Today I felt vindicated regarding the views I have held for many decades regarding effective education for our children.The commercial news stations and daily papers today talked about the Federal Government, via the advice of Mr. David Gonski, of taking a new, and revitalised look at how we educate our children.
In the schools that I led as a Principal and during the time I was learning my craft as a classroom teacher, it was obvious that the only reason students were placed in a chronological year level was for administrative convenience at a school and system based level - not educative appropriateness. Hence, the push for Multi-Age or Family Grouping philosophy espoused and practised by enlightened practitioners past and present. These educators viewed education as a continuum and proactively individualised instruction and assessment.
As so many teachers on staff in schools that I have worked have proven - it is not a question of providing more money to allow children to learn at their own rate. It is a question of teacher expertise and an understanding of the needs of their children, which only comes about when teachers and school administrative teams know how to analyse, interpret and apply school based and systemic data to cater for the personsalised needs of each child.
In everyday terms, the many people who started learning to drive today at their deemed age appropriate readiness,will not all get their licence within a similar time frame. Some will take longer, some will catch on quickly and some may just not get it at all. But let's not forget the keyword - YET! The ones who takes longer are just not ready Yet - but eventually they will be, if given time and the appropriate 'learn to drive' opportunities.And so it is with education in our schools.
For many years, there has been a lot of educative talk about differentiation of learning which is commendable and has had some proven success, but no matter how much we try to differentiate ( I prefer to call it personalisation) this will not happen effectively if teachers and children are bound by the demands of chronological achievement standards and content of the curriculum.
Instead, let's ensure that each child is given the opportunity to learn at their own pace, be engaged in the process of how they can continue to learn and let's make sure we engage our parents in the same conversations. A change in the culture in many schools will be required to be undertaken where classroom chronological age grouping is the norm or where personalisation of student learning at the highest levels is not practised.
So, thank you Federal Government and Mr Gonski-you've not only made my day but, more importantly, that of the millions of students in Australian schools and that of the expert teachers who know that if children are not born in litters they should not be educated in such a manner.