CHILD-CENTRED learning should be abandoned for a return to more explicit instruction driven by teachers, the Liberal education spokesman, Christopher Pyne, says.
Mr Pyne on Wednesday advocated ”more practical teaching methods based on more didactic teaching methods, more traditional methods rather than the child-centred learning that has dominated the system for the past 20, 30 or 40 years”.
”In other words, mounting evidence suggests that primary school children or students with particular types of disadvantage would be better off being taught this way,” he said. ”Unfortunately this research has been ignored by most teacher training and in many instances attempts to return to explicit instruction pedagogy have been blocked by state education departments.”
As the Gillard government seeks to deliver funding for the Gonski reforms, Mr Pyne chose to focus on teaching standards, denying the school funding system was broken. If the Coalition wins the coming federal election, he said he would set up a ministerial advisory group to improve teaching methods nationally.
The incoming president of the Australian College of Educators, Stephen Dinham, who is delivering a speech on Thursday night saying teachers are being unfairly blamed for education system problems, cautioned on Wednesday against a return to ”chalk and talk” methods of learning.
Professor Dinham, however, acknowledged an excessive use of students engaged in inquiry and discovery-type learning without the basis they need to do it. He said it was false to portray teaching methods as a choice between directing learning and student-centred approaches, saying good teachers used a mix of both. ”We’re bedevilled in education by false dichotomies,” he said.
The education head at University of Technology Sydney, Rosemary Johnston, said child-centred learning was about the teacher acting more like a facilitator helping each student.
”What Christopher Pyne was saying is that, and he’s right, there is now quite a move back to – and I don’t like the word didactic at all – but a teaching approach that acknowledges the teacher has knowledge that the children don’t and that there is a place for direct instruction,” she said.
The Australian Education Union claimed the Coalition was talking about teaching methods as a ”smokescreen” to avoid doing anything to change the inequitable status quo on school funding. ”We’ve had the review; we don’t need a review of the review. We need to get on with the Gonski recommendations if we’re serious about improvement,” the union president, Angelo Gavrielatos, said.
The School Education Minister, Peter Garrett, said Mr Pyne’s comments suggested the Coalition ”would stick to a flawed school funding model that the independent Gonski review found is unfair, lacks transparency and is leaving too many schools and students behind”.
The Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu said his plan for education funding was fairer and more sustainable, after Fairfax Media revealed Victoria was expected to reap four times as much funding for schools through the Gillard government’s proposed reforms.
with Henrietta Cook
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.