Solving Wicked Problems

Education is a ‘wicked problem’ if you go by Australian Public Service Commission criteria. The APSC has long claimed that some policy areas are so complex that they are “highly resistant to resolution.”

Blinded by the Money

One reason for this is that the large numbers of Chinese students at Australian universities are starting to turn their financial clout into political power. Australian academics have been forced to apologise — or worse — for remarks made in the classroom about Sino-sensitive topics like Hong Kong and Taiwan, Tiananmen Square, Tibet, and border disputes with India.

We Could Do Better on Child Care

Rather than formal care, 50% of the mothers said they would prefer informal arrangements. They wanted the option to have a grandparent or other relative, a friend or a nanny providing care, with 66% even saying they would accept a lower subsidy if this meant more flexibility and affordability.

World Class Needn’t Cost the World

We spend relatively less time on reading, writing, literature, and science — while we are dedicating more time to technology. At secondary level, we also spend less time on mathematics. Little wonder Australian students have performed poorly in the international PISA tests covering reading, mathematical, and scientific literacy.

How Many International Students Are Too Many?

If the most successful American public universities are any guide, when it comes to international students, 10% adds diversity to the student body, 15% is the maximum reasonable level, and 20% represents internationalisation gone wild. In Australia, the average level of international students across the entire university system is 26.7%. By any reasonable standard, that’s too high.

Glenn Fahey: Choice a Solution for Equality

With all the talk of the alleged gross educational inequality of late, one would be forgiven for thinking we were mired in Groundhog Day. As host Julia Baird observed on ABC’s The Drum on August 13: “didn’t we just go through all this with the Gonski debate?” Australians aren’t a class-envious bunch, but the home of the ‘fair go’. Dragging down the top does not improve the lot for those at the bottom. We want a society that lifts those at the bottom. With all the clamouring, one would suspect some dramatic escalation in inequality had beset us. But that is simply not reflected…

Teacher Education Degrees Should Face Scrutiny

Australian teachers are underprepared for the classroom compared to those in other countries, according to a recent global survey. The result indicates initial teacher education in Australia often isn’t up to scratch. The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) asked teachers around the world how prepared they were after completing their teacher education degrees. And on almost every measure — including being prepared to teach specific subjects, teach mixed-ability classes, and manage the classroom — Australian teachers reported being less prepared than the OECD teacher average. While we should not rely too much on international surveys (because teachers in different countries…

No, School Choice Does Not Cause ‘Segregation’

The mental gymnastics displayed by some people in order to blame school choice for Australia’s education woes never cease to amaze. A recent OECD report on school choice and equity indicated Australia has one of the most ‘segregated’ school systems in the OECD. This just means schools tend to have less diversity of student socioeconomic background — not that they are practising apartheid. And if we look at education equity in terms of what actually matters — the effect student socioeconomic background has on achievement — then Australia’s equity is actually slightly better than the OECD average. So finger-wagging at selective and…

The Illusion of Rigor: Why Japanese Schools Outperform their Western Counterparts

International comparisons of mathematics achievement were begun in 1964 by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Over a period of almost four decades, the highest achieving systems have been Japan, and, as they successively joined the study, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In 1964, Japan was virtually tied with Israel for first place and retained that rank on the Second International Mathematics Study (SIMS) in 1981, while Israel had dropped to 12th place. In 1995, on the Third International Math and Science Study (TIMSS), Japan had dropped to 3rd place and then to 5th place…

Cognitive Science and the Common Core Mathematics Standards

U.S. Math and Science Achievement In 2012, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) tested skills in 22 developed-world nations including the United States. In "numeracy" (solving problems with mathematical content), U.S. 16-34 year olds and 16-24 year olds ranked dead last (OECD 2013a,b). Figure 1 displays an Educational Testing Service (ETS) rendering of these data from the OECD's Survey of Adult Skills (Goodman, Sands, Coley, p. 12). Figure 1. Average scores in numeracy for age 16-34 (millennials) and age 16-24, by participating country/region: 2012 Low skills in numeracy have consequences.  Between 1984 and 2011, as a percentage of U.S.…

Lord McCrea Lambasts UK Government for Ignoring Parents on Compulsory Sex Education Regulations

On 24 April 2019, British Peer, Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown tore into the British Government for ignoring Christian tradition and the wishes of British parents in continuing to pursue its Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education (England) Regulations 2019 legislation. Discussing the legislation, Lord McCrea asked "after the responses were given, suggesting a high level of opposition to the Government’s plans, one has to ask: what is the use? Had the majority of the responses been in a different direction, they would have been greatly used as evidence for why we should move forward with this legislation.…

“Masses of people crammed into huge metropolises”: Tavares Interviews Redner on the Troubling Future of Western Civilisation

Prof. Harry Redner was Reader at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, as well as visiting professor at Yale University, University of California-Berkeley and Harvard University. He postulates that the world is now transitioning to “beyond civilization” – a new and unprecedented condition in Human History known as globalization. This in turn has major implications for societies across the world, and in particular developed nations. He is the author of several articles and fourteen books, including a tetralogy on civilization: “Beyond Civilization: Society, Culture, and the Individual in the Age of Globalization”, “Totalitarianism, Globalization, Colonialism: The Destruction of Civilization since 1914”,…

RSE Should Focus More on How to Build Long-Term Relationships, High School Students Tell Pollsters

Family Stability Network and Centre for Social Justice polling of young people and their attitudes towards Relationships and Sex Education The Centre for Social Justice and Family Stability Network commissioned an opinion poll of young people aged 14-17 in England to understand their views on changes to the provision of Relationships and Sex Education. This survey was conducted by Survation between 13th-15th December 2017. Survation polled 1,011 young people aged 14-17 living in England and weighted the results to provide a representative sample of opinion. Full results including methodology can be found in Appendix 1. RSE should reflect the ambitions…

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