Post Boom! The 2016 Learning Environments WA Symposium

Published: Wednesday 31 August 2016

Learning Environments WA's biennial Symposium was another successful event for the WA Chapter, analysing the future of education in our post-boom economy. 

As Western Australia shifts from a mining economy, what is the new educational focus? How will the way in which we shape our learning environments need to adapt? The 2016 Learning Environments WA Chapter Symposium, held at the Art Gallery of WA on Friday 6th May, posed these questions. Speakers from across the WA education sector gave passionate and provocative responses. The challenge presented was to not just adapt, but to transform.

Some suggest an ‘ideas-boom’ will follow the mining boom, and that STEM-focused education will respond to this. Yet a common thread through the presentations was the importance of looking beyond literacy and numeracy. Critical thinking, creativity, and emotional intelligence will become increasingly important qualities for our societies.

Presenters argued that teachers are the critical factor in this development. Technology and reimagined learning spaces will provide the tools to support better approaches to teaching and learning. But there is tension between the desire for creative learning and the pressure for standardised evaluation.

The symposium highlighted that confronting this tension is a major challenge for post-boom WA – requiring a transformation in our thinking about education. This challenge, and the ideas discussed at the symposium, will continue to be explored at the Learning Environments WA workshop in 2017. Stay tuned for more details.

Mr Allan Blagaich, CEO of the School Curriculum and Standards Authority
Professor Ron Oliver, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) of ECU
Dr Tim McDonald, Executive Director of Catholic Education WA
Dr Alec O’Donnell, Headmaster of Scotch College

Article and photo: Mark Robertson