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Making the Future: The Role of Secondary Education in Australia: A Discussion Paper Prepared for the Commonwealth Schools Commission.
AUTHORS: Middleton, M., Brennan, M., O'Neill, M. and Wootten, T.
PUBLISHER: Commonwealth Schools Commission, Fyshwick, A.C.T.
DATE: October, 1986 REFERENCE: ISBN 0 642 87423 9

Reviews of the direction of education have proliferated during the past three years as the need to adapt school practices to the changing circumstances becomes increasingly urgent. Although recommendations abound, there has been little explicit consideration of the overall outcomes of the recommended responses, with the result that reports often take on a 'quick fix', reactionary complexion. The discussion paper sees that the danger of these reactionary responses is that they are more likely to recommend actions which are directed at symptomatic aspects of the problem without addressing the issues that are the basis of the problem.

'Making the Future' describes secondary education as surrounded by a confusion of purposes that are derived from the conflict between the assumptions of the organisational structures and the educational ideals of the curriculum. Responses to educational problems must critically examine the assumptions of present educational structures in order to avoid the reproduction of the status quo and the generation of avoidable problems

The content of the paper is as follows:


Establishing the Context
Exclusion, Excellence and Curriculum
      Examining Values
      Maximising Learning
      Links with Society
The Classroom
      Examining Values
      Maximising Learning
      Links with Society
      Examining Values
      Maximising Learning
      Links with Society
Implications for the Commonwealth
The paper examines the problems at the system, school and classroom level in response to three fundamental questions. To answer these questions it is essential to clarify the kind of future that we want. This clarification will necessitate a fundamental debate over the values inherent in aspects of the situation. Only then can we plan to provide the necessary skills and knowledge to the relevant groups in order to bring about this future.

Issues of credentialing, technology, TAFE-School links and equality are central to this debate about the role of secondary education in terms of increased student retention. In the discussions of these, the paper draws upon experience of many possible solutions already in practice. Although its referencing is questionable at times, it provides the only example of a framework necessary for a disciplined approach to discussions of the future of secondary education and as such is an essential precursor to 'In The National Interest' or any other document addressing these issues.

To explore these issues 'Making the Future' poses the following questions for critical response:

K.P. Rose
Research Services Branch
Department of Education

Priorities in Language Education: A Survey of Community Views (ACER Research Monograph No. 28). Kevin Piper and Hilary Miller

Language Education is one of the most important areas of the curriculum, not only because of its importance in the social, cultural, and economic life of the community, but also because it provides the foundation for all other learning. It is also one of the most difficult areas. The increasing demands being placed on schools, demands which are often conflicting and always competing, have raised important questions about what should take priority in the language programs offered by the schools.

The research study reported in this monograph set out to address these questions by means of an investigation into community views on what kind of language education is best suited to the needs of Australian students in the junior secondary school in the 1980s, including both English language education and education in languages other than English. The investigation was carried out by means of an Australia-wide questionnaire survey designed to sample a range of viewpoints on the issues being investigated, and including the perspectives of students and parents (both those whose mother-tongue is English and those whose mother-tongue is a language other than English), teachers, employers, and professional linguists.

Not surprisingly, the study endorsed competence in English as the central priority of the language curriculum in the junior secondary school. There was little support, however, for a narrow 'back to basics' approach to the English language curriculum. A wide range of items is seen as having priority in the language program, including oracy as well as literacy, learning about language as well as mastering its mechanics, an across the curriculum focus as well as the important contribution of 'subject English'.

The role of languages other than English seems firmly established as a perceived priority area in the junior secondary school curriculum. All of the groups surveyed in the study were prepared to assign it at least some priority, although in the case of employers this was only a borderline priority. All groups attached a significantly higher priority to learning to speak another language than they did to learning to read and write it. The vexed question of which languages the school should teach is only partly clarified by the data from the study. Traditional foreign languages, mother-tongue maintenance, community languages, and the languages of our major trading parties were seen as having priority, in that order; but these generalized priorities obscure considerable differences of priority both between the groups surveyed and within them.

The data from the study suggest that there is little community support for the introduction of bilingual programs in the junior secondary school. It is possible, however, that there is a good deal of confusion in the community about bilingual education, and it is likely that most respondents are not well informed on such programs. It should be stressed too that a lack of support for bilingual programs in the junior secondary school does not necessarily imply a lack of support for such programs in the primary school, where they are more commonly located in the Australian context.

ISBN: 0 86431 040 4 Pages: 148 Price $14.95

Holland in Australia: A Vocational Choice Theory in Research and Practice. Jan Lokan and Keith Taylor (Editors)

Few people have had as much impact on careers guidance and counselling research and practice as Emeritus Professor John Holland, of the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. His theory of vocational personalities and work environments has been developed and revised over a period of almost 30 years, and has become a mandatory component of psychology courses dealing with human development in relation to occupational choice and satisfaction.

