John Furphy Memorial Lecture

Past lectures

2016 John Furphy Memorial Lecture

Keith McDougall’s Neuroscientific Approach to Education

La Trobe University presented the eleventh John Furphy Memorial Lecture in October 2016, which continues to be one of the most enjoyable and stimulating evenings on the La Trobe calendar. The crowd of 120 attendees heard from Keith McDougall, retired Principal of Broadmeadows Primary School, who was instrumental in transforming the school’s approach to education.

With over 40 years’ experience in education, 28 years’ as principal, Keith McDougall believes a healthy body means a healthy mind. Working as the Principal of Broadmeadows Primary School in Melbourne, a school from one of Australia's most disadvantaged suburbs, Keith and the school have been doing just that, using a neuroscience approach to transform the school's entire teaching program.

Keith has been at the forefront of education by focusing on making sure kids are ready to learn by incorporating findings from neuroscience and the science of learning to improve learning performance, attitudes and outcomes in a positive way.

‘Getting enough sleep, limiting screen time and managing anger are just as important as English and Maths’, states Keith and the school has been having some impressive academic results. Working closely with teachers, Keith found balance in both a direct teaching model and a concept based model to empower his students and nurture their interest in learning.

Keith’s method resonated strongly with Pro Vice Chancellor Richard Speed, and with the approach that La Trobe University takes – ‘Keith treats his students holistically, and is interested in nurturing and developing them as individuals.’ It’s a refreshing approach.

Neuroplasticity is exactly what Keith is exploiting in his program at Broadmeadows – the student’s capacity to improve their performance through reinforcing positive patterns and behaviours.

Guests’ shared in an interactive lecture, participating in a True or False mind test and were entertained by musical talents of Shepparton High School students Ella Bollard and Salvation Pata.

McDougall highlighted the importance of having conversations by talking with families and support people rather than screen time. The current trend being witnessed by children commencing school is to ‘slide a page, rather than turn a page.’

Methods successfully implemented at Broadmeadows Primary include an emotion wall which creates a vocabulary for students to articulate their emotions in order to be self-regulated learners. McDougall referenced the brain as a muscle group that needs exercise.

Attendees heard how future educators need to create a safe, secure learning environment. The public lecture is timely as La Trobe University will be offering new courses in education at the Shepparton campus in 2017. Head of Campus Sue Nalder has seen a significant interest from school leavers and mature age applicants for the Bachelor of Early Childhood and Primary Education and the Bachelor of Educational Studies. ‘More than ever before, we are seeing the different education providers in this region, being early childhood providers, schools, GOTAFE, the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University working together to drive both social and economic development within this community,’ Nalder said.

The lecture was proceeded with a workshop conducted by Keith McDougall at Mooroopna Secondary College.

2010: The Dethridge wheel - 100 years of faithful revolution

Presented by Peter Fitzgerald

From channels to the main streets of country towns, since 1910 the Dethridge wheel has become a symbol of irrigated agriculture across Northern Victoria. Peter shared his insights from both sides of the Dethridge wheel as he explored its history, from early designs to its modern role in our region. Peter is a local irrigator and dairy farmer. A former water bailiff, he has also been involved representing irrigators on Goulburn-Murray Water's customer committees, and as a Director of Goulburn-Murray Water and the Goulburn-Broken Catchment Management Authority.

Slideshow [PDF MB]

Slideshow notes DOC [67KB]

2009: The survival of journalism in regional Australia in the face of corporate media organisations

Presented by Heather Ewart, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Heather initiated a discussion of the future of regional newspapers and the newspaper industry. Her lecture explore the changing nature of media reporting, and asked whether political spin has taken over and sanitised what we read and see.

2008: From well to water tank

Presented by Dr Kate Auty (PhD, MEnvSc., BA (hons)/LLB)

Dr Auty discussed the way water has been collected and used in Australia from colonisation, across a range of cultural and personalised usages and geographical sites. She detailed how Aboriginal people used water along the Canning Stock Route, and illustrated the engineered storage along the route. These Aboriginal reserves were used by non-Aboriginal people.

Dr Auty has worked as a magistrate in Western Australia and Victoria. She was the inaugural Koori Court Magistrate in Shepparton when she was the Regional Coordinating Magistrate. Kate is currently the Chairperson of the Victorian Ministerial Reference Council on Climate Change Adaptation.

2007: Troubled waters - an illustrated history of Victoria's fight for water

Presented by Dr Geoff Russell

Geoff has taught history at La Trobe (Bendigo and Shepparton campuses), and professional writing and editing, and business management at Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE. He has operated two highly successful multimedia production businesses in central Victoria, and worked for many years as a broadcast journalist with various commercial TV networks. He currently works as a research officer with the Joint Committees of the Parliament of Victoria, and is adapting his PhD thesis 'Water for Gold' for publication as a new history of the fight to secure water to the central Victorian goldfields.