Julia Gillard in September set an ambitious goal for Australian education: to be ranked as a top-five country in reading, mathematics and science by 2025. Clearly she is hoping to lift Australia…
There’s still plenty to discover about how the brain works but what we know now is irrelevant to education. There’s still plenty to discover about how the brain works but what we know now is irrelevant to education. Brain image from www.shutterstock.com

Weird neuroscience: how education hijacked brain research

Neuroscience: the word oozes sophistication and intelligence – the very qualities we might want to nurture in our students, our children, our general populace. Maybe that’s why many people involved in…
Changes in the level of children’s physical activity is not solely responsible for the obesity epidemic. Changes in the level of children’s physical activity is not solely responsible for the obesity epidemic. Brent Danley

Adding kids' weight to report cards will do more harm than good for preventing obesity

As public health researchers who’ve worked with government, non-governmental organisations, schools, childcare organisations, families and children to understand the complexity of obesity and effective…
There’s no evidence that bootcamps on their own help young offenders. There’s no evidence that bootcamps on their own help young offenders. Youth crime image from www.shutterstock.com

Ten-hut! Boot camps can’t replace youth programs

During Queensland’s recent election campaign, the then state opposition leader, Campbell Newman, promised to spend $2 million trialling the use of correctional boot camps to address the problem of young…
If information is everywhere, then how can we learn? If information is everywhere, then how can we learn? Technology image from www.shutterstock.com

Education in the information age: is technology making us stupid?

The pub argument is dead. Google killed it with a little help from your smartphone. Instead of long fought debates about who’s right and who’s wrong, an answer is nearly always within easy reach. With…
There’s been plenty of attention on NAPLAN testing this week, but ACARA’s Barry McGaw argues there needn’t be. There’s been plenty of attention on NAPLAN testing this week, but ACARA’s Barry McGaw argues there needn’t be. Test image from www.shutterstock.com

NAPLAN myths: it’s not a high-stakes test

There has been much controversy this week over a study released by the Whitlam Institute claiming that NAPLAN testing is being treated as a high-stakes program that is causing unnecessary stress among…
New legislation introduced in parliament today marks the beginning of reform of schools funding. New legislation introduced in parliament today marks the beginning of reform of schools funding. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Gonski school funding moves forward but leaves much behind

Today the Australia Education Bill – the legislation following on from the Gonski review into school funding – was introduced into parliament. In September this year, the government responded to the review…
The idea of a universities commission has been floated recently – but is it a good idea? The idea of a universities commission has been floated recently – but is it a good idea? Universities image from www.shutterstock.com

Back to the future: do we need a universities commission?

There’s been a push recently in university circles for a new body to help govern the sector and act as a buffer between the universities and government. Champions of the idea point to the Universities…
The imperative to remember information has been replaced with the imperative to remember where information is located. The imperative to remember information has been replaced with the imperative to remember where information is located. parkieblues

Outsourcing memory: the internet has changed how we remember

When Nicholas Carr’s article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” hit newsstands in the July/August 2008 edition of The Atlantic, the reaction was predictably vociferous. The essay itself – a 4,175 word editorial…
Literacy and numeracy tests are having a negative impact on Australian students. Literacy and numeracy tests are having a negative impact on Australian students. Test image from www.shutterstock.com

Testing the test: NAPLAN makes for stressed kids and a narrow curriculum

NAPLAN tests – the literacy and numeracy tests given to primary and secondary students – are causing health problems and promoting a culture of “teaching to the test”. A national study released today surveyed…
NSW premier Barry O'Farrell needs to reform the law to give Sydney University more responsibility for its colleges. NSW premier Barry O'Farrell needs to reform the law to give Sydney University more responsibility for its colleges. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Why a solution to the St John’s scandal lies with Barry O’Farrell

Why is the University of Sydney powerless to stop bullying behaviour in what the public sees as “its colleges”? This has been a constant refrain in recent weeks as the controversy surrounding the behaviour…
The coalition needs to think big on childcare if it’s going to fix twin problems of cost and quality. The coalition needs to think big on childcare if it’s going to fix twin problems of cost and quality. Child play image from www.shutterstock.com

Child’s play: Coalition childcare inquiry doesn’t go far enough

In announcing the terms of reference for a productivity commission inquiry into childcare, opposition leader Tony Abbott said “Australian families need a child care system that is not only affordable…
Free online courses from prestigious universities have caused a stir, but they won’t shut universities down. Free online courses from prestigious universities have caused a stir, but they won’t shut universities down. Online education image from www.shutterstock.com

Online learning glitch: MOOC flaws will be hard to resolve

Last weekend, The Guardian ran an article entitled “Do online courses spell the end for the traditional university?” Had I been the one writing that article, it would have been precisely two letters long…
Despite a government target, students from poor backgrounds risk being left out of higher education. Despite a government target, students from poor backgrounds risk being left out of higher education. University student image from www.shutterstock.com

A low target: enrolling poor uni students remains a challenge

According to the Federal Government, Australian public universities need to be more inclusive, particularly when it comes to enrolling poorer students. They’ve set a target to have 20% of undergraduate…
There’s plenty of excitement around Duolingo – a new idea to learn languages while translating the web. But does it work? There’s plenty of excitement around Duolingo – a new idea to learn languages while translating the web. But does it work? Words image from www.shutterstock.com

Learning a language and translating the web: does Duolingo work?

Duolingo, a new free language-learning site, says it can help you learn a language for free while simultaneously using your learning exercises to translate the web. A pretty big claim, but at the heart…
While young people in Australia might not have to deal with the extremes of the GFC, they are facing other challenges. While young people in Australia might not have to deal with the extremes of the GFC, they are facing other challenges. Youth image from www.shutterstock.com

Generation next: where to for Australia’s young people?

A new report shows that one in four young Australians are not fully engaged in employment or training despite government targets aiming to get more young people qualified or into a job. But compared to…
School students everywhere could look forward to no more homework. School students everywhere could look forward to no more homework. Homework image from www.shutterstock.com

Should Australian schools ban homework?

The recent decision by French President Francois Hollande to abolish homework from French schools has reignited the long running debate about homework. This debate has been around for more than a century…
There are some powerful stories in the Anzac tradition but many more that are unknown to students. There are some powerful stories in the Anzac tradition but many more that are unknown to students. Australian War Memorial

Teaching the untold stories of World War I

“What are your legs? Springs. Steel springs”. Archy’s nervous mutterings before he sprints into gunfire are familiar in Australian history classes. So are the tale of Simpson and Duffy and their “bravest…
A recent case has meant some reform of Special Religious Instruction in Victoria, but there’s more to be done. A recent case has meant some reform of Special Religious Instruction in Victoria, but there’s more to be done. Religious instruction image from www.shutterstock.com

A question of faith: reforming religious education in schools

Last month, a Victorian tribunal found that the state department of education did not discriminate against children opting out of Special Religious Instruction (SRI) classes. The plaintiffs – parents who…
Why is it that we no longer teach the big story of how everything came to be? Why is it that we no longer teach the big story of how everything came to be? Universe image from www.shutterstock.com

Big History: why we need to teach the modern origin story

All human societies construct and teach creation myths or origin stories. These are large, extraordinarily powerful, but often ramshackle narratives that try and tell the story of how everything came to…
Education academics and teachers should be able to share ideas. Education academics and teachers should be able to share ideas. Seminar image from www.shutterstock.com

No Apple for teachers shows the value of sharing new ideas

Apparently, teachers and principals have no need to hear about research on international education policy and are too sensitive to deal with “controversial” ideas. Last week, the University of Melbourne’s…
Starting a conversation about sex early in a child’s education is important. Starting a conversation about sex early in a child’s education is important. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Worried about the sexualisation of children? Teach sex ed earlier

When should sex education begin for children? According to some parent groups who advised the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), not until grades 5 and 6. Under this pressure…
There’s too much scrutiny given to Muck Up Day – we need to let kids blow off steam. There’s too much scrutiny given to Muck Up Day – we need to let kids blow off steam. Flickr/Jessica.James

Who mucked up Muck Up Day?

