This is a key ingredient and need that is often overlooked. It is an element of need that can be quite frightening for teachers and school administrators.

The control and discipline methods once available to teachers and educators were overbearing and harsh. Chastisement of both a verbal and physical nature was often cutting. Teachers were often very overbearing and students were used to being put down. The anticipation of ‘being corrected’ by punishment often sent shivers through children.

Things needed to change. Correction needed to be based on empathy and understanding. Matters requiring disciplinary treatment needed to be fleshed out, ion order that students were not dealt with incorrectly or unfairly.

Wrongs have largely been righted. However, teachers ion our modern times can be left in positions of vulnerability because they have so few corrective tools available to counteract poor behaviours. About the only thing teachers and school staff can do is talk to children about behaviour. This does not work with all students. They quickly sense that teachers have a limited repertoire of responses they can apply. That being the case, children can feel that they can continue with poor behaviour. They even ramp it up, which adds to the hurt and discomfit inflicted upon others.

Teachers have to have management tools they can use to control and counter negative behaviours. If these are not available, the qualities of teaching and learning can be ruined.

A happy medium is necessary. I believe in many cases we are still searching for the idealism that goes with happy, contented, harmonious and productive classrooms.


Thoughts to share.


Doing more with less

Generally speaking, budget stringencies are asking school principals and educational leaders to be like Moses in ancient times. Moses asked Pharaoh for more building supplies so Israelites (system slaves) could go on building good homes and Egyptian infrastructrure. Pharaoh got cross and told Moses to go away. Supplies were cut off. The Israelites had to scrounge, using their wits to come up with construction materials. Similiarly, educators and principals are challenged to do more with less – just like Moses.

Schools and child care

We need to change the thinking paradigm of those who believe the prime purpose of schools to be that of providing child care. The fact that schools are often defined as placeswere cghildfren go to be brought up, being like unto second homes with teachers pseudo parents is a sad indictment on modern life. Often it seems, parents give birth and hand over their children for almlost total institutionalised upbringing.

The Best Leadership

Ascribed leadership is assigned to the position and is a power many choose to use. My preference was for aquired leadership, leadership based on respect earned through the appreciation bestowed by others. 


I believe the most essential quality to be earned, as a student or as a teacher, is that of RESPECT. Respect has to be earned, for it is a recognition of decency that accrues because of genuine care.

The fragility of youth

We need to realise how fragile and concerned about the future young people are, doing our best as educators to build confidence and a sense of the positive into their thinking and belief patterns.

Hierarchial organisation

Hierarchal organisation is a worry. It stacks people in terms of importance within a pyramidical structure, from less to more important. My preference is concentric management, with one plane for all.

Too old to teach

If people have to work until they are 70, then I pity poor teachers, whose resilience and bounce back capacity reduces with each year of chronological enhancement. There is an age at which teaching becomes too hard. Being a principal or school leader at an older age is much easier and less demanding that requirements of 100% full on teaching of children in classrooms.

Granted, there are exceptions to this rule. However with special students increasing in number (percentage-wise) and behaviour management becoming the number one classroom issue, this concern is true for the majority of those in our classrooms.

Where are the parents?

Educators seem to be more than willing to put their collective hand in the air, volunteering to correct more and more of the ills and challenges confronting society.  Part of this is our seeming willingness to volunteer the bringing up of children and young people in the ways they should go.  If anything is wrong, if things need correcting, the repair and renovating role is placed squarely on the shoulders of schools and teachers.

This begs the question of where do parents fit.  It seems that more and more children get born, to be committed to child-care agencies then schools to manage and look after their total upbringing.  If things go wrong, no responsibility attaches to parents.  It is all down to schools and teachers.

Before school care, preschool, school, after school hours  care, holiday care … Where does itv end and how much time do parents give to the primary care of their children.  Don’t forget the baby sitters and child minders parents employ after hours so they can go out and socialise.

Parents have to work and I understand economic imperatives.  However, there is a question of balance.  It should be behoved upon parents to remember and fulfil their primary care responsibilities toward their children.



