Archive for October, 2009

The Real Education Revolution

Last week the following article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald (www.smh.com.au) based on research published by the Centre for Skills Development (www.centreforskills.com.au) where I am a Director. The article was written by Education journalist Ana Patty.

NSW schools are failing to adequately prepare students for employment and are too focused on teaching basic literacy, numeracy and computer skills, according to a paper from the Centre for Skills Development.

The draft white paper suggests students need to develop more sophisticated technology and communication skills at school to find jobs.

The paper, A Real Education Revolution, says teachers need to be equipped with more advanced technology skills.

Co-author Sheryle Moon said it was no longer enough for schools to provide basic computer skills.

“If teachers don’t understand the application of technology – the collaborative environment technology facilitates – and build that into the curriculum, then young Australians will go out into the workforce with an incomplete set of skills,” she said.

Ms Moon is a director of the Centre for Skills Development, a behavioural change management consultancy.

“To harness the energy of teams you need to work in a virtual environment where your staff or team or co-workers are spread across the world in different time zones.

“In a knowledge economy, employers look for people who have the communication capability to interact with team members, clients, to understand issues and solve problems.”

The draft white paper says communication technology is part of the work environment, yet is only being slowly integrated into curriculums, classrooms and training. “This throws the lack of teacher training in multi-disciplinary communication skills into sharp relief,” it says. “In a world saturated by technology, the average classroom is decades behind technologies used in workplaces as standard.”

The centre says relatively few students are involved in public speaking and debating, which help develop communication and analytical skills.

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Impending Teacher Shortage

Australia needs outstanding teachers. Yet the best and brightest chose careers in finance, medicine or law. Many of those who do choose teaching end up leaving the sector within 3-5 years to take up opportunities in other industries.
Australia is on the brink of a teacher crisis that will seriously impede our capacity to educate the next generation of children. According to the Australian Education Union, Australia will be short 40,000 teachers by 2013 .
It is time for change. The first step to attract and retain great teachers is for education leaders to start thinking and behaving less like a bureaucratic institution and more like a private enterprise.
The global financial crisis has handed the education sector a solution on a silver platter. Schools have long run Teacher for a Day programs and looked to industry to provide Teachers in Residence to impart particular skills and knowledge. Right now, there is a pool of impressive white collar professionals – who have lost their jobs, are feeling insecure about their jobs or can’t find work – being presented with a solution for a new vocation where they can demonstrate their skills, share their smarts and guide the next generation of Australians.
There is also a pool of impressive best and brightest graduates who did not find work in their chosen field who could potentially replace our decreasing, and very much needed, generation of teachers.
Many talented Australians think teaching would be a fabulous job, yet many don’t think about it as their number one choice. Now, in an economic environment clouded by uncertainty, the idea of a job that offers security and longevity is much more attractive.
What these young executives don’t realise is that it’s them we need to lead the next generation of students and just because they worked for a big bank or accountancy firm doesn’t mean they can’t use their skills in the teaching world.
During a national road show this year for the Australian Council of Education leaders, delegates brainstormed the ideal qualities of Australian educators of the future.
The characteristics identified closely matched those of an entrepreneur. They included:
1. An engaging communicator
2. High emotional intelligence
3. Academic strength
4. An innovative approach to work
5. A willingness to take risks
6. Performance orientated
7. Commitment to the task at hand and passionate about it
8. Desire to contribute and be part of something bigger
The forum coined this group the edupreneur – the ideal teacher of the future. What’s remarkable is that if you conducted a Myers-Briggs test on all of our redundant professionals looking for work, you’ll find that a significant proportion will hit the mark, at least 7 out of 8 from this list.
If our education system attracted and retained teachers that displayed these qualities, our education system would be the envy of the world. Many corporate organisations believe in hiring for aptitude, inducting new staff comprehensively into an organisation and then providing the on-the-job and situational training to ensure they are successful. Traineeship programs use a similar approach, teaching people as they are employed to deliver the best learning and employability results.
Over 20,800 Australians lost their jobs in the last two months . If we could convert all these out-of-work people, take their skills and experience and apply them to education, Australia’s next generation will be in very good hands.
Great leaders believe it is possible for tomorrow to be better than today, and that they have a role in making that happen. Let’s set change in motion. It starts with only one. That one could be you.

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