What School Kids Need: New Findings
By Ted Smillie on Thursday, August 30th, 2018
Features in QESP NewsletterVolume 30 , Issue 8 - ISSN 1325-2070
Previous QESP Newsletter articles have looked at how Education can adapt to meet 21st century skills needs, using 21st Century tools and online resources. Now we are seeing more approaches to helping school kids get into the workforce.
“Some students don’t have any meaningful contact with the workplace until their 20s. That’s too late”
This quote is from an article in The Conversation, Why school kids need more exposure to the world of work, by Kate Torii, Policy Analyst, Mitchell Institute, Victoria University. The article gives an overview of the latest Mitchell Institute report, Connecting the worlds of learning and work, noting that “collaborating with industry and the community is vital to better prepare children and young people for future work and life. And governments need to play a leading role to ensure this happens.” Attempts to put school-industry partnerships on the national agenda over the past decade haven’t yet found a way to bring the workplace and the classroom together in an effective way.
What’s stopping this? The article lists a number of systemic barriers and advises on the actions Governments can take to “make partnerships easier and ensure they are effective and available in all schools across Australia.”
The authors have sent their message to Canberra via a separate article in The Mandarin, All students need access to the world of work at school, which notes that “Already, 300 students from three Perth schools are participating in weekly STEM-themed robotics classes, supported by Google.”
The Mandarin article concludes “Traditionally, practical industry-focused learning was anchored to technical schools and, more recently, through vocational education and training but these links are in sad decline….The landscape of work has shifted dramatically and permanently. Now is the time for education to walk with industry, to focus on students’ longterm success – well beyond Year 12 and ATARs.”
The Conversation also has an article from the University of Newcastle, Here’s how to support quality teaching, with the evidence to back it , by Authors Jenny Gore, Andrew Miller and Jess Harris. The article asks “How can we build on the skills of our 300,000 teachers? Expensive courses aren’t always the answer” and goes on to propose an answer: Quality Teaching Rounds. The authors note that “Over 18 months from 2014 to 2015, we observed 192 teachers in 24 NSW government schools (eight in each school)…. The quality of teaching improved significantly for the participating teachers, with no change in quality for the control group. Effects were still measurable six months later and in the following school year.”
The Authors conclude: “Our approach is used in around 250 Australian schools, but significant philanthropic investment by the Paul Ramsay Foundation should see it expanded to more than 3,500 Australian schools by 2022.”
US research focusing on middle school kids comes in a ScienceDaily article from University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kids connect with robot reading partners, which features a robot, named Minnie. The Researchers are Joseph Michaelis and Bilge Mutlue. Joseph Michaelis says “Most interesting to me is that we know social learning strengthens interest and motivation. A lot of kids who don’t like reading, in particular, point out that it’s an isolated activity, and people just sort of accept that isolation. But it can be demotivating and harder to learn and understand in that situation.”
Researcher Bilge Mutlue says “The biggest shock in our study is that two weeks later, the kids are still relating to the character– rather than saying, ‘This is stupid. I’m not talking to your robot anymore.'”
(See also the QESP August Blog, which features a ScienceDaily article from Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, BioBits: Teaching synthetic biology to K-12 students: Educational kids bring fun, hands-on experiments to classrooms without costly lab equipment.)