This post is a copy of an email I sent this week to the Ministry of Education:
Kia ora tatou,
I am in my 11th year teaching in New Zealand secondary schools. For much of this time I have either been involved in various research projects or undertaking further study or research myself towards a Masters in Education degree. This has meant that a majority of my professional development has been informed by the most recent educational research. I have now, however, been out of university for 18 months and am finding it incredibly difficult to access academic research.
Research has shown that teachers who reflect critically on their practice improve learning a lot more than many other initiatives. It is very difficult if teachers don’t have access to academic journal databases to be able to critically reflect on the quality of our teaching as we are not being exposed to the latest research and ideas.
The Education and Science Select Committee Report “Inquiry into 21st Century Learning Environments and Digital Literacy” also highlights the importance of teachers engaging with current research thinking. The importance of evidence-based decision making and upskilling people for 21st century learning in this report supports my argument that teachers require access to academic journals.
The Education Counts website provides a great synthesis of research ideas and the staff are obviously well connected with the research as I have personally received some of the articles in support of the publications when I have enquired further. These ideas, however, need to be accessed on a more regular basis.
Is it possible to gain access to the academic journal databases that the Ministry of Education subscribes to? I feel this would allow me to continue to pursue improvement in my teaching which will result in better outcomes for my students.
I look forward to your response,
What do you think? Am I expecting too much? Am I placing too much emphasis on access to research as a form of professional development? Should I be paying for my own access (note here: One journal wanted to charge me $39.95 just for one article this week!)? What chances of anyone from the MoE engaging in conversation with me on this?
UPDATE 25/6: I have heard back from the Ministry and now have access to their library services. This is available to support teachers and principals in our practice, I encourage you all to read this post about what I can now access or just head to the Ministry of Education Library to find out more.