Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 6

Building the Profession Address to the 2012 Fellows Dinner, Australian College of Educators Dr John DeCourcy FACE FACEL

Welcome fellows and guests. May I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, people of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their elders past and present. In 1893 the Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore USA was founded. It decided to do things differently. 17 years later the Flexner [1] review of medical education in the United States and Canada determined that the only effective medical education being provided in North America was from Johns Hopkins and the four other medical schools which had followed its lead. Subsequently 89 of the other medical schools in the USA closed down, with the remaining 60 or so choosing to follow the Johns Hopkins lead. In Australia, the appointment of Thomas Peter Anderson Stuart in the 1880s as professor of anatomy and physiology at Sydney University Medical School was enabled by the Challis bequest, and led in a similar way to that at Johns Hopkins to the establishment of an evidence-based medical curriculum of depth. Medicine was transformed from a craft to a profession in the 20 years from 1890 to 1910. Education is undergoing just such a transition at the moment. It is both our opportunity and our challenge as leaders within the profession to drive that transition, and to ensure that we provide the next generation of educational leaders with a sound basis for reaping the benefits. We can learn from considering some of the changes that people and institutions such as Anderson Stuart in Sydney and Johns Hopkins in the USA produced. Prior to about 1890, medical education lacked a coherent theory. Many medical students learned their craft from an apprenticeship-like process with more senior and experienced doctors, without formal training. Those that did attend medical school had an experience that was often little better than a trade school, with minimal entry requirements and a faculty that was mostly part-time. Beginning practice did not require accreditation. Johns Hopkins decided to adopt an evidence-based model, following a postgraduate model already in use in Germany. It incorporated stringent entry requirements for students. The medical curriculum emphasised the scientific method, with weight given to both bedside teaching and laboratory research. Faculty were researchers, often with joint appointments at the neighbouring Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Why did Johns Hopkins and others take this approach? Because the research around medicine was reaching critical mass. They understood infection control, and were the first to use rubber gloves during surgery. The physiology of the kidney led to their development of renal dialysis. Things were coming to be known on a stronger basis than just the received wisdom. We are at the same point currently with the theory of education. In this talk I will argue that there are three elements, two of which have strong parallels to medicine, that provide the impetus towards our really becoming a profession. They are: x The cohesion of our theory x The demand from society x The opportunity from technology Our common theory Over the last 15 years there has been a remarkable convergence of our theory, around five main pillars. Firstly, we now have a cohesive theory of learning. Context, connections and metacognition are Bransfords [2] shorthand summary. However constituted, learning takes place is a particular student context which both shapes and enables the learning. We can trace the role of development, the influence of self-concept, prior learnings and the way prior learnings shape the construction of knowledge as elements of this student context. We know that learning is about the construction of connections. Shallow learning is a collection of unrelated elements. Deep learning connects these to an underlying concept, connects the concepts to each other, and enables the student to assemble and deal with their learning in new and creative ways. We know that metacognitive processes provide the basis for insight, creativity and progress. The second element of convergence has been around our theory of teaching. John Hatties [3] work is a remarkable but not unique element of this convergence. It is specific teacher behaviours and specific elements of the relationships involved that give power to teaching and to use Hatties criterion produce effects on learning that are significant. Teaching is an intensely relational process, but quality relational processes are not sufficient of themselves to produce great learning. We know that teaching needs passion and insight. We know the role of feedback. We know that self-concept is the construct that we deal with, not self-esteem. (Selfesteem comes as a byproduct.) We know the importance of real high expectations. Above all we know that a pedagogy framed around these insights has direct links into the way in which students learn. Teaching affects learning. Know thy impact! Thirdly, our theory on teacher-learning has converged. The idea that teachers could learn all they needed to know from their pre-service education is long gone. 6

