Friday, May 09, 2008

Transformative Journeys

Oxygen and Hydrogen combining to form water was the metaphor chosen by Minister for Education, David Bartlett MP to convey the transformative aspects of the government's new agenda for post-compulsory education in Tasmania.
He was referring to the integration of year 11/12 colleges and TAFE to form the Tasmanian Polytechnic which will open its doors to students from January 2009.

Transformation of learning and training to provide holistic education for all students was a frequently repeated theme in the 2 day conference the Minister was opening. The conference was skillfully organised to canvas the educational imperatives, to point to some new possibilities and to reflect the nature of the transformational journey required.

Presenters including Caldwell and Sidoti gave the consistent message that today's educational institutions will only fall further behind if they attempt to meet 21st Century needs within even the best 20th century learning institutions. What is required is educational transformation not just reform. They called for

  • new educational thinking and curriculum
  • new educational structures
  • new educational cultures

Now this might sound like a difficult task for a state system - and an impossible one by January 2009 but we are not starting from scratch... nor are we asked to complete the transformation by that time...

We already know how the transformed system should begin. We have known many of the educational imperatives and some aspects of the solution for at least a decade. In fact some conference delegates had flash-backs to 2004 and even 2000 when much of the same data and educational directions were made clear at presentations opening the Tasmanian State of Learning and Learning Together reform agendas.

But we are not going round in circles... Our current level on the educational change spiral is about systemic structural change. Previous spirals have been about curriculum (eg PY10, ELs, Training Reform Agenda), community (eg partnerships), authentic learning (eg applied, enterprise and project-based)... We are now more informed, more experienced, and perhaps more adventurous... when it comes to educational change.

The current spiral is about personalised learning (student at the center, pathways).

To achieve this goal Caldwell believes we need to align our intellectual, social, financial and spiritual capital.

Can we integrate our current expertise in engaging pedagogy, meaningful curriculum and working partnerships in the post-compulsory sector to create new possibilities with new cultures?

When hydrogen and oxygen combine in a test tube you can hear a loud 'pop'... Plenty of pops were also heard in chat sessions held following the presentations!

But there were also the first tentative signs of water - new possibilities - new structures, new curriculum, new partnerships, new educational cultures...

Water image: CC Solkoll and ocean.flynn
Capital image: Adapted from an image by Caldwell

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At 12:30 PM, Anonymous SoulCradler said...

These reforms sound very progressive, and quite ambitious. Although the way that you have outlined things it seems to be part of a continuing evolution. Definitely something to keep an eye on.


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