Monday, 26 October 2015

Year 10 Can Be the New Year 12

The daily newspapers picked up on the number of student dropouts to lead their news coverage of the Educational Opportunity in Australia 2015 report released the week of October 26.

Twenty-six per cent of 19 year-olds or 81,199 people are not finishing school which is taken to be Year 12. What do you think about that? In the US, it's much, much higher.

Probably more important though was that the Report highlighted Year 7 as a sort of benchmark of a middle point in education. This showed that 71.6% of students met the milestones meaning that 28.4% didn't. Do you think that is high? And girls were higher achievers than boys (no surprise there).

However, these reports while full of tables and information, nearly always stay clear of strong, unequivocal comments. Sort of a self-protection mechanism. Don't rock the boat syndrome. Maybe only the authors are satisfied!

And they are difficult to read. Presentation style anyone!!

But the key questions are never answered:

  • Dropout rates ... so what? How important are these when there's a wide world out there and schools generally don't provide the answers for a working family with a couple of kids in school. What's really acceptable? Not 100% for sure.
  • Learning Mix. Are we providing the mix of learning that compels students to stay at school longer? Definitely not. Have you views on this?
  • Less that 12 years?. And can we provide the necessary knowledge to students in less than 12 years. I think we can when the full power of tech-integrated learning is unleashed. We talk all the time about the maturity of students at ages lower than when we were at school don't we?
  • Year 10 not Year 12? I believe the transition to Tertiary education should and can occur from Year 10 not Year 12. Learning can be accelerated.
The report can be downloaded from

MathsRepublican Alan Power

Sunday, 4 October 2015

It's the 3Ps Which Make Good Teachers

I've been mystified over the years why our educational bureaucrats don't get it (to this add most Principals and Head Teachers). Get what makes a good teacher.

Well I can now let you in on the secret (it must be a secret because everyone seems to spend their time looking all over the place for something else!).

My Maths tutor at a Melbourne Teachers' College told my group that a good teacher emerged from a complete understanding of the 3Ps ... Preparation, Presentation and Personality but of the three, Personality was the most important. By the way, the tutor's name was Lloyd Senior and he should be revered in the manuals of good teaching.

Let's focus on Personality and what is meant. Throughout your life you meet and interact with people who attract, connect and engage you. It starts in early school days when you were drawn to those classmates who had something special. I bet you can recall teachers you had who were also special throughout all of your schooling years. They had Personality.

Of course this all begs the question as to whether Personality can be learned!! But Lloyd said it could be learned and I believed him.

We all had poor learning experiences when we had a teacher who may have had the best degree yet he/she couldn't manage a chook raffle let alone a lively class. The same goes for those of us with career experiences where natural leaders emerged with Personality. Those who didn't have it didn't make it to the higher levels. We all referred to them as backroom boys etc because although they may have had great thinking skills and were achievers in their more restricted worlds, they lacked Personality.

Here's what I would do:

  • Focus on developing Personality with all teacher-graduates (it's too late for those currently teaching). How this is done is for others to decide but hopefully they will get started.
  • In all supervised teaching of graduates stress with them the key elements of Personality in connecting with students
  • When a graduate starts teaching, assign a mentor who actually does something ... one who has most of the Personality traits (difficult I know because many don't) with which to communicate the key elements
  • Take Professional Development seriously and provide in-school and outside workshops far more frequently. Many schools pay only lip service to it.
That's enough for you to absorb in this Blog. How about joining the movement to provide learning of Personality with all our new teachers? Then our students might stand a chance.