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Texthelp Talks - Future Proofing the Math Classroom

In this episode we take a look at the biggest challenges facing mathematics educators in Australia today. This podcast features our special guest Allan Dougan from the Australian Association of Maths Teachers.  Allan shares his thoughts with Greg O'Connor who heads up the Texthelp team in Australia. 

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We hope you enjoyed this episode. If you'd like to find out more about how Texthelp can help you create math digitally visit our guide to teaching math online.

You can also hear more from Greg and Allan over on Twitter.

Transcript

Greg O'Connor:
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Texthelp Talks podcast, where we gather experts to talk about a range of topics from education right through into the workplace. Before we get started, make sure you subscribe to Texthelp Talks through your preferred streaming service, so you never miss an episode. Remember, if you want to get involved in the conversation online, you can use the hashtag Texthelp Talks. I'm Greg O'Connor, Head of Education for Asia Pacific here at Texthelp, and today, I'm looking forward to diving into maths teaching and learning.

Greg O'Connor:
Here at Texthelp, part of our goal is to help everyone understand and be understood, and that involves breaking down barriers to learning across all subjects. Now, recently in Australia, there's been a lot of discussion around maths teaching and learning. Namely, how can we reverse the maths slump that some are suggesting we appear to be in, but we're not going to spend time today reflecting on NAPLAN or benchmarks. What we do want to do is, we want to look ahead and talk solutions. With the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers 2021 conference just around the corner, it's my pleasure to be joined by their CEO, Allan Dougan, to touch on this year's theme, future-proofing. Good day, Allan.

Allan Dougan:
Hey Greg, how are you?

Greg O'Connor:
I'm good. I'm good. I'm really looking forward to this session because it's definitely been a topic of discussion in the last, well, last 12 months. Hey, before we jump in, maybe I'd just get you to tell us a bit about yourself and particularly about the conference that's coming up.

Allan Dougan:
Sure. So as you said, my name is Allan Dougan, I am CEO of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers. And you can probably tell from my accent that I am not originally from the Southern half of the globe. I grew up in Scotland, Glasgow, born and bred, became a maths teacher there. I spent some time in schools there, in classroom and leadership positions, before following a female to the Southern Hemisphere. And I taught down here for a while before moving into some EdTech spaces and then ultimately, into this role.

Allan Dougan:
And so yeah, I'm really excited to have a conversation today. As you say, Greg, our conference this year is September 29 and 30th, so literally just around the corner. And we made a decision at the start of the year to call it future-proofing and to go for a theme of future-proofing. We know how challenging and difficult the last 18 months, 20 months have been for everyone, not just teachers, not just students, not just parents, but society. And as we look ahead and obviously we want to look ahead through the lens of maths learning and teaching, but as we look ahead, how do we future-proof, what does the future look like? How do we answer some of the big questions?

Allan Dougan:
And I think as you've touched on, there's some real pertinent and often controversial conversations happening just now. Here in Australia, we're in the middle of a curriculum review or revision, there's obviously been some views expressed and some debate happening around that, and I'm sure we'll touch on that, but there's also just a whole conversation around how do we move maths forward? What's the role of maths? What's the role of maths in the future? That I think is a really pertinent and significant conversation for us to have. And so, we're really excited about the conference. We're really excited about exploring some of these concepts, ideas, questions, maybe answering some questions and maybe posing some more questions that we don't yet fully know the answers to, or we can think about and wrestle with together.

Greg O'Connor:
Yeah. Yeah. And I guess, you talk about future-proofing. You've had to future-proof your conference because it was going to be live, but it's actually a virtual conference this year.

Allan Dougan:
Yeah. So look, I joined AAMT back in December of last year, right in the middle of the pandemic. And look, at that point in time, Australia was in a very fortunate phase in the suppression model. And we had had the decision at that point in time where it looked like we were potentially going to go ahead with a face-to-face. And one of the first conversation pieces that I was involved in was, "Do we go face-to-face, do we go hybrid, or do we go fully online?" And I came to the conclusion that there was just so much uncertainty, that I thought, let's go for a virtual one where we can build in certainty that this is going to happen and we can engage with people who sometimes can't necessarily make it to our conference because they've got to travel and it's cost prohibitive.

