I think I’m going to create a new acronym… and in the process take on the goal of trying to set up something that I’ve been agitating for and arguing about for a while.
So I give to you:
It was either that or RoNLiP… But as per the title, RoLNumP will be a national or perhaps international register of literacy and numeracy professionals who are active in the field.
My target audience for this is primarily the trades and vocational tutors and trainers that we have professionally developed via ALEC’s NCALNE (Voc) training.
I’m happy though to extend this to others with higher qualifications. However, my intention would be to have a non-academic focus where possible and pitch the membership and content at those who don’t have the academic background necessarily, but who find themselves working with adults with literacy and numeracy issues in a variety of contexts including trades.
I feel pretty strongly about working with this non academic, vocationally focused group. They are the troops and the ground. And they do the work.
In New Zealand we need a register of currently active literacy and numeracy professionals for a whole bunch of reasons. Here are the ones I can think of:
- Practitioner database: Currently, we have no real data on how many or even who is active in the field. It would be great to know who the practitioners are and how many of them there are.
- Churn: There is a huge churn factor at play in this sector. We think. Wouldn’t it be great to have some data on this? The Tertiary Education Commission has invested large amounts of money in to professional development in this area. Having a sense of the churn factor might help understand how effective the investment has been and what the next steps need to be, especially to retain qualified tutors.
- Practitioner profile: I think we need to establish an ideal graduate profile. Organisations and tutors themselves need to know what an industry gold standard looks like for a professionally developed, literacy and numeracy empowered, trades or vocational trainer. This profile is actually pretty straightforward and it would be easy to promote this via the RoLNumP register.
- Quality assuring individuals and organisations: A long time ago we had the idea to develop a literacy and numeracy quality mark. This would achieve the same ends. We could have individual membership as well as organisational membership. Members and member organisations could put RoLNumP after their names to indicate they are currently active literacy and numeracy professionals registered with us.
- Ensuring currency: The original NCALE qualifications were set up in 2007. That’s a long time ago. Particularly in internet years. Practitioners who are still active who qualified early may need retraining. Our entire infrastructure for literacy and numeracy didn’t exist until at least about five years ago. Also, knowledge gets old anyway. I’d like to think that we could have a system where individuals and organisations need to voluntarily demonstrate their currency every three years or seek retraining.
- Targeted professional development and support: Literacy and numeracy practitioners need ongoing support and training. And encouragement. However, it’s hard to provide this if you can’t even identify who these people are.
- Providing strategic advice to government: Access to a database of active LN practitioners would mean we could provide some well informed opinions to government with regards to policy and future actions in this area.
Perhaps too, I’d finally have an audience for my jokes.
All of this raises a few questions of course
- Would anyone join?
- How much would they be prepared to pay for an annual subscription?
- Would this conflict with other industry groups and professional organisations?
- How would the TEC and NZQA feel about this?
- What about international membership?
- What about ongoing professional development?
Got any answers? Let me know in the comments…
Sounds great Graeme. I like your interest in supporting non-academically qualified vocational tutors. I have been concerned for some time about how this group can be better supported.
But I also think academically qualified tutors often need ongoing support and their practice benefits from belonging to an active community.
Finally, I guess I would add a database of practitioner training organisations.
Absolutely. I agree that both groups need the ongoing support. As you can probably tell, I’m just biased with regards to the vocational and trades tutors. I see these guys as the underdogs. They are often intimidated by the academics and experts, but are hugely creative and innovative in how they approach their training and dealing with the demands.
Adding a database of practitioner training organisations would be a great idea too. I would expect that an organisational membership would make sense, particularly if it had some good criteria around it perhaps in line with some of the key evaluation requirements from the NZQA side of things as they related to best practice for embedding.
Thanks and regards, Graeme
Nice to be talking about this important topic! Yes, vocational tutors are the underdogs, and they are usually overlooked, in terms of professional development, by the system (or their employers). From my observation, this applies mainly to tutors in PTEs.