Australian Learning Lecture: Sir Michael Barber on ‘Joy and Data’.

On Thursday May 21st, the inaugural Australian Learning Lecture was delivered by Sir Michael Barber on the topic of ‘Joy and Data‘. The event was attended by many leading educationalists and has been initiated as a joint project of the Koshland Innovation Fund and the State Library of Victoria. Their aim is “to bring big ideas in education to national attention. The decade long project is designed to strengthen the importance of learning in Australia for all Australians.”

Here’s what Sir Michael said was the intention of his lecture:

“It is very clear that the longer the 21st century goes on, the more education matters,” says Sir Michael. “The debate I’d like the lecture to provoke is about how data, joy and learning combined could lead to much higher performance in education systems. All too often people, especially critics, create a false dichotomy between data and joy. I argue that they go together and – indeed – that only if they go together can we ensure success in future.”
The lecture was recorded and you can view it below. I’ve set the video to start 22mins 16 seconds in, because there’s a lot of waiting on this video before anything happens!
A storify of my tweets and some from others has been collated and can be viewed here: https://storify.com/jennyluca/all-australian-lecture-michael-barber
Michael highlighted what he considered as four misconceptions about data during his lecture.
Screenshot 2015-05-24 12.57.18
Screenshot 2015-05-24 12.59.08
Screenshot 2015-05-24 13.00.00
Screenshot 2015-05-24 13.01.06
I think what Sir Michael did was help us understand how important it is to be informed by the data, but also how we need to apply human judgement to our evaluation. The following tweets (derived from Michael’s words) kind of summed it up for me.
Screenshot 2015-05-24 13.03.44
I think in education there are some who fear data and the evaluations being drawn from it. Provided human judgement is a factor and we do the right thing with the data we have collected, there should be no reason for fear. In education, we are focused on children’s lives – if we keep our compasses set right, then data provides us with the ability to see where to next. And where to next could be the very thing that enables a child to find the joy that learning can bring.
Thank you Ellen Koshland and the State Library of Victoria for your vision and philanthropic generosity to make education an important talking point in Australian society. I truly hope this vision is realised and that this series will elevate discussion around education and its critical importance to the future development of this country.

One Reply to “Australian Learning Lecture: Sir Michael Barber on ‘Joy and Data’.”

  1. Thanks for summarising and storifying the talk, Jenny. (Saves me doing it, haha). I would have loved to have a discussion about the talk with people who attended. I felt that my attitude to data was gradually shifting as Michael spoke. Not being good at Maths, quantitative data has always been a bit of a mystery to me, whereas qualitative data is something I’m comfortable with and use a lot (as do you).
    It would be good to demystify data for teaching staff and to have conversations about meaningful interpretation of the data to inform practice and action. Does the data ever leave the page in terms of our informed practice? How often?

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