Allan Dougan:
So, this time, what we're finding is we've got a good registration based from normal, if you like, delegates, who would normally come to face-to-face, but we've also got delegates from overseas and some more rural, regional, and remote teachers and educators joining us. And look, I think one of the things that we probably all acknowledge at this point in time, particularly if we are experiencing the second wave, as we are on the East coast of Australia, and from other parts of the world, looking at entering a third wave, question mark. I think one of the things we acknowledge is that the challenge of Zoom fatigue and the challenge of sitting in front of a computer and engaging. And so, we're trying to really be quite creative and novel in some of the things that we're doing around conference. We're trying to make it engaging.

Allan Dougan:
We all know that that one of the ... Well, for me, the conferences that I've been to over the years, some of the most fruitful and enlightening and engaging conversations have come over coffee or the drinks reception in the evening. And so, we're trying to make sure that there's space for that because we know that that's important as well as the keynotes, as well as the sessions, as well as the connections. Yeah, so we have future-proofed the conference. I'd love to say that was by foresight and good planning, but it was probably by chance more than anything else. If we were still in a successful suppression model, I suspect we'd be sitting here going, "Why are we not doing face-to-face?"

Greg O'Connor:
Yeah. Well actually, so you've met some challenges. That actually makes me just ask you, just about challenges and mathematics teaching in general. This is a broad question, we'll pick it apart a bit, but what do you see as the biggest challenges facing maths teachers and educators across Australia today?

Allan Dougan:
Look, I think there's the obvious ones and there's the obvious challenges that almost sit outside of space and time and sit outside of subject. The generic challenges that are facing educators in Australia and across the world, the increasing complexity of the learning and teaching role, the increased workload and the challenges in that space. That's an ongoing challenge that has been around for a while, and it seems to become more complex. And I think in the last 18, 19 months, that complexity has grown much faster than it has in the past. We sit in a space where we were almost required to pivot, and that word pivot is just used everywhere now.

Greg O'Connor:
Yeah.

Allan Dougan:
But we were required to pivot to online, remote learning and teaching, almost overnight. But I think that's like asking us to turn an oil tanker around on a 10 cent coin. There was a real challenge in that space and we're still in that space of trying to understand the consequences and implications and learnings from that and what that means moving forward. And I think if we drill down and we start to think about maths teachers and maths education specifically, in terms of the challenges, I think the same one that existed when I was at school probably still exists just now, it just exists in a different form. And that's one of relevance and engagement.

Allan Dougan:
As a mathematics teacher, one of the saddest statements that I got and all maths teachers out there, this will resonate with them and you get it regularly, is that question of, "Sir, what's the point of this? Why will I use this? Or where does it fit in?" And that's the most disheartening question or statement to be made. And I think there's a real conversation that continues to happen around the relevance and engagement of the subject. I think we add that alongside the conversation that's happening just now about the review of the curriculum. And look, that's creating a significant amount of noise, that's creating a significant amount of debate and conversation in the public space.

Allan Dougan:
And I think in many respects it's creating lots of healthy dialogue amongst educators, and I know that it's trying to create, or at points it seems like it's trying to create divide. But in actual fact, I think that everyone who's discussing mathematics learning and teaching, discussing the reviews of the curriculum, the end point and the desire of every educator is the same. We want our young people to be effective engagers with their mathematics learning and therefore be able to use mathematics competently when you leave school. Whether that be as a career mathematician, or whether that be just as a "casual" user of mathematics in their everyday life, we need them to be competent. And so I think, we have to remember as we have these conversations and debates around learning pedagogies, around curriculum content and progression, that we all actually are coming at it with the same desire. And I think that that makes the conversation in to be a much more effective and successful and therefore useful conversation piece.

