Centre for Independent Studies

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Let’s share good ideas. 💡 The Centre for Independent Studies promotes free choice and individual liberty and the open exchange of ideas. CIS encourages debate among leading academics, politicians, media and the public. We aim to make sure good policy ideas are heard and seriously considered so that Australia can prosper. read less
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Episodes

What is the Science of Learning? By Trisha Jha.
Feb 21 2024
What is the Science of Learning? By Trisha Jha.
What is the Science of Learning? By Trisha Jha. Listen to all our research here: https://cisresearch.podbean.com/ Despite billions of additional experts and concerted efforts at reforming several pillars of the Australian education ecosystem, students’ results continue to plateau. While the focus on teaching quality and effective, evidence-based practices is welcome, it is incomplete. Australian education needs to position the science of learning as the foundation for policy and practice. The establishment of the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) — in particular its recent work How students learn best — and the Strong Beginnings report into initial teacher education reforms are important because they create space for shifting focus towards the science of learning. Unfortunately, key pillars of Australian education policy do not reflect the science of learning, due to the far-reaching impacts of progressive educational beliefs dating back to the 18th century. These beliefs include that: Students learn best when they themselves guide their learning and it aligns with their interest;Rote learning is harmful;Learning should be based on projects or experiences, and that doing this will result in critical and creative thinkers. But these beliefs are contradicted by the science of learning, which is the connection between: 1) insights from cognitive science and educational psychology; and 2) the teaching practices  supported (and not supported) by those insights. Key concepts include: Biologically primary knowledge (BPK) and biologically secondary knowledge (BSK): These concepts are not about stages of schooling. Rather, BPK includes things like basic social relations and problem-solving skills we have evolved to learn and do not need to be taught. In contrast, BSK includes foundational skills — like reading, writing, maths as well as coding, Cubism and how to kick a football (what schools are for) — we can only learn through instruction;Domain-specific and domain-general skills: domain-general skills overlap with biologically-primary knowledge but critical thinking and analysis are specific to domains such as maths, history etc;Working memory and long-term memory: working memory is severely limited and can only handle small amounts of new information; making it a funnel to long-term memory. A strong long-term memory can help strengthen working memory; andCognitive load theory: given these models of human cognition, teachers should design instruction to optimise the burden on working memory in a way that best helps learning. The teaching approach best supported by the evidence is explicit instruction of a well-sequenced, knowledge-focused curriculum. Some key features of explicit instruction include: Careful ordering of curriculum content so that new information and concepts are built sequentially;Explanation of new information in small steps, taught through modelling and worked examples, with student practice after each step;Asking questions and checking for all students’ understanding of what has been taught before gradual release of students for independent work and more complex tasks; andRegular review of previous content to ensure retention. There are many implications for the science of learning: For teachers, it is an opportunity to design instruction in a way that is likely to lead to most students’ success with learning;Parents can become more informed about how their child will learn best and more empowered when selecting or having conversations with their child’s school; andFor policymakers, it provides a foundation for future reform of policy at all levels. Read the paper here: https://www.cis.org.au/publication/what-is-the-science-of-learning/
Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price's Insightful Outlook
Feb 12 2024
Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price's Insightful Outlook
Watch here: https://youtu.be/5ELTO4fBpRw?si=WU3AHp99wWZszSLP    Follow this show: https://liberalisminquestion.podbean.com/   In this enthralling episode of Liberalism in Question, host Rob Forsyth engages in a deep dialogue about Indigenous affairs in Australia with influential Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price. Distinguished as one of Australia's most notable figures in 2023, Price imparts a fresh perspective on her experiences and shares her critical views on the prevailing policies affecting Indigenous Australians. Through this riveting conversation, Price unearths the damaging effects of the 'groupthink' mentality and the policy of self-determination that has not met its promised outcomes over the past fifty years. She further discusses the debilitating narrative that portrays Aboriginal Australians as victims and demythologizes beliefs surrounding colonialism and modernization. This conversation serves as an open revelation on the realities of Indigenous Australians and a call for a liberal visionary approach for their future. In delving profounder into these intricacies, Price presents a confounding analysis of socio-cultural allusions and stereotypes prevalent in the Indigenous community. From the Indigenous feminist movement to violence in remote communities and the intersections of traditional culture with modern norms - this expansive discussion scrutinizes dominant narratives and accentuates the need for honest recognition of traditional society's strengths and vulnerabilities. Furthermore, the dialogue hones in on the individual complexities within the Indigenous community, shifting focus from race-based policies to ones centered around need and personal specifics. The worthy culmination of this spirited chat lies in a heartfelt sharing of Price's Grandfather's life story - a man who defied societal norms and inspired resilience in his lineage. This episode guarantees to be a deep contemplation of the past, a critique of the present, and an optimistic projection for Australia's future from an Indigenous viewpoint. It is a must-listen for all interested in gaining a deeper understanding of Indigenous affairs in Australia. #auspol
Fraser Nelson - Is liberalism suffocating in the UK?
