Victorian Bushfires- Education warrior among the missing in Victoria bushfires

In my pevious post, I included an extract from research undertaken by Dr. Ken Rowe and Dr. Kathy Rowe into Auditory Processing. It was their research which led to this important assessment being included in our initial assessment of Prep children. Dr. Ken Rowe is among those who lost their lives on Black Saturday. 


Article from The Australian (February 12th)

THE man who led the charge against using whole-language methods to teach children how to read, Ken Rowe, is missing in the remains of Marysville.

A passionate advocate of the need to base educational policy on proven research evidence, Dr Rowe was last heard from on Saturday as the fires approached the town.

Dr Rowe and his wife, pediatrician Kathy Rowe, have a weekender in Marysville, where Dr Rowe had gone alone ahead of the fires.

Kathy said yesterday she was waiting to hear the fate of her husband. “I guess we cannot expect any news for some time considering the enormity of their task, but there is little doubt in our minds that he could not have survived,” she said.

Dr Rowe is a senior researcher with the Australian Centre for Educational Research, where he has worked for eight years, and has a strong interest in teacher quality and the processes by which people learn.

He came to national prominence as head of the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy, which called for a return to the direct, systematic teaching of phonics as essential for children learning to read.

The landmark report highlighted the need for teaching to be based on the evidence of rigorous evidence-based research. Dr Rowe was at the vanguard of advocating this approach in education.

Passionate is the word Dr Rowe’s friends and colleagues most commonly use to describe him. Education research consultant and longtime colleague Philip Holmes-Smith, who has known and worked with Dr Rowe for more than 20 years, yesterday spoke of his passion for education, particularly for helping schools improve their student outcomes; his passion and skill as a teacher; and his passion and commitment as a father of three sons.

“Unlike so many people in education who have a philosophy and determine what they’re going to do based on that philosophy, Ken couldn’t care less about that,” Mr Holmes-Smith said. “He evaluated everything in terms of what works and what doesn’t work.”

ACER chief executive Geoff Masters called Dr Rowe an “outstanding leader, researcher and thinker” in education.

Also missing is Rob Pierce, director of the Institute for Breathing and Sleep and the department of respiratory and sleep medicine at Victoria’s Austin Hospital.

Professor Pierce’s wife Jan is reportedly being treated for fire injuries at the hospital where her husband worked.


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