Social Commentary

Are You Too Busy For a Thumbs Up?

This was originally written for my regular Generation Next Column. It has a handful of comments there that you might like to read.

My 5-year-old son attends swimming lessons each and every Sunday. It’s a busy pool with multiple classes going on at once.

During lessons parents sit around the pool and watch their offspring splash around, offering words of encouragement, the occasional ‘thumbs up’ and many smiles of pride.

You can picture it can’t you? It was pretty much the same as when we learnt to swim… way back when.

However if you’ve actually taken a child to swimming lessons recently you’d know that the picture I’ve painted is actually a fake.

In my experience, parents aren’t offering words of encouragement, thumbs up or even smiles. They’re staring at a screen reading banal Facebook updates, answering ‘important’ emails that simply couldn’t wait until Monday or just surfing mindlessly.

I wonder why?

Have we really convinced ourselves that we are that busy that we can’t devote 30mins of our attention to our kids? Heck even 15mins would be good!

How many of these parents have to lie when their kids ask them, “Did you see me?”

How many of these kids finish a lap to look for a thumbs up, only to find their parents’ thumbs otherwise engaged?

I know this might seem like a trivial matter, but I wonder if it’s just the tip of a much larger iceberg?

I’d be interested to hear what you think… am I worrying about nothing?

Ipad Parents

Education Leadership

It Just Clicks – Latest SMH Piece

At the start of this year, 7000  school students in Miami took a maths course delivered entirely by computer. Instead of a teacher, the only adult in the room was a “facilitator” who dealt with technical problems and ensured students remained on task.  Labor’s Digital Education Revolution (DER) ensures that every Year 9 student in Australia receives a laptop – so could Australian classrooms one day resemble those in Miami? And are teachers now an endangered species?

 Read my full article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Below are how you can connect with some of those mentioned in the article.

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Education Leadership

What is the Role of a 21st Century School Principal?

On Sunday I read a report by the Sunday Telegraph’s education editor Laura Speranza which highlighted the technological habits of school principals. I tweeted the following:!/danhaesler/status/117800130081587200

Unsurprisingly, many of the responses suggested they thought principals needed to be across all the latest technology, and if they weren’t it would hamper their students’ learning in the 21st Century.

However, whilst it may be preferable for a school principal to be across all the latest technology, it is both unrealistic and unfair to expect this to be the case.

Instead I suggest principals must satisfy the following four criteria.

1. First and foremost a school prinicpal must be a visionary. They must have a clear and well communicated mission for their school, its staff and wider community.

2. Principals must be expert communicators and facilators in order to deliver their vision.

3. Principals must be experts in their field – teaching. They must understand the implications of, and rationales behind various pedagogical techniques in the 21st Century.

Principals need not be experts in all areas of curriculum design, e-learning, finances, maintenance, wellbeing and psychology etc… Rather schools need leadership teams comprising of experts in each of these fields.

Using Richard Branson as an example. He has the vision of Virgin offering the first commercial space flight in the near future. However, I doubt he is an expert on the latest and most efficient material for space craft design.

What do you think? Is this too simplistic?

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