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Analysis and Comment (52)

Lecturers: you can learn a lot from Freddie Mercury. Steve Mann

Research cabaret: come hear the music play

Can you imagine attending a lecture on, say, string theory and finding that the lecturer was actually explaining this complex scientific concept using his own words – sung to the tune of Queen’s Bohemian…
Teach instead of tell, and know your students. There are ways you can become a better teacher. Shutterstock

Expert panel: what makes a good teacher

Amid debates about teacher quality and training, and with the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group soon to report on teacher education, we asked a panel of experts just what makes a good teacher…
Should lectures come with a warning label that they may cause drowsiness and hinder learning? Shutterstock

Are lectures a good way to learn?

Imagine a future where university enrolment paperwork is accompanied by the statement: Warning: lectures may stunt your academic performance and increase risk of failure. Researchers from the United States…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
The Royal College of Surgeons has been improving surgery for centuries. Andy G

Professions step up to make the Big Society a reality

Whether it’s keeping us safe, teaching us to add up, looking after children at risk or helping delinquents mend their ways - police officers, school teachers, social workers and probation officers affect…
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…
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? 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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
Academics need to trying new teaching methods in introductory classes if they’re to engage students. Pirate image from www.shutterstock.com

Kill your Powerpoints and teach like a pirate

Despite my university title, I’ve always thought that someone, one day, will discover that I’m not a “real” academic. This hasn’t been helped by the fact that when it comes to teaching, I’m by no means…
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…
Are you motivated or do you need a social setting and role models to keep you driven? Exercise bike image from www.shutterstock.com

MOOCs and exercise bikes – more in common than you’d think

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. 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…
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 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 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. 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…
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…
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…
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…
Entire universities may one day fit in students' pockets. KidzConnect

Tech for teaching: five trends changing higher education

More than 1,000 years of formal university learning and teaching does not change quickly, or without a struggle. But we are starting to see some key tech trends engaging staff and students – and therein…
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…
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…
Struggling to read? You may not be using your brain effectively. Flickr/Lab2112

Use your brain and teach children to read properly

Almost half of all Australians aged 15-74 years had literacy skills below the level required to participate effectively in our society, according to a 2008 study from the Australian Bureau of Statistics…
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…
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…

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