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True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own. Nikos Kazantzakis

The release of the Review of the Australian Curriculum and an Initial Australian Government Response has provided an interesting response, not only from the media and the wider community, but also those specifically interested in education, This has been especially interesting, particularly in light of the expectation once those conducting the review had been named. As a general rule, the response has been fairly positive, though obviously it was never expected to have 100% support.

As indicated, there has been a wealth of media and individual responses to what has been recommended. A major finding “that the curriculum is overcrowded, especially in the primary school years - was backed by the federal Opposition, principals, Catholic and independent schools and the Victorian government”.

Other aspects received varying amounts of support. Some groups simply called the review a “smoke screen”. Areas garnering concern included strengthening ‘recognition of Australia’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage’; emphases re whole language and phonics approaches; cross curriculum priorities; curriculum breadth at the primary level; the “overcrowding” of the curriculum; … .

It is not possible to cover every aspect and response here. It is perhaps better to offer a range of expert views that look at multiple sections of the recommendations. Included are editorials from the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, while an article in The Guardian takes a different view.

The Conversation has a sequence of pieces including by Sue Roffey, Libby Tudball, Stewart Riddle and Eileen Honan and one piece titled National curriculum review : experts respond; Misty Adoniou, poses an interesting question when asking What if we had asked teachers to do the curriculum review ?. See what you think of their responses and if they correspond to your own.

With 1 500 submissions, concern about those chosen to carry out the review, new concerns about some of those used to provide input for the reviewers, … , it was never going to have 100% support. The real test will come once the government makes further decisions about which recommendations it will accept and implement and the levels to which these are done.

Perhaps the certainties coming out of the review are things that people could well have told them before they began - an emphasis on literacy and numeracy in the early years will bear fruit throughout the future, many students benefit from a structured approach to learning both and, most importantly, the primary curriculum in particular is overcrowded [it has been for some time] and people continually want this level to address every problem that is seen as important, irrespective of time and capacity to do so.

It will be interesting to see what is decided on in further responses from the government and the level of support for these. It is one of a number of areas that will concentrate educational minds over the next several months. The one thing we do know is that whatever the outcome, it is unlikely to be implemented next year due to the limited time available.

We are rapidly nearing the reporting date for the Senate Committee Enquiry in Higher Education [28 October]. All public hearings have now been completed and if you are into knowing what happened at each, or even just a particular one, and haven’t yet managed to find out, you can find transcripts via this site.

On every indication, the government should not be confident of having the bill passed as is. Even with modifications it may be willing to make, there seems to be only a limited chance of having some form of the bill passed. While this may appear a victory for various groups, the burning question is what will happen then ?

One of the most interesting things to anticipate will be the tenor of the more than one report that will be generated by the committee, as one cannot expect a single, united response. The only question might be how many reports are actually generated and how they differ from each other. While I don’t know if you would think these were exciting times in the true sense of the word, life is certainly never dull.

Other Areas of Interest

While another curriculum review dominated, there were concerns being expressed about the Australian Curriculum’s Economics and Business Curriculum that was causing some ructions. Business course ‘meant for basics’, says Alex Millmow was one response to concerns being expressed, and to what was seen as being a different approach. Curriculum is always an interesting area of “discussion” among academics, teachers and the wider community and will undoubtedly continue to be so. If this is your interest, it will be an area to follow.

Harking back to the Curriculum Review, one interesting viewpoint is presented by Dean Ashenden in his most recent article : “Détente ? Donnelly, Wiltshire and the national curriculum”. In this he looks at why it did not raise the furore expected rather than other aspects. Well worth reading and considering.

Principal : school doesn’t work for most kids is an interesting report about a particular school in Melbourne. It is an interesting approach that some may well find worth thinking about.

No, this is not the Keystone Kops, nor is it a Kindergarten game. Kindergarten cops issue $2m in fines is deadly serious and just goes to prove that whatever government scheme is operating, there may be those requiring closer monitoring.

Site Changes

The following pages have been completely updated : links, descriptors, exclusions, additions : Teacher Assessment; Beginning Teachers; Research sections of Early Childhood & Literacy; Education Research; Reference pages with the exception of Indigenous which are still to be completed, Homework Helpers. They can be accessed via the Curriculum, Education, Homework Helpers, Reference and Teacher links in the menu.

Updates have been added to the following pages : Calendar, Conferences, Journals.

19 October 2014.

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