Noel Pearson in ‘furious agreement’ with Catholic Education’s reform agenda
The steadfast refusal of systems and educators to accept evidence and implement change is failing children and destroying lives, according to the Indigenous leader and chairman of non-profit Good to Great Schools Australia Noel Pearson.
In his keynote address at the Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn Catholic Education system day on Monday, Mr Pearson condemned progressive teaching and threw his support behind Catholic Education’s Catalyst reform.
Catalyst, an evidence-based, high-impact teaching practice, uses teacher-led direction and explicit instruction over student-led or inquiry-based learning.
Mr Pearson, who is from the Guugu Yimithirr community of Hope Vale on Cape York Peninsula, has long been a vocal advocate of explicit learning.
Through Good to Great Schools Australia, he works to support schools on a journey of improvement with free resources as they transition from Poor to Fair, Fair to Good, Good to Great and on to Excellent.
After 30 years of “social change combat,” Mr Pearson said his “general rule of thumb when it comes to deciding the correct policies, is to do approximately the opposite to what progressive thinking says we should do, and you will get it about right.”
“We can’t muck around. Every year we waste time on the wrong thinking, we are wasting lives,” he said.
Mr Pearson said the explicit instruction approach to education, which had long been discounted as “traditional and conservative and punitive,” was exactly what students, particularly the disadvantaged, needed.
“It’s the kids who are disadvantaged with every year we waste stuffing around and failing to see 50 years of evidence about what works in the teaching of reading and learning generally,” he explained.
“For 30 years I have seen so many children fail to reach their potential. We have a juvenile justice crisis in this country. And it starts with the failure to read, occasioned by the failure to teach and a steadfast refusal for systems and educators to change and see the evidence.”
Explicit instruction, Mr Pearson said, benefited disadvantaged students and played a part in Closing the Gap.“If Indigenous kids are learning English they need to be explicitly taught,” he said.
“You can’t just assume that if we expose these kids to books, and we read books to them, they’ll get it. English is a foreign language for Indigenous kids.”
Mr Pearson said the reform in the Canberra & Goulburn Archdiocese was the most important thing happening in school education.
“You hold the hope for the country,” he said.
“You will be a beacon for the community, and I couldn’t be in more furious agreement with the reform agenda you have for your schools.”
Mr Pearson, a leading Voice to parliament campaigner, asked the 2000 conference attendees to vote Yes in the referendum expected in October.
“I’m 22 years into the journey for constitutional recognition and we are about 95 per cent there,” he said.
AMEN to that! I’ve been teaching primary school children for almost 40 years and I have become extremely disillusioned – like others – with “the system”. Explicit teaching is essential every step of the way. It’s highly frustrating to see strategies that worked well decades ago, come and go yet again and again but called something else each time. I’ve seen so many recycled ideas that I’ve become dizzy!