Saturday, February 12, 2005

Success for Boys Project

My last task before getting on the plane in Mexico to fly to Australia to take up a new half time job as a research professor (with responsibility for helping the ongoing development of a reseach culture in the School of Education on the Cairns campus of James Cook University), was to send off some files for inclusion in a project application. The focus of the application was to develop and trial professional learning modules for teachers pertaining to boys and learning, with particular emphases on literacy, new technologies and learning disadvantage (Stage One of the Federal Government's "Success for Boys" initiative). The application involved a collaboration between a team from the School of Education at James Cook University, led by Prof Nola Alloway, and the Curriculum Corporation.

The consortium was informed yesterday that it has won the contract, with a net worth of one million dollars. The project will be completed during this year, and I will aim to report progress from time to time as the work unfolds. I am looking forward very much to working on this project, which represents an opportunity to build on what I learned in the course of working on Literacy, Boys and Schooling with Leonie Rowan, Chris Bigum and Michele (Open University Press 2001). The current emphasis on boys' school-based learning in its own right and, particularly, in relation to girls' formal learning achievements is controversial and is often sloganised to an utterly unhelpful extent. The exciting thing about the work that lies ahead is knowing that the consortium has the kind of breadth, experience, and principles required to address the issues successfully on their merits.

The members of the James Cook team are Nola Alloway, Neil Anderson, Peter Boman, Leanne Dalley-Trim, Rob Gilbert, Jeannie Herbert and myself. Having played no more than a bit part in putting the proposal together I have a kind of a feeling that my time is soon to come *grin*

It is certainly a fast track into a new job, but I look forward to giving it my best efforts -- in this particular project and in the manifold other facets of the work involved. I see steep learning curves ahead.

Meanwhile, today saw the completion of a paper based on the plenary Michele and I gave on the theme of 'new' literacies at the National Reading Conference annual meeting at San Antonio back in December. I think we have managed to squeeze most of what we said in the plenary into the paper. With luck the paper will come out in the Conference's Yearbook for this year, but we'll also aim to get a version of it online asap on our badly-in-need-of-some-updating website.

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