TECHNOLOGY’S DOWNSIDE

Some developments stand for ‘good’ change while others have been far more deleterious in terms of impact. A lot of the changes have evolved from technological advances.

So much of what has developed has negative social impact. There have always been liars, thieves, cheats, take down merchants, and others connected with the dark underside of life.

However, in proportionate terms it seems these people have grown in number and certainly in terms of the spread of their influence because of technological advances. That seems to be particularly the case in the last 20 or 25 years.

With the advances of technology, depth and breath of the scope of those would negatively influence or prey upon the community has grown exponentially. It seems that you can’t turn around but for invitations to be skinned, ripped off, and reduced.

The personal hurt, social putdowns, and sharing of negatives scarifying personality through the misuse of Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media applications is devastating. The problems caused by negativity have skyrocketed exponentially.

All is not right.

WHY DO DECISION MAKERS DESPISE HISTORY

As the NT reaches from the present toward the future. I am keen to know why it is that aspects of history, including historical successes, are never ever considered when groups are working from the present toward the future. The past is always discounted as being totally irrelevant.

On numerous occasions, both pre and then post retirement I have raised this issue both within the educational domain and elsewhere. There are ways and means of recording history in a way that would allow access, but those in charge of departments and key organisations are not interested.

Disinterest means dismissal of valuable information and experience that could help develop both policy and practice. That would help avoid the starting all over that seems to be the way things are done.

I am disappointed that our history counts for nothing when it comes to the setting of policy and the development of procedures.

TEACHER SCARCITY A REAL DANGER

The question of teacher supply is a problem looming on the education horizon. It was in 2000 and it still is in 2020.

Professor Barry Harper, Dean of Education at the University of Wollongong, recently raised the need for the Australian community to prepare for a looming teacher shortage. If educational systems ignore his advice, this may well result in schools without teachers.

Harper, in his paper ‘Factors fuelling the looming teacher shortage’ (Media @ University of Woollongong) advises that a significant percentage of teachers will be retiring within the next five to ten years. Educational authorities understand that a vacuum in teacher supply will create problems. He states that “ … efforts to plug the gaps left by retirees are being thwarted by two factors. … One is the attraction of teaching overseas … the other is a desire by a significant number of teaching graduates to only teach for a short period of time before moving on to other careers.”

The number of teaching graduates attracted to overseas teaching destinations runs into the thousands. As far back as 2003, British school principals had headhunted 3,000 Australian teachers. “There are also hundreds of Australian teachers working in New York schools with many more scattered throughout North America … and Canada.” (Harper)

Harper suggests that Australian teacher graduates are classroom ready because their training includes first hand practical teaching experience. They are attracted overseas by salary and the experience of living abroad. An upside for Australia is that they don’t want to stay away forever. They come back with a world view of education ready to commit to teaching in our classrooms.

“Unfortunately Australian public school systems do not recognise (their qualities). Rather, teachers returning from overseas find themselves behind their colleagues who stayed at home, both in pay and promotional opportunities.” (Harper)

Adjusting the profession to accord equity to both returning from overseas and stay-at-home educators, may help to boost overall teacher numbers.

The more significant issue is that of graduating teachers opting for short term rather than long term careers. Various studies referred to by Harper confirm that fewer graduating secondary students are opting to train as teachers, with 25% of graduating teachers opting out within five years of starting their careers. “Around 32% of qualified teachers (are) working outside the profession.” (Harper).

This issue is one that must be addressed before chronic teacher shortages become a school and classroom reality. The jury is out on whether education ministers and their departments “ … can make our schools attractive for a long term (teacher) commitment rather than as staging posts for other careers.”

THE SOCIAL DANGERS OF TECHNOLOGY

Some developments stand for ‘good’ change while others have been far more deleterious in terms of impact. A lot of the changes have evolved from technological advances.

