Enhancing Liberating Education: A Research Project
EREA has recently launched an exciting project that seeks to celebrate and collate the variety of ways that liberating education is occurring and the emerging themes that this presents us for the future.
Leaders of Learning
Liberating Education Reference Group: Christine Shannon (St Bernards, Melbourne), Elizabeth Gaber (St Patricks, Brisbane), Elizabeth Watson (Waverley, Sydney), Paul Shannon (EREA), Gary Jones (St Kevins, Melbourne) Other Members: Dale Murray (Youth + Institute), Carmel Kriz (Catholic Education Broken Bay), Kerry Hodkinson (Rostrevor, Adelaide).

Background to Research Project
At recent Principal gatherings, Ray Paxton outlined the role of Director of Learning, as part of an exploration into the Touchstone of Liberating Education. The preliminary work of the Liberating Education Working Party sought to strengthen the intent and commitment by EREA to the broader learning agenda and look at ways of highlighting and celebrating the success of our schools in teaching and learning across a diverse range of contexts.

Rationale
As part of our developing emphasis on Liberating Education, during 2017, the School Renewal process focused more intently on teaching and learning, the learning statements and frameworks underpinning learning practice. Additionally, as School Renewal references and complements external audit processes in many states, our own structures need to reflect this development. Therefore, we are now challenged to reflect on our current practice and consider ways of engaging in this important aspect of the EREA mission.

Aims
This research will attempt to gain an insight into the prevailing cultural understandings of holistic learning, teacher pedagogy and individual differences. The research aims to capture the current reality in our schools in relation to teaching and learning. Once the data has been collected, a report will be produced and made available to all.  

Key Question
What is the nature of learning, at an EREA school, and what is at the heart of our intent as liberating educators?
Key Themes
1. Holistic Learning
2. Pedagogy
3. Individual Differences

Design
Principals have been asked to reflect upon the above themes and participate in a taped conversation. Deputy Principals and some students will be invited to participate in a focus-group session. These conversations and focus group sessions will be taped and transcribed. The school Learning Leader (Assistant Principal/Director of Learning) will be asked to complete an online de-identified survey.

In summary, the data collection tools are listed below.
1. Taped conversation with the Principal.
2. Focus Group session with the Deputy Principal at a scheduled regional meeting.
3. Survey of the Learning Leader (Assistant Principal/Director-Learning) at a network meeting.
4. Focus Group session with some students on the day of meeting with the Principal.
5. Written documentation in the form of the most recent renewal process.
6. Other written documentation that may assist in providing insight into the learning culture.

Thus far, there have been so many positive stories from the schools I have visited. It has been a privilege to see, first hand, the great work that our schools doing with young people.

Paul Shannon
Director of Learning
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