Radical learning program changing Aboriginal kids' lives
Australians are aware that Aurukun in far north Queensland is a social and educational disaster zone. Nearly everyone puts it into the too hard basket.
The articles above provide some hopeful evidence that the method of Direct Instruction designed by American Zig Engelmann and introduced into Aurukun by Noel Pearson is proving to be effective. Aboriginal students are learning to read. This may not sound remarkable for anyone ignorant of the realities of remote aboriginal communities. But it is remarkable.
To establish this progress Pearson has had to break all the rules of what is regarded as being progressive.
- imported a program from the USA
- plans to extend the working and teaching day
- carefully scripted instruction rather than freedom to explore
- classes organised by ability and not by age
The second article points out some of the teething problems:
the workbooks have come under fire for containing American references, while the direct instruction method was cited by five teachers as their reasons for leaving Aurukun earlier this yearIf we achieve progress by methods that are not regarded as progressive then it is time to rethink what progressive is.
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