The past decade has seen increasing federal intervention in teacher education in Australia, and like many other countries, more attention on teacher education as a policy problem. The current policy context calls for graduates from initial teacher education programs to be classroom ready and for teacher education programs to provide evidence of their effectiveness and their impact on student learning. It is suggested that teacher educators currently lack sufficient evidence and response to criticisms of effectiveness and impact. However, examination of the relevant literature and analysis of the discourses informing current policy demonstrate that it is the issue of how effectiveness is understood and framed, and what constitutes evidence of effectiveness, that needs closer examination by both teacher educators and policymakers before evidence of impact can be usefully claimed—or not.
Diane Mayer, Wayne Cotton, and Alyson Simpson
Stephen Crump, Kylie Twyford, and Theresa Koroivulaono
Remote and rural education is a resonating issue worldwide, given the new and emerging capabilities of digitization to reduce barriers of distance, time, and space, particularly for Oceania. Issues based on achieving equitable educational access and participation that ameliorates the disadvantages for many students in remote and rural locations of Australasia and the Pacific, compared to those in urban classrooms, are pertinent. Nonetheless, students in remote and rural locations also show great resilience and have built up a trove of informal knowledge from the demands of daily life requiring a high degree of independence and maturity. This is evident in the distance education School of the Air in Australia, the University of the South Pacific, and the Marshall Islands College in the North Pacific. These sites provide insights into strength-based reform strategies intended to improve rural and remote education and training and, consequently, work and life choices.
“Redressing Aboriginal disadvantage” through Indigenous education policy and studies has been on the policy agenda in Australian institutions for several decades. With notable exceptions, Indigenous studies programs have tended to position Indigenous peoples as objects of study. These objectifications still largely pivot around constructions of Indigenous cultures and peoples through deficit or essentializing discourses. The apprehension of these limiting discourses in Indigenous Australian studies for non-Indigenous learners contribute to the reproduction and reinforcement of contemporary justifications for Indigenous peoples’ colonial disenfranchisement. Often, limited attention is given to examining the relationality of knowledge, people, and ideas in (neo)colonial domains and, subsequently, to the deconstruction of the epistemological conditions under which Indigenous peoples were and are “known.” The Indigenist Standpoint Pedagogical (ISP) framework was designed to develop critical tools for all students to understand the epistemic forces that empower their worldviews and behaviors. The key question for an ISP framed learning space shifts is not, “What do students need to know about Indigenous peoples and experiences?” but rather, “Where does my knowledge come from and what is its purpose and impact on the way I relate to, and form, understandings about Australian history and Indigenous Australian peoples and experiences?” In the latter approach, students are exposed to opportunities to theorize and examine structural privilege. They engage in critical self-enquiry to interrogate the conditions that impact on their interpretations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian experiences throughout history and into the 21st century. In this sense, ISP is an inherently reformative, relational, and critically reflexive framework that supports and facilitates the reintegration of Indigenous knowledge perspectives in ways that interrupt the enduring impact of the colonial narrative.
Georgina Barton and Kay Hartwig
The business of international students in the higher education sector is a crucial part of many countries’ economic development and intercultural richness. In fact, in Australia participation of international students in university study accounts for the third highest export industry behind iron ore and coal with similar trends seen in other countries. Given that such a large proportion of students across the globe are international, it is important that higher educators are able to support them appropriately through their study. Research literature has identified a number of issues international students face including homesickness, being away from family and friends, financial hardship, accommodation concerns, and cultural difference including language. Further concerns may arise when international students undertake a professional experience in an authentic workplace such as in a work integrated learning (WIL) experience or practicum or internship. For international students studying teacher education students are expected to complete a number of professional experiences within the schooling sector. Research about teacher education international students’ experience in schools has often focused on negative aspects related to this component of study rather than the success that many students enjoy. In fact, supervisors or the work colleagues who are responsible for assessing international students often report mutual benefits through hosting. International students in teacher education face several difficult issues as well as success, and this includes international students in Australia and domestic students undertaking professional experience overseas. A model of effective practice for all stakeholders in teacher education professional experience can be useful.
Elisa Di Gregorio and Glenn C. Savage
In recent decades, important changes have taken place in terms of how governments debate, manage, and allocate funding for schools. These changes have been strongly influenced by a diversification of actors contributing to the school funding. For example, although governments continue to provide the majority of funding resources for schools across member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), many nations have witnessed an increased presence of nongovernment actors, such as philanthropies and corporations, in contributing to the funding of both government and nongovernment schools. Many nations have also seen increases in private parental contributions, which has contributed to the expansion of private schooling relative to traditional public schooling. Despite significant diversity in funding models across OECD nations, debates about funding are increasingly informed by a transnational field of policy ideas, practices, and evidence. The OECD has been a central force in facilitating this “global conversation” about the complexity of school funding trends and impacts, particularly in relation to the impacts of funding on student achievement and equity. A key question in these evolving debates is whether “more money” alone will improve outcomes or whether the focus needs to shift more toward “what schools do” with money (i.e., a “what works” approach). In response to this question, the OECD has played a leading role in steering global debates away from a historically dominant focus on whether more funding makes a difference or not to student achievement, toward a different narrative that suggests the amount of money only matters up to a certain point, and that what matters most beyond that is what systems and schools do with money. At the same time, the OECD has been central to producing a rearticulated “numbers-driven” understanding of equity, which understands equity primarily in terms of the relationship between a young person’s background and his or her performance on PISA, and which frames equity as primarily important from an economic perspective. Importantly, however, while schooling funding reforms are increasingly informed by global conversations, policy reforms remain locally negotiated. Recent Australian school funding reforms illustrate this well. Over the past decade, two prominent federal school funding reviews have sought to address funding issues in Australia’s federal system. These reports have been deeply shaped by the distinctive conditions of possibility of Australian federalism, but at the same time have been heavily informed by broader transnational reform narratives and the work of the OECD specifically. Yet while both reviews position the OECD at the center of their respective rationales, each does so in different ways that speak to different policy problems. An exploration of the Australian case and how it relates to broader global conversations about school funding offers important insights into how policies are simultaneously globally and locally negotiated.