“Most schools used to call it Muck Up Day, but we saw that as being something negative.” So said year 12 co-ordinator Annette Hall of Presbyterian Ladies' College – one of many schools who have changed…
Teachers are taking their own steps to learn more about their profession through social media networks. Teachers are taking their own steps to learn more about their profession through social media networks. Flickr/Corey Leopold

A teachers' show and tell: professional learning unplugged

It’s been a long time since I have been in a pub at 10.30am but that’s where you would have found me last Saturday at the Great Northern Hotel in Chatswood, Sydney. I wasn’t there to get on the punt or…
There are still many questions left about the Future of Higher Education, but here’s some thoughts from our symposium. There are still many questions left about the Future of Higher Education, but here’s some thoughts from our symposium. Higher education image from www.shutterstock.com

Video & podcast: Future of Higher Education symposium

Resisting technological change is futile, according to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Chris Evans. So how should Australian universities respond to the technological change of online education? This…
The Khan academy is trying to bring education to the world, but how? The Khan academy is trying to bring education to the world, but how? Online learning image from www.shutterstock.com

Yes, we Khan: pioneering education for anyone, anywhere

From preschool to PhD, education is afflicted by a malaise. Many students, teachers, parents and politicians, feel that with all the effort and money spent, we should be doing better. Salman Khan, founder…
For better or worse, the university experience has changed considerably over the past forty years. For better or worse, the university experience has changed considerably over the past forty years. University image from www.shutterstock.com

The university experience — then and now

Before the second world war, a very small minority of the population in Western societies went to universities. Most were men, most were from the social elite. From the late 1950s that changed. With a…
Squeezing a thesis into three minutes sounds impossible. But it’s an important skill to learn. Squeezing a thesis into three minutes sounds impossible. But it’s an important skill to learn. Lecture image from www.shutterstock.com

A thesis in three minutes: making research accessible

Imagine condensing a thesis – which would normally take nine hours to read aloud – into a presentation just three minutes long. Today at the Australian and Trans-Tasman Three Minute Thesis competition…
Academics and universities might need to be careful of what they wish for with free online education. Academics and universities might need to be careful of what they wish for with free online education. Job image from www.shutterstock.com

MOOC and you’re out of a job: uni business models in danger

FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: The rise of online and blended learning and the development of free online courses is set to transform the higher education sector. We’ve asked our authors how to remake the…
Massive open online education could be the answer to addressing community and industry needs. Massive open online education could be the answer to addressing community and industry needs. Head image from www.shutterstock.com

How Australian universities can play in the MOOCs market

FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: The rise of online and blended learning and the development of free online courses is set to transform the higher education sector. We’ve asked our authors how to remake the…
All the study in the world can’t prepare students for the reality of experiencing a landscape like Lake Pinaroo in the Sturt National Park. All the study in the world can’t prepare students for the reality of experiencing a landscape like Lake Pinaroo in the Sturt National Park. Ric Raftis

Experiencing the landscape: essential training for environmental scientists

Science disciplines - physics, biology, geology and so on - are often treated as discrete from one another. But when it comes to environmental science, students - and the scientists that they become…
Using technology to tackle plagiarism is important, but universities need to understand why students do it in the first place. Using technology to tackle plagiarism is important, but universities need to understand why students do it in the first place. Student image from www.shutterstock.com

Carrot or the stick? Technology and university plagiarism

Trying to control and prevent plagiarism is a problem for all universities, and nearly all universities these days use some kind of technology to combat it. But in a recent article on The Conversation…
A flexible online learning environment is what Australian university students want, so what’s getting in the way? A flexible online learning environment is what Australian university students want, so what’s getting in the way? Student image from www.shutterstock.com

Online opportunities: digital innovation or death through regulation?

FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: The rise of online and blended learning and the development of free online courses is set to transform the higher education sector. We’ve asked our authors how to remake the…
The evidence to support brain-training programs is too thin to be trialling them in our school system. The evidence to support brain-training programs is too thin to be trialling them in our school system. Brain image from www.shutterstock.com

Brain-Training’ … or learning, as we like to call it

The Catholic Education Office in Sydney has announced that from 2013 it will trial the controversial Arrowsmith Program for children with learning difficulties. Arrowsmith is one of a number of “brain-training…
Former Prime Minister John Howard is misinformed about the Australian history curriculum. Former Prime Minister John Howard is misinformed about the Australian history curriculum. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Howard’s history repeating: curriculum complaints nothing new

There is a great deal of derogatory, evidence-free and ill-informed opinion about how history is taught in Australian schools. But these tired arguments are so often repeated that we can actually put them…
Ranking universities is useful for only understanding the bigger picture. Ranking universities is useful for only understanding the bigger picture. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Limited numbers: what university rankings can (and can’t) tell us

The release of The Times Higher Education World University Rankings will be welcomed by many people in the Australian university sector. See the full list of The Times Higher Education World University…
Finnish education leader Pasi Sahlberg discusses what works and what doesn’t in education. Finnish education leader Pasi Sahlberg discusses what works and what doesn’t in education. pasisahlberg.com

Finnish education guru Pasi Sahlberg: treat primary school teachers like doctors

The Finnish education system is one of the best performing and most equitable in the OECD. With Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s promise to make Australia one of the best five performing countries for education…
Academics freedom and university reputations are being tested online. Academics freedom and university reputations are being tested online. Academic image from www.shutterstock.com

Academics behaving badly? Universities and online reputations

Trying to control your reputation online is a bit like trying to clean up wee in a toddler pool. You are much more likely to get your hands dirty than achieve any kind of meaningful damage control. Many…
Universities play a vital role in creating a better understanding of Asia – if it is included broadly in curricula. Universities play a vital role in creating a better understanding of Asia – if it is included broadly in curricula. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Teaching Asia to Australia: it’s not just about languages

Ahead of the soon-to-be-released Asian Century White Paper, Foreign Minister Bob Carr has said Australia needs to “know Asia” in order to prosper. Delivering a speech to the Asia Society on behalf of Prime…
The story about the sacking of a Melbourne private girl’s school principal has made national news, but why? The story about the sacking of a Melbourne private girl’s school principal has made national news, but why? Flickr/mikecogh

The MLC ‘scandal’: who cares, and why?

