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Melbourne psychologist claims education is in crisis. He offers solutions.

Tuesday, 04 June 2013 14:20

‘We know what we should be doing and we know how to do it . . . What is left but to act!’

This is the rallying cry of author, Greg Nicholson, psychologist and educator, who claims in his book (for students, Grade 5—Year 12) that Western education is in crisis. The book is held by Monash University library, with forewords by Dr. Tui McKeown of Monash and Professor Frank Vajda, Professorial Fellow at the Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, who writes that it contains 'a feast of brilliant tacit knowledge'.

Addressing the uncertainty of our children’s futures in a rapidly changing world, Nicholson notes that despite governments and schools paying lip service to change through assessment systems (think NAPLAN) and greater school resources, meaningful reform is alarmingly absent. In an introductory message to parents, he asserts that this should be as great a concern to us all, as global regions which flail in a haemorrhaging economy. He adds, ‘Surely our cues could not be more glaring.’

Reach for the Sky is a wake-up call, presented in a spirit of contribution towards change. It offers students and their families an opportunity to future-proof themselves against the unknown challenges ahead. Nicholson observes that when good times plummet to gloom and doom, it is the resilient who flourish: those who can assess and prioritise problems, who can innovate, resolve conflict, manage time and think on their feet!

Nicholson's teaching is focused on empowering students to think, analyse, evaluate and problem solve, with 'written communication' to the fore as the greatest predictor of school success and beyond. Offering a trove of skills and resources to augment student curricula learning, friendly coaching strategies also cover overcoming procrastination, fear of failing and exam stress.

The book highlights how to take control of one's learning, acquire self-reliance and become an independent and creative thinker. After the comparative ‘spoon-feeding’ of school life, without such skills Nicholson submits that students often flounder in the face of tertiary study demands.

For education to be universally relevant in the coming years, Nicholson stresses that at all costs it must become engaging, inspirational and innovative. True revolution, he says, means changing the way teachers teach so that pupils will want to learn—so that they will become passionate and competitive about learning—and thus be equipped to navigate the contours of their future lives, and contribute productively towards building safe, prosperous and harmonious communities in which to live. ‘To offer our youth less is irresponsible,’ he declares.

Meanwhile, the states continue to toy with our children's economic future, putting party politics ahead of consensus to the Gonski Funding Plan—a constructive first step to what Nicholson terms, 'true revolution' in Australian education.

BOOK: 'REACH FOR THE SKY: Discovering the power of Working Smart!' (New ed.)
AVAILABLE: Amazon and selected bookstores
PUBLISHER: Old Trees Press, Melbourne. No of pages: 316; in paperback
INTERVIEW: Please contact the author, Greg Nicholson, on 0433 477 141