Category Archives: Education related issues

The Rise of Digital Education


The face of education is constantly changing. Towards the end of 2011, many have seen a paradigm shift especially in the perception of a traditional classroom (Pegrum, 2009). As technology progresses, education needs to change in order to keep up with ongoing trends. Students’ attention spans are harder to retain and educators require new teaching methodologies to achieve necessary results. Therefore, this paper will explain the emergence of digital education in this new era. To do this, the first section of this paper will try to explain what digital education is. Next, this paper is also going to look at what constitutes as an online classroom and digital schooling. Last but not least, a list of pros and cons of digital education will also be provided in this paper.

What is digital education?

Digital education is the integration of ICT or Information and Communication Technology during the teaching and learning process (Lee, 2008). The role of a teacher is no longer viewed as an educator but rather, as the facilitator of learning (Pegrum, 2009). Students are not required to sit in class for hours listening to lectures. In fact, they do not even have to be present in the classroom. Digital education has made it possible for learning to happen from anywhere even at home (Lee, 2008). Besides that, the lines on geographical and cultural boundaries have also been blurred with the usage of Internet (Gibson & Baek, 2009). Teachers and students can utilize this platform by sharing and gaining knowledge from different parts of the world. Learning contents are not restricted just to the textbooks but it can be gathered from anywhere and instructional curriculum can traverse out from the syllabus (Gibson & Baek, 2009). Apart from that, digital education also allows the acquisition of information to be more interactive and hands on, pushing towards a more personalized learning experience (Thomas, 2011). Therefore, with digital education, a 21st century classroom is one that promotes collaboration among peers and cultivates life-long learning skills (Thomas, 2011).

What constitutes an online classroom and digital schooling?

An online classroom and digital schooling involve the implementation of a wireless Internet, an interactive whiteboard and digital content (Selwyn, 2011). Teachers and students do not need to be at the same place in order for the teaching and learning process to be carried out. This is because the actual building does not need to exist. Students can register at any school, colleges and universities that suit their interests. Distance and transportation is no longer the main concerns. Individuals who are working can also take this opportunity to advance themselves. Furthermore, the contents used in an online classroom and digital schooling should be attainable online (Selwyn, 2011). One can even download these contents by paying a small price. They are known as e-textbooks. Researches can also be done via an online library. On contrary belief, an online classroom and digital schooling is still led by an educator although, it does promote autonomous learning.

The advantages of digital education

One of the most prevalent advantages of digital education is the possibility of attaining education for students who cannot attend a traditional classroom setting (Barron, 2002). This is especially true for students living in rural or remote areas. It can be difficult to find a school, college and university nearby. This eliminates the need to commute from one place to another. Besides that, an online environment gives individuals with family and work responsibilities a chance to further their education. The flexibility to arrange their own schedules and ability to review classes which they have missed make digital education an ideal solution (Gibson & Baek, 2009). Not just that, it is believed that digital education can improve the dropout rates that are happening in schools, globally, at an alarming rate (Lee, 2008). Most students have confessed to playing truant because classes are deemed to be a bore. With multi-media and audio visual support, educators can make their lessons more interesting. Realistic simulation using appropriate technologies is a great way to capture students’ attention. This is important to create individuals who will contribute to the society and an ability to join the workforce. Furthermore, technology can also provide better teaching and learning outcomes for disabled students (Pegrum, 2009). A research has shown that dyslexic students response very well with the usage of computers. Current introduction of iPad into classrooms with dyslexic students have proven that they are more eager to learn and there is a prolonged duration in their attention span (Selwyn, 2011).

The disadvantages of digital education

One of the main concerns regarding digital education is dealing with isolation. Many people fear the lack of face to face interaction will interfere with students’ socialization skills (Duderstadt, Atkins, & Houweling, 2002). This may have an effect on their career growth in future. Since digital education requires the implementation of technology in the teaching and learning process such as an Internet connection, laptops for every student and interactive whiteboards, this may be a hindrance to many students and schools who could not afford it. The accessibility to technology is feared to be one of the reasons for causing a social divide (Duderstadt, Atkins, & Houweling, 2002). Only those who are rich and privileged will get to enjoy this new education system. Those who are poor and less privileged will continue to be left further behind. Besides that, computer skills also need to be taken into consideration during the incorporation of digital education (Brabazon, 2002). Not everybody is technology savvy. Some students may not have the keyboard skills to type as fast as required. As a result, they may lose out on the lessons more than they can gain. Inequality as well as injustice in education can occur due to the above reasons (Brabazon, 2002). Apart from that, the society still sees online education as sub-par to mainstream education (Duderstadt, Atkins, & Houweling, 2002). Therefore, it may pose to be detrimental when it is time for these students to search for jobs. Another disadvantage of digital education is the possibility of disruptive interruptions during the lessons due to technology issues (Duderstadt, Atkins, & Houweling, 2002). This may be caused by various reasons such as the Internet connection fails to connect midway through a lesson or the software is unable to load. Fixing these issues will result in a waste of time rather than focusing on the learning materials.


Digital education is the new emerging trend of the 21st century. The implementation of ICT into classrooms provides many advantages to both, students and educators. It has provided those who are living in rural and remote areas opportunities that are impossible to achieve in the past. Besides that, technologies can also eliminate the number of dropouts and as a result, a bigger workforce can be achieved for the country. Disabled students are also able to make use of this new teaching and learning methodology. Unfortunately, there are mixed reviews regarding digital education. Isolation and social divide seem to be the main concerns. In order to avoid inequality and injustice in the education system, governments and private organizations need to play a huge role. However, a few setbacks should not stop this new approach from progressing. Given enough time, students regardless of background will be able to enjoy the benefits of getting a digital education.


