ACE Courting Controversy Series – Event Two

Wednesday 23rd June 2021

“The age old question…what is the purpose of education”

Education has always served a practical purpose. It is a ‘tool’ which is used to deliver certain outcomes. More often than not, that outcome relates to economics. Why go to school? So, you can find employment. Why go to university? So, you can secure ‘better’ employment. Of course, education shouldn’t only deliver personal economic benefits. Education should benefit society as a whole. Individuals who are employed and earning a living, pay taxes, buy things, drive our economy, make us a prosperous society.

Throughout the 20th century there was a fundamental shift in terms of the purpose of education. Thanks in large part to the Philosopher, John Dewy, education began to be viewed as a ‘good’ in itself, as the tool through which children become fully developed and contributing members of society. If a society wished to mould the thoughts and actions of its future citizens, then education was the means through which to do this.

Now, well into the 21st century and it appears we, as a profession and more broadly as a society, are no closer to agreeing on the ‘true’ purpose of education.

In this the second of the Australian College of Educators new Courting Controversy Series we pose another highly contentious question:

“Is our education system failing to create a cohesive and equitable society and a prosperous economy?”
An exceptional panel of experts with incredibly diverse backgrounds and experience will engage in a challenging conversation for this, our next Courting Controversy.

Jan Owen AM Hon DLitt – Co-Founder & Principal, Adaptability Q; Co-Chair/Convenor, Learning Creates Australia; Co-Founder & Chair, Be Well

Jan has spent her career working at the intersection of individual, organisational and societal change as an entrepreneur, innovator and social sector leader. Her work has included leading campaigns and advocacy on the rights of children and young people around the globe; thought leadership on young people and the future of education, work and entrepreneurship; facilitating and building powerful strategic community, business, government and philanthropic investment and partnerships committed to our collective future as an inclusive, imaginative and courageous world.

Jan has been the recipient of many Awards acknowledging her commitment to unleashing the unlimited potential of children and young people and services to the Australian community. She is the author of Every Childhood Lasts a Lifetime (1996) and The Future Chasers (2014).

“The only way to create a truly equitable education system is to change what we define and measure as ‘success’ in learning.”

Professor Pascale Quester – Vice-Chancellor and President, Swinburne University of Technology

Professor Quester joined the Swinburne University of Technology as Vice Chancellor and President in August 2020. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Business Administration from her native France, a Master of Arts (Marketing) from Ohio State University and a PhD in Marketing from Massey University (New Zealand). An active researcher (h-index of 43) in the areas of consumer behaviour and marketing communications, she became a Distinguished Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy in 2009 and received a career award by the American Marketing Association for her contribution to the field of sports marketing and sponsorship in 2020.

Pascale has always been actively involved in developing links with overseas institutions in Asia and Europe and was awarded in 2012, the Ordre National du Mérite (National Order of Merit), one of France’s highest honours, in recognition of her contribution to higher education in both France and Australia. A Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors since 2013, Pascale is also a governor of the Australia American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham). In 2015, Pascale won the SA Telstra Business Women’s Award in the Government and Academic category.

“It seems to me that in the future, digital equity will be critical to social equity. To assist all learners to bridge the digital gap is perhaps the most impactful contribution we can make to society, and this goes beyond knowing how to operate a computer. It goes to being able to work remotely, to know how to hold respectful conversations that are not just social media ‘pile on’.”

Hayley McQuire – Co-Founder and Director, National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition

Hayley is a proud Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman from Rockhampton, Central Queensland and a passionate advocate for Indigenous social justice and First Nations led education. Her roots are in Indigenous community media, vocational training and Indigenous Affairs policy.   Hayley served for four years on the Youth Advocacy Group for the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative to support young people around the world to advocate for their rights to education. She has also worked with national education coalitions in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

Currently, Hayley is the co-founder and Director of the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition, a collective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people committed to asserting Indigenous rights to education and Co-Chair of Learning Creates Australia.

“Education should be liberating, especially for those where education systems have been the complete opposite.” 

Sara Caplan – Deputy Chair, National Youth Employment Body Advisory Board

After a varied career path encompassing senior roles in retail, IT, logistics and education, Sara became a Management Consultant in 2001, specialising in education, skills and employment programs. Having spent 20 years working for KPMG and PwC, both in the UK and Australia she retired as a Partner from PwC in April 2021. She was awarded a Women in the City Award for Management Consultancy, for her role in helping women to achieve success in the workplace, through her mentoring, support and role modelling. In her role as a Partner, Sara led PwC Australia’s Skills Service Organisation (SSO), PwC’s Skills for Australia, as well as their Higher Apprenticeships services and work on areas such as careers support for the future of work, employment programs for mature age workers and design of new qualification structures.

Sara is Deputy Chair of the National Youth Employment Body Advisory Board. She is member of the Federal Government’s VET Stakeholder Committee, advising on the implementation of the Australian Government’s VET reform program arising from the Joyce Review. Sara was a member of the Council of Australian Governments’ STEM Skills Partnership Forum, chaired by the Chief Scientist; the Department of Education and Training International Skills Working Group; the National Careers Education Advisory Group; and a contributor to the Shergold review of Senior Secondary Pathways and the Macklin Review of vocation education in Victoria.

“We can’t pin all of this on our education system, but there are things that we can change within that system that will help us to address these issues for our future generations.  For starters, how about: getting the foundations right, playing to children’s strengths, removing the (real or perceived) divide between academic and vocational, and giving people opportunities to gain skills and knowledge that are relevant to our current and future economy.”

Moderated by international education innovator and leader, Mr Anthony Mackay AM, FACE.

Anthony Mackay AM is President & CEO of the Washington DC based National Center on Education and the Economy. He is the moderator of the annual International Summit on the Teaching Profession and the Annual Global Education Industry Summit. Anthony is Co-Chair of the recently launched National Project, Learning Creates Australia. Anthony is Deputy Chancellor Swinburne University, Melbourne, and Senior Fellow, Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne. He is immediate past Chair of the Australian Council for Educational Research, and immediate past Deputy Chair of New Zealand’s Education Council.   He was Inaugural Chair of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and the Inaugural Deputy Chair of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Anthony is an expert consultant to the OECD, Senior Fellow IBE UNESCO, and Council Member of Asia Society’s Center for Global Education as well as National Board Member and Fellow of the Australian College of Educators.

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