For more than a week, I’ve seen numerous articles about an internal fight between the Board and Principal of Melbourne’s Methodist Ladies' College, a private girls' school. Principal Rosa Storelli has…
There may be a new way to assess students' ability to collaborate and problem solve. There may be a new way to assess students' ability to collaborate and problem solve. Flickr/Lars Plougmann

Changing tests and the PM’s 2025 goal for schools

Prime Minister Julia Gillard recently announced a new goal for Australian schools – they would reach the top five ranked school systems in the world for reading, mathematics and science by 2025. The ranking…
The role of TAFEs in supporting innovation by anticipating knowledge and skills can’t be easily picked up by universities. The role of TAFEs in supporting innovation by anticipating knowledge and skills can’t be easily picked up by universities. (AAP Image/Joe Castro

TAFE cuts will affect everyone: state governments should think again

TAFE staff are striking today to demonstrate their opposition to unparalleled funding cutbacks totalling almost $300 million imposed by the Victorian State Government. A recent leaked cabinet paper summarising…
A new parliamentary report has called for urgent action to protect Indigenous languages. A new parliamentary report has called for urgent action to protect Indigenous languages. Flickr/Rusty Stewart

The chance of a lifetime to save Indigenous languages

It is not often that the opportunity comes along to make a real difference, but a new report into Indigenous languages in Australia has the potential to do just that. Our Land, Our Languages has already…
What’s the real effect of NAPLAN testing? What’s the real effect of NAPLAN testing? AAP Image/Paul Miller

Anxious kids not learning: the real effects of NAPLAN

Australian teachers are not convinced that NAPLAN improves the reading and maths skills of students. Over the next week, NAPLAN results will be arriving at students' homes around Australia. But new research…
Bad NAPLAN results can lead parents to seek help, but which learning programs can they trust? Bad NAPLAN results can lead parents to seek help, but which learning programs can they trust? Test image from www.shutterstock.com

Nasty NAPLAN results: what should parents do next?

The latest NAPLAN results have arrived, and soon enough thousands of Australian parents will tear open the envelope containing their child’s NAPLAN results. They will be faced with a series of graphs that…
Looking to Asian schools is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. Looking to Asian schools is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. Chalkboard image www.shutterstock.com

Our Asian schooling infatuation: the problem of PISA envy

It was fun while it lasted Finland, but we’re going cold on you. We thought your schools had the secret but our new infatuation is with Asian school systems. The Prime Minister seems to agree. The government…
The OECD report on education shows Australia could be doing more. The OECD report on education shows Australia could be doing more. Report card image from www.shutterstock.com

No cause for celebration: OECD education report needs a closer look

The most recent edition of the OECD’s Education at a Glance released this week, is another report that has invariably been seen as a report card on Australian education. Australians want to know: how did…
State governments are looking at changing the way they deliver education. State governments are looking at changing the way they deliver education. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

The policy and politics of education cuts

At a time when the Commonwealth sponsored Gonski Review of School Funding is recommending an increase of $5 billion a year plus for schools around Australia, it may seem odd that some state governments…
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli (left) has slashed funding for state schools. NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli (left) has slashed funding for state schools. AAP/Paul Millar

Class warriors take on poor schools with education cuts

Our Liberal-run states are locked into a self-made and self-fulfilling prophesy of budgetary crisis. It seems that running a deficit budget which is at the heart of liberal Keynesian economic theory is…
An experienced lab technician is one of the most readily employable people in the R&D-intensive industries. An experienced lab technician is one of the most readily employable people in the R&D-intensive industries. fungiman_MD

Beware: research technicians need more than just a pulse

Earlier this year the American journalist David Plotz wrote in Slate that: America needs a lot more good engineers and scientists, more competent scientists, even more mediocre scientists. I agree that…
How will online courses deal with assessment and accreditation? How will online courses deal with assessment and accreditation? Cloud computing image www.shutterstock.com.au

Credentials in the cloud: how will MOOCs deal with plagiarism?

Many are proclaiming 2012 is the year of the MOOC — Massive Open Online Course — thanks to the arrival of major players, edX, Udacity and Coursera all started by colleagues from elite American universities…
The government can’t wait any longer, it needs to make changes now to improve Indigenous education. The government can’t wait any longer, it needs to make changes now to improve Indigenous education. Aboriginal Art image www.shutterstock.com

Can Indigenous education afford to wait for a real response to Gonski?

In all the discussion, media releases, press conferences and TV coverage of this week’s government response to the Gonski review, it was fascinating that the issue of Indigenous education rated such little…
We’ve had the big announcement on schools funding, but now comes the political reality. We’ve had the big announcement on schools funding, but now comes the political reality. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

State stoush: the Gonski reforms and the political battle ahead

The battle over the future of Australia’s school funding arrangements has started in earnest. Outlining the government’s response to the landmark Gonski Review, Prime Minister Gillard spoke of a national…
The Gillard response to the Gonski review was a disappointment and could have been much more. The Gillard response to the Gonski review was a disappointment and could have been much more. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

No detail, all strategy and an opportunity lost on Gonski reforms

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced the government will introduce some of the recommendations of the Gonski Review, including a new model for funding schools. Many commentators criticised the announcement…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking at the National Press Club yesterday signalled serious changes to the states' role in education. Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking at the National Press Club yesterday signalled serious changes to the states' role in education. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

The real agenda behind Gillard’s Gonski response

After the government’s response to the Gonski report on schools funding, it’s worth looking at not only what was in the announcement but what wasn’t. Prime Minister Julia Gillard offered no indication…
The Gonski response: increased funding will be tied to concrete improvement in all schools. The Gonski response: increased funding will be tied to concrete improvement in all schools. AAP

Gonski and the PM’s education crusade: experts respond

Increased funding will be tied to concrete improvements in all schools under the government’s National Plan for School Improvement, announced on Monday in response to the Gonski Review. The government…
The PM’s response today was lacking the real boost needed for schools funding now. The PM’s response today was lacking the real boost needed for schools funding now. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Gillard’s ‘truths’ obscure the facts on schools funding

The government has finally delivered its policy response to the Gonski report, including sweeping changes to how schools are funded and new benchmarks that aim to see Australian schools ranked in the world’s…
The government will boost schools funding today, but what’s next? The government will boost schools funding today, but what’s next? Classroom image from www.shutterstock.com

Gonski is half the battle, trusting teachers is the next step

Today the Prime Minister will announce the government’s full policy response on schools funding, following the Gonski report earlier this year. The Gonski report recommended a funding boost across the…
The debate around teacher quality should be informed by research, not hunches and misinformation. The debate around teacher quality should be informed by research, not hunches and misinformation. Teacher image from www.shutterstock.com

A political education: hijacking the quality teaching movement

All we seem to hear about these days is failing teachers in failing schools. Those from business, government and the field of economics have all weighed in, criticising teachers, teacher educators and…
Schools fear of litigation could be driving bans on “risky” playground activities - like cartwheeling. Schools fear of litigation could be driving bans on “risky” playground activities - like cartwheeling. Cartwheel image from www.shutterstock.com

