Unbeaching the Whale – ebook


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Schools are livelier and more humane places than they were a generation or two ago. But many things are going badly in the basics of school life — in behaviour, discipline, school refusal, bullying, engagement, mental health, wellbeing — as well as in learning. Too many start behind, stay behind, and then leave early, unhappy and ill-equipped. The standing and morale of teachers are at a low ebb.

Repeated attempts at reform large and small, local and national, haven’t worked. The “education revolution” of the Rudd–Gillard years failed. And yet thinking and policy continue to be dominated by its language of “performance” and “accountability,” its tests, MySchool, “national approach” and “school reform agreements” and its stunted view of what schools can be.

Unbeaching the Whale offers a more generous way of thinking about schools. It insists that they can and should deliver twelve safe, happy and worthwhile years for everyone. It argues compellingly for a different kind of reform — of governance, of the sector system, and above all of the daily work of students and teachers.

Pungent, sober, inspiring, urgent, Unbeaching the Whale is that rare thing, a book about schooling that is lucid, jargon-free, challenging and gripping.


Dean Ashenden has worked in and around schools as a teacher, academic and consultant, and in journalism. He has contributed to all major print outlets and to many professional, academic and social affairs journals. His previous book, Telling Tennant’s Story, was inaugural winner of the Australian Political Book of the Year Award. He is a Senior Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne.




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