I’ve moved through a few responses to the discussion paper about quality teaching from the NSW Department of Education and Training.
On first skim, I rolled my eyes at the jargony quality of it. I have a real aversion to jargon – I believe it is a great way to maintain and increase social division. While obviously some fields will have terms not familiar to the layman, using big words and long sentences where smaller and shorter ones will do serves only to alienate a large number of readers. (Did I just do that? Oh dear.) The target audience for the DET paper is educated to at least tertiary level but too much jargon will still send a lot of teachers running. If the way I react is anything to go by, others too may feel defensive and negative about what they are reading and quickly switch off.
However, once I settled in to reading it more closely (fortunately my course required it!), I thought it was a thoughtful and positive document. It definitely promotes a move to an RBL style pedagogy with a focus on student direction, self-regulation and engagement. Information literacy is addressed, though not completely, in the “higher order thinking” section where it describes students being “regularly engaged in thinking that requires them to organise, reorganise, apply, analyse, synthesise and evaluate knowledge and information” (p.11).
There is some nod to collaborative teaching and learning in the “social support” section, which states: “There is strong positive support for learning and mutual respect among teachers and students and others assisting students’ learning” (p.13).
Finally I got a little bit excited about it. I especially liked the concept of “problematic knowledge” where “students are encouraged to address multiple perspectives and/or solutions and to recognise that knowledge has been constructed and therefore is open to question” (p.11). That feels positively subversive! Are teachers out there ready to be challenged? I hope so.