The idea that inservices and conferences were a primary means of teacherlearning has to go the same way. The work of Timperley [4], DuFour [5] and many others cogently shows that teacher-learning is a collaborative process that occurs best within a professional learning community that engages in the school with the issues of student-learning. The de-privatisation of teaching is a necessary but not sufficient condition of this. Good mentoring/coaching is part of the solution so long as it is located in the workplace. We know that asking the question of whether we are having an impact on student learning is uncomfortable. It is also unavoidable if our teaching practice is to improve. So, how to get this sort of teacher-learning? Our fourth convergence is in the research around the role of school leadership in providing for quality teacherlearning. Robinson [6], Leithwood [7], Reeves [8], Marzano [9] and others are clear and despite peripheral differences agree on the core concept: school leadership, to be effective in driving student learning, must be engaged with teachers in the business of teacher-learning. There is more to school leadership than this of course (for example clarity of purpose and provision of both targeted resource and appropriate environment) but the essential element is the engagement of leadership with teachers in teacher-learning. The fifth point of convergence is where organisations such as the Australian College of Educators comes in. The work of Fullan [10], Hargreaves [11] and others highlights the same feature for leadership-learning as we saw for teacherlearning: it is most effectively done at the peer level. Systems of schools give the opportunity for this within the system or sector; for the common features which are the shared work of all teachers, we need organisations such as the College which provide first of all the networked contact, then the opportunity to learn from each other in those many areas that are our common concerns and interests. There is much more that unites us as educators than divides us by either sector or level of education. We now do have a common theory for our profession, along the five points outlined. Our task and challenge is to work at all levels to see it understood and acted upon. How much does this convergent theory frame pre-service teacher education? There will be those here who remember starting a teaching career as I did some 40 years ago and being told to forget all that waffle you learned at college. Some of it then indeed was waffle. We are in a much better place today. The demand from society There are a two ways in which society is placing demands on teachers. Balancing them is what requires our professionalism. The first set bear close parallels with medicine a century ago. Practitioners should be accredited. Bodies such as NSWIT, which see teacher

accreditation as an ongoing rather than just an entry level need, are arising across the world. The profession should be reasonably cohesive in its delivery based on its theory. In this respect, its heartening to see the recent report from the Grattan Institute [12] acknowledging the building of teacher capacity by the sort of school-based teacherlearning described above. Fundamentally, of course, society demands of those elements of care and challenge that we have always striven for and never better articulated than in John Hatties quote from Paul Brock in his 2012 book: I want teachers to nurture and challenge my daughters intellectual and imaginative capacities to care for Sophie and Millie with humanity and sensitivity to strive to maximize their potential. There is a second category of demands from society on our professionalism as teachers. The emergence of the knowledge economy, the vast explosion of available information and the means of accessing it, and the changes in the ways in which people coming to learning mean that more and more is being asked of us as teachers. Karl Fisch [13] puts it this way: We are currently preparing students for jobs that dont yet exist, using technologies that have not been invented, in order to solve problems we dont even know are problems yet It is not a given that schools will survive as societys preferred way of meeting these needs. Schools as we know them emerged largely from the time of the industrial revolution, supported by the invention of printing. We have a new social model emerging at the moment, and schools will survive only if they change and adapt both to the social environment and in particular to the needs of young people. Moving a curriculum from much just-in-case knowledge to a predominance of justin-time is an example of the adaptation that needs to occur. One of the most influential books of the last 25 years Peter Senges [14] The Fifth Discipline bears the subtitle The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation. It is a book about running a business, not a school nor a university. It accurately identifies that it is the ability of businesses to foster the learning of the organisation that is key to their success. Learning is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our society. The opportunity and the challenge for us as professionals is to bring our expertise in learning to bear in businesses, online, in schools however constructed.