Barron, A. E. (2002). Technologies for Education: A Practical Guide. Englewood: Libraries Unlimited.

Brabazon, T. (2002). Digital Hemlock: Internet Education and the Poisoning of Teaching. Kensington: UNSW Press.

Duderstadt, J. J., Atkins, D. E., & Houweling, D. E. (2002). Higher Education in the Digital Age: Technology Issues and Strategies for American Colleges and Universities. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Gibson, D., & Baek, Y. (2009). Digital Simulations for Improving Education: Learning Through Artificial Teaching Environments. Hershey: Idea Group Inc.

Lee, M. (2008). Leading a Digital School: Principles and Practice. Camberwell: Aust Council for Ed Research.

Pegrum, M. (2009). From Blogs to Bombs: The Future of Digital Technologies in Education. Crawley: UWA Pub.

Selwyn, N. (2011). Schools and Schooling in the Digital Age: A Critical Analysis. Oxford: Taylor & Francis.

Thomas, M. (2011). Digital Education: Opportunities for Social Collaboration. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


The Antecedents of 1950s Rock and Roll


Rock and roll or also known as rock music is a movement that started in the United States between the 1940s and 1950s (Frith, Straw, & Street, 2001). However, it only begins to garner widespread recognition as well as worldwide popularity during the 1960s. Rock and roll is a musical style that has managed to influence and impact the society, lifestyle, fashion, attitude as well as language (Frith, Straw, & Street, 2001). This genre of popular music has evolved through time mainly due to the involvement of various instruments and the influence from different music styles. Therefore, this paper will try to examine the antecedents to the 1950s rock and roll and how they have contributed to this type of music. To answer the question, this paper will look at how western swing, country music as well as rhythm and blues have contributed to rock and roll.

What did Western Swing contribute to Rock and Roll?

Western swing is the sub-genre of jazz (Shuker, 2002). Generally, it means dance music performed by a band. Since rock and roll is essentially based on African folk music, the emergence of western swing is to pull in the interest of the white community (Shuker, 2002). This type of music reaches the height of its popularity during the 1930s in New York City where social integration is happening extensively (Everett, 2000). In order to do so, blues and jazz musicians began to experiment with rhythmic music and amplification. These blues and jazz singers start to form small groups and incorporate saxophone solos as well as shouted vocals (Everett, 2000). Bands from different states will create their own style of music and as the influence of western swing spread, musicians start to innovate and merge from precedent styles. One good example of a famous western swing band is Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. These processes of mixing and interchanging manage to pull in a bigger crowd especially white Caucasians. This is also fueled by the creation of radio, records and jukeboxes that make western swing music more accessible to the general public (Ripani, 2006). As the music industry begins to be more commercialized, electronic recording and electric guitar are introduced (Ripani, 2006).

Western swing is part and parcel of rock and roll. It is due to the emergence of this music genre that rock and roll is born. Besides that, with the usage of solo instrument performances like saxophone and electric guitar, amplification as well as shouted vocals, these features created a new form of dance music and it is also the basic concept of the modern rock and roll. Apart from that, western swing is also one of its kinds whereby musicians perform in a band. All these aspects have managed to garner a wider audience reception and push the music industry to be commercialized, breaking the barrier between white and black. These are the fundamentals that lead to the creation of rock and roll music.

What did Country Music contribute to Rock and Roll?

During the 1940s and 1950s, rock and roll is very heavily influenced by country music. In the past, country music is also known as hillbilly music (Nettl, Porter, Stone, & Rice, 2001). The fusion of both genres gives birth to the term rockabilly (Nettl, Porter, Stone, & Rice, 2001). It is particularly popular in the southern side of the United States and it is one of the earliest forms of rock and roll music. The most prevalent features of how country music has contributed to rock and roll is the change in the usage of instruments. With the introduction of rockabilly, other musical percussions such as drums and electric guitar are added to produce a wider selection of beats as well as rhythm (Moore, 2003). In the olden days, the sound of the drums is considered to be impure in country music. However, with a more pronounced rhythm, it slowly gains popularity appealing to listeners as a new form of dance music. Besides that, with the infusion of country music, a new wave of white singers has emerged on the rock and roll genre (Moore, 2003). It has also created a platform for female singers as well.

Rockabilly is at its most popular during the 1930s and slowed down during the World War II. It picks up momentum again during the 1950s and 1960s with the emergence of very popular artists. One very good example is Elvis Presley. Apart from that, the combination of country music and rock and roll has also finally traversed boundaries, crossing over to the Brits (Szatmary, 2009). The most notable band is called the Beatles. A whole new movement emerges with singers from British working with American singers like Rolling Stone and Buddy Holly as well as Led Zeppelin and Elvis Presley.

What did Rhythm and Blues contribute to Rock and Roll?

Rhythm and blues or in short, R&B, is created mainly for the African American community during the 1940s (Bogdanov, Woodstra, & Erlewine, 2003). With a more heavy and insistent beat, it begins to incorporate electric blues, gospel and soul music together. This new style of music incorporates instruments such as electric guitar, piano, saxophone, drums and bass. However, the main contribution of rhythm and blues to rock and roll is the usage of electric blues (Bogdanov, Woodstra, & Erlewine, 2003). It creates an alternative to different form of sounds called the distortion (Ripani, 2006). Therefore, it acts as a frequency multiplier making sounds to be more intense, pronounced and amplified. This is the basis for any rock and roll music. It starts getting more attention when musicians start to make use of uptempo blue songs mix with uptempo gospel beat. The messages of these songs are often based on sex, dancing and drinking (Szatmary, 2009).