Through the many years he spent as a practising vocational counsellor, Professor Holland developed a good understanding of the exigency of this role in educational and other institutions where staff numbers usually fall well short of what would be required for dealing with all clients individually. This experience led him to develop a range of materials, anchored in his theory, which have enabled millions of people to be assisted with everyday career-related problems in an inexpensive but soundly-based way.

A substantial body of research underpinning Holland's theory has accumulated, mostly North American but broadening more recently to cover cultures as apparently diverse as those of Taiwan, Japan, Israel, and European and South American countries as well as Australia and New Zealand. A 1987 review by Professor Jo-Ida Hansen, Director of The Center for Interest Measurement Research at the University of Minnesota, concluded that 'Generally, the structure of interests of international and cross-ethnic populations seems to correspond to Holland's model almost as well as does the structure of interests of whites. The degree of cross-cultural similarity is especially impressive'.

Holland in Australia contains an up-to-date account of Australian, and some New Zealand, research on Holland's theory, for the first time presented together in a readily available, convenient volume. Many of the leading vocational psychologists from these two countries have contributed to the book. Their 22 papers are grouped into five main sections:

Testing the Theory's Internal Structure
Testing the Theory's External Relationships
Aspects of the Melbourne Careers Project
Soma Australian Variations on the Theme
Putting the Theory to Work
There is also a succinct overview of the theory itself, prepared by Dr Geoffrey Kelso, which John Holland has said is 'about the best summary I've seen anywhere'.

This book should prove especially useful to students and researchers in vocational psychology or counselling areas, but there is also abundant material in it for practitioners with an interact in the foundations of their work and/or in particular applications of Holland's theory and instruments in actual counselling situations.

ISSN No: 0 86431 0323 Pages: 229 Price: $24.95


TAFE Curriculum Branch conducts evaluation projects directed at the improvement of the design and implementation of TAFE courses. Officers of the branch are also engaged in educational research activities aimed at increasing understanding of a variety of technical and further educational issues.


More than 200 new and revised courses per year are developed through TAFE Curriculum Branch. Evaluation is an integral part of the curriculum development process.

It is imperative that TAFE courses meet the needs of industry, vocational and adult students and the wider community. Evaluation of the adequacy of design as well as the implementation and quality of presentation of TAFE courses aims at ensuring these needs are being met.

The Division of TAFE strives to ensure that assessment policies and practices in TAFE are of the highest standard. The Curriculum Services Sub-section of TAFE Curriculum Branch develops the policy and monitors the conduct and standards of assessment in TAFE. The role of the section is to assist colleges with the evaluation and improvement of assessment. Ensuring that student assessment in colleges of TAFE is reliable, valid and comparable both between colleges and across time is the primary objective.


The purpose of research in TAFE is basically a practical one. Research is not aimed at merely describing what is going on, it is aimed at improvement at all levels.

TAFE teachers, teaching adult students, look to educational research provide solutions to classroom situations.

Research in TAFE is essentially concerned with the problems of learning as they confront the teacher, the student, the administrator and the policy maker.

An array of investigatory techniques derived from the social sciences is utilised. These include:

TAFE research is looking towards the development and refinement of action studies of all kinds such as: Research results are also of specific interest to TAFE teacher educators concerned with the continual refinement of teacher education programs.

Valuable information is gained from research into the variety of teaching tasks, the interaction between student and teacher, the factors which influence college and classroom climates and, through them the motivation of post-secondary students to learn or resist learning,

The Audience of TAFE Research and Evaluation

Research and evaluation in TAFE are an important aspect of the relationship between TAFE and its stakeholders.

Traditional stakeholders include the ICTC, employers, employees, licencing authorities, professional associations, college staff, and the wider community.

TAFE research and evaluation are achieving a deeper understanding of the complexities of providing educational experiences to meet the needs of post-compulsory students.

EVENTS: Seventh National Conference of the National Council of Independent Schools

In 1988, the Association of Independent Schools of Queensland (AISQ) will be hosting the Seventh National Conference of the National Council of Independent Schools (NCIS).

The Conference commences on 29 September 1988 at the Mayfair Crest International Hotel, Brisbane and concludes on 2 October 1988.

For further information, contact either the Association's Executive Officer, Mr Bradley Smith or the Research Officer, Ms Karen Hamilton on (07) 854 1757.

Please cite as: QIER (1987). Publication reviews and Notices 3(2). Queensland Researcher, 3(2), 53-61. http://www.iier.org.au/qjer/qr3/book-revs-notices-3-2.html

[ Contents Vol 3, 1987 ] [ QJER Home ]
Created 22 Mar 2008. Last revision: 22 Feb 2013.
URL: http://www.iier.org.au/qjer/qr3/book-revs-notices-3-2.html