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Finnish education expert Pasi Sahlberg hosts conversation series at the Opera House

Event Details

What: Pasi Sahlberg in conversation with Eddie Woo and Amie Albrecht
When: Wednesday 29 April 2020, 6:30pm
Where: Utzon Room
Tickets: $20 + booking fee

What: Pasi Sahlberg in conversation with Maggie MacDonnell
When: Tuesday 2 June 2020, 6:30pm
Where: Utzon Room
Tickets: $20 + booking fee

What: Pasi Sahlberg in conversation with Dr. Michael Rich
When: Wednesday 21 October 2020, 6:30pm
Where: Utzon Room
Tickets: $20 + booking fee

Sydney – Tuesday, 11 February 2020. Finnish writer, practitioner and researcher of education, Pasi Sahlberg, will host a series of three conversations in April, June and October in the Sydney Opera House Utzon Room with national and international education thought-leaders Eddie Woo and Amie AlbrechtMaggie MacDonnell and Dr. Michael Rich. The conversation series invites parents, grandparents, caregivers, educators and students to discuss the urgency for education reform in Australia in passionate, participatory conversation.

Pasi Sahlberg is an author and scholar who has worked as a mathematics and science teacher, teacher-educator, researcher and policy advisor in Finland. He has studied education systems and advised on education system reforms around the world, publishing more than 170 academic and professional articles and 22 books on the topic. His most recent book is Let the Children Play! How more play will save our schools and help children thrive (with William Doyle, 2019). He has held numerous senior expert roles in international organisations like the World Bank and the European Commission, and has been education policy advisor to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development), Open Society Foundation, the Finnish Government and numerous others.

Professor of Education Policy at the UNSW Gonski Institute for Education, Pasi Sahlberg, says: “Our research concludes that Australia has schools that are up there with the best in the world; but we tolerate a system where some students experience significant disadvantage and exclusion. These conversations are an open invitation to the Australian community about how this disparity and inequity can be addressed. Let’s discover new ideas to teaching, learning and parenting, and the importance of play – together.

Sydney Opera House Head of Children, Families and Creative Learning, Tamara Harrison, says: “The Opera House has a vital role to play as a meeting place for ideas and as a cultural institution dedicated to creative education. We are delighted to partner with the UNSW Gonski Institute for Education, and the indefatigable Pasi Sahlberg, to present these conversations at a time when education, play and critical-thinking skills development for Australian children have never been more important.”  

Professor Sahlberg’s first conversation (29 April 2020) is with arguably, Australia’s most famous high-school mathematics teacher Eddie Woo and University of South Australia Associate Professor of Mathematics Amie Albrecht. The charismatic, award-winning Eddie Woo (Australia’s Local Hero 2018) has more than 800,000 subscribers on his “Wootube” channel and proves that maths can be fun and playful. His ethos is grounded in equity of access and he uses technology to expand his classroom. In 2018, Woo was one of ten finalists in the Global Teacher Prize. Amie Albrecht’s award-winning teaching focusses on developing mathematical thinking and problem-solving skills by giving her students (who are pre-service teachers) opportunities to explore their own mathematical ideas. She has been invited to present more than 20 keynotes and workshops across Australia since 2016 to maths teachers and students, and is one of 16 women featured in the forthcoming Australian Women of Mathematics: A Gallery of Portraits.

On 2 June 2020, Professor Sahlberg will host Canadian teacher Maggie MacDonnell who was the 2017 Global Teacher Prize winner for her work with Indigenous communities in Canada. Since 2011, MacDonnell has been a teacher in the second northernmost Inuit community in Quebec, in a fly-in village called Salluit, where she has supported the 1300-strong community in improving school attendance and education outcomes. Through her approach of turning students from “problems” to “solutions”, she has helped the young people develop life-skills and improved the physical and mental health of her students.

Professor Sahlberg’s third guest (21 October 2020) is acclaimed American pediatrician and media expert, Dr. Michael Rich, MD, MPH, otherwise known as the Mediatrician. Rich is the father of two teenage boys, and a former filmmaker and screen writer who has worked with legendary directors Akira Kurosawa and Francis Ford Coppola. He is currently Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health and the Director and Founder of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital. He combines his creative experience with rigorous scientific evidence to advise pediatricians and parents about how to use media in ways that optimise child development.

This series kicks-off a new partnership between the Sydney Opera House and the UNSW Gonski Institute for Education that brings the intellectual heft of former NSW Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli (Director, UNSW Gonski Institute for Education) and Professor Sahlberg to complement and challenge the leading work of the Opera House’s creative learning programs.

For media information, please contact:

Alice Nguyen
Communications Coordinator
02 9250 7583 / 0418 413 145