Due to the influence from rhythm and blues on rock and roll, words like ‘boogie’ and honking’ are coined. It is often said that rock and roll originates from black rhythm and blues with the crooning by white singers. One of the pioneers in playing the electric blue guitar is Chuck Berry.  This style of music appeals not only to the black community but to the post-war society who craves for social freedom as well as a need for excitement and dancing especially to white teenagers.


Therefore, the antecedents to 1950s rock and roll such as western swing, country music as well as rhythm and blues play a crucial part in influencing the aspects of rock music. One of the most notable effects of these antecedents on rock and roll is the usage of different instruments. The incorporation of electric guitars and drums on these antecedents enable musicians to create a new form or style of music that leads to the creation of rock and roll. Apart from that, the antecedents that are mainly influenced by African American music have managed to break society barriers and the white community began to enjoy this genre of music. The formation of small bands in contrast to big bands is also a commercialized appeal. Finally, with the usage of electric blues, distortion can be created; producing a more amplified and uptempo beat in order to cater to a post-war generation who craves for more excitement.


Bogdanov, V., Woodstra, C., & Erlewine, S. T. (2003). All Music Guide to the Blues: The Definitive Guide to the Blues. Milwaukee: Backbeat Books.

Everett, W. (2000). Expression in Pop-Rock Music: A Collection of Critical and Analytical Essays. Princeton: Garland.

Frith, S., Straw, W., & Street, J. (2001). The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Moore, A. F. (2003). Analyzing Popular Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nettl, B., Porter, J., Stone, R. M., & Rice, T. (2001). The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. New York: Garland Pub.

Ripani, R. J. (2006). The New Blue Music: Changes in Rhythm & Blues. Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi.

Shuker, R. (2002). Popular Music: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge.

Szatmary, D. P. (2009). Rockin’ in Time: A Social History of Rock-And-Roll. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Concept of Constructivism in the Teaching and Learning of Science


Nowadays, there are many talks regarding a paradigm shift in education especially on the methodology of teaching. Teachers are moving away from the concept of traditional classroom teaching to newer ways that can better enhance students’ learning experiences (Bennett, 2005). This rings true especially in the teaching and learning of subjects such as science and mathematics. These areas of studies have become increasingly important as the world is progressing in the technology field. There are many researchers who have found out that students actually understand less than the teachers’ expectations even if they can provide them with good instructions (Bennett, 2005). This is due to the fact that students are required to carry out their own reading and make up their own meaning through the information which they can find from books. Unfortunately, even after careful examination, their understanding can be limited or wrong. Sometimes if they do get the facts right, students tend to face difficulties in retaining that piece of information for a long period of time. It will most probably be lost in their memories tuck behind somewhere in the brains. In order for effective learning to occur, teachers must tap into the students’ right schemata and enable them to connect new ideas to old ones. According to some experts, the best way to do so is allowing students the chance to get hands on experiences (Wellington & Ireson, 2012). Therefore, this research paper is going to focus on the concept of constructivism in the teaching and learning of science. It will include a brief explanation on the theory of constructivism. Besides that, this paper is also going to look at some of the advantages as well as issues regarding to this learning concept. Apart from that, a few examples on ways to implement constructivism in classrooms will be given. Finally, this paper is going to offer a conclusion explaining the effectiveness of this particular learning concept in the teaching of science.


Constructivism is considered to be one of the best methods in teaching the science subject because it is, basically, a theory based on observation and scientific study (Wellington & Ireson, 2012). This learning concept emphasizes on the usage of all the five senses; sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. Constructivist believes that a person learns through experiencing things and later, reflects on those experiences (Hand & Prain, 1995). In order to do so, an individual will have to ask questions, explore and ponder on existing information. If he or she discovers something new, the person will, then, make connections with prior knowledge and decides whether the experience is relevant or not.

This is totally opposite from objectivism that reflects the most common teaching methodology being used currently. They believe that information can be found from books and thus, knowledge can be transferred from the teacher to the students through the implementation of a specific curriculum that covers relevant science contents (Hand & Prain, 1995). However, constructivist insists upon the existence of knowledge inside each individual and students can only make sense of the subject that is being taught by experiencing and interacting with the environment (Hodson, 2009). Therefore, meaning is constructed by the individual and not from words that are written on textbooks.

Consequently, teachers, who are using constructivism as an approach to enhance students’ learning, he or she will adopt problem solving as a learning strategy. Students have to constantly go through activities that will encourage questioning and exploring in order to gain a better understanding of what they are studying. Hence, in a classroom scenario, teachers act as facilitators or mediators rather than spoon feeding students with information (Hodson, 2009). This is one of the main differences between a traditional classroom and a constructivist classroom. Besides that, constructivists also believe that knowledge cannot be memorized and learning should be student centered (Hodson, 2009).

Benefits of using constructivism in the teaching of science

Researchers have found that there are several advantages in practicing constructivism in the classroom. Since students are encouraged to seek for answers through experiments and reflection on their own, they will be more interested in the learning process as they are more actively involved (Harcombe, 2001). In comparison to a traditional classroom scenario, normally, students act as passive listeners. This can be quite boring as students are only required to face the textbooks and try their best to memorize the content. It is scientifically proven that human being can only pay attention to a certain task for a maximum of 20 minutes (Harcombe, 2001). Ideally, students will have to do something else before they can regain their focus. However, this is almost impossible in a traditional classroom setting.

