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Newsletter July 2015: the meaning of... joy and data


“Data, far from being in opposition to joy is an important ingredient in it.” –  Sir Michael Barber, ALL lecture.

This is a bold new idea because data is often feared in Australian education, feared because it has been used to judge schools, teachers and individuals.

If, instead of judgment, data can be used to enable us to understand where the problems are and inform the way we address them – it can serve an invaluable positive role.

To date, the discussion of data in Australia has centred on standardised exams held yearly. But tests provide only one kind of data.

Data gathered through the use of diagnostic tools provides greater insight into how each student learns. It allows us to know the progression of each student, what works for them, where they are and where they need to go.

Utilising this data provides real opportunities for continual adjustment, support and true improvement.

We see this effectively used in health and elite sports. Diagnostic tools are used to assess an individual and understand how best to help them flourish. Diverse data like this is needed equally in our schools and places of learning.

But how does this richer gathering of data relate to joy? 

In recent times, an emphasis on academic success has meant joy of learning has disappeared from the agenda. As a result, there are many successful students who feel no joy and many struggling students who feel disengaged.

Data has the capacity to address this malaise and underperformance and identify exactly what each student needs. Whether it is additional stimulus or added support, so that each child can find joy in learning, flourish and tackle life’s opportunities.

Missed out on the lecture? Watch the lecture here or visit our website at www.all-learning.org.au.