Stories from 2018



Learning in the homelands


Edited version of Pursuit article by Bernadette Murphy, Lombiŋa Muŋuŋgurr and Clare Rafferty

Yolnu children

Yolnu children

In the Indigenous Homelands of East Arnhem Land, pre-service teachers are learning the value of place and listening.

In the traditional lands of the Yolŋu in Australia’s North East Arnhem land there are a network of small ‘Homelands’ schools, officially called Homeland Learning Centres.

Many Australians may not know about the Homelands Movement. It was initiated in the 1970s and involved the movement of small Indigenous communities back to their ancestral lands. Homeland Learning Centres (HLC) have been established in some of these intentionally and remotely positioned communities.

For those teachers visiting the Homelands Schools – there is much to learn.

They travel from the hub community of Yirrkala to HLCs in a light aircraft or 4WD, staying as guests to teach physically alongside Yolŋu educators who live permanently in these Homelands. When the school day is over, teachers will often go hunting or fishing with families - learning about the land they’re on. And it’s here that the tables are turned and power is flipped, as the Yolŋu children become the ‘teachers’ and the teachers become the students, as they share their knowledge.


Tech savvy teaching of critical thinking

Edited version of Pursuit article by Associate Professor Martin Davies


One of the key aims of universities is to arm students with critical thinking skills, but many are failing. Could technology be the answer?

Every day, we face complex issues about which we must weigh evidence and come to conclusions. These issues involve many arguments on all sides of difficult debates. But they also involve understanding those arguments and having the ability to make objections and provide rebuttals to those objections.

This is critical thinking.

A major purpose of a university education— regardless of subject matter—is to teach students how to read, understand, and respond to complex arguments. The ability to do this makes for highly employable, adaptable, and reflectively critical individuals.

But are we teaching critical thinking, a skill valued by employers, to the next generation effectively?

The Foundation for Young Australians 2015 report, The New Basics, claims that demand for critical thinking skills in new graduates has risen 158 per cent in three years. This data was drawn from an analysis of 4.2 million online job postings from 6000 different sources in the period 2013-2015.


Holiday stress and how to beat it

Edited version of Pursuit article by Dr Jared Horvath


Here we go again. It’s that time of year that gave birth to the phrase “I need a vacation from my vacation”.

With the seemingly endless merry-go-round of work parties, family gatherings and social engagements, it’s no wonder nearly 70 per cent of people report a spike in their stress over the holiday season.

But what exactly is stress? How does it affect our thinking? And is there anything we can do to avoid it at this time of year?