Besides that, the learning concept behind constructivism is the best way to exemplify how education works. This is because constructivist promotes thinking and deep understanding of the content that is being taught. Students will be able to retain the information longer because learning is relatable and fun (Williams, 2011). Unlike in traditional classroom, students tend to memorize this information and probably, they will forget about them once the examination is over. Since the information is no longer useful to them, it will be chucked away and replaced by newer information.

Another benefit of constructivism is the belief that learning is transferable (Kress, Charalampos & Jewitt, 2006). This does not mean the transferring of information from the teacher to students. It has got something to do with the underlying principles of constructivism whereby students are shown techniques such as the ability to ask questions and to reflect on content which they have learnt. These techniques of promoting curiosity and intrigue can be brought forward by the students in their learning of other subjects as well as later on in their real lives (Williams, 2011).

Apart from that, constructivism also creates satisfaction in students. Since students achieve the end of a learning lesson through exploration and questioning, this gives them a sense of ownership to what they have learnt (Kress, Charalampos & Jewitt, 2006). At the end of the day, students feel that they have accomplished something and this will serve as a motivator for them to continue their interest in learning (Kress, Charalampos & Jewitt, 2006). Intrinsic motivation is proven to be extremely powerful in engaging students’ enthusiasm and excitement in the learning process in comparison to extrinsic motivation such as praises or rewards (Psillos & Niedderer, 2002).

Finally, constructivism can also promote good communication and socializing skills (Psillos & Niedderer, 2002). In a constructivist classroom environment, students are encouraged to work in groups in order to collaborate and exchange ideas. Therefore, it is almost compulsory for students to develop skills in articulating their points of view or to ask appropriate questions while completing a school project. They must also learn ways to negotiate with other team members to come up with a solution amicably. This set of skills is very useful in real life scenario especially in working environments when they need to cooperate with others (Psillos & Niedderer, 2002).

Issues and criticism regarding constructivism in the teaching of science

Although many people believe that constructivism is positive in general, however, it has, also, received a few criticisms. First of all, pessimists have argued that progressive educational theories including constructivism are considered to be elitist (Treagust, Duit & Fraser, 1996). They are convinced theories propose by constructivist will only benefit students from privileged background such as committed parents, home environment that is conducive for learning and excellent teachers (Treagust, Duit & Fraser, 1996). Since students from a constructivist classroom are required to explore for the answers themselves, this criticism is not entirely wrong. Students who are at a disadvantaged economically may find themselves dropping behind or outcast due to the lack of resources for example, the accessibility to a computer and the Internet.

Besides that, critics have also argued that constructivism prefers those who are socially adept. During group work, some students who are smarter, more popular or able to voice out their ideas better will gain more advantage over the others (Jain, 1999). Therefore, the learning occurs only to those few students who choose to participate actively during group discussions. Eventually, those who take a back seat will be left out from the learning process. Other than that, critics also believe that ideas from every single student will not be heard (Jain, 1999). This is because the majority will rule over the disagreeing party.

Finally, one of the major criticisms receives by constructivism is the lack of evidence that this learning concept really works (Roth & Tobin, 2005). In a constructivist classroom, students also play a role in the ways they are evaluated. Teachers can assess the students through various channels like initiatives, personal investments, research reports and creativity. Certain criteria of evaluation that are perceived to be relevant by some teachers may be irrelevant to others. Without proper examination, critics argue that students’ progress cannot be measured properly (Roth & Tobin, 2005). This argument is supported by the findings of government research that students from constructivist classrooms are found to be lacking in certain skills in comparison to those who are from traditional classrooms.

Implementation of constructivism in the teaching of science

As it is mentioned earlier in this research paper, in a constructivist classroom, students are encouraged to ask their own questions, allow forming multiple interpretations of the learning process and inspiring group work. Therefore, while forming a lesson using this approach, a teacher must take into mind that learning should be constructed, active, reflective, collaborative, inquiry-based and evolving. In creating a good lesson plan using this learning concept, teachers can use the 5 ‘E’s model (Hodson, 1998).

For first part of the lesson, teachers should try to engage their students to the instructional task (Steffe & Gale, 1995). In this stage, students try to make a connection with their past and present learning experiences. Activities that encourage students to ask questions, use problem solving and think about a surprising event will engage them to focus on the task at hand (Steffe & Gale, 1995). Teachers can use concept cartoon-style drawings to present the different conceptions on science. For example, two persons are sitting on the boat and one of them says that they will fall off the face of the Earth if the row to the end of the river while the other argues that they will not. This will lead to the teacher’s intention of introducing the subject of gravity.

The second part of the lesson will involve the students to explore and get directly involve in finding out the answers (Larochelle, Bednarz & Garrison, 1998). In this stage, students will get the opportunity to try out with materials in order to come up with explanations to this phenomenon. Teachers can provide students with stories or videos on Newton and Galileo. Aside from that, students can also be encouraged to test out with objects of varying weights such as Styrofoam, wood and steel. During the exploration stage, it is best for the students to work together in groups.

The third part of the lesson plan is when students explain to each other and try to organize all the information and knowledge regarding the subject matter, in this case, gravity (Larochelle, Bednarz & Garrison, 1998). In this stage, students will work in groups and discuss with their peers to come up with a logical sequence of events whether the world is flat or round and weight influences the speed of gravity. This is when students get to practice their communication as well as socializing skills. Teachers will only act as a facilitator and push the students to the right direction. Students can conceptualize their ideas through writing, drawing or even videotaping their discovery.

