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Towards Seeding a Sino-Australian Education Cluster

Peter Collin Hill

(Penrith High School, NSW Australia)
Abstract: Concepts relating to cooperation-based successes in the USA are used to explore Sino-Australian education cooperation. This paper poses a Porterian (Harvard Business School) style question: “If Sino-Australian regional cooperation addresses how it operates and consciously fosters cluster development then are key elements in place for global competitiveness?” Clusters network businesses and their business units in a more productive and dynamic fashion and as such can create new opportunities to pick “low hanging fruit”. One such project is the mothballed Virtual Indigenous Australia called Digital Songlines. Engaging in clusters can have a secondary benefits of expanding the conceptual repertoire of members: this paper uses “Executive Summaries” (from business), “Agents” (from complexity theory) and “Virtual Scenarios” (from digital learning). The development of projects and methodologies in a cooperation environment is argued to be a sound investment in the future competitiveness of the region, educators and ultimately students.
Key words: Sino-Australian cooperation, education cluster, global competitiveness, executive summaries

As problems are encountered in Australian education, a select network of Australian academics research and develop models and hypotheses that will ultimately inform novel solutions.  Many models relate to developments that occur between the frontiers of scholarship (peer reviewed articles) and practice (subset of ideas used in the school environment). The ability to operate between frontiers has long been recognized as the cornerstone of fertile commercial research that goes on to bring new concepts to market.
In this context Sino-Australian dialogue brings a new dimension that could progress inter-frontier ideas that would otherwise remain locked up. A Sino-Australian journal means that the framework of ideas can be established with stakeholders able to adjust the framework and detail through further publication without upfront commitment to the idea. Publication allows plans for “best-effort with available resources” to be communicated practitioner-to-practitioner. Sun Tzu can be quoted in this context:” The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought.” (Sun & Giles, n.d.) A cluster can have multiple objectives, adapt, have multiple paths, fluid membership, and innovate to control the tempo of development. The productive 2014 Ningbo-Sydney meetings, the emergence of this journal are encouraging and signs that a Sino-Australian dialogue is ready to develop as a cluster and tackle projects.
Progress from a Sino-Australian meeting
An example of progress with from a fresh interaction is the recent discussion between Australian teachers and a delegation from Ningbo. It was established that the Chinese visitors were conversant with the historical origins of modern scientist. Surprisingly the word “Scientist” is the 1835 invention of Rev. Whe well (Snyder, 2000). This insight is relatively rare with Australian Science teachers and is completely absent from Australian textbooks. The Ningbo teachers were aware of this by this approaching from a different cultural perspective and in this had key connection in common with Australian education academics in sharing common knowledge.
The Ningbo teachers were further distinguished by understanding the “Four Generations of Education” which is currently unpublished but in development between education researchers. This arises naturally in the context of those studying complexity theory (of interest to Australian Education Academics) and Cybernetics (Bale, 1995) (Cyber = Greek for steering i.e.: How systems steer themselves - studied by US industries). The Four Generations are as follows
1) Content
2) Methods of accessing and manipulating content (Current Syllabus - literacy)
3) The mind system of those accessing content (‘Science by doing” (Science.org.au 2015) - Working Scientifically - New national curriculum)
4) Roll of Science in Social Networking and Intent
This generation model has been developed as a knowledge mapping exercise in the “Discovery Phase” methodology of routine scholarly research in Ph.D degrees. Here publications, reports, communications and such are not excluded but classified. In such an environment Generations 1 and 2 are clearly defined and articulated.  While the “Science by Doing” spearheaded by the Australian Academy of Science, while not self-identified as a new generation is clearly a method of giving context to the former generations. There are other areas of knowledge that do not fit into the three generations. The training of Australian MBA’s involves strategy and marketing studies. Notably Ohme’s (1982) “Mind of the Strategist” and Hamel and Prahlad’s (2010) “Strategic Intent” all map into the fourth generation.
Local factors that limit the use of new models within the Australian schools, did not impact the thinking of the Ningbo teachers. These limiting factors include the normative influence of 50 hours over 5 years of sanctioned training hours for all Australian teachers. This teacher accreditation focuses on improving second generation delivery but may inadvertently narrow the philosophical foundations in operation in Australian schools.
The network “Agent” model
One further model to add to the “generation” model, to aid Sino-Australian Dialogue is the model of the network “agent”. This is similar to agent as defined in artificial intelligence (Poole, Mackworth, 2010)but has specific qualities defined in this context.
