And that’s the last post for the day. Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.
Table of contents
The following post is by Lizzie Mann, doctoral student, Flinders University
Teachers are storytellers. We should listen
The grey gloom couldn’t dampen the energy and excitement at the AARE Conference. It was an absolute pleasure to present my forthcoming doctoral research with passionate peers in Rural Education and Teachers’ Work and Lives.
My presentation shared the stories of early career teachers and the factors that influenced their work and life in rural, regional, and remote Australia.
Teachers are storytellers. To hear their voices, see through their eyes, and tell their stories, I crafted research portraits from my interview data. Each “portrait” of each early career teachers “painted” with their words the compelling, rich rural work and life experiences.
To share the themes that influenced early career teachers’ rural work and life, I crafted research poems. Each themed poem was crafted with all early career teachers’ words, their different perspectives and experiences woven into a narrative flow.
With much attention focused on the teacher shortages gripping our nation, teacher voice is critical.
Teachers, early career and experienced, rural and metropolitan, should tell their stories. The media, governments, and universities are not the only storytellers. Stakeholders must value and listen to teachers’ voice, perspectives, and experiences of their work and life in the profession.
Engage in conversation. Change the narrative. Support our teachers.
The following post is by Jess Harris, University of Newcastle.
Schools in a state of arrhythmia
The evolving challenges in the principals’ role in Australia and England:
Anyone who has worked within or with schools is aware that the role of the principalship is relentless. Principals hold responsibility for the social, emotional and physical wellbeing of teachers and students, in addition to needing to lead teaching and learning, address policy issues and plan for ongoing improvement. These papers in this symposium each highlighted that responsibilities can weigh heavily on school leaders and have been exacerbated by the disruptions caused by COVID.
In her paper, Pat Thomson drew on Lefebvre’s thought of rhythmanalysis to illustrate the standard rhythms within schools. School closures, shifting policy landscapes, and ever changing regulations disrupted these rhythms, leaving schools in a state of arrhythmia.
This period has added substantially to the workload of principals, with many reporting that they felt that they had no time off and their concerns that the constant overload was having negative impacts on their mental and physical health.
These concerns were echoed by the team from Australian Catholic University, who showed that the wellbeing of principals is at crisis point. Their survey identified that the status of principals’ mental health and workload was worse in 2022 than it was during 2020. One potential explanation for this, raised in Pat’s session, is that schools and school leaders are often asked to take on greater responsibility but work is rarely, if ever, taken away.
The team from Monash, led by Jane Wilkinson, highlighted that the diversity and complexity of this role requires educational leaders to be strategic leaders, effective managers and show care and compassion for those in their school community. Their emotional labour means that they often prioritise teacher and student wellbeing before their own.
While this symposium identified so many evolving challenges for school leaders, there were some glimmers of hope. First, the Monash team reported that clear policies and procedures can provide principals with a sense of ontological safety. These provide something of a map to support school leaders to respond to critical incidents strategically, meaning that they can set their emotions aside – at least while dealing with crises. Furthermore, the chaos and complexity of COVID lockdowns made visible much of the work, including the emotional labour, that school leaders do. While this doesn’t help principals in the short term, hopefully the growing public recognition of their care for teachers and students, often at the expense of their own mental and physical health, will prompt some much-needed action from school systems.
This following blog post is by Naomi Barnes, QUT.
Staying with trouble
Generative discussion about the challenges to education of the COVID 19 pandemic was the topic of a symposium led by Susanne Gannon from Western Sydney University. The educational inequalities and (post)pandemic legacies in Australia, Denmark and Brazil symposium probably brought up more questions than solutions, each paper demonstrated the multifaceted challenges of schools and their communities without even scratching the surface of the complexities. But this is a good thing. It’s generative because we can’t just all agree on a way to move forward.
