Event details: 2018 VATE State Conference

29/11/2018 to 30/11/2018 
Bookings close:

2018 VATE State Conference

‘What do we do now, now that we are happy?’ 


Dates: Thursday 29 November - Friday 30 November

Venue: Deakin University, Burwood


'What do we do now, now that we are happy?' asks Vladimir of Estragon as they wait for Godot.

What do we mean by ‘happy’? Why is it an important objective? How do we measure it? How do we sustain it? What benefits accrue from it? A proposition, as Julia Gillard was fond of saying about matters educational, that needs unpacking. Though it’s a pity her ‘unpacking’ of the Australian education system left us with a strait jacket of a national curriculum and NAPLAN.  Definitely, not ‘happy’, Julia. Unless, of course, you are the MP Andrew Laming’s daughter who did not realise NAPLAN was a test because of the fun she was having. Or possibly the Finns, recently voted the happiest people in the world and top of the world in PISA assessment. Do ‘happy’ Finns find PISA ‘fun’?

Bertrand Russell thought, back in the 1920s, that ‘it is now possible, owing to the industrial revolution and its by products, to create a world where everybody shall have a reasonable chance of happiness’. Russell put his faith in education conducted ‘in a spirit of adventure and liberty, the sense of setting out on upon a voyage of discovery’ to create this brave new world. Will Gonski Mark 2, with its emphasis on creativity and critical thinking, on assessing individual progress rather than ranking, realise a new Nirvana?  

What of the beneficiaries of the latest technological bi-product, our Gen Z students? Research suggests that it’s not the whizz bangery of the latest apps or programs that make them ‘happy’. It’s their possibilities for connectedness. Then again, research also suggests that Harry Potter and hip hop have made them ‘happy’.  

But would our students agree with this prompt from the first VCE exam (1991): ‘I suppose we all like happy endings but a realistic ending can be more satisfying.’ Probably not, judging from last year’s ‘depressing’ text selection controversy. Many want not only happy endings but happy beginnings and middles as well.  Perhaps, as A.C. Bradley said of Gertrude, they want to be ‘happy like a sheep in the sun’. 

The best thing Hamlet ever did for his mother, Bradley suggests, was to make her unhappy. Is that, then, our role as teachers: to make our students, if not exactly unhappy, then realistically ‘happy’?  Ceredwin Dovey suggests a dose of ‘bibliotherapy’ might be a good thing.[vii]A resilience or wellness program based on reading literature? 

And what of the adage, in the words of the old song, ‘I want to be happy, but I can’t be happy, till I make you happy too’? As the horrors of Syria and Gaza, Manus and Nauru, confront us daily in the media, and the Uluru Statement from the Heart languishes in political gridlock, what price ‘happiness’ for our students as they endeavor to become active and aware global citizens?

Perhaps we need to accept that ‘happiness’ is a chimera, and being ‘happy’ a game we play to fill the void, just like Beckett’s tramps, as they go on hoping, yearning, waiting…  Perhaps, Sophocles’ Oedipusis really the last word: ‘Count no man happy until he is dead.’   


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Catering - we always have approximately 50% vegetarian food so you do not need to request this. You can indicate Gluten Free on the online form. For other requirements please email the office: events@vate.org.au

The caterers are Mary and Steve.

Deakin University
221 Burwood Hwy
Burwood VIC 3125
Event contact:
Julie Diamente (9411 8500) 
Supporting Documents:
Download the program preview here.
Price details: Days Cost
Individual 1 $265.00
Institutional 1 $315.00
Concession 1 $205.00
Individual 2 $375.00
Institutional 2 $425.00
Concession 2 $325.00


Select each session you wish to attend and when you have completed your selection click 'Add to My Workshops'.