Greg O'Connor:
Yeah. I agree that it's out in the public domain, we're having this conversation. Back to that piece that you talked about, about relevance and engagement, and you talked about kids saying, "Sir, why do I need to do this? I'm not going to use this ever again." The other part of that for me is, my background is working with a lot of kids who meet a lot of barriers in their schooling. And for a lot of those students, they have barriers around literacy and other things, but one of the barriers I find they encounter when it comes to mathematics particularly, is that they're told in lots of different ways that they're no good at mathematics. And then the people that surround them tell them, "Oh, I was never good at mathematics. Don't worry about that."

Allan Dougan:
Absolutely. And I think we're talking about the accessibility of it. And again, I often joke that the reason I moved to Australia was so that I didn't have to have the pub conversation with people that I went to school with, where they asked that question. And you bump into someone that you've not seen for 20 years, and they say to you, "What do you do?" And you say, "I'm a maths teacher." And the tumbleweed kind of drifts down the top of the bar. Or otherwise what they say is, "Oh, I could never do maths at school. You must be really smart." And they create that elitist framework around mathematics learning.

Allan Dougan:
Or I think about the number of parent-teacher interviews that I've sat in over the years, where the parents would go, if the young person is capable in the maths space, they go, "I don't know where they got their ability to do maths, because I was never good at it." Or if the parent perceived them not to be good at maths, go, "Oh, don't worry. I wasn't good at maths either." And one of the things I find really frustrating about that, is that to some extent, for some reason, it's societally acceptable for us to say and almost boast that we are not good at mathematics, but it's absolutely not acceptable for us to say the same about literacy. You don't hear anyone say in the pub when they bump into someone, "Oh, I can't read." Whereas it's almost a badge of honor that said, "I can't do mathematics. I can't do maths."

Allan Dougan:
And I think in some respects, the conversation goes back to what you said, where there's this starting point somewhere along the line, where the young person encounters a challenge or something that they don't understand or can't do. And somewhere someone feeds the, "Well, you're not good at maths, you therefore, can't do it." And that's that whole self-fulfilling prophecy. The reality is that we need to engage our young people at an accessible point. The whole zone of proximal development space is of critical importance because everyone can access learning. And I believe that regardless of what subject we're talking about, but they need to be engaged at a level that is appropriate to them. And I think that speaks to that conversation that we had a little while ago around, what is it that we are trying to equip young people to do in our classroom?

Allan Dougan:
And I think that the reality is that 97% of them will go on to not be career mathematicians. Or put it another way, 3% of them ... And I'm pulling those numbers out of my head. I don't have a piece of research to say that, but a small percentage of them will go on to be career mathematicians. The vast majority will go on to be users of mathematics. And there's a real distinction in that space for me. And we need to be looking at equipping both, but we need to be looking at how do we help young people to be competent and confident users of mathematics? So, to that point that you said, that it's not acceptable to go, "I'm not good at maths." And when I say acceptable, I don't mean that in a disciplinarian or authoritarian way. I mean it in a, it's enriching to have a mathematically thinking mind.

Greg O'Connor:
Well, it is because we know things like employment in STEM-related industries is growing one and a half times faster than employment in non-STEM related. So, nothing more is that a lot of people are going to find them in a job where mathematics will become part of what they do. Hey, just going back to you, or identifying some of the challenges that you talked about. You used the word pivot, which is an overused word, but it is what it is. So, we've all had to pivot and as your conference has had to pivot from a face-to-face to online. And so, we've done that in schools.

Greg O'Connor:
And you're in the ACT, I'm in New South Wales, we've got our colleagues in Victoria, and who knows when the rest of the states won't join in the fun. Do you think this period of remote and blended learning that we're facing is just ... It's obviously adding extra challenges to what teachers are experiencing. In your conversation with maths teachers, what are you hearing back from them?

Allan Dougan:
I think there have been lots of benefits and learnings from this time as well, and so I guess, it's important to make sure that we have a look through both lenses. I think one of the challenges though has been, in many respects, the disruption that has been created and caused. We've gone through a period of disruption, and when we've gone through this period disruption, in many ways we've been forced back to first principles, if you like, in terms of what it is we're trying to achieve and do. And so, we've almost had to deconstruct education into its composite parts.

