By Dr Nina Hood
As we start a new year, I have some taken time to reflect on The Education Hub’s priorities for the year and how they connect to our raison d’être.
The origins of The Hub stem from my experiences in the education system, first as a teacher, as I struggled to easily locate relevant, evidence-based information to help me in my practice, and then as an academic, when I felt hugely disconnected from the world of schools and practice, the very contexts my research was trying to impact. My experience was not unique, nor was it new. Dan Lortie, more than forty years ago in his seminal book School Teacher, described something similar:
[T]o an astonishing degree the beginner in teaching must start afresh, uninformed about prior solutions and alternative approaches to recurring practical problems … Teachers are largely “self-made”; the internalisation of common knowledge plays only a limited part in their movement to work responsibility. (Lortie, D. (1975). Schoolteacher: A Sociological Study. Chicago).
The Education Hub was founded as one way to address what I perceived as [one of] the knowledge problem that exists within education. That is, the apparent abundance of knowledge, developed by both researchers and practitioners, but the absence of systems and structures to enable it to be disseminated or utilised effectively.
The Education Hub is not alone in attempting to address this knowledge problem. Over the past decade and a bit, since my first days as a teacher, a number of organisations have been established around the world to address some aspect of this knowledge problem. With the substantial rise in educational knowledge brokerage organisations, it is worth considering the particular contribution that The Education Hub seeks to make.
At The Education Hub, we are driven by a mission to ensure that all teachers and leaders have easy access to high quality, relevant and up-to-date information, and that they have the capacity and capability to utilise it to inform and improve their practice at both an individual and organisational level.
Our approach to what counts as information or evidence sets us apart from many others. We are committed to ensuring that the research evidence we draw upon to inform our resources is reliable and rigorous. However, we believe that high quality and valuable educational research can come from studies employing different paradigmatic and methodological approaches. Similarly, we believe that valuable evidence in education is not just produced by researchers but also is created in and through practice. As a result, a key focus of The Education Hub over the past year, and one that will continue in 2023, has been on creating ways to identify, capture, and disseminate high quality practice-based evidence, which is being developed in schools and early childhood centres.
Another defining aspect of The Education Hub is our commitment to pluralism. We believe there are high-level principles that should guide teaching and learning; however, these may be implemented in different ways to achieve common, aspirational educational outcomes for all. That is, we do not believe that there is one “right” way to approach education, and indeed, that different children and young people will likely require different types of educational environments. However, pluralism does not mean that anything goes. Integral to a pluralistic approach are common, ambitious outcomes (something that arguably are missing in many areas of education), high expectations (again not universally held or, importantly, enacted), and a commitment among educators to be continually interrogating their practice to make sure that it is enabling all young people to thrive.
This commitment to pluralism is one of the reasons why we are commencing our big ideas webinar series this year. To address the complex challenges and questions facing education currently, we believe it is necessary to draw on diverse thinking from both within and beyond education, and to be open to interrogating and constructively discussing ideas that both align and diverge from our own beliefs. As a result, throughout the year, we will be hosting webinars with speakers who hold a wide range of views. It is not expected that viewers will agree with all of the ideas discussed; indeed, it is highly likely that The Education Hub as an organisation will not agree with everything that is presented during the series. However, we believe that it is critical that we are able to listen to ideas and seek to understand, although not necessarily agree with, the arguments being made, and to engage in constructive conversation about these ideas.
At The Education Hub we are continually trying to learn and better serve our community. We slowly are expanding the resources and learning opportunities we provide, as we work towards more fully enacting our organizational mission and vision. However, our work will never be complete. As research is leading to continued advances in knowledge and understanding, and practice is forever changing, updating, and responding to new needs and circumstances, The Education Hub will continue its work to disseminate high quality and relevant research and practice-based information to educators.