Banning cartwheels: school litigation fears are unfounded

A few schools have hit the headlines recently for banning traditional playground activities like cartwheels, handstands, ball games and even high fives. Parents are rightly objecting to the bans, and pointing…
The government needs to respond to the Gonski report on schools funding and start improving student outcomes. The government needs to respond to the Gonski report on schools funding and start improving student outcomes. Schools image from www.shutterstock.com

Six steps the government needs to take on Gonski

It’s been six long months since the Gonski panel made its recommendations on schools funding, but in the next few weeks the federal government will finally respond and release the details of its school…
La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor John Dewar defends his cuts to the humanities program. La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor John Dewar defends his cuts to the humanities program. ABC News

Vice-Chancellor: La Trobe protestors abused freedom of speech

On Sunday, La Trobe University held its most successful Open Day ever, with more than 19,000 visitors. But the day was disrupted by student protests against recently announced changes to our Faculty of…
Despite online courses available for free, university students still want the experience of bricks and mortar campuses. Despite online courses available for free, university students still want the experience of bricks and mortar campuses. University campus image from www.shutterstock.com

MOOCs will mean the death of universities? Not likely

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are gaining a lot of attention. Some commentators believe that these free internet-delivered courses are the future of university education. Others meanwhile argue…
The PM should look to her successes in education and build on them by adopting the Gonski recommendations. The PM should look to her successes in education and build on them by adopting the Gonski recommendations. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Stop playing on schools funding fears and get on with Gonski

Howʼs this for a radical thought to start the week - a robust contest of ideas around how we educate Australian students to an internationally competitive standard. Too quixotic? Perhaps, but it would…
Schools funding is back in the headlines, but what’s needed is a wider debate about equality. Schools funding is back in the headlines, but what’s needed is a wider debate about equality. AAP Image/Paul Miller

Gonski, inequality and schools funding: what the debate needs right now

Imagine a field of wheat which has been watered unequally. Some parts will grow to their potential, but some won’t. In the end, it’s bad for the whole field’s productivity. Economist James Galbraith’s…
The pressure on academics is becoming too much, there needs to be cultural change. The pressure on academics is becoming too much, there needs to be cultural change. Stressed image from www.shutterstock.com

Cracks in the ivory tower: is academia’s culture sustainable?

The pressure is on. More and more universities and academics are working in a culture that is untenable and cracks in the ivory tower have already begun to appear. The work environment is now characterised…
The debate on schools funding has taken a strange turn with both sides racing to increase funding to private schools. The debate on schools funding has taken a strange turn with both sides racing to increase funding to private schools. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Gillard and Abbott’s ‘race to the top’ to support private schools

In a political echo of the unseemly bi-partisan “race to the bottom” over asylum seekers, we now have a “race to the top” with the prime minister and opposition leader vying to offer the most support to…
The government needs to do the maths on school funding and look at which schools need money most. The government needs to do the maths on school funding and look at which schools need money most. Schools image from www.shutterstock.com

Do all independent schools need a funding increase?

In the lead up to the government’s response to the Gonski reforms, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised no school will lose funding under the new arrangements. In fact, “every independent school in…
By deliberately making false historical sources, students can learn to think more critically. By deliberately making false historical sources, students can learn to think more critically. Historical hoax image www.shutterstock.com

Teaching students to lie: historical method through hoaxes

What happens when you teach students how to lie? Answer: they become better historians. More than a decade ago, back in the days of Web 0.5, a student of mine submitted a generally well-written essay on…
Young people and politics aren’t mixing – how can teachers help change that? Young people and politics aren’t mixing – how can teachers help change that? Hands image from www.shutterstock.com

The great curriculum debate: how should we teach civics?

How much do students know about politics? Or perhaps a better question is: how much do they care? Recent polling and studies have caused great consternation amongst commentators about an apparent declining…
The rise of open online courses will affect almost every part of higher education, including the international student market in Australia. The rise of open online courses will affect almost every part of higher education, including the international student market in Australia. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Online open education: yes, this is the game changer

Mass Open Online Courseware (MOOCs) is less than a year old but it is already clear this will be the game changer in higher education worldwide. Right now it is reverberating through Australian universities…
If we want to keep producing great Olympians, we need to keep sport in schools. If we want to keep producing great Olympians, we need to keep sport in schools. AAP Image/Julian Smith

From grassroots to gold: the role of school sport in Olympic success

The post-mortem of Australia’s performance at the Olympics is in full swing. Indeed the knives were being sharpened as early as day two of compeition when the men bombed out of the men’s 4x100m swimming…
Australia’s Olympic Chief John Coates has started a debate about the role of sport in the school curriculum. Australia’s Olympic Chief John Coates has started a debate about the role of sport in the school curriculum. School sport image from www.shutterstock.com

Coates' Olympic school push: do we need more sport in curriculum?

Australia’s recent medal performance at the Olympic Games has caused Australia’s Olympic Chief John Coates some concern. Last week, he blamed at least part of the result on a lack of sport in the school…
We could better deal with the onslaught of information and misinformation if we were better educated in argument and debate. We could better deal with the onslaught of information and misinformation if we were better educated in argument and debate. Simon Rankin

Climate science and policy: the tension between ‘argument’ and ‘debate’

Robert Manne’s important essay in The Monthly (August 2012) laments that in the climate change debate “the denialist campaign has won”, a sharp turn for the worse since 2009. Clearly, Manne’s primary purpose…
We need to stop pretending that all ideas are the same. We need to stop pretending that all ideas are the same. Flickr/ LiverpoolHopeUniversity

Are all ideas equal? Not in the classroom

There is a widespread belief amongst teachers that it is part of their duty of care, even a defining aspect of their of professionalism, that all views expressed in the classroom are to be treated equally…
Asking what higher education students should pay is a deceptively straightforward question. Asking what higher education students should pay is a deceptively straightforward question. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Public vs private benefit: what do subsidies for university fees pay for?

The Grattan Institute’s most recent report Graduate Winners by Andrew Norton has generated valuable debate about what financial subsidy government should provide for university students. But before adjusting…
Why do we obsess about the competence of teachers? Why do we obsess about the competence of teachers? Teacher image from www.shutterstock.com

Why we’re never satisfied with teachers

Concern about teacher competence has been around for several decades. Recently, there has been a concerted push by state and federal governments to enact policies to improve “teacher quality”. Meeting…
Education minister Peter Garrett along with his state counterparts have agreed upon some pretty big changes to teacher development. Education minister Peter Garrett along with his state counterparts have agreed upon some pretty big changes to teacher development. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Building a profession: teacher performance reviews not just about ‘bad teachers’

Finally, perhaps the time has come. The Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders and the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework, both signed off…
Art history is falling out of favour with universities but why? We need to look at the reasons behind this change. Art history is falling out of favour with universities but why? We need to look at the reasons behind this change. AAP Image/Warren Clarke

Falling for future-porn: the demise of art history and the rise of university marketing

The impending closure of art history at La Trobe University has drawn sharp criticism from academics. They have pointed out that students enjoy art history: it is economical, has enduring value and demonstrably…
The NSW government has made some strong first steps to talk about teaching standards but there’s no policy blueprint yet. The NSW government has made some strong first steps to talk about teaching standards but there’s no policy blueprint yet. AAP Image/Paul Miller