Feb 12 2024
Fraser Nelson - Is liberalism suffocating in the UK?
Watch here: https://youtu.be/lSEJBQyf2D0?si=XyDBRAr_PqsgXvjL   Follow this show: https://liberalisminquestion.podbean.com/   In this engaging episode of "Liberalism in Question", host Rob Forsyth dialogues with Fraser Nelson, renowned UK journalist and editor of The Spectator. The conversation plunges deep into the dynamics of liberalism, the wrestle for "social justice", and the influence of government on societal transformation. Nelson, an avowed liberal, articulates his understanding of social cohesion's significance and the hazards of an overpowering government. The discourse broadly encompasses the transforming descriptions of liberalism and conservatism, the repercussion of net zero climate objectives, and inspirations from historic figures such as Robert Menzies and Margaret Thatcher. The episode also brings to light the considerable challenges encountered by conservatives in acknowledging emerging societal issues like climate change. Nelson underscores the necessity of adhering to liberal principles and sidestepping impulsive policy decisions influenced by popular clamor. Reflecting on the Queen's address to the United Nations, Nelson indicates that profound societal alterations often spawn from the aspirations of millions as opposed to the resolutions of prime ministers. The discussion culminates with an introspection into the intellectual tradition of liberal thinkers in the UK and the present status of liberalism under a Conservative government. This episode offers an in-depth discourse on UK's political ethos and the future trajectory of liberalism from an esteemed political commentator's perspective. The conversation covers the intricacies of current political parties, their stances, and the potential repercussions of future elections. From the prospect of a Labour Party victory in the ensuing UK general election to apprehensions surrounding press freedom; from the American political scenario's impact on UK politics to the Brexit's national implications - this episode leaves no stone unturned. Substantive discussions orbit the well-being of liberalism post-Brexit, the allure of Scottish nationalism amid political uncertainties, and the convoluted status of Northern Ireland post-Brexit. Nelson imparts his vision of the future, predicting a backlash against identity politics and a resurgence of fundamental ideals like unity, freedom of speech, and equality. This episode serves as a comprehensive examination of UK's political landscape and a contemplative dialogue on the vitality of liberalism and the imperative for convincing, argumentative politicians in the future.
