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Changing Contexts in Australian Education

EDU4CCS Assignment One

Carly Patullo

on 18 November 2013

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Transcript of Changing Contexts in Australian Education

Changing Contexts in Australian Education
Historical Context of Education
There are various contexts that continue to influence education in Australia. The continual change and growth of our country and our education system has been the result of social, political, industrial, global and philosophical influences.

Political Context of Education
In the history of Australian education, there has been continual re-purposing of schools and education.

Governments do shape educational policy, and different curriculum and reforms have been implemented over time depending on the political party of the day. For example, in the 1990's the government sought radical conservative forms to strengthen Australian schools. They wanted excellence, so created national testing and centralised curriculum's.

Currently, the decline in Australian student's performance is problematic. There is a call for increasing government funding to raise figures and improve standards of teaching across all schools (Gonski Review and reforms). This change is representing the national interest at this time; that students need to have better literacy and numeracy skills to be able to compete in the global economy.

ACARA (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority) continue to collect data on student performance in Australia through NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) and this is available on their website.
Social Context of Education
Education and debates about it are an integral part of the social order of a society; certain groups (such as the government) determine what is and is not socially legitimate. Over the years in Australia, there have been various debates and curriculum changes due to social influences (for example, the value placed on manual intelligence (trade schools) versus intelligence in a mainstream high school has shifted multiple times).

Critics of Australian education complain that our educational authorities are failing to tackle difficult social and philosophical issues about the nature and purpose of schooling in a post-industrial world (for example, multicultural issues).

There are new demands on schools and people; schools now have to tackle problems that were formerly the responsibility of family, church or employees in the past. Students spend more time at school than at home, so there is a greater social push for schools to prepare students for the modern world.

Education has become a necessary and ongoing process of social reconstruction. It helps students become creative, critical thinkers and active social participants. By the end of schooling, it is hoped that students have become capable of defining the nature of their own lives and the society which they live in.

Global Context of Education
The global community Australia is a part of has changed drastically over the past century.
In relation to education, while once a classroom revolved around books, a blackboard and a teacher excluded from the world, it is now a part of it.

Developments of technology (such as laptops, iPads) and the internet allow students in classrooms to interact and communicate with people from all over the world. Even as teachers, we can now share our ideas and strategies with others and enhance our students learning in ways we would have never thought of. This has been highly beneficial to education.

Rather than just being ranked solely in a classroom, students in Australia are now ranked and compared to students from around the world. This effects how we currently teach, as there is a definite focus on our students being able to compete globally.

iPads take over a Dutch Classroom
History of Teacher Education and Training
* Educational reform in Britain at the turn of the 20th century were seen as a model of innovation Australia should follow.
* Before the 20th century, teachers were often trained on the job, or simply started a school as an economic investment; there was little accreditation/training for future teachers. New reforms were hoping to develop teacher and student's creative powers and instincts, through activity and experience.
* New syllabus was introduced in the early 20th century and these radical reforms resulted in teachers have to be re-educated themselves. Many struggled. Reforms weren't as effective as hoped. Teachers were ill-prepared for changes as many had never been 'formally' trained before.
* New teachers in the 20th century needed to know more than just facts; a large emphasis was placed on training teachers to teach students the value of English (reading, writing and spelling) to civilise the country.
* Rural schools began to develop in the 1920's and with this developed specific teacher training colleges, such as one in Armidale, in 1928. teachers needed to be trained to be new 'masters' of English.
* The notion of a fully trained teacher (professional) emerged steadily in the 20th century with Teaching Colleges opening and now, in the 21st century, universities across the country offer courses in Education (e.g. Graduate Diploma of Education).
Economic and Industrial Context

* The end of the 19th century: Industrial capitalist expansion.
* 20th century: Australia transformed industrially, commercially and economically. Mining and manufacturing boomed and the economic commitment to schooling was high. Manual knowledge was beginning to be seen as just as important as mental knowledge. There was a clear shift in the 20th century from moral schooling to industrial schooling. (1901, 66,000 people in factories, by 1912, 116,000).
* After World War Two, industry increased rapidly as new technologies continued to develop. The continued industrial development of the country was important, so the emerging working class began to have access to formal schooling to learn the skills and knowledge for various jobs/trades.
* Economic benefit of education reached peak in 19670's and 70's. Focus on jobs and profitability. Prepare a skilled work force that would enhance the economy (e.g. manufacturing boom).
*1990's: Australia's economy was performing badly, so policies in education changed. Structural changes to jobs, technological changes, economy and labour reduced rather than increased. There was economic uncertainty, so education was uncertain as well. Educators and the government wondered: What was the best education to give children? What jobs are available to train them for?
* In the 21st century, there is still strong pressure on our education system to integrate the mechanisms of commercial trade. We are living in an era when Asia is booming, so we now need to work on educating our future citizens on how to be competitive in a different market. Australia has gone from an industrial nation, to a post-industrial nation. Comprehensive education has removed most trade schools, with most students now going onto different further study. It is no long viable to manufacture many products in Australia so the boom that increased trade in the mid 20th century, is now moving in the opposite direction. Careers are changing.