Allan Dougan:
But the challenge for that I think, is that educators know that effective and successful education is more than the sum of the composite parts, right? And I sum that up by saying, for me, education is an art, not a science. If it were a science, we would have learned the formula to make it really effective and we would have replicated that or scaled it on a maths level and made education work. We're a smart race, we would have done that 50, 100 years ago, or maybe even longer. So, education is an art and therefore at the center of education is the teacher, I really believe, and the learner. And the relationship that exists there, I really believe of the importance and significance of effective relationships in learning and teaching journeys. And I think in many respects, that was the thing that was, if you like, broken first in that initial pivot, to use that word.

Allan Dougan:
We broke the relationships. We went to remote. We struggled to equip everyone to be at the same level, to access at the same point. And so, we broke education down into its composite parts and said, "Okay, what are the important parts that we need to deliver?" And that was driven often by parental expectation, it was driven by system expectation. It maybe even was driven by political expectation. And so, we focused in on the learning and the teaching, which arguably is the core business of ... It's not even arguably, it's the core business of schools. But those of us who live in school worlds know that schools are much more than just about the learning and teaching of the curriculum. There is the huge part of the unseen curriculum that's there.

Allan Dougan:
And so, I think the challenge that was experienced, at least initially, was this whole idea ... And Ruben Puentedura's SAMR model really helps. What we tried to do was, we tried to use the substitution element of his model and go, right, we're going to substitute everything and we're just going to put it behind the screen and we're going to do it. And I think we probably very quickly learned that we couldn't do that, but it's taken us a while to understand how do we move up that ladder, if you like, really quickly? And how do we redefine what happens when we're sitting in this space? And look, I look at my kids, three of them, I've got a 13-year-old ... Let me just get this right, 13, 11, and seven. And I look at the difference in their experience of home learning now, compared to 12 months ago.

Allan Dougan:
12 months ago it was, we need to keep them busy, here's all the work, there's worksheets, there's almost busy work, versus now, here's a redefinition of what it looks like to learn and be at home. But I think that journey for teachers has not been without cost, has not been without challenge, and has been a really tough space to navigate. And so, I think the biggest challenge has been, how do you move to that space? How do you sustain it? And what does success look like in that space? Because I think that's a challenge. And I think if we distill success down into results, then we are missing a huge part of the conversation.

Greg O'Connor:
Yeah. And it's obviously been challenging for maths teachers in particular. Last year at Texthelp, we commissioned a white paper and I'll put a link to the white paper and also a link to the conferences and stuff with this podcast. But the white paper was called Learning in a Changing Landscape, and we looked at a whole bunch of stuff from lockdown globally but also here in Australia, around student engagement, the tools that teachers were using, et cetera, et cetera. One of the things that we found out of that research was that last year in Australia, during our first lockdown, teachers in Oz, actually that they increased their download of EdTech tools by 190%.

Greg O'Connor:
I mean, they were so desperate to find out, we've gone to this digital environment, how am I going to do that? And I think a lot of those teachers were in particular maths teachers, because all of a sudden they've gone from ... I'm really simplifying it here, from a pen and paper environment to a, "Oh my goodness, I've got kids who are online." So, I'm asking you, do you think there's been a increase or an expectation more to use EdTech tools in maths instruction than probably there was before the pandemic?

Allan Dougan:
Look, I think that's an interesting question because I've heard it said often, that maths teachers were maybe late adopters to the tech environment in schools, pre-pandemic. This conversation before pandemic, I've heard it said. And look, my experience would be one that doesn't necessarily identify with that and I wouldn't say that I have a whole lot of empirical evidence to support that. But what I would say is, that I think that by and large, the journey to integrate technology into a maths classroom is a challenging one, right?