The fourth part of the lesson plan is elaboration (Richardson, 1997). Students will try to expand their ideas from the conclusions they have gained from previous stages. Application of these concepts into the real world is an essential part in a constructivist classroom. For example, students can try to examine why some objects does not follow the law of gravity. A student may observe that two metal weighing at 1 pound each will still drop at the same speed as a piece of 1 pound metal. These types of observations will lead the students to inquire further in order to grasp a new understanding of the concept.

The final part of the lesson plan is the teacher’s evaluation on the students’ understanding of the concept (Richardson, 1997). Assessment can be carried out by the teachers throughout the whole learning process and students are also encouraged to be a part of this stage. Teachers can collect concrete evidence such as asking students to come up with a portfolio on gravity in order to determine whether they have fully understood the topic as well as an evidence to show to their parents and administrators.


More often than not, the concept of constructivism is often viewed negatively by parents who tend to accuse teachers as too lazy to educate their children. However, this learning concept can trigger students’ thirst for knowledge into getting a better understanding of how the world works. This innate curiosity is important especially in the teaching and learning of science. Students are responsible for what they learn by applying prior and present knowledge into understanding specific contents. Besides that, students do not just stop learning after they leave the classroom. They will continue to do so through personal observations and the intense desire to know further. All the skills which they have gotten from constructivism such as social and communication skills can also be applied in real life situations. In a nutshell, teachers should consider adopting this methodology if they want to escape from the constraints of a traditional classroom.


Bennett, J. (2005). Teaching and learning science. Continuum International Publishing. London.

Hand, B. & Prain, V. (1995). Teaching and learning in science: The constructivist classroom. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

Harcombe, E. (2001). Science teaching/science learning: Constructivist learning in urban classrooms. Teachers College Press. New York.

Hodson, D. (1998). Teaching and learning science: Towards a personalized approach. Open University Press. Maidenhead.

Hodson, D. (2009). Teaching and learning about science: Language, theories, methods, history, traditions and values. Wiley-Blackwell. New Jersey.

Jain, L. (1999). Innovative teaching and learning: Knowledge-based paradigms. Spinger. New York.

Kress, G., Charalampos, T. & Jewitt, C. (2006). Multimodal teaching and learning: The rhetorics of the science classroom. Continuum International Publishing. London.

Larochelle, M., Bednarz, N. & Garrison, J. (1998). Constructivism and education. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

Psillos, D. & Niedderer, H. (2002). Teaching and learning in the science laboratory. Springer. New York.

Richardson, V. (1997). Constructivist teacher education: Building new understandings. Routledge. London.

Roth, W. M. & Tobin, K. (2005). Teaching together, learning together. Peter Lang. New York.

Steffe, L. & Gale, J. (1995). Constructivism in education. Routledge. London.

Treagust, D., Duit, R. & Fraser, B. (1996). Improving teaching and learning in science and mathematics. Cengage Learning. Connecticut.

Wellington, J. & Ireson, G. (2012). Science learning, science teaching. Routledge. London.

Williams, J. (2011). How science works: Teaching and learning in the science classroom. Continuum International Publishing. London.

Economic and Social Disadvantage from the Perspective of a VET (Vocational Education and Training) Educator


Recently, Forbes has released a list of the top fifteen richest countries in the world (OECD, 2010). The list is made based on the rough estimate of a country’s GDP per capita. Not surprisingly, Australia is ranked the 12th richest country in the world with a GDP per capita of $39 674 (OECD, 2010). In the eyes of the world, Australia is one force to be reckoned with as it has one of the world’s largest economies. This country is highly developed and has set the benchmark for many fields that are taken as international comparisons for performance such as quality of life, health, education, civil and political rights.

However, a country’s success should not just be measured using only the economy factor. The equity on the distribution of facilities and resources to every individual in the country should also be taken into consideration. As the saying goes, a country can only go as far as the citizens. When an individual faces restrictions or limitations in accessing any forms of services that can be obtained by the majority of the population, this is called as social and economic disadvantage. Amidst all the glory and success, Australia cannot run away from addressing this issue as there are a number of groups that are, generally, more vulnerable to suffer from this situation.

Therefore, this paper is going to discuss about the idea of social and economic disadvantage and how it appears in Australian life. Besides that, this paper is also going to deal with the impact of social and economic disadvantage on classroom practices as a VET educator. The discussion and analysis are going to be closely related on a case study related to an organization called the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. Information gathered during the interview is also shown in this paper.

The Case Study: The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is an international voluntary organization that is set up by the Roman Catholics (Noble & Johnston, 2001). Their aim is to overcome poverty and any disadvantages by providing assistance to anybody who needs it (Noble & Johnston, 2001). They have thousands of members in 142 countries around the world. Australia has about 40 000 members excluding the volunteers. Information for this report has been gathered by setting up an interview with one of the senior advisory committees from the local Saint Vincent de Paul’s branch.

The nature of work for this particular organization is to give direct practical help to people who requires some assistance and at the same time to spread the Gospel message on Christ’s love. All those poor or socially disadvantaged individuals who have received assistance from this organization are treated with respect, dignity and love. They are also encouraged to be independent and to take responsibility of their lives.

Saint Vincent de Paul encounters various types of disadvantages in this local branch. However, they mainly provide foods, clothes and shelters to the homeless people and the elderly. Besides that, there are also times when they have provided relief to disaster victims. Other than that, the members and volunteers from this particular organization also lend out a helping hand to the aboriginals and refugees.

There are various strategies that have been incorporated into this organization in order to reach out to those who are socially and economically at a disadvantage. For example, Saint Vincent de Paul has food pantries and dining hall to distribute food to homeless people and disaster victims. Aside from that, they also provide housing assistance, transportation, medicine as well as job training and placement. One stand out strategy by this organization is making home visits on their past clients and check whether they are doing well.