Networks are interconnections that shape how systems respond to external stimulus (Easley & Kleinberg, 2010). Agents connect parallel systems together by having agents as members of multiple systems, pinning them together. A model that describes agent behaviour can explain network behaviour. In this model agents (students, educators, and organizational groups) respond based on factors that are broken down into three internal systems:
1) Reference System
Relates to system maps developed by the agent and the placement arrangements of artifacts on the map. A student may be distinguished from a teacher, a service provider distinguished from a user, a dichotomy of humanities and Sciences (CP Snow’s two cultures (Snow, 1993)). A key dichotomy used in discussing science education is “Intent based systems” and “Scholarly systems”. An agent usually can describe a situation in terms of one or more reference systems and may be aware of limitations placed by using a particular reference system.  An intermediary agent will understand the reference system of other agents. A good example of this is Einstein’s early executive summary for President Roosevelt (Dannen.com, 2015)
2) Transaction system
Various stimuli will cause an agent to act and cause flows towards and away from the agent described by a transaction. Such transactions as a rule tend to maintain both the system and the agent. Transactions can be simple or complex (gaining information with which to more optimally transact or influencing the system more favourably). Transactions describe system response but can operate at several levels delivering strategic value.  Sitting an exam and gaining a qualification is an example of transaction.
3) Metacognition
How does an agent understand their own operation? If an agent is aware of their own learning they can adapt and productively accommodate complexity and uncertainty. A critical threshold is reached when confidence that new skills can be acquired means reflection transforms to projection.
First steps to early project phases
While the initial interaction of meetings, formation of organizations, and publications are good foundations of the Sino-Australian cluster there is no clear boundary where this stops and signature projects come online.  Structures need to be developed to subscribe groups and collect classify and selectively process projects. Cluster agents need to be developed.
A number of factors come together that recommend Digital Songlines (Wyeld et al., 2008):
a. Easy to implement - install software in a computer lab
b. Standalone operation - teacher can run resource without direct support from Australia
c. Currently in hibernation - not in use in Australia. Its use in China will allow continued development and possible return to Australia
d. Authenticity
It is proposed that Chinese educators become acquainted with this indigenous project mothballed from 2008. The process of examination, investigating background information, using different communication styles are needed for working within clusters.
The context of Digital Songlines
European Australia has been undergoing major transformations every 30 - 50 years since 1788. The first major transformation was around 1810 after the Rum rebellion where Australia transformed from a sole purpose penal colony to an agrarian economy. Digital Songlines removes the distorting lens of these transformation. Of interest to the Chinese reader is 1791 22 convicts, and the 1792 53 convicts that escaped believing they could walk to China. Having seen icebergs in the Southern Ocean the Irish convicts concluded that they were being transported a place a few days walk from China. In 1798 the government authorized a small exploration expedition (Adb.anu.edu.au 2015) out of Sydney to educate the Irish population that the inhospitable and impassable as a new belief arose that there was a white civilization 322 km to the south. Themes of social containment, shaping access to information, and world models are key angles to keep in mind when analysing the state of play.
The current education transformation in Australia is the adoption of corporate methodologies in schools, including mission statements, vision statements, target and planning. This experiment is more advanced in the United States and lends itself to concentration on the more tangible first and second generation education and has problems with measurement (Aljazeera.com 2015).As was the case with earlier times, the Australian scene has different sectors interacting or operating in parallel. In the field of Sino-Australian cooperation besides this journal and SUCCESS (Zhao, 2015) are many other groups including:
1) Chinese - Australian friendship Society (founded 1952)
2) Australia - China Research Institute (founded 2013) (Acfsnsw.org.au 2015)
This is typical of the capitalist system with the emergence of different solution providers, and the efficient recycling of resources as the solution providers evolve. The project base education cluster may compliment the other initiatives but it has a direct goal of developing participants and delivering education outcomes. Also importance is to understand corporate structures have processes to deal with customer, clients and other corporations. This explains the creation of SUCCESS (Zhao, 2015) as a strategic move.  It does create a problem that invitations to help improve communications, such as this one encounter disruptive timeframes. Requests are currently with ACRI, various indigenous groups, and the Department of Education Aboriginal liaison unit. The practical resolution of this is to seek published comment in this journal so that the articles and comments can be read as a whole.
A subtlety here is that while Australian education is embracing corporate tools the engagement is with a smaller subset tools so performance can be evaluated and modern management systems can be operated. A different set of tools and concepts suit cluster development, but the general idea of engaging and assessing tools is common to both endeavours.