Allan Dougan:
And that's one of the reasons I really like the SAMR model, because if we think about some other subjects, it's "easy" to move the submission of an essay or a written assignment from the pen and paper, that you referenced, to the digital. Type it up, submit it. Now, the couple of things I would say there is, firstly, it's not necessarily that easy for young people to type maths equations and maths characters up on the computer. That's not easy. But secondly, I ask the question, that's a real example of substitution in the model, where you go from just pen and paper, to typing, but you've not actually revolutionized or changed in any way, the learning experience. So, I think there was a criticism leveled against maths teachers, an observation made that maybe they were late adopters or reticent adopters of technology. I just think we were different adopters of technology. I think about the online digital calculators, I think about the adoption of the ability to create diagrams that were much more accurate and therefore, helped to communicate more effectively to young people.

Allan Dougan:
And so, I suspect that what we saw was an early adoption of mathematics tools that supported instruction in the classroom. The use of GeoGebra and others, to help evolve understanding of key concepts. And so, I think that was the early adoption of technology. I think the challenge has been and remains to some extent of how do you redefine some elements of learning in mathematics, because we are in many ways, practice driven. Automaticity, we do know, comes from repeating things over and over again. And there is a space and a relevance for direct instruction and automaticity building in learning mathematics, that practice makes perfect type idea.

Allan Dougan:
There is a place for inquiry-based learning and discovery as well, but the challenge is how do we redefine or how do we use technology to enhance that automaticity building? Particularly when we talk further up the mathematics learning journey, about the importance of working and communication and showing your thinking. It's "easy" to use technology, to support the development of the memorization of multiplication facts, for example, and building automaticity there, because we can use digital flashcards, we can create some analysis and use AI to understand which multiplication facts are well known by the student verse which aren't, and help to build it that way.

Allan Dougan:
But when it comes to their journey through calculus, for example, and solving a calculus problem, we know that the journey and the communication and the thought processes are as important, if not more important than the final answer. And so, I think it's been more difficult to redefine the learning in mathematics than it was maybe in some other subjects, but I don't think that reflects adoption.

Greg O'Connor:
No. No. And I think you're right. In the SAMR model, as you said, it's about redefinition, it's a redefining. And I think you're also right that it's not one particular content area or subject area that is, not struggling, but really examining how does it use EdTech in that space? I often like to think of EdTech as ICT, and it can't teach. All it does, it doesn't actually teach, it puts a spotlight on your pedagogy and how you want ... And that's what you're talking about is, for all of us it's going, "Okay, I've got these tools that are becoming more and more available. I've got to think about how do I actually use them to really inform my instruction and they'll help students with their learning," that kind of stuff.

Greg O'Connor:
So, it's definitely been an issue. And I guess for me, the pandemic and the online learning movement, it has been a dramatic change. It's been this change that's happened and it's made us adopt stuff that perhaps we wouldn't have done in the first place, but that can be a positive. To actually have change, sometimes you've got to have a disruption and sometimes that disruption can be a bit uncomfortable, but from that you can actually pick out, "Oh, that was fantastic. I didn't know I could do that, that way. And even if I return to my kids, to my classroom, I'm going to still use some of those tools to support what I'm doing." Yeah.

Allan Dougan:
I think to that point, you're absolutely right. I think about, we all know the famous Ken Robinson TED Talk, that talks about the industrial model and all that kind of stuff. I think the challenge that we had in education pre-pandemic was, we just didn't know how and how at scale, to move into a more flexible model, if you like. That whole idea of remote, flexible learning was a real challenge. It wasn't that people and schools and systems were reluctant to it, we didn't necessarily think that they had the capacity or capability to do it. And the forced disruption of COVID and the pandemic actually made them find the way, and what I think we've realized is that there are elements of what we've done with remote and off-site learning that probably is usable and sustainable when we go back to face-to-face.

