I recently returned from a trip to Australia to speak at the New Literacies, Digital Media and Classroom Teaching Conference. As part of the trip I was able to spend a week in Melbourne, one of the most inspirational places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. After a very hectic couple of months I decided to travel over to Australia early and set aside some serious downtime where I could reflect on the work I had done, take in some of the sights around me and look to the future.
I also decided to set up Mister Waller’s Travel Blog so that my class could follow my adventures (since I was missing the first week of term). Armed with my trusty HTC Desire HD, the WordPress and Retro Camera+ apps, as well as a Vodafone Australia SIM, I was able to upload pictures as I travelled. I also set up a less informal Posterous blog.
I visited various sights around Melbourne but perhaps the post inspirational for me, was a visit to Bushrangers Bay on the Mornington Peninsula. This secluded bay was the filming location of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’. To get to the bay I needed to climb a cliff and when I saw the view I was stunned.
Photos do really not do this place justice and I found myself stood for over 30 minutes just looking in complete awe. I also recorded various messages to my family, friends and class. It also made me realise the importance of downtime so made a pledge to myself to address my ailing work/life balance.
These are just a couple of the shots I took using my Desire HD and mini-SLR camera. They’re all available on Flickr under the set Where the Wild Things Were should you wish to view more. Also available are photographs of the Wildlife of Tasmania and Melbourne, St Kilda and Tasmania. Melbourne is indeed a beautiful city with a certain charm, which I have not experienced in any other city before. I also had the chance to see treasure from Ancient Egypt at the Melbourne Museum as well walking to St Kilda.
The way of life is certainly more relaxed in Melbourne. It’s strange to be in a city with a mindset that is not rushed, as with other cities I spent time in like London. The same can be said with Launceston in Tasmania, where I spent five days during the conference. After spending some time in schools in Australia I also learned some important facts about the schools system. In Australia:
- There are no league tables in primary schools and no equivalent to KS2 SATs
- State authorities monitor the effectiveness of schools through small scale reviews (There is no Australian equivalent to Ofsted)
- Although there is a National Curriculum in development, there are no prescriptive schemes of work set by the government
- Schools are able to design and implement their own curricula
There are many things that the Australian school system is doing right! The trip really inspired me and I’m looking forward to the next time I can visit Australia. I plan on writing a blog post about the conference I attended but felt that I needed to share some of my thoughts about the trip separately.