So much of what has developed has negative social impact. There have always been liars, thieves, cheats, take down merchants, and others connected with the dark underside of life. However, in proportionate terms it seems these people have grown in number and certainly in terms of the spread of their influence because of technological advances. That seems to be particularly the case in the last 20 or 25 years.

With the advances of technology, depth and breath of the scope of those would negatively influence or prey upon the community has grown exponentially. It seems that you can’t turn around but for invitations to be skinned, ripped off, and reduced.

The personal hurt, social putdowns, and sharing of negatives scarifying personality through the misuse of Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media applications is devastating. The problems caused by negativity have exploded quite exponentially.

CDU – Written two years ago but still pertinent

I wrote this column and it was published in the Suns Newspapers attached to the Northern Territory News two years ago. The issues I raised then I believe to be current today; but with grandiose visions you put on regardless and don’t worry too much about what you’ve already got. Quite often visions are altruistic and we become so focused on the future that we forget the needs of the present.

CDU’s FUTURE SHOULD BE SHAPED CAREFULLY

Homegrown tertiary education in the NT commenced in 1974. The Darwin Community College (DCC) occupied two large rooms in Mataram Street, Winnellie. In time and over the years, the DCC became the Darwin Institute of Technology (DIT) and later the NT University with campuses at Myilly Point Larrakeyah and Casuarina. In 2003, the NTU merged with the Menzies School of health Research and Centralian Colleges in Alice Springs. The Charles Darwin University (CDU) era began.

CDU’s major campus is in the suburb of Casuarina. Other campuses are in Palmerston, Alice Springs, Katherine and Nhulunbuy. A waterfront campus housing the school of business opened in 2015. The university includes smaller training centres at Jabiru, Tennant Creek and Yulara.

Interstate offices are located in Melbourne and Sydney. “Charles Darwin University … showcases teaching and research unique to its region. … Its membership of the Innovative Research Universities … enhances the outcomes of higher education.” (Good Universities Guide 2017, p.303)

External students enjoy online study opportunities. A large percentage of its externally enrolled higher degree students are from interstate and overseas. The university supports Indigenous Students through the Australian Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Education (ANIKE) at the Casuarina Campus and its outreach program at the Batchelor Institute of Tertiary Education.

Administration reorganisation and changing priorities are sometimes forced by political pressures and changes to funding policies. In spite of challenges study options have been expanded. In its early days, the university was limited to offering only first and second years of degree courses. CDU students often had to complete their studies at southern universities. Full degree courses in Science, Engineering, Education and Medicine are now available.

The development of Charles Darwin University into the future must be carefully considered. Our university is set to become central to CBD re-development under the Darwin Cities Deal.

The vision is one that includes magnificent architecture, state of the art facilities and student accomodation.

The plan is similar to that in Newcastle NSW, which has “ … a university in the middle of the city. It means … when students finish classes in the evening, they’re moving through the city and keeping it alive.” (Madonna Locke, urban designer in The Deal , November 2018, pg. 8)

The purpose and intention of university study must always be student focus. The evolving vision encompasses large numbers of overseas students living in Darwin, in order to revitalise and save the city. Surely the prime purpose of academic education is to provide study opportunities leading to the conferral of worthwhile degrees. Future direction must not diminish this prime focus.

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CONFERENCES, MEETINGS ARE GENERATIONAL

SOMETHINGS NEVER CHANGE

I’ve been retired for nine years. During the many years in my role as a teacher and leader in education (north of 40 of those years) I attended countless conferences and seemingly endless meetings on all sorts of issues. Meetings were interminable and conference attendance constant. It often seemed that all we ever did was meet and talk or in conferences, sit and listen.

Nine years into retirement and staying at a lodge with conference facilities, I walked past the conference hall prior to the day’s gathering and later during a break out session.

Child protection was the theme with which the gathering is grappling.

Two thoughts crossed my mind. The first was that some topics are everlasting and stand through generations of conferences. And no generation learns about the issue from the ones that have gone before, so each conference is always breaking new ground.

