At the heart of the matter – identity and trust in adult learning

As the OECD becomes convinced that the best performing education systems are those that strive for equity and quality, Australia continues to put its faith in the power of measurement and accountability to deliver 'market changes' that will improve outcomes in all our education sectors. Improvements in education will automatically lead to improvements in the economy – so the argument goes.

This conference will place people – teachers and learners – at the heart of educational quality. We want to move away from framing debates around policy imperatives, economic outcomes and abstractions such as 'core skills' or 'employability skills'. We are asking the question: what makes learning work for people?

What causes a person to be able to learn? How do people develop resilience? What does it take to build confidence? What is it that teachers need to know and understand about their adult learners and their learner's lives? How do differences between the identities of teachers and those of their learners impact on relationships and learning? How can teachers develop relationships with learners that enable them to understand how a person thinks and feels and does things? How will they use this understanding to create environments in which people can more successfully learn?

And what of the people who are teachers? What do teachers need from the system so that they can continue their own learning? What skills and knowledge do beginning teachers need – does initial training provide these? How can teachers use the variety of strengths they find in their students to harness learning energy? How can teachers consciously build social capital in their learning environments as a basis for and outcome of learning? How can teachers get support from their peers?

We hope you can join us as we consider an exciting program that will renew our focus on the heart of the matter: ways of working that meet the needs of learners and, as a natural result, achieve better outcomes for the wider society as well.