The opportunity from technology We hear a great deal about technology in education. I want to address just two which particularly bear on our standing as professionals. Firstly, it can enable much more engaging ways of teaching and learning than are possible otherwise. Secondly, it gives us the tools to understand and deal with students needs. Technology does not, cannot, will not replace teaching. The point is not about the technology, it is about the teaching. What technology does do is enable the teacher to work at a higher level, both personalising the learning for the student, and moving from low-level informationcapture types of learning process to higher-level insight, skill and understanding. Of course we have always aimed for these; technology enables us to work at this higher, more professional level more of the time. Educate is from e-ducare, the Latin for to lead out what is within. What is within is knowledge; what we lead out is insight, understanding, skill and wisdom. Secondly, technology gives us access to and understanding of data about our students in new and deeper ways. Professionals be they doctors, teachers, engineers or other begin their work by examining the data about the situation at hand. We are just at the beginning of exploiting technologys capacity to deliver us good real-time data on students learning needs. We can look forward to the death of NAPLAN, at least as a pen-and-paper test held in May and reported in September. An online adaptive testing system that enables a student at any point of the year to undertake a simple assessment of literacy or numeracy and get immediate feedback is possible, and is not too much of a stretch from where we are. Students do become readily engaged with games and skills that give instant feedback on quite meaningless tasks; how much better if the tasks were worthwhile learning. The issue is not that we should be data-driven, nor data-focused, nor data-judged. We do need the data if we are going to frame the right questions to lead to better learning for students and teachers. Conclusion When you return to Australia through customs, there is a form that you are required to complete. It asks for your occupation. Its been a question for me for a few years. What do you write there? Teacher? Educator? Principal? Bureaucrat? Analyst? Administrator? Where I have landed is where I started. My profession is Teacher.

To build our profession of teaching, we need to understand, articulate our converging theory of teaching, to meet imaginatively the demands from society, and to maximize the opportunities given to us by technology. History is all about perspective. The hardest point on which to gain perspective is the one at which you are standing. We can look back at the changes that occurred in medical education a hundred years ago and see the transition of medicine from a craft to a profession. In fifty or a hundred years time, what will be the perspective that our grandchildren or great-grandchildren take on our work in building our profession?
[1] Flexner, A., (1910) Medical Education in the United States and Canada Report to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; Boston: Merrymount Press [2] Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R.R. (eds), (1999) How People Learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school Washington: National Academy Press [3] Hattie, J., (2009) Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating. To achievement London: Routledge; Hattie, J., (2012) Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing impact on learning London: Routledge [4] Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Heather, B. & Fung, I., (2007) Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Wellington, NZ: Ministry of Education [5] DuFour, R. Dufour, R., Eaker, R. & Karhanek, G., (2010) Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap: Whatever it takes Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree [6] Robinson, V., Hohepa, M. & Lloyd, C., (2009) School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying what works and why Wellington: Ministry of Education Best Evidence Synthesis [7] Leithwood, K., Day, C., Sammons, P., Harris, A. & Hopkins D., (2007) Successful School Leadership: What it is and how it influences pupil learning Nottingham: National. College for School Leadership; Leithwood, K., Seashore, L.K.A., Anderson, S. & . Wahlstrom, K., (2004) How Leadership Influences Student Learning NY: The Wallace Foundation [8] Reeves, D., (2006) The Learning Leader: How to focus school improvement for better results Alexandria: ASCD [9] Marzano, R.J., (2003) What Works in Schools: Translating research into Action Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; Waters, J.T., Marzano, R.J. & McNulty, B., (2004) Leadership that Sparks Learning Educational Leadership, 61, 7, 48-51 [10] Fullan, M., (2008) The Six Secrets of Change: What the best leaders do to help their organizations survive and thrive San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; Fullan, M., (2010) All. Systems Go: The change imperative for whole system reform Thousand Oaks: Corwin; Fullan, M., (2010) Motion Leadership: the skinny on becoming change savvy Thousand Oaks: Corwin; Fullan, M., (2011) Choosing the Wrong Drivers for Whole System Reform Melbourne: Centre for Strategic Education [11] Hargreaves, A. & Shirley, D., (2009) The Fourth Way: The Inspiring Future for .Educational Change California: Corwin [12] Jensen, B., (2012) Catching Up: Learning from the best school systems in East Asia Melbourne: Grattan Institute Report No. 2012-3 [13] Fisch, K. (2006) Did You Know Shift Happens, accessed at . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . http://www.slideshare.net/jbrenman/shift-happens-33834 12 Feb 2012 [14] Senge, P., (1990) The fifth discipline: the art and practice of the learning organisation. Sydney: Random House; Senge, P. Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B. Dutton, J. & Kleiner, A., (2000) Schools That Learn London: Nicholas Brealey

10