These strategies are quite effective as they are able to fulfill the basic requirements of these social and economic disadvantage individuals. Housing assistance, job training and placement ensures that the vicious cycle of poverty does not continue. These steps will ensure that they are not dependent solely on the care and help given by the organization. Besides that, follow-through programs such as making home visits allow Saint Vincent de Paul to track any updates and decide whether there is a need for further intervention.

However, there are some barriers that act as a hindrance to the success of these programs. First of all, it is hard to remove society stigma towards homeless, aboriginal or uneducated individuals. Therefore, even if there is a desire for them to succeed, it is hard for them to find a job as there is a certain level of mistrust and the society is not forgiving. Other than that, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul has only so much resource to help so many people. Furthermore, it is impossible to keep personal track of each and every individual which they have provided assistance.

Aside from giving practical aid to needy people, this organization has also supported informal learning and there is no better program than Vinnies Youth. This is a program where they engage youth between the ages of 10 to 30 years old as volunteers to help in various charity works for humanity as well as those who are socially and economically disadvantage. Various forms of events and activities are carried out each year all over Australia.

Through this program, young people in Australia are learning to be more compassionate toward others who are less fortunate than they are. Besides that, this type of program also creates a different outlook in life and brings about awareness to the different demographic in Australian community. One good example is the immersion program that is carried out by Vinnies Youth. This is when the youth from Saint Vincent de Paul is given a taste of the aboriginals’ life in a remote area for two weeks.

The main policy that governs the operations of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is their love for Christ. As long as they are not doing anything that is against the bible, everything should be alright. Besides helping those who are in need, they are also keen on spreading the love of Jesus Christ. Other than that, they also believe in education and creating awareness so that, those who are at a social and economic disadvantage will have a chance to improve. Meanwhile, the community can form a new perspective about this group of people.

The Idea of Social and Economy Disadvantage in Australia

According to Bessant and Watts (2007), there are a number of criteria that should be taken into consideration whether an individual should be categorized as socially or economically at a disadvantage. A person who is socially disadvantage can be defined as an individual who are treated with prejudice and bias due to their ethnicity, racial and cultural background. In this instance, their personal quality is ignored (Bessant & Watts, 2007). Meanwhile, economically disadvantage individuals are usually those who are socially disadvantage too. This is because they do not have equal opportunities like the majority of the population to compete in the system (OECD, 2010). Therefore, their abilities to earn are limited or diminished.

The definitions above are general in nature and there are many more facets to the term of being social and economic disadvantage. Although Australia is a well-developed country, this issue is happening in the country and creating awareness among the general public is a necessity. It is important to address this issue so that those who are affected can be provided appropriate assistance. This will help Australia’s economy to prosper even more when every individual can contribute back to the society.

There are various groups who are deemed to be at a social and economic disadvantage in Australia (Jupp, 2001). First of all, the indigenous people still account for about 2 percent of Australia’s population. This brings to an approximate of 400 000 aboriginals spread across the whole country (Jupp, 2001). Besides that, there is a huge population of migrants and refugees in Australia whereby they also face discrimination to a certain extent. Apart from that, Australia is also divided into urban, rural and remote areas (Baum, O’Connor & Stimson, 2005). Individuals living in different areas are faced with different forms of social and economic disadvantage. This especially rings true to those who are in rural and remote parts of the country (Baum, O’Connor & Stimson, 2005). Ethnicity, religion, culture and geographical location are, normally, the main aspects that are taken into consideration when it comes to determining who are social and economic at a disadvantage.

Other than the three main factors that are mentioned above, individuals who come from a single family whereby one of the parents are deceased or divorced, those without tertiary education or no education at all, low income groups, individuals with disabilities or health problems and the elderly, to name a few, are also categorized as people with social and economic disadvantage (Jones, Smyth & Reddel, 2005). They also face prejudice from the majority of the population due to negative stigma.

However, the Australian government has taken the necessary steps by implementing policies in order to help relief this situation. One of their strategies is the social inclusion policy (Basit & Tomlinson, 2012). This is when every Australian citizen is given equal opportunity and support to participate in the country’s economy as well as communities (Basit & Tomlinson, 2012). Every individual is also going to be treated with dignity and respect. Some of the action plans in this policy include targeting jobless families with children (Jones, Smyth & Reddel, 2005). This policy will help to increase work opportunities for these families, improve their ability in parenting and encourages them to break away from poverty. Besides that, the social inclusion policy will also reduce the numbers of homeless people in Australia (Jupp, 2001). In this policy, it has also stated that the gap between the indigenous people with the majority of the population is going to be brought closer (Jupp, 2001). Last but not least, in their initial action plan, the Australian government also plans improve the life chances of children in order to eliminate social and economic disadvantage in the future (Basit & Tomlinson, 2012). One way is to ensure that every child receives the highest form of education whenever it is possible.

Implications of Social and Economy Disadvantage for VET Educators

VET or vocational education and training educators are those who teach the necessary or rather, required skills and knowledge for specific industries (Mageean, 1990). This option is usually available to students in their senior years (Mageean, 1990). There are a few advantages for students to undergo VET. First of all, this training will open the students’ eyes to practical work experience and allow them to understand the operations that are involved in a workplace (O’Donoghue, Martin & O’Neill, 2006). Secondly, VET will improve the employability and interpersonal skills of students so that it will increase their chances of getting a job in the real world (O’Donoghue, Martin & O’Neill, 2006). Finally, students are also allowed to venture and explore their desired career path in VET (Smyth, Down & McInerney, 2010).

