Professor John Smyth

Element 2 Leader

Federation University Australia

John Smyth is one of Australia’s leading experts in education, after working in the field for four decades. In his research with the CRN, the Research Professor of Education at FedUni aims to bring a new approach to education.

John Smyth has carried out hundreds of interviews with students that will help him get a grass roots perspective of the changes to the education system needed at regional, state and national levels to improve educational outcomes.

In leading the CRN’s project on regional social and educational connectedness and health innovation, he is exploring the causes and impacts of social and educational disconnectedness in regional communities, especially among young people, and their associated poor health outcomes. It also aims to develop solutions to these problems.

Professor Smyth believes that adopting educational systems from overseas in Australia was no longer effective and a more grass roots approach, listening to the voices of the end-users – the students – was necessary, particularly in regional Australia.

“The real understanding comes from the kids in the schools. I have done hundreds of interviews talking to young kids. Some of them are hardened cases – they’ve been kicked out of home, out of school, and have various kinds of judicial orders hanging over them,” he said.

“These are often very depressing stories, but often these kids have a better clue about what needs to be done to get our education systems responding to their real needs, not what bureaucrats in the metropolis feel they need.

“If we can use this project, with the wonderful collaborations we have with the University of Melbourne, to get a new way of thinking on to the regional, state and national horizon, that would be a great break-through,” he said.