It seems that the thrust of education is toward developing opportunities for students to progress through the practise of technology supported learning . Devices from electronic smart boards to computers, iPads and other devices are front and centre. More and more schools are developing a “bring your open device” policy when it comes to technology. It seems that the children are increasingly immersed in technologically focused learning.

There is a place for technology in our schools. However if devices replace teachers it will be to the detriment of education. The best learning outcomes are achieved through direct interaction. When using computers and iPads, children can easily log out of learning and go onto some amusement or games application.

Approach to lessons and learning needs to be based on time and organisation. There needs to be a patterned and ordered approach to learning. Taking teachers out of the equation and replacing them with computer controlled programs, detracts from education.

The emphasis in the NT is toward Direct Instruction (DI). Concern about poor educational outcomes has lead to a revival of this instructional method. “The Direct instruction strategy is highly teacher-directed and is among the most commonly used. This strategy is effective for providing information or developing step-by-step skills. It also works well for introducing other teaching methods, or actively involving students in knowledge construction.” (Instructional strategies online, Saskatoon Public Schools)

Explicit teaching, lectures, drills, specific questioning, demonstration and the guiding of listening, reading, viewing and thinking are direct instructional practices. DI is about close interaction of teachers with students to enhance teaching and learning opportunities. Computers and iPads by their very nature can put distance between students and teachers. If their use is not carefully managed they can become a distraction.

A very important part of teaching and learning is the way body language and facial expression impact on classroom outcomes. Teachers can sense confidence about what if being taught through student responses. Similarly, students can sense how their teachers feel about work being completed. Shared personal contact within classrooms is a very important part of learning. Computer based education does not allow students or teachers to appreciate body language or facial expressions.

Technology has its place in education as a support to learning. However classroom focus should be about interaction between teachers and students. Replacing teachers with computers will impact negatively on the quality of learning and educational outcomes.




The Department of Education in 2014 decided to introduce Direct Instruction (DI) into a number of our Indigenous Schools. This teaching method was being practised in some Cape York schools. Noel Pearson praised the model and advocated its use in other jurisdictions.

NT Education Minister Peter Chandler and Departmental officials visited Cape York and spent some time observing DI methods in practising schools. They were impressed by the qualities of learning and progress being made by children. Part of this was attributed to the level of direct and focussed engagement between students and teachers in classrooms. Positive learning outcomes were confirmed by data.

From the beginning of 2015, 15 NT remote area schools were earmarked to introduce DI practices. Although the trial is only months old, feedback based on observation and response from students and community are reported to be very encouraging. The method is going to be extended to 60 of the Territory’s indigenous schools by the beginning of 2017.

What is DI

DI is learning directed by teachers at students. The set curriculum is supported by prescribed materials. DI is ” … an instructional method … focused on systematic curriculum design and skilful implementation of a prescribed behavioural script” (Wikipedia). DI schools require teachers to undertake a prescribed program of literacy each day.

Part of the reason for staggered introduction may be the costs associated with DI. Prescribed teaching materials are not cheap and staff training has to be funded. Initial costs are being off-set by Australian Government funding.

The AEU(NT) President Jarvis Ryan recently visited a number of Territory schools where direct instruction has been introduced. He offered the following comment: “Teaching staff at the schools I visited are working hard to implement the DI approach despite hasty implementation and a lack of resources. They are giving it a good shot despite many expressing reservations, and a number of staff reported that they could already see positive signs for some students in improving their Oral English.” Mr Ryan went on to comment, “the general sentiment I picked up on was cautious support for the potential of the DI program, coupled with a belief that the schools were not resourced sufficiently to implement the program successfully.” (Online source)

Resourcing, timetabling, class sizes and some behavioural issues were seen as being downsides of the DI program. These have been issues in all schools for as long as I can remember.

Direct Instruction is being touted as a way to the future. It is proving to be a model that works and I understand there is no going back on its adoption.


NOTE:  DI  is not rteally new.  In fact, it is back to the past or methodology revisited.