There was a reprint published last month of Noel Pearson’s 2009 Quarterly Essay Radical Hope: Education and Equality in Australia.
In the essay Noel observes that:
In Australia, there seems to be a contradiction at the heart of our commitment to public education. On the one hand, educators are briefed with the task of enabling disadvantaged students to transcend their background: to defy the social and economic forces of class predestination. On the other hand, the same educators (and the society that gives them their brief) are likely to believe that educational inequality will always reflect social and economic inequality: that the further down the ladder you go, the less prospect there is of encountering a school of willing students and able teachers.
Noel discussed the teaching and administrative changes being implemented in some Cape York schools on Radio National’s Big Ideas program.
I was particularly interested in the pedagogy issues under discussion including direct instruction. As a result I followed up on Siegfried Engelmann‘s work to look at the way direct instruction: was used in small groups; focused attention on the teacher; used scripts from designed instruction; encouraged individual and group response; was characterised by feedback and correction; and conducted at a high pace.
I liked the focus on high expectation, high quality education in Cape York schools and thought that notwithstanding the philosophical and political issues raised by direct instruction there were important matters to address about personal learning and differentiated support for learners.
I am hopeful that exploring these ideas will help me understand better the explicit and tacit behaviours of expert pedagogues (teachers and coaches) to support differentiated (personalised) learning and performances of understanding.