The pandemic has made visible many tensions that education researchers need to fully consider. Rather than accepting the binary of ‘good and bad’, the desire for what education is and what it can be, lived side by side throughout the pandemic, and by sharing our stories and research around the world we can begin to develop a global conversation about what the point of education is. Tensions exist between parents delegitimising the purpose of school as opposed to those who needed it to do what it has always done. Australian parents deciding how much of the provided school work to do was juxtaposed with children in Brazil doing any of the homework they can on a mobile phone and the very real impact of two years of disrupted education on learning. Some parents spoke of how inclusive schooling from home was for their children with learning needs because they could adjust for each child, was placed in tension with the huge inequalities that exist between those parents that could help their children and those that could not because they were essential workers.
Ultimately, the pandemic has shown us that education is in an uncomfortable place. But the advantage of being uncomfortable is that it demands we work, and continue to work, on ourselves, our theoretical frameworks, our analyses, our support of the teaching profession and the communities that are entangled with the education system. We can’t just pick and choose which research outcomes we will apply to match our pre-pandemic agendas because it is just so starkly unethical it is to pick a one-size-fits-all solution.
There was a huge cast of academics and educators trying to come to terms with the meaning of education before/during the pandemic and the one that is still continuing today. Sharing experiences and listening to other points of view, the team was ‘staying with the trouble’.
Paper 1: ‘Reworldings’: exploring perspectives on the future from Danish and Australian youth during COVID-19
Paper 2: Parental educational agency during COVID-19
Paper 3: Educational inequalities at the pandemic context: diagnosis and propositions for Brazilian public policies
This following blog post is by Steven Kolber, University of Melbourne
Weaving Indigenous knowledges
These three sessions on Indigenous knowledges dovetailed wonderfully with the overarching metaphor of weaving. Weaving strength-based and culturally responsive leadership; weaving reflective and relational approaches through storying pedagogy: and weaving stories of strength from across Australia, Aotearoa, Canada, and the United States.
Throughout all three sessions, respect, representation and developing a pipeline of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship and excellence were present.
The ever-present deficit framing of ‘Closing the gap’ and other policy documents was challenged, through the role of leaders roles within creating spaces where excellence is the norm to counter this framing. The importance of leaders holding a clear understanding of race as a social construct as well as their core role to establish conditions for quality teaching and learning.
Indigenising the academy through storying as a means to allow students to consider their own biases and expectations was outlined with exciting student writing examples presented. The pedagogical and conceptual framing of this approach was also outlined. The five core Storying principles were explored as follows:
- Principle 1: storying nourishes thought, body and soul
- Principle 2: storying claims voice in the silenced margins
- Principle 3: storying is embodied relational meaning making
- Principle 4: storying intersects the past and present as living oral archive
- Principle 5: storying enacts collective ownership and authorship
Closing out the trio of sessions, an overview of First Nations and Indigenous knowledge inclusion within the systems of Australia, Aotoroea, Canada and the United States. Then stories of Indigenous experts were presented alongside their framing of best practice work within their relevant contexts.
A very clear message of weaving strength based narratives throughout work in this field was developed alongside the lack of listening to expertise from Indigenous people within Australia and elsewhere. The need to listen, value and respect First Nation voices was reified through a range of possible actions and interventions.
The presentations were:
Weaving the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices into school leadership in Australia Antoinette Cole, University of Queensland
Weaving a knowledge basket through storying: Enhancing student engagement in tertiary Indigenous Studies through a reflective and relational approach to teaching and learning Tracey Bunda, The University of Queensland; Katelyn Barney, The University of Queensland; Lisa Oliver, The University of Queensland
Weaving Stories of Strength: Utilising a framework towards Indigenising the Classroom Tasha Riley, Griffith University, Griffith Institute of Educational Research; Troy Meston, Griffith University; Chesley Cutler, Griffith University; Samantha Low-Choy, Griffith University | Griffith Institute of Educational Research | Centre for Planetary Health and Food Security; Brittany McCormack, Griffith University, Griffith Institute of Educational Research; Eun-Ji Amy Kim, Griffith University; Sonal Nakar, Griffith University; Daniela Vasco, Griffith University; Eunjae Park, Griffith University; Emily Wright, Griffith University
Mary Lou Rasmussen delivered the 2023 Redford Lecture this morning. What follows is an extract. #AARE2023
We love the Matildas – so what do we think about men’s football?
