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Monash experts: Preparing teachers, parents and students for back-to-school

Monash University 5 mins read

Monash University experts are available to provide commentary and advice to teachers, students and parents on preparing for the new school year and the potential challenges that may await them.

Associate Professor Gillian Kidman, School of Curriculum Teaching and Inclusive Education, Monash Education
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu

  • STEM and STEAM education

The following can be attributed to Associate Professor Kidman:

“STEM and STEAM are examples of contemporary education approaches that are inquiry-based and interdisciplinary. Inquiry-based practices develop interdisciplinary thinking and skills. 

“Real-world problems do not neatly fit into single academic subjects. Therefore, students need to have the opportunity to undertake inquiry-based projects to develop interdisciplinary skills to explore topics deeply. Tackling complex challenges requiring combining knowledge, skills and approaches from different disciplines nurtures a student's curiosity.

“Interdisciplinary thinking and skills are crucial components of a well-rounded education and essential for addressing the complex challenges of the modern world. They are mandated in the curriculum documents for most education systems.

“As teachers and parents, it’s our responsibility to prepare students for the future, and that means embracing technology in teaching and learning as a means to embrace inquiry-based and interdisciplinary learning skills. 

“Global challenges like climate change, poverty and healthcare require interdisciplinary approaches. Therefore, individuals with interdisciplinary skills are often better equipped to understand and address these complex, interconnected issues on a global scale.”

Dr Pamela Patrick, Lecturer School of Educational Psychology and Counselling, Monash Education
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu

  • Tackling kids' resistance to return to school

The following can be attributed to Dr Patrick:

“Emerging data from a parent-teen dyad study of teens with school non-attendance concerns has revealed that bullying and a disconnect between reality and curriculum taught in classrooms are two major reasons for the rise in school non-attendance rates. 

“Add to this, the fact that many found a new way of schooling that suited them fine during the pandemic, bringing into question: ‘why the need to change?’. 

“On the other hand, educators are faced with new and evolving demands – school refusal, vaping in schools, and AI to name a few – have made teaching a more complex profession than previously known. 

“These added pressures, with little to no relief, have resulted in an increasing number of educators preferring to leave the profession altogether. Students report feeling disconnected with teachers and teachers' burnout rates are at an all-time high. 

“At a time when the appeal of school is fast dwindling, is it time we started reimagining our schools?”

Associate Professor Kelly-Ann Allen, School of Educational Psychology and Counselling, Monash Education
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
Read more from Professor Allen on Monash Lens

  • Prioritising belonging in 2024

The following can be attributed to Associate Professor Allen:

“PISA, the Programme for International Student Assessment, organised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is widely recognised for evaluating 15-year-olds' competencies in key areas like mathematics, reading and science. PISA also explores other crucial aspects of education, such as students' sense of belonging at school. 

“Between 2018 and 2022, there was a decline in students' sense of belonging at school on average across OECD countries. Disadvantaged students experienced a more pronounced decrease in their sense of belonging compared to other students, with the former reporting a higher likelihood of feeling limited in forming close bonds at and with school in 2022.

“Overall, students feel safe at school, particularly in their classrooms. However, the 2022 PISA results suggest that education systems could consider improving safety on students’ way to or from school, or in places outside of the classroom, such as hallways, cafeterias or restrooms.

“Students who feel a strong sense of belonging at school tend to come from families that regularly engage in shared activities, such as eating meals together, engaging in conversations, and discussing the student's school day. PISA findings suggest that families of low-performing students may emphasise the significance of upper secondary or future education more frequently in an effort to motivate these students to invest more effort into their studies.

“As we approach the start of the school year, schools should appreciate that feeling a sense of belonging takes time – especially at a key transition point or at the start of the year.”

Professor Michael Henderson, School of Curriculum Teaching and Inclusive Education, Monash Education
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
Read more from Professor Henderson on Monash Lens

  • Technology in the classroom and generative Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Online safety on social media

The following can be attributed to Professor Henderson:

“We all want to celebrate key milestones, and a new school year is a huge milestone in a child's life. However, it is worth taking some time to consider what you post online and the viewer permissions. Photos and other details, including names and locations may be revealing more about your child than you want. Cybersafety research has shown that such details can be used by others (strangers and people we know) for negative reasons.

“If you want to post images and stories, it is a great practice to first discuss it with your child. This is a very strong way to role model how we can engage with social media in respectful ways. It sends a strong message to the child that they have a right to control their own privacy, and that before anyone posts an image or story, they should consider whether it is desirable.

“Whether you use it or not, generative AI is becoming an increasingly common feature of children's lives. Students from junior school onwards are being asked to use Gen AI to create images and text. However, it is important to remember that Gen AI can be biased and can have factual and logical errors. We need to encourage our children to be cautious of simply accepting the output from Gen AI, even though it looks coherent and compelling.”

Dr Leigh Disney, School of Educational Psychology & Counselling, Monash Education
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu

  • Early childhood education

The following can be attributed to Dr Disney:

“Before entering school or kindergarten, acknowledge children's thoughts related to the transition process. Some children may be overwhelmed, others just curious. Allow children to express their thoughts; often drawing is a good way to get an insight into their thinking.

“If possible, get into a routine of parking slightly away from school; in this way, you can walk with your child and discuss their day, always acknowledging both the ups and downs your child may have.

“Ask children to take pride in their school property, i.e. bags, lunch boxes, stationery etc. This will help the children reflect on the importance of the school context. 

“Share with your children's teachers about your child's interests and passion. This will help the teacher think about your child's motivations and strengths.

“When possible, attend school events (assembly, working bees, calendar events etc.), to help your child feel that you value the educational context. 

“Sometimes leaving your child at school for the first time is harder on the parents than the child! Acknowledge your own emotions and tell your children how much you love them.”

Dr Joanne Blannin, Senior Lecturer, School of Curriculum Teaching & Inclusive Education, Monash Education
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu

  • Preparing students for a digital future
  • Latest trends and innovations in educational technology
  • Integration of digital tools in classroom settings
  • Challenges and opportunities in remote and hybrid learning environments
  • Role of technology in bridging educational gaps and promoting inclusive learning experiences
  • Perspectives on how technology is shaping the future of education

Dr Pearl Subban, Associate Professor (Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity), Monash Education  
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
Read more from Dr Subban on Monash Lens

  • How to advance racial equity in the classroom?
  • How could school leaders create and sustain an inclusive culture?
  • How can teachers intentionally accommodate diverse learners?
  • How inclusive education can be better implemented in Australian classrooms?

For more Monash media stories visit our news & events site: monash.edu/news

For any other topics on which you may be seeking expert comment, contact the Monash University Media Unit on +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu

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