Parents and students seek from education the best return for their investment of time, effort and money. We teach to supply the work force and the changes above are due to changes in demand for different professions. With changes in technology, who knows what jobs our students will have in ten years time!

Philosophical Context of Education
Educational theories and philosophies have changed vastly in the past century.
Pioneers of studies on education, such as Rosseau, Herbart, Dewey, Piaget, Frobel and Trein, established pedagogical views and methodology that we can now follow for learning and teaching.
Their ideas continue to influence and be used in classrooms today.

Philosophies of education have developed and changed to now include cognitive and humanist approaches as well as theories of multiple intelligences and learning styles. Gardner and Bloom are recent theorists that have contributed to make the classroom more engaging and allow student's not just to rote learn, but to learn and build upon their knowledge (Bloom's Taxonomy).

Currently, educational theory is a vital tool for the classroom. Classroom diversity is common, whether it be in relation to intelligence, learning style or cultural or social factors. Students need to be engaged and stimulated.

Inclusive classrooms, which are the focus of current education reform, allow for diverse learners to be seen and heard, regardless of ability or disability. AusVELS (National Curriculum) is a recent curriculum overhaul that has a domain for personal learning. This allows teachers to draw on previous educational theories and philosophies to take into account the strengths and weaknesses of each individual student and allow them to achieve the best they can.

The Future of Australian Education??

This presentation has shown how various contexts have affected, and will continue to affect, education in Australia.

It has been difficult for Australia to implement a national system for monitoring outcomes of education that is acceptable to all teachers, parents and state governments. Hopefully the new National Curriculum will offer strategies and initiatives to help our students prosper.

No one knows where education will go in the next decade/s, but we can be sure that technology will play a large part in future education. The classroom has definitely changed and as teachers, we need to ensure students remain globally competitive and prepared for the changing world. Simply looking at performance results in testing is not going to enhance out students learning because a school needs to meet not only the educational needs of a child, but also their social and emotional needs.

We should not just judge students on their cognitive outcomes, this is problematic. What about their development of values, attitudes, beliefs etc? We need to ensure that our students are socially responsible and contribute well to our society, are intellectually active and morally well educated.

We do need to be careful that technology does not take over the classroom and forget about the other important skills students need to learn. Take a look at the next slide with a video on a Dutch classroom that is using iPads, with a teacher there only as a facilitator. What about human interaction?

The possibilities for education are endless in the modern world and it will be interesting to see how contexts change in the next century.


ABC. (2013). What's in the Gonski Report? Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-27/whats-in-the-gonski-report/4219508.

Angus, L.B. (1992). 'Quality' schooling, conservative education policy and educational change in Australia, Journal of Educational Policy, 7 (4), 379-397.

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2013). Welcome. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/default.asp.

Australian Education Union. (2013). I Give A Gonski. Retrieved from http://igiveagonski.com.au/?gclid=COj-ys2ip7kCFQEhpQodbXwArQ.

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EDU4CCE Changing Contexts in Education 2E. Compiled by Ian Bentley. pp. 2-77, 83-139, 190-208. Cengage Learning Australia.

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* Colonial Australia: Vastly different to the systematic educational system we have today. An exclusive and elite experience; not compulsory. Most schools were ran by churches, and many children did not have access to an education. School was used as a method to teach children their place, morally and colonially.
* 1870's : Government began to control education. after federation this became each states responsibility.
* 1880: Education became free and compulsory for all children.
* After federation: Focus of education was the creation of a new nation. During this time Australia was growing industrially and commercially and was becoming a viable part of the British empire. The need for schooling was inherent, as it was a "powerful agent in the intellectual, moral and social development of children" (Green & Reid, 2012, p. 366). The new generation were to grow and develop the country; they needed the skills and knowledge and this came from an education.
* Secondary schooling: Emerged slowly in the first part of the 20th century. It was expensive and elite. It changed after World War Two. Known as the 'Great Expansion', this happened due to the rapid economic, demographic and social changes occurring after the war.
* 1960's: The age of compulsory attendance rose to 15. Expansion of Trade schools occurred as well.
*1970's onwards: Comprehensive schooling occurred, where tech/trade schools were combined with other high schools to broaden student opportunities.
* By the end of the 20th century, comprehensive forms of schooling were the mainstream. Challenging new era of policy making, curricula changes and teacher education changes.
* Heading into the 21st century, education in Australia now endorses that we take into account differing needs, talents and interests, and support students from various backgrounds and levels of disadvantage so they can reach their potential.
"Teacher education expanded and diversified in the first half of the twentieth century to accommodate a burgeoning new population of school -aged children" (Green & Reid, 2012, p. 375)
" We can define a philosophy as the most general way of thinking about the meaning of our lives in the world and reflecting deeply on what is true or false, good or evil, right or wrong.." (Bentley, 2013, p. 165)
"Education as a major social institution in an arena of ideological contest" (Angus, 1992, p. 379)
Education in Australia has undergone many changes due to the economic and industrial developments that have occurred since colonization.
Gonski Review Ad.
Our Changing World!
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