On Monday night, I was fortunate to attend a lecture hosted by Sydney University by Professor Linda Darling Hammond from Stanford University. Professor Darling Hammond is one of the leading educational thinkers today.
Listening to Darling Hammond, I was struck by the simplicity of her message and the common sense approach to schooling. In a very short time, she contextualised the nature of a changing world and the demands these changes will place on citizens of today and tomorrow.
She then went on to debunk many of the supposed silver bullets to improve schooling that have now been relegated to the dust bins of irrelevancy. Take for example, her view on what we need to do to improve teaching:
1. have professional teaching standards guiding evaluation and development
2. have strong clinical preparation
3. have expert mentoring and coaching
4. have sustained professional development in collaborative professional communities
5. have career ladders that develop and spread expertise
Notice, there is no mention of merit pay for teachers!
Obviously this common sense requires some strategic implementation processes but if we don’t follow this advice we will continue to de-skill our teachers.
Darling Hammond also broadened the debate on school improvement by pointing out what the high achieving nations are doing to support schools. These are:
1. having societal supports for children’s welfare
2. ensuring equitable resources with greater investments in high need schools
3. substantial investments in initial teacher education and ongoing support
4. have schools designed to support teacher and student learning
5. ensure equitable access to a rich thinking curriculum
6. performance assessments focussed on higher order skills
Common sense lessons from a common sense educator.
I also believe Professor Darling Hammond will be interviewed on Stateline tonight at 7.30pm on ABC One.