One in three children in Australia have concerns about their safety at school, mainly because of bullying, according to a global survey from the international aid group, ChildFund Alliance – a finding echoed in many other countries. More than 6000 children aged 10-12 in 41 countries from Afghanistan to Cambodia to Zambia took part in the Small Voices, Big Dreams survey. Children in Australia characterised safety as not being the target of physical or emotional abuse or violence and having preventative security measures in place ranging from “out of bound” areas, to protection from strangers, to supervision by teachers. In developing countries, children said being safe at school means school buildings and facilities which are clean, safe and in good repair.
Asked how they would improve education, children in developing countries said their priority would be building and improving schools, providing students with uniforms, books and stationery, and equipping classrooms with books and technology. Australian schoolchildren are more interested in modernising the curriculum to widen the range of subjects available and make learning more interactive and fun.
Historic Australian art magazine now online
A prominent early art publication, Art in Australia, is now available online, free, as a result of a joint project between the University of Wollongong Library, the University of NSW and the National Library of Australia. Produced between the two world wars, 1916 to 1942, Art in Australia is a major resource for Australian art history. The digitisation of 40 issues of the magazine took three months and the resulting work has quality images and easily readable text in high resolution. “[Publisher, patron and artist], Sydney Ure Smith modelled this journal on high-quality European art publications such as The Studio, and sought to nurture a national tradition in Australian art and design,” UOW Creative Arts Senior Professor Ian McLean said. The publication can be found online on the NLA Trove website – click on the green “Browse this collection” bar on the right to bring up the 40 digitised issues.
PE for girls needs to change
Physical Education (PE) teaching should change to be attractive to girls, says lecturer in health and movement studies Rachael Jefferson-Buchanan, who is studying the 120-year history of PE as a school subject. The competitive sports, games and fitness focus of PE were the product of patriarchal structures and some girls, especially teenagers struggling with body confidence, felt uncomfortable taking part in them. “Competition and rule-following can also become things to which girls develop an aversion. They adopt avoidance strategies such as feigning illness, getting 'out' early during team games, offering to be goalie or similar less conspicuous roles,” Ms Jefferson-Buchanan, of Charles Sturt University, said. She would like to see changes to give teenage girls PE that is enjoyment-oriented and offered choices of activities. "I want to open up an honest discussion about how the subject is actually developed and taught at a state, national, and international level in the hope that this will lead to a revision of the current gendered curriculum and teacher training. We need to better understand and challenge the power relations that underpin and drive our PE teaching and practice," said Ms Jefferson-Buchanan, who delivered a paper on the topic earlier this month in Sydney.
Cyberbullying traps for schools
Some useful advice on bullying in schools was offered at a recent education law conference, the magazine, The Educator, reported. Many schools need to update their anti-bullying policy to include cyber-bullying, which can be considered a criminal offence, Dan Brush of Colin Biggers Paisley Lawyers said. When cyberbullying takes place in a school environment, the target or victim may seek compensation against both the perpetrator and the school on the basis that the school failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the actions. School authorities can face negligence actions for alleged failure to prevent cyberbullying. Duty of care is not confined to school premises or school hours.
Public education will be squeezed more under Trump
The two main American teachers’ unions have strongly criticised President Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, citing her hardline “school choice” views. Ms DeVos’ “efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students”, National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen García said. “In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatising, defunding and destroying public education in America,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said.
Ms DeVos backs charter schools and the voucher program that gives parents public funds to pay for a school of their choice rather than use public education. Mr Trump says he is prepared to back school choice to the tune of $US20 billion. Ms DeVos, who earlier this year said she thought some of the things Mr Trump was saying during campaigning “very off-putting and concerning” and backed Ohio Governor John Kasich for president, said after her nomination that she was honoured to work on Mr Trump’s “vision to make American education great again”. She will have the aid of 33 Republican governors and Republican-controlled state legislature and gubernatorial power in 24 states in pushing public education into a corner.