Students are not Citizens – Australia’s New Educational Policy

Students are not Citizens – Australia’s New Educational Policy

This article was originally published in February 2020 with slight editorial modifications in the Echo here.

Last December the Education Council of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) adopted a new educational policy – the Alice Springs Education Declaration – in which reference to climate change and the inclusion of sustainability as a cross-curriculum priority were removed, and students were reconceived, no longer as citizens, but as apolitical ‘members of the community’. To understand the significance of this new policy it’s necessary to describe the history of its predecessors.  

By |2023-01-28T00:20:30+00:002022-11-08|Ecology, Education, Politics|

The End of Education

The End of Education

The word education derives from both the Latin educare: ‘to bring up’ and educere: ‘to lead forth’. Unlike its German counterpart bildung, which historically focussed on self-formation, education thus has a distinct social dimension. The perennial question is: To bring up for what? Leading to where? More generally: To what end?

Two overarching and conflicting purposes of education have existed in Australia’s national educational policy dating back to the 1989 Hobart Declaration – the first of its kind. These have been education as preparation for employment, versus education for active and informed citizenship. Consider the definition of […]

By |2023-01-28T00:41:39+00:002021-12-05|Education|

Class Division

Class Division

In 1985 a grade three teacher in Iowa named Jane Elliott tried an experiment on her class to teach them about discrimination. On one day she gave to all the blue-eyed students special privileges, like extra recess time, while the brown-eyed students were disadvantaged: having to stay in at recess, not being allowed to use the drinking fountain etc. On the second day she reversed these privileges for the brown-eyed students and discriminated against the blue-eyed ones. Her experimental lesson was later turned into the documentary A Class Divided. What’s remarkable about this is how quickly the […]

By |2023-01-28T00:53:50+00:002021-08-24|Education|

On Time

On Time

Regardless of the object of study, learning takes time. Some lessons might take only a few minutes, others may take a lifetime. In the latter case, one may decide the object of study is not worth pursuing.

When I was in high school I was fascinated by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and, in those pre-Internet days, read as much as I could on the subject in the few books available. Although special relativity (which deals exclusively with inertial frames of reference, or those which are non-accelerating) can be studied by anyone with high school mathematics, general relativity (that dealing […]

By |2023-01-28T00:57:10+00:002018-09-26|Creative Writing, Education, Science|

Mathematics

Calculus

This assignment: A Prelude to Calculus – History and Pedagogy was part of my Masters of Teaching. It was a way of introducing students to the concept of a limit based on an historical account of the way the ancient Greeks reasoned about the concept in order to derive equations for the volumes of a sphere, cone, and cylinder. This occurred long before the development of calculus, and even of algebra. Central to the solution was a focus on Archimedes’ Method of Equilibrium so that the idea of limits […]

By |2021-09-09T04:40:16+00:002018-07-23|
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