Teaching the teachers

Teaching and leading in the innovation age. Professor John Fischetti promotes learning equity to enable educational success of all children.

John FischettiThe University of Newcastle's School of Education is recognised as one of the best in Australia and among the top 1.5% in the world. We are committed to producing great educators who can inspire and impact every child to discover and develop their full potential. Our purpose is to:

…develop the next generation of teachers, leaders and scholars to guide the future of education across Australia and the world. Through the academic excellence of our programs; and a commitment to equity, diversity and innovation in our research and teaching; we strive to contribute to the continued development of a just, fair and healthy society. Our staff is committed to effective partnerships with schools, early learning centres, community members, researchers and policy-makers to assist in promoting research and informed practice in all aspects of education. We prepare graduates who use their knowledge, skills and dispositions to transform lives and help communities thrive (School of Education Vision Statement, 2015).

"We need to be better preparing teachers so that kids actually master content and skills rather than just filling in the time at school and taking tests," Professor Fischetti says.

The University of Newcastle is committed to impacting our region, Australia and the world by preparing new teachers, leaders and scholars who are drivers of educational change and equity for all learners. As a post-industrial community with a vibrant and diverse heritage dating back 60,000 years, Newcastle is the perfect location to study education and to be part of the transformation of teaching and learning for the innovation age.

The challenges confronting educators in Australia are echoed in school systems and teacher education programs around the world, and Professor Fischetti has outlined the 5 Key Global Trends (and Opportunities) in education that we need to be cogniscent of. Full article:

John C. Fischetti (2014) Issues in Education: The Rubber Duckies Are Here: Five Trends Affecting Public Education Around the World, Childhood Education, 90:4, 316-318, DOI: 10.1080/00094056.2014.937309] http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00094056.2014.937309#.VLhc5mP4KwQ

  1. Choice isn't always democratic - Think tanks and policymakers are pushing for choice in the market, including rapid implementation of vouchers and charters. Their rhetoric espouses that public schools are managed by stubborn teachers' unions and large bureaucracies that have lost their way. In effect, vouchers can be used as a tax deduction for the wealthy that reimburse them for attending private schools. Charters are being gobbled up by private companies leading to for profit educational centres run as franchises, with results in many places that are no better and even worse than traditional public schools in the same postal codes (Global Research, 2014).
  2. We've created testing instead of learning centres - the rise of high-stakes testing has led to many schools 'teaching to the test'. "Continuous test preparation minimizes teaching time and becomes a self-fulfilling destiny for children who are poor or who learn differently."
  3. A misuse of value-added measures - Since high-stakes accountability took hold in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia, educators have clamored for a long-term lens through which to view student performance rather relying on oneyear increments. "Value-added," which attempts to project an individual student's state test scores for a current year from past results, has increasingly become the baseline used to judge teachers and schools under the Obama administration's Race to the Top initiative. Value-added can be used to compare a learner's growth over time; however, its limitations are striking (Condie, Lefgren, & Sims, 2014).
  4. This is an international movement - international think tanks and the global economic and educational marketplace now govern the direction of school reform
  5. This is about privatisation of the public space - the idea that governments can't "get it right" is leading to the privatisation of schools along with utilities and roads.

As a strong advocate for educational equity, Professor Fischetti believes that we must prepare young people to work together to create knowledge or solve problems to improve the human condition. A reframed curriculum with an equity agenda can enable human capacity for the collaborative, global innovation age that demands not only advanced literacy, numeracy and technology skills but care, compassion, love, and inspiration.