Please Welcome this week’s host Dr David Zyngier

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

I  was a youth leader when I was in my teen and really loved the opportunity to work with young kids and help them become “themselves” and the best possible. I also adored my kindergarten teacher (crush crush!). I think I always wanted to be a teacher to put into action my commitment to social justice. I didn’t start teaching until I was 30 – the kids thought I was really experienced but didn’t know that I was a newbie! I started teaching in Melbourne Technical Schools where I worked with some of the most “difficult to teach” kids who were just fantastic once they realised that you were “genuinely” there for them. I was also very active in the various iterations of teacher unions – TTUV, VSTA and then AEU. I ended my school teaching career as a principal of a private school. Now that was a serious mistake! I then worked as an education consultant and developed the very important RUMad social justice program (http://afairerworld.org/makingadifference/). After that I then completed a Phd (2007) researching student engagement at Monash University where I have been researching and lecturing in curriculum & pedagogy since 2003. I am now co-director of the Global Doing Democracy Research Project (http://doingdemocracy.ning.com/)

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

The amazing teachers, student teachers and  kids in public schools who despite all the denigration form politicians are achieving amazing results.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

The biggest reward is meeting one of your students years after you taught them and they tell you how important you were in their life. The biggest challenge is still  the same as always – remembering that for many kids you are THE difference. Politicians just don’;t understand this and want to blame teachers for their own policy failures.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

Stop funding private schools. I would cease all public funds to elite private schools immediately and reduce other private school funds by 25%  per year until zero. I would raise the ATAR level for all potential early childhood and primary teachers to a minimum of 75 (with special exemptions for under represented schools, first in family and indigenous and remote students of course) and increase government funding to teacher education courses to all more clinical models to be implemented. I wold make 2 years of early childhood education free and compulsory and de-link year 12 results form university entrance.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

I think EduTweetOz is a great forum for bringing committed and inspired educators together to share and support each other. I hope that I can assist this while at the helm

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