NSW government makes a positive start on reforming teaching quality

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli’s discussion paper on teacher education, Great Teaching, Inspired Learning released earlier this week, could be seen as yet another review for a profession literally…
The government is trying to entice more young people to go to university – but can they do it? The government is trying to entice more young people to go to university – but can they do it? AAP Image/Julian Smith

Creating university places is easy, motivating students to take them is hard

In 1973, the Whitlam Labor government abolished university tuition fees. In 1987, the Hawke Government radically created thousands of extra university places by creating a national system, financing it…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking at the release of the Gonski report in Canberra earlier this year. Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking at the release of the Gonski report in Canberra earlier this year. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

From lukewarm to wedge issue: how Labor could use Gonski at the next election

After nearly six months on the policy bench, the Gillard Labor government is planning to release its response to the Gonski review into school funding. The government is still debating the reforms in cabinet…
Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne’s recent comments show his misunderstanding of curriculum. Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne’s recent comments show his misunderstanding of curriculum. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

A history of misinformation: Pyne spreads curriculum myths

On the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, Shadow Minister for Education Christopher Pyne was asked what the Liberal Party would do about the national (history) curriculum if they came to power. Pyne’s…
The percentage of maths teachers who struggle with their subject inspires little confidence. The percentage of maths teachers who struggle with their subject inspires little confidence. cmiked

School maths is failing children – a US and Australian perspective

Those that can’t do, teach – or so goes the famous saying. But what of those who want to do teaching. What of those who do maths teaching? Can we be sure the job they are doing is the best one for our…
Universities sell more than just lectures and lessons. Universities sell more than just lectures and lessons. Flickr/Butler University

When courses are free online, what’s left for universities to sell?

When some of the world’s most prestigious universities – including Harvard and MIT in their edX venture or Stanford and Princeton through Coursera – start putting courses online for free, it tells you…
Shadow education minister Christopher Pyne’s latest statements on teacher training are counterproductive. Shadow education minister Christopher Pyne’s latest statements on teacher training are counterproductive. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Education degrees not ‘cheap and easy’: Pyne is wrong on teacher training

Opposition Education spokesman Christopher Pyne’s comments to the Sydney Institute this week provoked a new debate on teacher training. Most of the educational community would agree, and have for at least…
Paying for expensive textbooks could be a thing of the past for university students. Paying for expensive textbooks could be a thing of the past for university students. Flickr/Abstract Machine

Sick of paying for textbooks? Get them now, free and online

In the same way that free open online courseware is threatening to disrupt traditional universities, open textbook initiatives such as OpenStax College from Rice University threaten to do the same to the…
If the same parts of Australian history are taught over and over again, we shouldn’t be surprised that students lose interest. If the same parts of Australian history are taught over and over again, we shouldn’t be surprised that students lose interest. Flickr/murphyeppoon

Beat-ups aside, Australian history has a future

Buried away in the correspondence columns of last week’s Sunday Age, a former history teacher’s letter “Where’s our history?” started an intense and confused debate about a “threat” by the national curriculum…
Much like the development of the railway in the 19th century, the National Broadband Network (NBN) will transform our society. Much like the development of the railway in the 19th century, the National Broadband Network (NBN) will transform our society. Wikimedia Commons

How the NBN will change education: Australia’s “Last Spike” moment

When I grew up in Canada there was a famous painting on the wall of nearly every primary school classroom. It was called “The Last Spike” and it depicted the final railway track connection being hammered…
Getting students hands on experience through a virtual world is the next big step in education. Getting students hands on experience through a virtual world is the next big step in education. Flickr/Mercy Health

Virtual campus: online universities are the future of higher education

In higher education, we’ve been talking about “e-learning” for years. But, in practice, we have mostly been teaching in the same way just through different mediums; that is, delivering one-way lectures…
We should not be looking to East Asia as a model for our education system. We should not be looking to East Asia as a model for our education system. EPA/Vincent Jannink

Learning by rote: why Australia should not follow the Asian model of education

Results from the Chinese university entrance exam, the Gaokao, were released last week. For students, it’s the long culmination of years focusing on tests and learning by rote. Again and again, East Asian…
Students from the next generation are heading to university, how should we teach them? Students from the next generation are heading to university, how should we teach them? Flickr/iwouldstay

A lecture on the art of lecturing: A how-to guide to teaching young people

Narcissistic, lazy, and overly confident – this is the way some see the new generation of young people starting to go to our universities. According to teacher Lynn Van Der Wagan, who sparked an online…
Physical attendance at lectures may become a thing of the past. Physical attendance at lectures may become a thing of the past. Flickr/Matt From London

Digital dawn: open online learning is just beginning

Universities are traditionally seen as exclusive institutions for the few, not the many. But that is changing as a new wave of online courses throws open the doors of academia to all. Led by world renowned…
David Gonski’s review is starting to fade into the background, but there are a growing number of calls to implement the review’s recommendations. David Gonski’s review is starting to fade into the background, but there are a growing number of calls to implement the review’s recommendations. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Gonski but not forgotten: schools don’t just need funding

The last time school funding occupied so much public and political attention was during the Whitlam years. Policy makers with long memories will recall that the gestation period for the Karmel report was…
A recent report into Indigenous education that points the finger at schools and teachers missed the point. A recent report into Indigenous education that points the finger at schools and teachers missed the point. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Indigenous education report misses the big picture

Any work that shines a spotlight on the appalling state of education for Indigenous Australians is to be welcomed. And so Helen and Mark Hughes are to be commended for their latest effort, a report called…
A good knowledge of the different religions should be part of a National Curriculum. A good knowledge of the different religions should be part of a National Curriculum. Flickr/Jake Wasdin

Time for change: a new role for religion in education

After last week’s High Court challenge verdict on funding chaplains in schools, religious education is back in the headlines. The role of religion in Australian schools has been vigorously debated for…
There will be an increase in Muslim students in both government and independent schools over the coming years. There will be an increase in Muslim students in both government and independent schools over the coming years. AAP/Alan Porritt

Australian census: schools will struggle with religion changes

AUSTRALIA BY NUMBERS: The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the first batch of its census data. We’ve asked some of the country’s top demographers and statisticians to crunch the numbers on…
The High Court landmark decision in the school chaplaincy case is an opportunity for reform. The High Court landmark decision in the school chaplaincy case is an opportunity for reform. Flickr/petelawley

School chaplaincy case: a missed opportunity for secular education

The historic majority Australian High Court ruling that the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) is “invalid” is a gift to the argument for secular public education. Secular statutes (for example…
On her recent visit to Thailand, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said her country had an urgent need for basic education. On her recent visit to Thailand, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said her country had an urgent need for basic education. EPA/Barbara Walton

How education can help Burma on the fragile road to democracy

On June 1, after decades of struggle to be a legitimate voice for the Burmese people, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok. She did not raise a call to arms or popular…
Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Minister for School Education Peter Garrett respond to the Williams High Court decision. Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Minister for School Education Peter Garrett respond to the Williams High Court decision. AAP Image/Penny Bradfield

The High Court school chaplains case and what it means for Commonwealth funding

Today, the High Court of Australia dramatically altered the previously understood scope of the Commonwealth’s power to spend money and enter into contracts. This decision has immediate repercussions for…
The Prime Minister is selling the Schoolkids Bonus as extra help for families, but is it good policy? The Prime Minister is selling the Schoolkids Bonus as extra help for families, but is it good policy? AAP Image/Penny Bradfield

Assessing the Schoolkids Bonus: Good policy or just a ‘cash splash’?

