Virtual Faculty Meeting on the Edge of the Outback

Posted by on March 15, 2014

Virtual faculty meetings bring together math teachers from small rural schools for professional development and dialogue. The most recent meeting was in the town of Cobar, about 400km drive west from Coonabarabran (almost 700km inland from Sydney). Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only Canadian there, and another Australian teacher taught in northern Manitoba near where I was many years ago.

We talked about the NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) tests Australian students write a few times over their school career. There is a tremendous amount of data generated about each child with rankings and comparison to school and state averages. Small schools like the ones we are in are subject to statistical anomalies and the online data interface warns viewers about the small sample size for our respective schools. Interesting conversations about assessment and test scores.

The drive there and back was relaxing and I listened to a bunch of lectures on Australian Aboriginal History from La Trobe University. Each little town has the same kind of  grand hotel with a second story railed balcony providing shade over the ground floor walk into the pub. I wonder sometimes how little towns like these can support two or three of these enterprises. Either they all have thriving tourism industries, or the locals drink a lot of beer!

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©2011 Miles MacFarlane