Howardism, ideals and power | Andrew Blyth
Feb 12 2024
Howardism, ideals and power | Andrew Blyth
Watch this episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mLxvbHp3eU&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=CentreforIndependentStudies  Follow this show: https://liberalisminquestion.podbean.com/ Andrew Blyth was manager of the John Howard Prime Ministerial Library and Exhibition located at Old Parliament House, 2016-2023. He was chief of staff and a senior adviser in the Howard Government. He lectures in ideals and power to cadets and midshipmen at UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy and is undertaking a doctorate in public leadership at UNSW Canberra. He also hosts a podcast series, Advancing AUKUS for the Security & Defence PLuS initiative of UNSW, King’s College London and Arizona State University. Are you looking for sound, thought-provoking conversations on current affairs, politics, and culture from a Classical Liberal perspective? If yes, you are in the right place. Liberalism in Question engages some of our society’s most prominent researchers, political figures, and free speech advocates --finding out their views on the state of Classical Liberalism. About the host: The Right Reverend Robert Forsyth was the Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, a region of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, from 2000 to 2015. Before this he was the rector of St. Barnabas, Broadway and chaplain to the University of Sydney. Robert gave the 2001 Acton Lecture Dangerous Protections: How some ways of protecting the freedom of religion may actually diminish religious freedom and was awarded the Alan McGregor Fellowship at Consilium in 2010. Robert has been extensively involved in the areas of religious freedom and public policy.   #auspol
Chaos in society creates freedom | David Hart
Feb 12 2024
Chaos in society creates freedom | David Hart
Watch this episode:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMKe4R2M74E&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=CentreforIndependentStudies  Follow this show: https://liberalisminquestion.podbean.com/ David Hart is the Online Library director at the Liberty Fund and academic editor of the Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Dr. Hart is an historian and a libertarian with interests in the history of the classical liberal tradition (especially the French), war and culture, libertarian class theory, and film. He has a PhD from King's College, Cambridge, a masters from Stanford University, and a BA Honours degree from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He taught in the Department of History at the University of Adelaide in South Australia for 15 years.   Are you looking for sound, thought-provoking conversations on current affairs, politics, and culture from a Classical Liberal perspective? If yes, you are in the right place. Liberalism in Question engages some of our society’s most prominent researchers, political figures, and free speech advocates --finding out their views on the state of Classical Liberalism. About the host: The Right Reverend Robert Forsyth was the Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, a region of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, from 2000 to 2015. Before this he was the rector of St. Barnabas, Broadway and chaplain to the University of Sydney. Robert gave the 2001 Acton Lecture Dangerous Protections: How some ways of protecting the freedom of religion may actually diminish religious freedom and was awarded the Alan McGregor Fellowship at Consilium in 2010. Robert has been extensively involved in the areas of religious freedom and public policy. #auspol
Adam Smith and Why He Matters Today
Dec 7 2023
Adam Smith and Why He Matters Today
Are you a student who believes in free markets, smaller government, and individual liberty? Perhaps you’ve studied the works of Freidrich Hayek, Adam Smith, or Jonathan Haidt. If this sounds like you, the CIS has an exciting opportunity for you to meet and network with other like-minded people from Australia and New Zealand. Click here to learn more.  Essays on the relevance of Smith after 300 years. Adam Smith, the Scottish philosopher and economist, is one of the most significant figures to have emerged from what came to be known as ‘the Scottish Enlightenment’. His work across a number of disciplines changed the way people thought about economic theory and the field of what is now known as ‘political science’. Smith was superbly educated in moral philosophy, ancient philosophy, jurisprudence and natural theology — at a time when science and religion were regarded as complementary rather than antagonistic. In developing a moral philosophy that informed a deeper understanding of human interaction, Smith laid the foundation for a thorough exposition of the human practices of commerce and government. By encouraging use of our capacity for imagination, Smith argued that every member of a civil society needed to put themselves in the shoes of others and to see matters as others see them. For Smith, imagination — and the fostering of sympathy — was the key to our ability to engage in social and commercial exchange. Adam Smith is one of the intellectual pillars of the Centre for Independent Studies. Informed by the breadth of Smith’s vision, the CIS has always been committed to investigating the nature of society and has argued that the exercise of civic responsibility by individual citizens is every bit as important to the health of society as the policies delivered by government. This year marks the 300th anniversary of Smith’s birth, but his ideas and critical insights retain their importance today for contemporary Australia. In this Occasional Paper, Professor Paul Oslington and Dr David Hart, two distinguished Australian scholars, reflect both on the work of Smith and on the lessons he can teach us today. Paul Oslington introduces Adam Smith and sets his work in the context of the intellectual world in which Smith formulated his ideas; he then looks at the thorny issue of rent seeking in modern Australia through the prism of Smith’s thought. At time when many are disillusioned with the processes of government, David Hart’s evaluation of Smith’s thought concerning the business of politics is especially timely. I am delighted that Professor Oslington and Dr Hart have contributed these essays to mark the anniversary. In doing so, they allow the CIS to honour the vast intellectual contribution that Smith continues to make to the very fabric of contemporary Western society. Peter Kurti, Director – Culture, Prosperity & Civil Society program. Read the essays here.
