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Tuesday, 28 April  2009  Essential Learnings

Visit Tasmania where a new type of education is about to become compulsory in all schools.

AIRLIE WARD: Roger Bridgland has been teaching for 35 years in Tasmania.

He was contemplating leaving the profession, but says essential learnings has given him a new lease on his teaching life.

AIRLIE WARD: From next year all Tasmanian State schools must begin reporting and assessing according to the essential learnings framework, with full transition by 2008.

And students from kindergarten to Grade 10 across Tasmania will for the first time be measured against the same standard.

Lyndon Leppard is one of the authors of essential learnings.

LYNDON LEPPARD: Did the system need changing?

Yes, it needed improvement and improvement's really been continual for 10, 15, even 20 years but it needed changing to identify a curriculum that was guaranteed for all students and it needed to be more transparent and it needed to be based on what the community identified as things every student had to learn.

AIRLIE WARD: He's an essential learnings disciple and is principal of Clarence High School, which made the switch four years ago.

He says people need to understand the five ELs are not subjects but umbrellas under which students do multiple disciplines.

LYNDON LEPPARD: We don't have a separate maths, science, ethics, art section in our heads.

When we're looking at problem solving, or having a conversation with somebody, we bring together information from all over our brains so one of the things we try to do with our curriculum organisation is to give students a complex task.

LYDNON LEPPARD: Everything is moving very fast for this generation.

If you think about the changes you saw in your life and the change for your children in the past four or five years, whether it's the ethics of gene modification or the appropriate use of technology, this is coming on to them really fast.

They have to make judgement calls and they have to understand what's going on rather than use memory.

AIRLIE WARD: However, there have been fears the ELs will spell the end of school as we know it.

JEAN WALKER: Are we still going to have traditional classes with people sitting in rows learning maths?

Of course, sometimes sitting in rows is the best way to learn things.

One of the things that's happened in the last 15 years is we now know more about what works for learners and the way brains learn or the way children learn.

We know more about that than we ever have before.

AIRLIE WARD: Roseanne Partridge is the president of Parents and Friends at Clarence High.

Her son, who's about to finish Grade 10, has gone through that school's transition.

Are you happy in terms of the education he's received?

ROSEANNE PARTRIDGE, PARENTS AND FRIENDS: Yes, it's bought him more out of himself with this new system.

It's not something that they're going to be given a sheet that's been photocopied.

This is something the these children have got to come up with ideas, they've got to find the information, they've got to get off their bottoms and do it.

AIRLIE WARD: As this school year draws to a close and some parents get a familiar report for the last time, Roseanne's advice for those about to encounter essential learning for the first time next year.


Don't sit on the fence, don't complain, ask questions.

Go in, see the teachers, ask them.

Even if you want a Q and A night, get it done before you say anything.

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English Bites - Essential Learnings
story notes

Contemplating means considering or thinking about something in a serious way.

Profession means job.

If something is essential, it is needed or necessary.

 new lease on his teaching life
If a person is given a new lease on life they have an increase of interest and energy for life.
Example: The promotion has given him a new lease on life.
Roger has a new interest in teaching and more energy for his career as a teacher, since he discovered the Essential Learnings program.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

Curriculum refers to the group of subjects studied at a school.

There are two ways of spelling the word pronounced 'principal'. Follow the link to find out more.
more information: principal & principle

Here, umbrella doesn’t mean the object you use to protect yourself from the rain.
Instead, the term umbrella refers to a group of similar things.

 multiple disciplines
Multiple disciplines means many areas of study or subjects.

Complex means difficult and involving many different parts.

Saw is the past tense of the irregular verb see.
more information: see

 make judgement calls
A judgement call is a decision made after thinking very carefully about something.

 going on
Example: What's going on?
For more meanings of the phrasal verb go on, follow the link.
more information: go on

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