Therefore, it is crucial for VET educators to have a deep and profound understanding regarding the issue of social and economic disadvantage that is happening in Australia. This will give an impact on the VET’s educator classroom practices. Based on research, students who attended VET are usually those who are from the socially and economic disadvantage (Rauner & Maclean, 2009). Besides that, VET has been synonymously linked to a male dominated sector (Rauner & Maclean, 2009). Therefore, as a VET educator, awareness on gender equality should be stressed in the classroom. Success stories from female ex-students should also be shared in order to create positive light and hope. However, a VET educator should also prepare these female students to face the real world and expose them to skills that are needed to compete against both genders.

Besides that, VET educators also need to show some compassion and adapt their classroom materials to include the minor populations as well such as the aboriginals and migrants (Smyth, Down & McInerney, 2010). More often than not, examples that are found in textbooks are generally aimed to appeal to the majority of the population. So, there is a possibility that the minorities feel left out. This is understandable as they could not make a personal connection to these examples. Therefore, VET educators should also include and make use of materials that are more culturally close to these individuals in order to engage their interest (Smyth, Down & McInerney, 2010). Other than that, VET educators can also adopt a similar strategy that is incorporated by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul by having peer tutoring. This is a great method to immerse the minorities with other students besides helping them to cope with their studies.

Aside from that, since students come from various backgrounds, VET educators need to be aware of the possible problems that they are facing (Wakeford & Singh, 2008). Some of these students may come from single parent families and low income groups. This means they are required to work after school in order to help sustain their families’ financial ability. There is also a possibility that these students also face domestic violence at home where they may have a tendency to cause trouble in school. However, it is important for VET educators to know that these situations are very likely to happen to anyone of the students in the classroom. Therefore, understanding their situation can actually help to push these students to continue their studies by lessening their stress level and showing them that there is a way to break free from the vicious cycle that they are facing (Wakeford & Singh, 2008). These situations should also be made aware to the other students in the classroom in order to create awareness. Asking them to join volunteering work like Vinnies Youth can help to bring light into this topic and lift the burden off these socially and economically disadvantage students by letting them know that they are not the only ones.


This paper has discussed the idea of social and economic disadvantage in general and the ways it has influenced the society in Australia. It brings to light that this issue is happening even in a land that prides, herself, for fairness and justice. However, this is a common problem for every country around the world and the Australian government has taken the necessary steps to overcome it. Aside from that, this paper has also provided an insight into the implications of social and economic disadvantage on classroom practices by VET educators. It is important for them to prepare their students to be ready to compete in the real world. Data and information in this paper are linked to the case study that is carried out by doing an interview with one of the senior advisory committees in one of the local branch of the Society Saint Vincent de Paul. This organization has also incorporated various strategies and programs in order to alleviate problems faced by these socially and economically disadvantage individuals. All in all, battling this issue does not just lie in the hands of the government. It is the responsibility of every Australia citizens.


Basit, T. & Tomlinson, S. (2012). Social inclusion and higher education. Policy Press. Bristol.

Baum, S., O’Connor, K. & Stimson, R. (2005). Fault lines exposed: Advantage and disadvantage across Australia’s settlement system. Monash University Publishing. Victoria.

Bessant, J. & Watts, R. (2007). Sociology Australia: Third edition. Allen & Unwin Pty LTD. New South Wales.

Jones, A., Smyth, P. & Reddel, T. (2005). Community and local governance in Australia. University of New South Wales Press. New South Wales.

Jupp, J. (2001). The Australian people: An encyclopedia of the nation, its people and their origins. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

Mageean, P. (1990). Pathways to participation: The vocational and further education needs of adult immigrants in rural Australia. TAFE National Centre for Research and Development. Queensland.

Noble, J. & Johnston, F. (2001). Volunteering visions.Federation Press. New South Wales.

O’Donoghue, T., Martin, T. & O’Neill, M. (2006). Teachers and teaching in vocational education and training institutions: Reflections from western Australia. Nova Science Pub Inc. New York.

OECD (2010). Economic surveys: Australia 2010. OECD Publishing. Paris.

Rauner, F. & Maclean, R. (2009). Handbook of technical and vocational education and training research. Springer. New York.

Smyth, J., Down, B. & McInerney, P. (2010). Hanging in with kids in tough times. PeterLang Publishing. New York.

Wakeford, T. & Singh, J. (2008). Towards empowered participation: Stories and reflections (Participatory learning and action). Earthprint. Westlake Village.

Cosmetics Scientist as a Career


In the world today, women and men alike, prefer to look their best in terms of appearances. Though in the past, make-ups are more commonly associated with women, but in recent years, there is also a tendency for men to get involved in the trend too (Ison, 2006). As people are becoming more aware of personal beauty and grooming, it triggers the popularity level of the cosmetic chemistry fields or also known as cosmetics science.

In relation to cosmetics science, cosmetic products are designed, developed, tested, created, and marketed to be sold to the public. Cosmetic products are designed by qualified cosmetics scientists with new advancements in order to have a safer, healthier product (Ison, 2006). The products are tested and retested for potential dangers due to side effects of the products such as skin irritation and infection. The profession in general works on ground level researching, developing and testing different chemical compounds (Nelson, 1994). In order to do that, one should obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering (Nelson, 1994). There are also variations of chemical engineering, such as organic and material chemistry.