The style used here is the Executive Summary (for reading by company boards) and typically contain the following headings: Subject Matter; Methods of Analysis; Findings; Conclusions; Recommendations; Limitations of the report.

Executive Summary
Subject Matter Primer on European - Indigenous relations
Methods of Analysis
Brief history is given with statistics on population and ethnic conflicts linking periods in political development. The essential elements of Indigenous culture are noted. These are validated by consultation with the Indigenous community.
The earlier political environment had been detrimental to the continuity of Aboriginal culture.   Digital Songlines addresses this deficit.
The mechanism at play in earlier political environments have not been reset and affect the progress of new enterprises such as Digital Songlines and likely also limit Sino-Australian cooperation. Understanding the dynamics of Digital Songlines will help steer the dynamics of a Sino-Australian cluster.
Chinese educators examine Digital Songlines to
1.          better understand Indigenous culture
2.          act a benchmark for Sino-Australian cooperation.
Limitations of the Report 1.          Base figures are the credible upper limits of deaths or forced adoptions.
2.          Summary of Aboriginal Culture is from the education perspective
3.          Figures are aggregated from a range of sources for the purpose of summary but the reliability is not sufficient for further citation. 
40,000 years ago lower sea levels exposed land bridges that allowed the first humans to walk into Australia and indeed to Tasmania (the southern island now separated by Bass Strait: twice as wide as the English Channel and on average 50 m deep)
1788 saw the establishment of a penal colony.  The Indigenous population estimated to be 314,000 (4500 in Tasmania) comprising of 400 nations.  This had reduced to 79,000 or approximately 23% by 1933 but has increased to 670,000 or 3% of the current Australian population. This compares to 4.4% who identify themselves as Chinese or have Chinese ancestry.
Disease, disruption to the hunter gather lifestyle, inter racial conflict all played a part in the decline of Aboriginal population and establishing the current relative economic disadvantage of this section of population. Australian political history can be divided into broad segments
Time Period Description
1788 - 1810 Penal Colony / Prison European pop <10,000
1810 - 1850 British rule transition to farm based regional trade
1850 - 1900 Semi-autonomous rule after gold rush population influx and uprisings
1900 - 1950 Client nation-state of the British Empire
1950 - 2000 Hybrid Capitalist Socialist Pacific middle power - US cold war allies.
2000 - 2050 ?
The following are aggregated upper range of known massacres
Time Period Number of Aborigines Killed
1825-1850 1500
1850-1875 170
1875-1900 200
1900-1925 400
1925-1950 180
These numbers do not reflect the true impact of being displaced from the access to land and being commercially exploited.
In context the significant political and racial uprising/conflicts are sited with credible upper limits noted
Date Event Deaths
1804 Strawberry Hill Irish Rebellion 150
1808 Rum Rebellion 0
1854 Sovereign Hill - a merchant/miners rebellion 60
1861 Lambing Flat anti=Chinese riot 0
1880 - 1970 Government removed children 25,000 to put in institutions or foster care. Estimated to be 10 -30% having a deep impact on the culture. Practices in the general population have changed where children are no longer removed from unwed mothers, this practice along with orphanages, and other institutions were discontinued by 1985. The general practice has estimates of 250,000 in the Australian population as a whole where involved in “Forced Adoption”
Key aspects to traditional Aboriginal Culture
-            land areas defined by waterways
-            sense of space by landmarks rather than NSEW maps
-            oral culture
-            dreamtime animal legends
-            complex cultural system of Skins inside Clans (mobs) to manage inbreeding
-            different sense of number
-            reading and interpreting animal and environmental cues
-            defined male and female roles and information
-            tribal law of ‘Payback’
Digital Songlines
This software runs in a school computer lab and creates a second-life like virtual pre contact world templated on the real topographical Australian Landform and populated with flora, fauna and indigenous occupancy. The project was develop 2004 - 2007 and is now “self funded” ie shelved

Aside: Executive Summaries field of use
The executive Summary is a standard structure for executives (decision makers). It is not seen in academic literature, because of a number of reasons including
1) academic papers already have some of the structures in abstracts, and conclusion.
2) papers conform to a structure to give a chain of citation
3) concise qualitative statement to paint a general picture would be placed in internal reports rather than external publication.
Schools are not receptive to executive summaries that propose a course of action.  The reason for this can be subtle. Essentially consistent and ultimately supportable decisions need to be made that meet policy guidelines. There is a need for moment to moment continuity of management so such documents couched in terms of decisions are actually a distraction from operation.