The second thought was one of innate selfishness. “Thank goodness I am no longer a part of this conference endlessness and the fruitlessness that so often ensues.

CONFERENCES, MEETINGS ARE GENERATIONAL

SOMETHINGS NEVER CHANGE

I’ve been retired for nine years. During the many years in my role as a teacher and leader in education (north of 40 of those years) I attended countless conferences and seemingly endless meetings on all sorts of issues. Meetings were interminable and conference attendance constant. It often seemed that all we ever did was meet and talk or in conferences, sit and listen.

Nine years into retirement and staying at a lodge with conference facilities, I walked past the conference hall prior to the day’s gathering and later during a break out session.

Child protection was the theme with which the gathering is grappling.

Two thoughts crossed my mind. The first was that some topics are everlasting and stand through generations of conferences. And no generation learns about the issue from the ones that have gone before, so each conference is always breaking new ground.

The second thought was one of innate selfishness. “Thank goodness I am no longer a part of this conference endlessness and the fruitlessness that so often ensues.

NAPLAN CRIPPLES AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION

Information that NAPLAN faces the axe in an educational testing overhaul (Weekend Australian 29,30 August) was very good news. Replacing NAPLAN with a less subjective, more appropriate and relevant approach to measuring student progress will gladden the hearts of educators, students and their parents alike.

While many educational challenges have been foisted on students and teachers by the impact of COVID-19, postponing NAPLAN this year was the one bright spot in a year of difficulties. This irrelevant and in reality, purposeless testing program should never be resumed.

Introduced in 2008, the same year that the Melbourne Declaration proposed a holistic approach to education, NAPLAN immediately challenged the intention of that declaration’s authenticity. The social, emotional and moral/spiritual aspect of the Melbourne decision were set at naught, by a test focussed on a narrow academic band at specific year levels.

NAPLAN was supposed to be a comparative measure of student accomplishment at a particular point in time each year. Instead, it became the ‘be’all and ‘end’ all of education everywhere around Australia. Months were devoted to readying students for the test and countless weeks spent afterward in anticipating then dissecting results. Rather than facilitating education, NAPLAN became its most major distractor.

May this debilitating testing regime never again see the light of day.

EDUCATIONAL POINTS TO PONDER

Today (October 30) we celebrate World Teachers Day. Thank you to our teachers abd school support staff for their dedication and commitment to educating and supporting students in our Territory Schools. Staff do the best they can by children each and every day. I hope all those working in our schools feel valued and appreciated for the great job they do. May they enjoy and have the chance to reflect positively on 2029 this World Teachers Day.

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All the very best to our Year 12 students as they begin sitting their publicly assessed examinations leading to their NT Certificates of Education. May they be rewarded for their hard work, diligence and commitment to study in what has been a difficult and challenging educational year.

——

Students, teachers and those connected with education all over Australia have had to endure a lot this year. For the most part, people have adapted to circumstances. Let us hope the 2021 will be a year it’s far more normal. At the same time, let us “rejoice“ in the fact that we have been able in educational terms to confront and for the most part master challenges.

EDUCATIONAL POINTS TO PONDER

Today (October 30) we celebrate World Teachers Day. Thank you to our teachers abd school support staff for their dedication and commitment to educating and supporting students in our Territory Schools. Staff do the best they can by children each and every day. I hope all those working in our schools feel valued and appreciated for the great job they do. May they enjoy and have the chance to reflect positively on 2029 this World Teachers Day.

—-

All the very best to our Year 12 students as they begin sitting their publicly assessed examinations leading to their NT Certificates of Education. May they be rewarded for their hard work, diligence and commitment to study in what has been a difficult and challenging educational year.

——

Students, teachers and those connected with education all over Australia have had to endure a lot this year. For the most part, people have adapted to circumstances. Let us hope the 2021 will be a year it’s far more normal. At the same time, let us “rejoice“ in the fact that we have been able in educational terms to confront and for the most part master challenges.