Thursday Guest Speakers  Date: Thursday 29 November, 2018 at 9:00am – 10:00am
GS1: Jared Cooney Horvath
GS2: Toni Jordan
GS3: Rosie Kerin
Thursday Workshops TW1  Date: Thursday 29 November, 2018 at 10:10am – 11:15am
TW1.01: Can we use reading and writing as tools to foster happiness in the classroom?
TW1.02: Critical dispositions
TW1.03: EAL: Argument and persuasive language
TW1.04: Engaging English students through theatre
TW1.05: Engaging students in English with thinking routines
TW1.06: Formative assessment for student metacognition
TW1.07: How to source the examples for VCE English Language essays
TW1.08: Literature and place: How place situates and defines literature
TW1.09: Look to the book
TW1.10: New Literature text: Northanger Abbey
TW1.11: News as a construction: How and why news is not reflective of reality
TW1.12: Orals: How to teach and encourage oral confidence in the classroom
TW1.13: Passive no more
TW1.14: Reading and comparing: The Namesake and Reckoning
TW1.15: Reading practices, but by whose rules do we become readers?
TW1.16: So you're teaching English, what now? A beginner's guide to creating playfully critical cultures of writing
TW1.17: Speak up! A challenging Speaking and Listening unit for junior and middle years EAL students
(Room CANCELLED)   Sorry, no places left!
TW1.18: Teachers as writers: Reclaiming creativity
TW1.19: Two years on: The comparative response to Ransom and Invictus
TW1.20: Using Google classroom to teach English and build connection with your classes
TW1.21: The VATE Community of Practice journey
TW1.22: The Women of Troy: An introduction
Thursday Workshops TW2 and WTW1  Date: Thursday 29 November, 2018 at 12:45pm – 1:45pm
TW2.01: A happy medium: Getting students to care about things other than grades
TW2.02: Analysing and creating game narratives in the classroom
TW2.03: Analysing informal spoken texts
TW2.04: Changing classroom reading culture: Using embodiment and collaboration to engage with texts
TW2.05: Combatting the fake news: Teaching journalism in Years 9 and 10
TW2.06: Dialogic? A practical history of intertextuality
TW2.07: EAL: A course outline and strategies to teach The Women of Troy
TW2.08: Getting STEAMy: Connecting English and Science
TW2.09: Giving students a growth mindset
TW2.10: How to teach a combined VCE Literature class... And remain sane!
TW2.11: I Am Sasha
TW2.12: 'Killing Me Softly': A look at Toni Morrison's play Desdemona
TW2.13: Listening: The what, how and why
TW2.14: Instant poetry
TW2.15: Reading the room: Working with students who need support
TW2.16: Rubrics and the pursuit of happiness
TW2.17: Station Eleven
TW2.18: Teaching media texts in the age of sexualisation
TW2.19: Teaching reading: Making personal connections with texts
TW2.20: The texts that never work! How to select the right text for study in English
TW2.21: Wakanda forever: Studying diversity through Black Panther
TW2.22: Writing better rubrics: A workshop
WTW1: Rosie Kerin
Thursday Workshops TW3  Date: Thursday 29 November, 2018 at 2:35pm – 3:45pm
TW3.01: A question-based approach to essay writing
TW3.02: Artful writing
TW3.03: Authentic engagement creates positive outcomes
TW3.04: Comparative: Year of Wonders and The Crucible
TW3.05: Does engagement mean happiness? I'll show you how it can
TW3.06: EAL: Listening to texts
TW3.07: Enhancing English Teaching: A VATE online professional learning experience
TW3.08: Exploration, creation and use of developmental rubrics
TW3.09: Furthermore, what do we do now? Now that all our students are using the same words
TW3.10: Literacy = health + happiness
TW3.11: Literature: Ways into the Creative response using vision boards
TW3.12: Love, like and lust in Jane Austen
TW3.13: Moving English learning areas beyond NAPLAN, PISA testing and the global education reform movement
(Room CANCELLED)   Sorry, no places left!
TW3.14: New text: Nine Days
TW3.15: Old school literacy
TW3.16: Practical approaches to Shakespeare: Reducing student and teacher fears
TW3.17: Reading reimagined: Year 8 English deeper reading for the digital age
TW3.18: Scaffolds, supports, modifications and adjustments
TW3.19: Screencasting tutorials: A pathway to classroom success
TW3.20: Strategies for teaching Plath through perspectives and close analysis
TW3.21: Teaching poetry with Art and Music
TW3.22: VATE Community of Practice
TW3.23: VCE Literature and English at NGV