Obstacles and “the Fourth Generation” Paradigm
In this section we tie together the proposed project and some of the concepts of “Generations of Education” and Agency. The critical shift is that explanations still have important qualities of authority and consensus but have a further parameter of efficacy over a pattern of circumstances. Pattern perception and network communication of intent are key skills in this next generation.
The pattern observed here relates to consistent poor outcomes for non-mainstream groups. The following incidents are tied together:
1) Circa 1930 the role of the Education Department’s in removing Aboriginal children was questioned (Hill, 1976).Here there was intense interplay between agency organizations (AO) of the Masons and Catholic (Saunders, 2015) which attenuated interactions the Education AO that operated as one of the four coordinating authorities to implement the Aboriginal Protection Act 1909 Article 6 and 7(c) (Findandconnect.gov.au, 2015)
2) 2007-2008 Digital Songlines presented by the developers to many levels of government departments and authorities and universally declined. Here, as I was inside the Department of Education I was able to begin to map a bewildering interconnection of agents and agent organizations that included the Aboriginal Liaison Office, Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre (2015) and finally the Department Media Unit. Some of the problems were the unfolding of ad hoc protocols, communication, and agent incentive leading to confusion and distraction. The reader will be interested in the Australian Army Journal (2015) which models overcoming Agency Organization gridlock through scholarly dissertation.
3) 2015 Sino-Australian Cooperation may have more success as an adaptive cluster. In a complex environment it necessary to feed limited information into an AO model make predictions and plan accordingly. The Australia China Relations Institute was established in 2013 through a donation by the Yuhu Investment Group (Newsroom. uts.edu.au, 2015)which has been investing in real estate and shopping centres.  The Institute has political dimensions as the government hopes to sell assets to Chinese investors.  Professor Milbourne states the aim of the institute is “... [to] enable UTS research insights and discoveries help inform national and international policy and contribute to progress and prosperity in both our countries,” (Newsroom.uts.edu.au, 2015). One notable contribution is lending institutional imprimatur to opinion articles on the effect of Chinese investment (Uts.edu.au, 2015). This is substantially different from the education cluster objectives of raising the capabilities of participants and reducing the impact of Agent Organizations. Unlike the 2008 experience AO is factored into controlling the tempo of progress of this cluster development. Future projects entailing commercial development and real estate may be a more natural match.
Understanding Agent Organizations has as broader value than applications in clusters:
1) Agent Organization are invisible historical movers that influenced the decisions of the time, if only by directing thought away from more constructive solutions or by channeling communication around agents. Organization may fade but live on in the behavior of future agents. This is probably due to organizational inertia where the practices retreat into key areas rather than the individual to individual transfer that has limited scientific support (Galef, 1976). Thus studying earlier periods develops a more nuanced view of current times.
2) Framing education in terms of Agent Organizations overlaps with the ideas of Activity Theory and leads long term resilience in learners. Here projects are the “activities”
3) Agents in organization have intent. In artificial intelligence terms, agents can be described by “Belief, Desire, and Intent.” Fourth Generation education relates to building and transmitting high quality intent to achieve ethical goals. Cloaking or hiding intent, use of persuasive writing, limiting scholarly debate as a style would be useful to holding information poor systems together. There is a critical threshold for students and educators to decide between hindering or promoting a scholarly approach.
Educating Cluster Participants
Having linked agents, agent organization and generations of education together it is the role of the educators to communicate ideas to a wider audience. 
Historical evidence suggests Greek theatre, with the requirements that character fly communicated technological ideas across Greek culture (Chondros, 2004). This suggests advantage of having widely deployable projects. The 1874 “Art and Revolution” contemplation of this Greek culture in contrast to the European culture by Richard Wagner (Wagner, 2015)shows key thinking that went into the next 26 years of opera writing that was to become social currency 85 years later. This indicated relative potency of projects compared to announcing programs.
Given the fertile tradition of the arts to communicate to a broad audience it would be appropriate for students and our Chinese audience to examine the satire “Get Smart”. Here you have ‘cloaking of intent’ and a simple dichotomy. It does make the sobering point however of how ineffective a partisan simplistic outlook can be.
Journals, clusters and projects stimulate activity and learning and create intangible benefits that can unlock potential not contemplated through direct trade and cultural exchanges alone.  The benefits in operating in complex and networked environments are aligned to the emerging needs of students. A better use of resources and education of network savvy students will contribute to the competitiveness of both Australia and China.
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