Allan Dougan:
I remember doing a media interview really early in the pandemic, and the interviewer asked me a question, and I remember saying, much to her surprise, that I really hope that we don't go back to what we had before the pandemic. I genuinely mean that. I hope that there have been learnings. I hope that there have been technological adaptations. I hope that there have been pedagogical adaptations. And I hope that what has happened is that, that that has actually added value to the learning experience of our young people. And that there are things that we will want to keep when we get back and get into a post-COVID world. And there'll be some things that we won't want to do, but there are absolutely elements of it that I think we will want to maintain and keep and learn and enhance, and add value to.

Allan Dougan:
And I think on that disruption piece, disruption is something that we're going to have to deal with. And probably, our young people are going to be more comfortable with disruption than any other generation before them, and maybe after them, because they've had to learn to do it. So, it's an interesting conversation and it's a tough space to be in for so many of us, but it's important to also be aware that there are some positives that will come out of it and we will want to use.

Greg O'Connor:
We will. And I guess that's both at a teacher level, classroom, but also at a school level and institutional level that we hope ... I love a quote from Cathy Davidson where she says that, "Institutions are the solution for which they are often the problem." So, we hope, whatever comes out of all this, that those good things, that actually, we just don't go back, "Oh, this is how we've always done things and so we're just going to return to that model." At all sorts of levels. The final exam level right through.

Greg O'Connor:
Yeah. Yeah. That brings me to my ... I'm really interested to, you've touched on it, but if you had a crystal ball and you could look into the future, as the theme of the conference is future-proofing ... Future-building is also another good term that I like, building for the future. What are your thoughts about the future of maths education in Australia? And it's a loaded question, mate. Go for it.

Allan Dougan:
I think that's the 64 million dollar question, isn't it? And look, I think the reality is that we know that the world is changing. And I think arguably, we would see that it's changing faster than before, or at least at some sort of accelerated rate than before. And I think that the pandemic has pushed us to see the accelerated change that we have been forced to be in. And to some extent, this last 18 months have been a bit of a greenhouse that it will be nice to get out of.

Allan Dougan:
But I think the other thing that's really important as we think about that future-proofing is that for me, we're pushing our young people out into a learning economy rather than a knowledge economy. And I think that's critically important when we approach and think about the future of learning and teaching, particularly in the STEM subjects and in maths, because 40 years ago, knowledge was king, knowledge was significantly important and it was the end point of learning in many ways. Knowledge is less significant these days. It's not unimportant, it's incredibly important, but it's with the advent of the internet and the ability to get facts and information so rapidly, that we're not existing and we're not trading in knowledge economy anymore. We're trading in a learning economy.

Allan Dougan:
And when I say that, I don't want people to hear me say that they are dichotomous, that it's either knowledge or learning. But what I do think that I'm saying is that we've shifted to a focus on usability of knowledge, transferability of knowledge. So, that whole idea of learning to learn is incredibly important. That whole idea of giving meaning and purpose to the learning is incredibly important. And we've spoken lots about the pandemic, and I guess that's the world that we live in at the moment, but one of the things that I found really, I guess, almost comical and almost a little bit heartwarming early on in the pandemic, was that exponential was trending on Twitter, right?

Allan Dougan:
The word exponential and exponential functions were trending on Twitter. We had the BBC do a 20 minute segment in their six o'clock news about what exponential functions were and how they grew. And as a mathematician, sorry, as a maths teacher and dabbler of mathematics, don't think I can call myself a mathematician, but as a maths teacher and dabbler in mathematics, that's really exciting and important. And if I had said to you three years ago, "Hey, on the 20th of March 2020, the BBC are going to do in their six o'clock news, a 20 minute segment on what exponential functions are." You probably would have laughed at me and walked off. Right?

Greg O'Connor:
Yep.

Allan Dougan:
And I say that because the reality is that mathematics has been incredibly important to the journey over the last 18 months. The modeling that has happened, the support for the vaccine development, the rollout, all of this stuff has been reliant so much on mathematics. And I say that to say, our need for mathematics continues to grow, continues to change. The role of data science, of technology, of security, of all of these applications of mathematics, of biological medicine, of epidemiology, of all of these things, continues to grow and change at a rate that is just accelerating.

