I retired from the University of Hong Kong years ago and now live in Hobart, where I was born, with my wife Catherine, who was born in Hong Kong. The result of the 2022 election was like a heavy weight being lifted from Australia’s shoulders. The new government however has found that 9 years of neoliberalism under Coalition governments had created enormous damage to the Australian economy, the environment and to underprivileged Australians. We ought to be optimistic now but Labor is neoliberal-lite, money first, people second. Labor’s intransigence over a pathetic 43% emissions reduction by 2030, which will be swamped by planned coal and gas projects, is driven by the fact that Labor receives around $2 million from the fossil fuel industry. So much for climate change. Covid infections are increasing but almost all restrictions, mask wearing, social distance, mandated when Covid was rare, are now voluntary. Federal and most state politicians are gutless, prioritizing profits over lives. More in ABOUT ME.
On 8 September 2017, I was invested as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) “For significant service to tertiary education, particularly in the fields of curriculum development and assessment.” That’s basically about constructive alignment and the SOLO Taxonomy. In my citation they also mention my nonacademic writing.
Then in February 2022, I was awarded the Career Achievement Award in the 2021 Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT). for an outstanding contribution to teaching and learning. In announcing the award AAUT Chair Professor John Dewar said: “Professor Biggs has had a profound impact on approaches to the design of curriculum, assessment and learning in higher education in Australia and overseas. …His SOLO taxonomy and notably his model of constructive alignment have shaped the practice of an entire generation of tertiary educators in Australia and beyond. His book Teaching for quality learning at university has garnered over 21,000 citations since its publication in 1999 and his achievements have left an enduring legacy in Australia and across the world.”
The 5th Edition of : TEACHING FOR QUALITY LEARNING AT UNIVERSITY (with Catherine Tang and Gregor Kennedy) was published in November 2022. It is eleven years since the fourth edition of Teaching for Quality Learning at University, and in that time a lot has changed in tertiary systems all over the world. The mix of students now enrolling at university is more diverse, and most notably, educational technology is now an essential part of teaching, offering teaching/learning activities and assessment procedures and administrative conveniences unavailable previously. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change our thinking about distance learning. Amid all these changes, constructive alignment has been adopted on an astonishingly wide scale. In this new edition Teaching for Quality Learning at University, Catherine and I agreed that a new hand was needed to deal particularly with the changes in educational technology. That person was Gregor Kennedy from the University of Melbourne.
The Girl in the Golden House is a novel I published in 2003 about a young Hong Kong lawyer who lived through the time of the Tiananmen Massacre. He comments: “The Chinese Government ordered the PLA to murder Chinese people. Three thousand of us, that is the latest estimate.” I was in Hong Kong at the time, and described the protests as over 1 million took to the streets.
At a reading from the novel at Hong Kong University in 2010, several students from Mainland China were in the audience. When I read out these words, the students rose in a body and walked out. In 2017, I received an international phone call. A Chinese accented voice asked: “Are you the John Biggs that wrote The Girl in the Golden House?” I agreed that I was. The caller hung up.
At that time, Xi Jinping was saying that anyone who insulted China would be extradited from their country and tried in China for crimes against the State. Prime Minister Morrison assured us that wasn’t going to happen to Australians in Australia. But it does mean that I’d be a fool to visit Hong Kong again. It could be a very long stay.
In my latest book: Waves of Unreason: Australian Prime Ministers in the 21st Century, Ginninderra Press, 2020, I predicted that Scott Morrison’s aggressive and mendacious personality would cause him to self destruct, as happened in his previous jobs. Read all about it at https://www.johnbiggs.com.au/waves-of-unreason/
THE FJORDS OF ALASKA and “ROCK AND ROLL, BIG WHEEL!” through W Canada are latest TRAVELOGUES. Many more on that site. Covid has put paid to further travelogues any time soon.
Neoliberalism and its sordid rider managerialism have betrayed the mission of our universities; Universities in Society describes the phases of development of Australian universities, their present state, and their proposed future.
ACADEMIC is the story of my academic journey as an educational psychologist. CHANGING UNIVERSITES (2013) is an academic memoir covering over 50 years. Email me at email@example.com for a free PDF version.
WRITER describes my non-academic writing: fiction details my six novels and short stories, nonfiction is about memoirs and Tasmanian social history. TASMANIA OVER FIVE GENERATIONS: Return to Van Diemen’s Land? is a socio-political history of Tasmania. Available for $20 including p&p.
FROM ASHES TO ASHES The career of NSW secondary school teacher, Peter Morrison. Unlike most of us, Peter marched to the beat of two different drummers: one led him to follow in his schoolteacher father’s respectable footsteps, the other led him into a whole heap of trouble.
DISGUISES, published first in 2007, is now an e-book with me as author, not the non-existent Sally Leigh (I found that using a nom de plume was not a good idea). The middle section of this book, set in 60s Hong Kong, is ‘the most beautiful love story I’ve ever read’, as Liz Winfield, Hobart poet, put it.
TIN DRAGONS is my most commercially successful novel: so successful it sold out. It is a story based on the Chinese pioneer tin miners who worked in NE Tasmania in the late 19th Century in order to earn their 100 sovereigns before returning to China. Fortunately many didn’t return to the great benefit of Australian cricket as it turned out, The mines attracted fortune hunters of all kinds: refugees from the dreadful Tai Ping Revolution, crooks, Master Mou in search of spiritual riches, and our Terry and Lizzie in search of a better life.
All my books are available free as PDF, except Tasmania Over Five Generations ($20)