The 2012 federal budget has been described as “a big taxing, big spending budget" with a big focus on welfare. The first spending measure to be legislated and to come into effect is the new Schoolkids…
There were protests against cuts to the ANU’s school of music, but the changes were sorely needed. There were protests against cuts to the ANU’s school of music, but the changes were sorely needed. Flickr/Orangedrummerboy

ANU music school cuts: Musicians need to keep in time

The current crisis at the ANU School of Music has widely been reported as being, fundamentally, about money. The Australian National University’s (ANU) Vice-Chancellor Ian Young has cut ten academic and…
The traditional academic world has gone, but what has replaced it? The traditional academic world has gone, but what has replaced it? Flickr/Nick in exsilio

What’s up with universities – Whackademia or just grumpy old academics?

When a friend showed me the blurb for Whackademia: an insider’s account of the troubled university, I immediately left the office to buy a copy, solely on the promise in the title. I read it in just two…
Advanced computational skills are required for day-to-day work in most areas of modern science. Advanced computational skills are required for day-to-day work in most areas of modern science. kodomut

How to teach science and computing in the age of big data

Earlier this week, Senator Chris Evans announced A$5 million worth of science communication grants for 63 projects as part of the Unlocking Australia’s Potential program. We were successful in getting…
A simple desire to understand the way the world works has landed some Iranian researchers in hot water. A simple desire to understand the way the world works has landed some Iranian researchers in hot water.

Particles and persecution: why we should care about Iranian physicists

On a given day, your typical physicist is mainly preoccupied with trying to understand the intimate secrets of the universe. As with most academics, we get to visit one another in parts of the world to…
Praising kids all the time might lead to inflated self-esteem and low regard for others. Praising kids all the time might lead to inflated self-esteem and low regard for others. Flickr/ymc_photos

Can excessive parental praise turn good kids into bullies?

When most people picture the typical school bully, they think of a kid who is likely to have been bullied themselves. A child with low self-esteem who is trying to make themselves feel better by picking…
Real impact is important when considering how to fund research. Real impact is important when considering how to fund research. Flickr/Mozzer502

High impact: how the story of research can be told better

When it comes to engaging with industry, government and the broader community, there is one secret weapon that is often overlooked in the university sector – the humble story. The art of storytelling is…
Cutting TAFE funding effects the people that need education and training most. Cutting TAFE funding effects the people that need education and training most.

Victorian TAFE cuts: an attack on working people

The phrase “class warfare” has been thrown around a lot in the media and within political circles recently – usually without much basis. But in Victoria it is very real; the current Liberal Government…
All cut out to fit the same mould? We can’t assume that all universities are trying to be the same. All cut out to fit the same mould? We can’t assume that all universities are trying to be the same. Flickr/walterh

Universities can’t all be the same – it’s time we embraced diversity

James Cook University drew a lot of attention in the higher education sector recently by publicly “opting out” of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University rankings. Their reason was simple enough…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called on miners to accept that the resources they mine belong to the people. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called on miners to accept that the resources they mine belong to the people. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Mining could invest in a future that belongs to all of us – education

Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered one of her strongest messages to the mining sector last night, telling mining bosses at a Minerals Industry dinner in Canberra that they don’t own Australia’s minerals…
The ANU music school cannot replace live one-on-one teaching with online lessons. The ANU music school cannot replace live one-on-one teaching with online lessons. Flickr/Orangedrummerboy

ANU should change its tune: why online lessons do not replace live music

The Australian National University (ANU) has recently announced serious changes to the School of Music in Canberra. Students will receive fewer hours of one-on-one performance lessons, and the current…
The Victorian government’s TAFE cuts have shown other states exactly what not to do. The Victorian government’s TAFE cuts have shown other states exactly what not to do. Flickr/Takver

Victorian TAFE chaos: a lesson in how not to reform vocational education

For years, those concerned with vocational education and training have worried about how to lift the public profile of TAFEs. But what has taken many years for some – without much success – the Baillieu…
We need to take a harder look at Australian education and how we compare internationally. We need to take a harder look at Australian education and how we compare internationally. Flickr/marragem

The great equity debate: a fair go for Australian schools

Following the refusal of the federal government to commit to the Gonski Review and the recent announcement in Victoria of further cuts to already disadvantaged schools and students, the issue of equity…
There’s knowing science, then knowing how to teach it. There’s knowing science, then knowing how to teach it. B Rosen

Teaching the nature of science (and keeping students engaged)

Last week’s Health of Australian Science report, by the Chief Scientist of Australia Ian Chubb, has again highlighted the issue of declining student engagement in science in primary and secondary schools…
Why should freedom of the press trump the right of academics to have their say? Why should freedom of the press trump the right of academics to have their say? Linda Cronin

A vice-chancellor’s defence of academic freedom

There has been much discussion about the role of free speech and a free press since the publication last week of the report from the independent inquiry into the Australian media. The review was conducted…
Women are equally represented in academia, but most professors are still men. Women are equally represented in academia, but most professors are still men. Flickr/Herkie

Why do female academics give up on becoming professors?

Australian higher education is often seen as a female-friendly industry, with overall numbers of both female students and academic staff outnumbering men. Yet women remain a minority as senior academics…
Chief Scientist Ian Chubb’s report, released today, presents some serious concerns for the future of Australian science. Chief Scientist Ian Chubb’s report, released today, presents some serious concerns for the future of Australian science. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

A prescription for healthy science? Chief Scientist’s report points the way

Chief Scientist Ian Chubb’s Health of Australian Science report, launched today at the National Press Club, starts on an optimistic note. Australian science is generally in good health: school students…
The days of ‘sit down, shut up and do your science’ are over. Today’s students ask hard questions. The days of ‘sit down, shut up and do your science’ are over. Today’s students ask hard questions. University of Iowa

Teaching kids to think critically about climate

Two recently published books suggest that the public - and school children in particular - are being fed lies about environmental issues such as climate change. The books - “How to Get Expelled from School…
The NAPLAN tests are about getting the best results for students. The NAPLAN tests are about getting the best results for students. Flickr/Elizabeth Albert

Don’t boycott NAPLAN! Turning our back skews good data

A small but vocal group is calling on parents to withdraw their children from the National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests. But if this call is successful and enough children are…
We should be focusing on students' performance not teachers'. We should be focusing on students' performance not teachers'. Flickr/cybrarian77

Pupil power: time to ditch teacher bonuses and focus on student learning

Teacher bonus schemes are yet another example of education reform with the wrong focus. They narrowly look at teachers and their performance, and not the needs of students and their learning. It’s the…
Do we need to go down the Confucian path of learning - or is there another way? Do we need to go down the Confucian path of learning - or is there another way? AAP Image/Alan Porritt

NAPLAN tests mean academic achievement but is there a price?