In part two of this lecture, I introduce my understanding of everyday public pedagogies of gender/sex/sexualities. These public pedagogies are familiar, they feed habits of thinking and feeling about gender/sex/sexualities. In order to imagine what’s possible, it’s valuable to examine what these public pedagogies can do, what they do to us, how they make us feel and what “we” can learn about ourselves by attending to the above.
|Things worthy of the national embrace?||Things that give us pause?|
|The Matildas||Men’s Football|
|She/her – He/Him||They/them|
|Ru Paul’s Drag Race||Drag Queen Story Time|
|Sex Education – on Netflix||Sex Education – in schools|
|Same Sex Marriage||Voice to Parliament|
|Accessible bathrooms||Gender inclusive bathrooms|
When I think about public pedagogies of gender, sex and sexualities in “so-called Australia” in 2023 these are just some of the things I have in mind. That “we” love the Matildas, but “we” recognise that men’s football has quite a way to go until it is seen as inclusive as the women’s game. That some pronouns are more equal than others. I learned that Drag Queens have their place, it’s just not in the library, with “our children”. That while “we” continue to agonize over the content of school-based sexuality education, Netflix’ Sex Education series 4, was the most popular series streamed in Australia for two weeks. That while the same-sex marriage survey felt right- a form of inclusion whose time had come, the “Voice to Parliament” referendum, not so much, “we” were not there yet. That accessible bathrooms that don’t specify a gender are okay. However, bathrooms that don’t specify a gender are potentially confusing, if they are for people who are able-bodied.
Beyond the list, public pedagogies are enacted in the ways “we” count gender and sexualities in our research surveys. It’s the way “we” talk about males and females, when most likely “we” might be focused on women and men but “we” often fail to understand the difference between sex and gender in the research that “we” do. It’s the way “we” design homes with particular sorts of families in mind. Or school/work/sports uniforms with particular sorts of bodies in mind. It’s in the ways that “we” talk about “working families” – that backbone of Australian society – predictably evoked at every election cycle like “we” all know and understand just what a “working family” is. It’s public votes on who should be included in our polity and/or our constitution.
When public pedagogies of gender, sex and sexualities are seen in the broad, then “recognition politics” will be insufficient to apprehend and respond to the complexities they surface. A focus on inclusion of LGBTQ subjects in education, health and housing is valuable, but it is also insufficient. A focus on recognition and inclusion can obscure ways in which gender/sex/sexualities are entwined and embodied.
Affects teach us. What can “we” learn when “we” pay attention to pleasure, disgust, discomfort and joy in relation to gender/sex/sexualities? In his critique of public pedagogies Glenn Savage asks us to reconceptualize “what pedagogy means in contemporary times [and] that informal sites of learning need to be re-imagined as spaces of resistive and regulatory potential: as dynamic, dialectical, and political spaces through which new visions can and will be forged” (2010:104). Public pedagogies of gender, sex and sexualities are, at least as I imagine them, at once, dynamic/regulatory/resistive. These public pedagogies, I hope you’ll agree, are directed towards us all, though maybe, sometimes, it feels like they are more for some, than others, do you know what I mean? Today, at least, I am not interested in what young people feel, what teachers feel, or parents or administrators. I am focused on this community of researchers in education and how together “we” can contemplate the affective and habitual discontinuities and continuities that adhere to the flows of gender, sex and sexualities in these public pedagogies.
As an academic who has been working in the space for over 20 years, I want to admit to being unsure about just how I should think or feel about gender/sex/sexualities and the ways that they are entwined with racism, settler-colonialism, religion, secularism, late capitalism, non/reproduction and ableism. This is especially the case when, each year, I engage with undergraduates and doctoral students who I feel are living with these shifting terrains in ways that I am just not; as a they/them, she/her, settler, monogamous, gen x, queer professor.
Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen has undertaken research in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Her research focuses on building transdisciplinary understanding of sexuality and gender across diverse lifeworlds, taking account of issues related to sexual citizenship, cultural and religious difference and technologies of sexuality, education and health. She is co-editor, with Louisa Allen, of the Handbook of Sexuality Education (Palgrave).