A new blog provides an outlet for trade teachers to have their say

The teacher’s voice can sometimes go unheard in the midst of vigorous debates about policy and strategy and VET system structures and training package content. Those debates often leave little room for dwelling on immediate and day-to-day concerns of teachers, the great delights of teaching, and the sense of belonging to a profession with purpose.

But there is a new avenue for giving the trade teacher’s voice a public hearing. A few months ago Karen O’Reilly-Briggs launched Trade teacher talk, billed as a blog for trade teachers about teaching trades in Australia. Karen is well placed to edit the blog. As her homepage bio notes, she is a qualified metal fabricator, welding inspector and trade teacher. Recently she has pursued a research career concerned with vocational teaching in the trades.

Cabinetmakers, bakers and researchers

The posts are wide-ranging. Fighting for fundamentals in furniture trade VET records the thoughts of Vince Campagna, a cabinetmaker and trade and technology teacher at a secondary school in Melbourne’s west. The passion that Vince invests in his teaching role is captured here:

‘This is who I am. I am bringing in all of my knowledge into the teaching world and I am going to teach as many students as I possibly can in my field and give them the knowledge that I have, and to accept new technology as it is too. But it is the fundamentals that we must not lose in our industry. I do not want to lose the person that I am.’

Warren Guest, a baker by trade, attended a seminar about ‘workplace literacy in the fourth industrial revolution.’ Among his reflections on the seminar were these thoughts:

As teachers, we need to ask what skills we can we give our students that will enable them to navigate new ways of working, and industries of the future. There’s currently a lot of focus on STEM, but what the speakers were saying is, well, literacy is equally as important. And that really resonated with me.

Contributing to the blog

Since March, the blog has notched up more than 25 posts. There’s an open invitation to join the mailing list for alerts about new posts, and to contribute posts. There is a long list of topics that the blog is interested to cover, including:

  • Status and value of trades
  • VET and the craft concept
  • If I could say one thing to apprentices of my trade it would be …
  • Stories from the shop floor.

But the invitation really is open. The final item on the list is simply this: ‘Anything else you can think of.’