As the fifth year of NAPLAN testing gets underway this week, it has prompted the usual debates. Are the tests in our student’s best interests? Are students adequately prepared? If teachers are “teaching…
Despite being considered a scientific taboo in the past, the study of consciousness is slowly gaining momentum. Despite being considered a scientific taboo in the past, the study of consciousness is slowly gaining momentum. emmakate deuchars

Learning experience: let’s take consciousness in from the cold

Until 20 years ago, scientists interested in empirical work on consciousness – our private subjective experiences – hid it by minimising or eliminating the “c-word”, the use of which was a career-limiting…
The government supports an NDIS, but funding must be extended to schools. The government supports an NDIS, but funding must be extended to schools. AAP/Paul Miller

Ending the education lottery: why the government must extend the NDIS to schools

On being asked the question, “what do you think of disability support in Australia?”, I would have to quote Gandhi’s fabled response when he was asked what he thought of Western civilisation: “I think…
Students learn Korean, one of four principal Asian languages being promoted in Australian schools. The others are Mandarin, Japanese and Indonesian. Students learn Korean, one of four principal Asian languages being promoted in Australian schools. The others are Mandarin, Japanese and Indonesian. EPA/STR

$2bn needed to achieve Abbott’s language vision

Language experts have applauded Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s pledge to dramatically boost foreign language education, but warn that a financial investment of about $2 billion and a long-term commitment…
Australia can stand out in the region with the right education priorities. Australia can stand out in the region with the right education priorities. Night Owl City

Australia has much to teach Asia about progressive education

AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIAN CENTURY – A series examining Australia’s role in the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered in partnership with the Australian government. Here, Dr Neil Hooley explains how…
Congratulations class of 2011, you’ve been given the opportunity to have real-life professors – future classes might not. Congratulations class of 2011, you’ve been given the opportunity to have real-life professors – future classes might not. Flickr/Pauls Creative Cakes

Lost professors: we won’t need academics in 60 years

The University of Melbourne was founded in 1885 with five professors teaching 15 students. In 1952, at the start of the post-war tertiary boom, there were around 3,000 Australian academics teaching 30,000…
Flickr/Discover Science & Engineering

Primary school science education – is there a winning formula?

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, released a worrying report earlier this year. Unhealthy Science? University Natural and Physical Sciences 2002 - 2009/10 revealed the number of students studying…
Learning an Asian language will change how you think about the world. Learning an Asian language will change how you think about the world. no_typographic_man

Want to get ahead this century? Learn an Asian language

AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIAN CENTURY – A series examining Australia’s role in the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered in partnership with the Australian government. Today, Dr Yuko Kinoshita looks at…
The Gonski report was illogical. Now schools have to work out what to do with it. The Gonski report was illogical. Now schools have to work out what to do with it. Foto_di_Signorina

Eight failings of the Gonski review into school funding

Last month’s review into school funding by esteemed businessman David Gonski was released with much fanfare. But as the dust settles, it is increasingly clear that the report is, overall, a disappointment…
The Gonski review presents a generational opportunity to reform our school funding system. The Gonski review presents a generational opportunity to reform our school funding system. AAP/Graham Porrit

Gonski review: another wasted opportunity

The Gonski Review sought to create a new funding system for Australian schooling, because what we currently have is a mess. It was to be transparent, fair, financially sustainable and effective in promoting…
David Gonski has conducted the most far-reaching review into school funding in Australia since the Whitlam years. David Gonski has conducted the most far-reaching review into school funding in Australia since the Whitlam years. AAP

Gonski review: the aim is worthy, but the implementation will be difficult

School funding has been a tortured issue for government, and especially federal Labor governments, for most of the past half century. Since the seminal Karmel Report of 1973, the funding levels and relativities…
While the wheels of bureaucracy turn, schools wait for more funding. While the wheels of bureaucracy turn, schools wait for more funding. Andreas Ebling

Gonski review: public inquiry on school funding needs more work

A two-year process of research, consultation, public input and expert consideration and analysis is a reasonable route to follow for a government-appointed independent inquiry into a major policy issue…
School funding is under the microscope for the first time in nearly 40 years. School funding is under the microscope for the first time in nearly 40 years. torres21

Gonski review: experts respond

A much-anticipated review of Australian school funding, spearheaded by businessman David Gonski, was handed to the Gillard government today. We asked Australian education experts to respond to the report’s…
Our academic experts crunch the numbers on school funding. Our academic experts crunch the numbers on school funding. Pink Sherbet Photography

Gonski review: full coverage

The biggest review of school funding in decades has been handed to the government. The report recommends an injection of A$5 billion to the education sector, three-quarters of which would go to public…
Western Australia may have mining wealth, but how do we fund schools in remote areas? Western Australia may have mining wealth, but how do we fund schools in remote areas? AAP/Rebecca Le May

The Gonski review needs to recommend one thing – spend as much as education costs

At first glance, the Gonski review presents an opportunity to correct the funding gap between “winners” (understood as the private schools) and “losers” (understood as the public schools). And it is timely…
Handing out marks is usually for teachers, now the whole school system is under review. Handing out marks is usually for teachers, now the whole school system is under review. AAP/Stefan Postles

Gonski review: time for a new vision for Australian education

Australia’s educational system must be one of the most over-reviewed in the OECD. Hundreds of Select Committees – Federal and State, Upper and Lower House in the past 20 years have reviewed teacher quality…
Will Gonski be brave enough to point out what’s wrong with our schooling system? Will Gonski be brave enough to point out what’s wrong with our schooling system? AAP Image/Jenny Evans

Gonksi review: tradition or reform for an upside down system?

The Gonski review of school funding promises to be a watershed in the history of Australian education. Much is at stake. There is a real chance to fundamentally change the way our divided school system…
The government’s merry dance may come to nothing. The government’s merry dance may come to nothing. AAP/Joe Castro

Gonski review: the government will struggle to change school funding

When an Australian government is willing to risk losing an election over the way it funds our poorest, most disadvantaged schools, rather than our wealthy schools, only then will meaningful change be possible…
The Federal government has secured rare uniform cooperation from the states on its early years learning reform. The Federal government has secured rare uniform cooperation from the states on its early years learning reform. AAP/Paul Miller

The best start in life for the price of a cup of coffee

Would you pay the equivalent of a coffee a day to guarantee a system whereby Australian children got the best start in life? From January this year, the Australian education system is changing its approach…
When jobs are disappearing, why are we training more journalists? When jobs are disappearing, why are we training more journalists? flickr

Can journalism graduates get jobs?

It usually begins mid-way through their university career. My office begins to fill with panicked journalism students who have seen the dismal job vacancies in their field and are starting to think their…
The days of bulky textbooks could soon be behind us. The days of bulky textbooks could soon be behind us. Apple

Teaching with tech: could iBooks Author spark an education revolution?