Allan Dougan:
And so for me, as we think about the future of mathematics learning and we think about the future of what would that must look like and how we prepare our young people. We need to be thinking about that learning economy that we're pushing them into. We know the stats out there about how many careers a young person will have. Just a generation or two before that, my dad retired from a job that he had for his whole career, 45 years or more. And had one job, one employer. And that's what happened. We know that kids will go on and have not just multiple jobs, but multiple careers. And so, the ability to transfer knowledge, to move it around, to learn to learn, to take it from the known to the unknown, these are all incredibly important skills that are required, and that employers and further and higher education institutions are looking for.

Allan Dougan:
And so, when we think about the constitution and the makeup of our classrooms and our pedagogical practice, we need to absolutely have strong knowledge output from maths learning, right? You cannot use Pythagoras' theorem in a context if you don't understand Pythagoras' theorem. You cannot apply differential calculus in a contextual setting, if you don't understand differential calculus and how to use it. So, it's not A or B, but it is a conversation about how do we then build flexibility and build applications, build transportability, build the capacity of young people to make connections in their learning, maybe in ways that they haven't happened before?

Allan Dougan:
So for me, if we're talking about future-proof, I'm not worried so much about what content is in the curriculum. I'm worried about how we help to draw connections, to use it, to apply it, to move it around. And I think that's the key to building success in the future. And I think we ought to not be scared about this conversation about learning loss. We've seen some really confronting numbers about learning loss from different studies in the media have pushed that, but we also know there's a whole lot of work out there that would suggest that learning loss is not necessarily as significant as we might push it out there to be. And Hattie did some work after the Christchurch earthquakes that people have referred to.

Allan Dougan:
And so, it's really unhelpful for me to distill learning loss down into a number. Some students will have experienced knowledge loss during the pandemic, that we need to fill the gaps in, and that's really, really important. I think there's a socioeconomic gap between ... The gap in learning for some has grown, and I think that's a challenge that we're going to have to deal with. But I think we can't see the future as this fear-based space where we are playing catch up and trying to do this and that and the other, because we need to get into that space of adding value.

Allan Dougan:
I love that whole concept of how do we give a kid a year's worth of growth in a year? I love that out of the Gonski Report, because that personalizes it down to that kid. And so I think, we need to be careful not to get caught up in the hamster wheel of filling the learning loss, because I think knowledge loss is maybe a more accurate phrase to be using in that space. And knowledge is only useful if you then have a way to use it, apply it, extend it, draw conclusions from it, interpret it, all of those things. And so, I think that's the future. The future is how we build more connectedness in those learning journeys. And I probably avoided answering your question [crosstalk 00:37:56].

Greg O'Connor:
No, no, no. No, I think that's a perfect way to end our chat actually. And it also segues into for me to mention again about the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers 2021 Conference, because obviously we're going to be drilling down across all these themes during that conference. Can you remind me or tell our listeners the hashtag for the conference this year?

Allan Dougan:
Yeah. So, you'll find details of it if you go to any of our websites, AAMT websites, search as that. Or the hashtag #AAMTeCON is the hashtag. And 29th, 30th of September this year. Sign up, you can join us in your pajamas from the comfort of your own home, with your own coffee, and make connections and add value and contribute to this conversation. Because I think one of the things that excites me most about being an educator is the fact that I still get to learn. And I think the opportunity for us to learn and grow at the moment, is more significant than probably it has been across my career because there's so much disruption and from disruption comes the chance to learn. So, jump online, sign up, join us, come along. Greg's presenting, I know. Got a whole load of people presenting. Have a look on the website, sign up, and I hope to see you there.

Greg O'Connor:
Yeah. Perfect. And so, thanks, Allan, for joining us today on the Texthelp Talks podcast, and thanks to everyone for tuning in. You can tweet us at Texthelp, using the hashtag #TexthelpTalks to join the conversation. You might have some thoughts to add to what Allan's been talking about today. And don't forget to subscribe to our podcast to make sure you catch every new and next episode. So until next time, thanks for listening and goodbye. Thanks, buddy.