How wasteful spending pushes up major infrastructure costs
Dec 5 2023
How wasteful spending pushes up major infrastructure costs
Read the paper here.  A large amount of taxpayers’ money, state and federal, is expended on large scale infrastructure that is intended to play a crucial part in Australia’s growth and prosperity — although some of it is arguably wasteful or perhaps even pork-barrelling. And as the recent federal government Infrastructure Investment Review found in axing around 50 planned projects, some “do not demonstrate merit, lack any national strategic rationale and do not meet the Australian Government’s national investment priorities. In many cases these projects are also at high risk of further cost pressures and/or delays.” But major infrastructure projects in Australia are often also more expensive than comparable projects in other countries, even after even after adjusting for differences in currencies and purchasing power. While a 2014 Productivity Commission Inquiry report on public infrastructure argued that there were examples where Australia was competitive internationally, and that the systematic evidence was missing or incomplete, it noted that several commentators argued Australia performed worse than other countries. The PC, while arguing for substantial reform to our infrastructure processes, also noted there was “considerable uncertainty about many facets of construction costs. There are sometimes large and inexplicable variations in the construction costs for what appear to be similar activities, such as the cost per kilometre of rail projects.” It is unlikely that much has improved since 2014, especially given the findings of the recent review and estimates that construction costs increased more than 25% over the five years to mid-2022. There are several factors that contribute to the higher costs of major infrastructure in Australia. The available evidence on major infrastructure construction costs shows that there have been some recent significant increases in input costs. This particularly applies to labour and project management costs, plus contract design, complexity and poor management leading to risk offloading, cost over-runs and costly schedule over-runs. However, it is important to note that the cost of projects can also vary based on specific circumstances, project scope, and other factors. As listed below, and explained in more detail in the subsequent sections related to costs, factors that can contribute to higher costs for Australian infrastructure projects include: Labour and Industrial Relations: Australia generally has higher labour costs compared with many other countries. Wages, benefits, and labour regulations can contribute to higher project costs. Lower Productivity: Productivity is hampered by the lack of a sufficiently educated, skilled and engaged workforce, an efficient work environment, innovation, efficient procurement models and ultimately trust between industry stakeholders. Regulations and Standards: Australia has strict regulations and standards when it comes to construction, safety, and environmental considerations. Compliance with these regulations often adds to the complexity and cost of infrastructure projects. Design Complexity: Infrastructure projects in Australia often involve complex engineering and design requirements. This can include considerations such as environmental impact, sustainability, and resilience, which may contribute to increased costs. Project Management: Effective project management is crucial for successful infrastructure projects. Factors like inefficient planning, delays, and changes in scope can contribute to cost overruns. Risk Offloading: Project cost is often inflated in Australia by a misguided focus on unloading risk in the early stages of a project’s development. This is often driven by the type of contract that is presented to the industry by lawyers, with the objective of minimising up-front costs and putting most of the risks on the contractors. This practice is not generally followed in other countries, which look at ‘whole of Life’ costs and benefits, resulting in a more cooperative and cheaper outcome. *** Hosted by Karla Pincott, What You Need to Know About is the podcast that covers exactly that. Hear from CIS’ experts on the key points of their research, providing you with concise and insightful overviews of complex topics. In each episode, we break down intricate policy issues, economic trends, social challenges, and more, delivering the essential information you need to stay informed in today’s fast-paced world. Join us as we cut through the noise and dive straight into the heart of matters that shape our society. Whether you’re a policy enthusiast, a curious mind, or just someone looking to grasp the essentials without getting lost in the details, What You Need to Know About is your go-to source for bite-sized yet comprehensive insights.