Late last week, Apple announced the launch of a new piece of software, iBooks Author, and a new version of its eBook reader, iBooks 2. It’s a development that promises to accelerate the move to interactive…
The mining boom has protected Australia from ill economic winds but will not continue forever. The mining boom has protected Australia from ill economic winds but will not continue forever. AAP/Le May

Why 2012 will be a crucial year for Australia

2012 will be a critical time in our development as a nation with huge uncertainties in many areas both in Australia and globally. Over more than ten years we have lived through a remarkable mining boom…
Australian universities must raise their game to compete in the global education market. Australian universities must raise their game to compete in the global education market. Flickr/Reality-check

Sink or swim? Australian universities in the next decade

The world is in a state of transition. The Indian and Chinese economies continue to grow at around 9 and 10 per cent respectively each year, while the North Atlantic economies - the 20th century epicentre…
We should be questioning the benefits of holding students back a year. We should be questioning the benefits of holding students back a year. Wikimedia Commons

Playing catch up: Should students repeat a grade at school?

Making students repeat a year when they’re not doing well socially or academically is not uncommon in Australia. About 8-10% of students repeat a grade at some point in school life. But there is a major…
Chinese students may have a different take on the media, but universities in Australia can learn from them. Chinese students may have a different take on the media, but universities in Australia can learn from them. Flickr/badbrother

Different media: Why universities should learn from international students

There is a vast difference between how China is reported inside and outside the country. And that extends to how media and communication is taught in China and Australia. One of my new PhD students, who…
Speedy and decisive action is needed from the government to ensure our future energy security. Speedy and decisive action is needed from the government to ensure our future energy security. Flickr/Cayusa

Eureka! Teaching threshold concepts to students

That “Eureka” moment when a student thunders over an educational hurdle opening up a new realm of learning, is the holy grail for educators. The technical term is a “threshold concept”, and they’re being…
Despite ideas to the contrary, the evidence shows that texting does not make us bad spellers. Despite ideas to the contrary, the evidence shows that texting does not make us bad spellers. Flickr/lanier67

Texting dsn’t make U a bad spellr

Children and teenagers today do all the things that children and teenagers have more or less always done – they talk to their friends, have dinner with the family, and watch TV. However, as even the casual…
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised an education revolution, but where are the results? Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised an education revolution, but where are the results? AAP

Education funding: more dollars than sense

All is not well in the Australian school system. Australian schools are struggling to meet the achievement levels of OECD leader Finland. With the release of the commissioned research reports for the Gonski…
A year four slump can be avoided if children are given the tools to read when very young. A year four slump can be avoided if children are given the tools to read when very young. Flickr/Éole

As easy as ABC: the way to ensure children learn to read

Human speech has long been present in every culture, and our brains have evolved specialized features to enable its rapid development when we are exposed to the speech of others. Reading however is a relatively…
Australians want to learn more about science - it’s more interesting than sport. Australians want to learn more about science - it’s more interesting than sport. travelskerricks/Flickr

Science education the key to a better public debate

Late last year, the media reported the surprising results of an ANU poll. Apparently Australians are “more interested in science than sport”! But the really interesting news was a small clarification in…
A new generation of architects is needed to build our cities. A new generation of architects is needed to build our cities. Flickr/MorBCN

Building the future with the next generation of architects

The “future” is something which manifests nowhere more potently than in our cities. Yet a substantial transformation over the past twenty years in the way cities are being made – both in terms of their…
More maths teachers means better outcomes for students. More maths teachers means better outcomes for students. Flickr

Mathematics: Why we need more qualified teachers

There is a crisis in the education system, and it’s affecting the life chances of many young Australians. The number of secondary teaching graduates with adequate qualifications to teach mathematics is…
The environment: get out into it. The environment: get out into it. jcolman/Flickr

One small thing you can do for the environment: be inspired

Welcome to “One small thing …”. We asked our authors what one small thing they, or you, could do for the environment. We’ll bring their answers to you on Friday afternoons. Today’s one small thing comes…
Some parents send their children to a religious school, but others struggle to choose. Some parents send their children to a religious school, but others struggle to choose. AAP/Alan Porritt

School choice is not the answer to everything

Australia has an unusually high proportion of children enrolled in non-government schools, when compared to similar nations. This dates back to the struggles between colonial governments and Catholic bishops…
Exams aren’t the only way to turn out graduates ready for the world of work. Exams aren’t the only way to turn out graduates ready for the world of work. Flickr/Reality-check

Why we should abolish the university exam

The time has come to abolish university examinations. Just because something has been around a long time there’s no reason to assume it’s outdated. But in the case of exams that assumption would be right…
Pupils at this charter school appreciate President Obama’s support, but it’s not the only option. Pupils at this charter school appreciate President Obama’s support, but it’s not the only option. Flickr/The White House

Don’t play the market when it comes to children’s education

Education policy in the United States is paved with some glaring failures. Despite this, many Australian reformers are looking west for inspiration, as the Gonski review of education funding is carried…
The best and the brightest put themselves put themselves through an intellectual ordeal to end up here. The best and the brightest put themselves put themselves through an intellectual ordeal to end up here. Flickr/Tejvan photos

Exam ‘over’ at All Souls College, Oxford, your time starts now…

The most feared exam in the world has been dropped. For over a century those hoping to study at All Souls College in Oxford opened an envelope with trepidation to discover just one word inside. They then…
The Gonski review presents the Government a once in a generation chance to review school funding. The Gonski review presents the Government a once in a generation chance to review school funding. AAP

Unfair funding is turning public schools into ‘sinks of disadvantage’

The current debate about government funding to private schools is misdirected. The issue is (or should be) not at what level should private schools be funded, but whether they are entitled to any funding…
The University of New South Wales Chancellor, David Gonksi, is chairing a review into school funding. The University of New South Wales Chancellor, David Gonksi, is chairing a review into school funding. AAP

The Gonski review: finding a path through the school funding maze

As a five member panel headed by noted business figure and University of NSW chancellor David Gonski reaches the final stages of its review into the structure of school funding in Australia, lobbying by…
The university funding system discourages research on volunteers like these men who are risking their lives to help their community. The university funding system discourages research on volunteers like these men who are risking their lives to help their community. Flickr/Rob Down Under

In universities obsessed with research here’s what falls between the cracks

In Australian universities at the moment research is everything. They obsess over the rankings in the new ERA system which measures research performance. For academics publishing in the top journals isn’t…
International students are not fuelling immigration as much as first thought. International students are not fuelling immigration as much as first thought. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

International students impaled on (illusory) population spike

If you’re in politics, population matters. Rival studies on what constitutes a sustainable Australian population project wildly different statistics. But behind the figures are real people whose lives…

Research and News (22)

Research Briefs (35)

Hand gestures help kids learn maths

Using hand gestures may help children learn mathematics better, according to a recent study. Researchers, led by Miriam A…

Snoozing improves waking memory

Sleep helps lock in visual learning, according to new research from Brown University. The study observed the brain activity…

Teaching history without the books

Replacing textbooks with songs, diaries and illustrations improves the learning outcomes of history students, research from…

Hyper TV makes for hyper kids

Young children who watch fast-paced television shows may find it difficult to pay attention, solve problems and moderate…