Keep It Up Australia

Sifting through the ‘education’ news lately, and there seems to be an influx of NAPLAN or Gonksi reform stories. It appears to be nearly impossible to find an education story that isn’t on these two issues. The Sydney Morning Herald however, was my savior: as a scrolled down I saw “Australian unis excel in education and psychology rankings.”

Melbourne University shone in the latest QS World University Rankings, receiving third for its’ education course, seventh for psychology, and among the global top ten for linguistics, medicine, accounting and law.

The article gave a short and sweet run-down of which Australian universities placed in the rankings, and for which courses. Melbourne University’s dean of education also had a few words to say about the high honor:

Melbourne University’s dean of the graduate school of education, Field Rickards, said the ranking was an “endorsement” of the teaching and research carried out by his faculty’s staff.

“This also reflects on our innovative graduate programs, which are attracting very high quality candidates,” he said.

The article gave an insight into Australia’s high quality of education on a global scale, with a sneaky little final sentence which could be an attack at the recent Gonski reforms exclusion of Universities and tertiary students: “governments of all persuasions needed to protect and grow those opportunities.”

Then again, it could just be coincidental…

– Dillyn ✑

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/australian-unis-excel-in-education-and-psychology-rankings-20130508-2j705.html#ixzz2TGBRlarj

 

Boycott the Naplan

“Teacher Faction Joins Campaign Against NAPLAN“. The title speaks for itself. More and more people seem to be joining the fight against NAPLAN, and this article published yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald just reiterates that fact. Now not only are students and parents dissing the National tests, teachers and even principals are.

A handful of Victorian educators including a principal have joined the “boycott NAPLAN coalition” (http://www.boycottnaplan.net/) campaign, discouraging students from participating in the tests.

Unsurprisingly, the article is less to do with education and more to do with politics, which seems to be the standard when it comes to education news, but there was this one sentence which had a slight glimmer of the education of children:

“[Lucy Honan, a year 7 teacher] said schools were obsessed with test preparation, leading to stressed students and a narrowing of the curriculum.”

Then, that glimmer was brutally squashed by more politics:

“A spokeswoman for Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett said parents valued the information NAPLAN provided, which was reflected in the consistently high participation rates of about 90 per cent.”

The article itself, although seemingly adhering to the standard ‘non-education’ frame, was undeniably well-written and had well-researched facts and sources.

– Dillyn ¶

Read More: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teacher-faction-joins-campaign-against-naplan-20130506-2j3j8.html

Finally, Some Education

It seems reading any kind of education news recently has focused solely on the political side of educating , like the funding coming from the Gonski reforms, or the public arguments over the effectiveness of the NAPLAN testing.  It leaves me wondering where the news on the actual quality of education students in our country are receiving is. There’s countless news on policy but hardly any on the actual education of children.

Which is why I was pleased when found this story, which featured in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The article “More State Schools May Cater for Gifted Students” actually focused on levels of education and what certain states and Governments are doing to cater to individual needs of children. This specific article explains the newest plans to ensure accelerated or gifted children have their needs met so they are able to advance through their studies.

“the education system was failing the state’s brightest children… not meeting the needs of gifted children could lead to them under-achieving either because they were not stimulated or to fit in with peers.

The program, known as SEAL  or Select Entry Accelerated Learning program, is already in place in various schools across Victoria.

“The program is a powerful marketing tool for schools, attracting students who may have otherwise gone to private schools and increasing enrolments overall.”

– Dillyn ✔

Read More: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/more-state-schools-may-cater-for-gifted-students-20130422-2iaqr.html

We Don’t Need No Education

Recently (in one of my Journalism tutorials) I came across a story that at first seemed very interesting and relevant. The title, “Fears over stressed children as how-to books race off the shelves” pulled me in, it was well written and quite effective in spiking my interest. However, after reading the story itself, I was annoyed and frankly a little confused. The story was written in the Sydney Morning Herald on March 18th 2013, and despite the important subject of stressed school children, the story sounded more like an advertisement, encouraging the use of how-to literacy and numeracy books, rather than stating the negative effects they may be having on said stress levels.

The title is misleading, pulling parents in thinking they might be able to help their young and (apparently) stressed kids, but with statements such as the following, it sounds to me as if parents are being conned into buying the “popular” books:

“The books differentiated from the competition by being ‘bright, non-threatening and including sticker rewards'”.

The image used even had an infomercial feel, showing the brightly coloured books in a nice light.

art-glenn-20fowler-620x349

The facts were not backed up, there were no relevant studies mentioned or scientific proof of the claimed stress levels. Sure, it may be true that children are over-stressed (particularly in year 3 for the Naplan…), but how can the audience be expected to trust the writer when they have no real evidence and the story sounds more like an ad or a book promotion?

There was one bit of evidence (if you can call it that), the writer of the story pulling a quote from US president Barack Obama which has no relevance at all to stress in children:

”Recently, US President Obama said that children were in danger of finding learning boring.”

Um… what?

To conclude, the education subject matter of the story was not well covered. It was hardly an education news story at all, but an infomercial for some very popular how-to books.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/fears-over-stressed-children-as-howto-books-race-off-shelves-20130317-2g8q5.html#ixzz2P4LE7WVY

– Dillyn ✍

Timely Education

Education in the media is not as simple as it may seem: it isn’t just “kids learn this” or “kids learn  that”. Rather, news tends to explore education via multifaceted stories, which explain the issue through layers, tackling more than just one issue. For example, on March 20th 2013, the Sydney Morning Herald released a story entitled “Early Lunch Gives Kids an Energy Hit in Class”, which focused on the link between nutrition and attention to education.

“Schools such as St Therese have moved their lunch forward for an early kick of energy and to avoid children becoming distracted by a grumbling stomach.”

Instead of the standard “attention drops in class”, the Sydney Morning Herald explores why attention is dropping, and what certain schools have done to fix the issue.

“It was not only the body that became fatigued on an empty stomach but also the brain.”

The story uses external sources to explore the issue, as opposed to staying within the trouble area and just interviewing teachers or students. There were quotes from people such as Jenny O’Dea, a professor of nutrition education at the University of Sydney, which provide an informed and educated opinion to back up the school’s reasoning. The layered approach to education news provides a greater trust and interest in the story, using scientific evidence to back up claims, as well as opinions and observations from teachers  to add a personal touch.

The story also serves as a reminder for parents all over the country how important nutrition is for children, particularly with relation to their education.

Read more on the story at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/early-lunch-gives-kids-an-energy-hit-in-class-20130319-2gdl7.html#ixzz2OtwJgQmW

– Dillyn ✎