In terms of general observation, it seems that cosmetics science is expected to expand and grow in the future, due to the public’s obsession to be beautiful, healthy and youthful in appearance. So, it is expected that the profession will become more dominant and popular in the job industry. This paper is to observe approach around interrelated aspects (namely on global trends, behavior and different types of workplace) to enhance your development and career choices referring to academic literature and your individual career plan.

Global Trends

Global trend is defined as a general development or change in a situation that affects many countries of the world (Wan, Wang & Longaker, 2012). When it comes to the cosmetic industry, it is a profitable business for many manufacturers of cosmetic products. By cosmetic products, we understand anything that is intended for personal care such as skin lotions or sun lotions, makeup and other such products that are meant to emphasize one’s look. Given the technological development and the improvement of the manufacturing process of cosmetics as well as the constant increasing demand of such products, this industry has reported a rapid growth in terms of profit (Wan, Wang & Longaker, 2012).

Due to the fact that there is a strong need to produce cosmetics scientists to cater to the ongoing needs of the public, a variety of courses are made available. One can choose to attend short courses in a live classroom or an advanced degree done by institutes of higher learning such as the University of Cincinnati. In the institution, the provided online degree program focuses on design, evaluation, and control of cosmetic products. It has nationally acclaimed Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Science with emphasis in Cosmetic Science on-line. Lectures are offered asynchronously over the internet to accommodate the work and travel schedules of those who wish to take courses without distracting from current employment (Heslin, 2005). Other places are those like the Singapore Polytechnic that offers Diploma in Perfumery and Cosmetic Science, De Montfort University in UK has B. Sc. (Hons) program in Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science and Monash University with their Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science.

Earnings for chemists in general are between $45,000 and $90,000 depending on their experience, profession, and education (Heslin, 2005). Though, tough economic times can affect most professions, some will remain less affected such as cosmetic chemists. Therefore, this profession can be seen as a stable job and more potential students may consider the field as their aspired profession.


Behavior is defined as manner of behaving or conducting oneself (Mendelson, 2008). In relation to cosmetics science as a field in science, there are behavior traits that should be followed in order to be a successful scientist, primarily in this industry. A scientist is perceived as a person who is curious, knowledgeable and inventive, flexible, persistent with strong analytical skills and unwillingness to accept things on faith. A scientist should be motivated, determined, patient and can work as a team (Mendelson, 2008).

Science careers are a great choice for those who enjoy research and have an inquisitive mind. Becoming a scientist does require years of study and a lot of dedication, so it’s important that one understand in advance what goes into the career. The successful career of a cosmetics scientist depends on his or her patience level. In day to day tasks, laboratory skills are a must for most cosmetic science positions (Kihlstrom, 2004). Designing and producing a product cannot accurately occur without a laboratory. Following an order or request from a customer or department within the company is where a development or formulation chemist begins their work. Figuring out how to reproduce a product recipe on a very large scale (scaling up) and supervising its production along with defining the specifications within regulatory requirements are also tasks occurring in a cosmetic chemist’s day (Kihlstrom, 2004).

Different types of workplace

A workplace can be defined as a place, such as an office or factory, where people are employed (Echaore-McDavid, 2008). In general settings, a cosmetics scientist’s workplace would be in a chemist lab. There will be mysteries faced by a practitioner of the profession, and scientists are flexible in choosing which problem/s that interests them to perform a research in order to come up with probable solutions (Echaore-McDavid, 2008). A cosmetics scientist may have to be educators in local or international (or both) settings. In dealing with researches and presentations and to discuss similar findings, one has to be part of symposia and conferences on a needed basis. A cosmetics scientist should also have the skills to interact with people from different countries and cultures in order to gain empirical and non-empirical data for certain chemical or product (Choi & Berson, 2006). Due to that, there is a need for the practitioner to make visits to appropriate sites in order to gain necessary findings.

Besides gaining empirical data and other findings in different locations, one should also be prepared to meet people in order to get grants for their research. A cosmetics scientist should also meet other researchers in order to gain empirical data and other findings so as to facilitate one’s research that may be gained through business transactions (Choi & Berson, 2006). Last but not least would be the need for the practitioner to be able to give oral presentations in different locations and not restricted to one’s primary workplace.


Based on the given discussions, one may see the global trends of the job market today whereby cosmetics science is concerned; it has the potential to strive among other popular professions that are more well-known. The profession is secure due to the needs of the public to stay beautiful and youthful. As aspired cosmetics scientist, an individual should have the qualities of a scientist, with appropriate behavior traits in order to succeed in the profession, namely the high level of patience required in order to get the empirical data and chemical results of current and potential products. One should also anticipate different workplaces in the profession as some tasks may require more than experimentation in the lab.


Choi, C. M. & Berson, D. S., 2006. Cosmeceuticals. Aesthetic Dermatology, 25(3), pp.163-168.

Echaore-McDavid, S., 2008. Career opportunities in science. 2nd ed. New York: Checkmark Books.

Heslin, P. A., 2005. Conceptualizing and evaluating career success. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26(2), pp.113-136.

Ison, K., 2006. What does the future hold for healthcare scientists?. Journal of Visual Communication in Medicine, 29(1), pp.20-27.

Kihlstrom, J. F., 2004. Training for science, Training for practice. Ph. D. University of California.

Mendelson, B. C., 2008. Aesthetic / Cosmetic surgery and ethical challenges. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 32(6), pp.840-841.

Nelson, G. A., 1994. Career issues. Science, 266(5189), pp.1306-1307.

Wan, D.C., Wang, K. C. & Longaker, M. T., 2012. Training the contemporary surgeon-scientist. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, 129(4), pp.1023-1025.