Friday Panels  Date: Friday 30 November, 2018 at 9:00am – 10:00am
P1: Brevity is the soul of (t)wit...and newspaper headlines: Playing with language
P2: 'Happiness is a warm gun'
P3: The happy classroom(?)
P4: Why can't we read happy texts? The politics of text selection
Friday Workshops FW1 and WTW2  Date: Friday 30 November, 2018 at 10:10am – 11:15am
FW1.01: A smile of indefinable meaning: Interpreting Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness using Literary perspectives
FW1.02: Aboriginal languages in the EL classroom
FW1.03: 'Be not afraid' to bring poetry into your mainstream lessons
FW1.04: Beyond Good and Evil: Strengthening English through Philosophy
FW1.05: Comparing the Penelopiad and Photograph 51
FW1.06: Connecting English to cultural institutions: The National Gallery of Victoria
FW1.07: Developmental rubrics: The key to supercharging student learning
FW1.08: Enhancing comparative analysis of texts
FW1.09: Happiness is humbug! Strategies for teaching complex texts to middle school students
FW1.10: 'I know what you are trying to say...': Improving EAL student writing
FW1.11: Literacy through growth mindset and grit
FW1.12: Middle years Literature
FW1.13: Pedagogies for teaching reading: A dance between immersion, interactive prompting and instruction
FW1.14: Positive teaching methods = Positive mindsets
(Room Cancelled)   Sorry, no places left!
FW1.15: Reading project: Exploring peer lead discussion
FW1.16: Sharing the love: A shared approach to learning area leadership
FW1.17: The case for Foundation/Supported English: Bridging the skills gap at Years 10 and 11
FW1.18: The destruction of promise: Truman Capote's In Cold Blood
FW1.19: The lunchtime legion: Tabletop RPGs in schools
FW1.20: The new pairing: Stasiland and Never Let Me Go
FW1.21: The Women of Troy: Themes, issues and structure
WTW2: Peter Skrzynecki
Friday Workshops FW2  Date: Friday 30 November, 2018 at 12:45pm – 1:45pm
FW2.01: A beginner's Guide to English Language Units 1 and 2
FW2.02: Both sides of the same coin: Peter Skrzynecki
FW2.03: Choose happiness: Offering diversity in assessment tasks
FW2.04: Connecting with students through storytelling and authentic reading experiences
FW2.05: Developing listening skills in English and EAL
FW2.06: Differentiation in the VCE classroom
FW2.07: From 'Wish Well' (2Ws) to 'What went well' (3Ws) to explicitly teach resilience in a mini-lesson
FW2.08: Happiness means choice in English
FW2.09: Method in the madness
FW2.10: Poetry slam
FW2.11: Reading sucks! Engaging teenage readers
FW2.12: Student choice within the English curriculum
FW2.13: Teaching Hippolytus: Classical tragedy in the Literature classroom
FW2.14: Teaching Analysing and presenting argument
FW2.15: Teaching The Crucible and Year of Wonders for VCE EAL
FW2.16: The Frankenlesson: Interdisciplinary collaboration and creativity in the English classroom
FW2.17: The joy of 'doing'
FW2.18: The life-changing magic of marking: A post-Kondo approach to assessment in English
FW2.19: Waiting for happiness
FW2.20: Waking students from sleep mode: Ideas for a tech detox in the English classroom
FW2.21: Zap! Boom! Pow! Comics in the classroom
Friday Workshops FW3  Date: Friday 30 November, 2018 at 2:35pm – 3:45pm
FW3.01: Developing comparative skills through fairy tales
FW3.02: Developmental assessment and targeted teaching
FW3.03: Differentiation in the classroom
FW3.04: 'Effective talk, not just any talk': Scaffolding student dialogue for deeper understanding
FW3.05: English Language Units 1 and 2 for beginners
FW3.06: Enhancing comparative analysis of texts
FW3.07: Helpful hints for graduate English teachers
FW3.08: Henry Lawson meets Lockie Leonard
FW3.09: Inside Stories: All the Light We Cannot See
FW3.10: Literature: Getting bums in seats
FW3.11: Once upon a time: Rediscovering reading
FW3.12: Process writing
FW3.13: Reinventing the spin, not the wheel
FW3.14: Speaking out: Persuasive speaking about social issues
FW3.15: Teaching critical and creative thinking and personal and social learning in English
FW3.16: Teaching English like a Maths teacher: Engaging the non-English students in the room
FW3.17: Teaching Toni Jordan's Nine Days in Year 12 English
FW3.18: The happiness of gifted English students: The importance of planning and intervention
FW3.19: Tragedy: Creating connections and building resilience
FW3.20: When is English teaching a bullsh%t job?