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Maja Milatovic

MA, MEd, PhD

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Welcome to my personal website collating relevant updates, publications and projects. I am an interdisciplinary researcher and teacher passionate about gifted and inclusive education, neurodiversity and educational psychology.

My research interests also include neuroscience, transdisciplinary pedagogies and the use of emerging technologies in educational contexts. 

I hold a PhD in English Literature; a Master of Education (Expert Teaching Practice: gifted and inclusive education focus); a Master of Arts in literature; and a Master of English and French Language and Literature (accredited by NESA). I also hold a Cert IV in Mental Health. I am currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Psychological Science with specific interests in areas of neuropsychology and school counselling.

I have published in a range of peer-reviewed academic journals, from articles to editorial Special Issues, in literary and cultural studies, and education. In addition to teaching and academic research, I regularly publish articles on education, pedagogy, educational technologies and book reviews. 

I can be contacted via LinkedIn by following the link displayed below.

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UNSW GERRIC workshop "Read, write and research like a scholar: essential skills for university and beyond" offered in July 2022 on campus!

29 May 2022

My UNSW GERRIC workshop  for gifted students in years 9-10 targeting reading, writing and research skills utilising a transdisciplinary lens combining neuroscience, linguistics, arts and research methodologies amongst others will be run again ON SITE in July 2022!

The workshop is pitched at least two grades above, with differentiated material accessible at university undergraduate level. The first event was online - and was well-received, with diverse students across Australia contributing, creating and engaging with their peers in an inclusive and intellectually challenging environment. 

Bookings are now open for the IN PERSON / ON SITE offering of the workshop and a range of other options for July 2022 (both online and on-site). 

Link to GERRIC website

The abstract describing the workshop can be viewed below:

Read, write and research like a scholar: essential skills for university and beyond

In our turbulent world, we have unprecedented access to information and knowledge like never before. Technology, social media and digital platforms have accelerated our knowledge exchange and learning, and continuously expand our horizons. But how do we know which information is reliable? How do we know certain perspectives are legitimate and based on evidence rather than just opinion? How can you tell if a resource is scholarly and based on researched evidence?  This workshop introduces you to the importance of scholarly research when formulating persuasive and informed arguments. It teaches you to conduct scholarly research using different databases and internet searching, filter relevant information and evaluate it. Furthermore, the workshop will teach you to read scholarly articles effectively, understand what you are reading and develop confidence in tackling complex material and vocabulary. Crucially, the workshop will refine your academic writing skills, from expanding your vocabulary, formulating fantastic thesis statements and logical arguments to tackling basic referencing skills and academic integrity. You will get the opportunity to work collaboratively, draft a research-based project of your interest and strengthen your understanding of academic integrity and plagiarism. As a scholar, you will also learn how to respond to feedback in a constructive and positive way, allowing you to effectively incorporate your teachers’ comments on your writing.

AAEGT Publication: The joy of reading: nurturing gifted children’s literacy

April, 2022

In April 2022, I published an article on the topic of nurturing literacy and encouraging the joy of reading for the Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented. The article provides practical strategies for nurturing reading and literacy development as a part of daily life and immersion, and may be useful for families, guardians and teachers across year levels. Excerpt from the article is copied below:

Reading is an immersive, joyful and engaging activity which can enhance our communication and our ability to empathise and inhabit different worlds and perspectives. As an English teacher, parents often tell me: “My child HATES reading. How can I encourage them to read more? How many hours per day should they be reading?”

In our fast-paced, competitive and technologically enriched world, our reading may be interrupted by social media, family members, classmates and other priorities. So, how do we encourage curiosity and wide reading and yet account for the diversity of our students and families ’lives and contexts? We can start from the simple notion: reading is everywhere. 

The full article is available on the AAEGT website available here:

UNSW GERRIC Workshop: Read, write and research like a scholar: essential skills for university and beyond

January, 2022

In January 2022, I led an online workshop for gifted students in years 9-10 targeting reading, writing and research skills utilising a transdisciplinary lens combining neuroscience, linguistics, arts and research methodologies amongst others. The workshop was pitched at least two grades above, with differentiated material accessible at university undergraduate level. The event was well-received, with diverse students across Australia contributing, creating and engaging with their peers in an inclusive and intellectually challenging environment. The students were also provided with feedback on their writing, downloadable resources supporting their skill development beyond the workshop context, and developed unique research projects focused on global issues through enriching collaborative work. Apart from a formal survey, the students were asked to describe the workshop at the end of the program – their comments are displayed in a word cloud format below:


The abstract describing the workshop can be viewed below:

Read, write and research like a scholar: essential skills for university and beyond

In our turbulent world, we have unprecedented access to information and knowledge like never before. Technology, social media and digital platforms have accelerated our knowledge exchange and learning, and continuously expand our horizons. But how do we know which information is reliable? How do we know certain perspectives are legitimate and based on evidence rather than just opinion? How can you tell if a resource is scholarly and based on researched evidence? This workshop introduces you to the importance of scholarly research when formulating persuasive and informed arguments. It teaches you to conduct scholarly research using different databases and internet searching, filter relevant information and evaluate it. Furthermore, the workshop will teach you to read scholarly articles effectively, understand what you are reading and develop confidence in tackling complex material and vocabulary. Crucially, the workshop will refine your academic writing skills, from expanding your vocabulary, formulating fantastic thesis statements and logical arguments to tackling basic referencing skills and academic integrity. You will get the opportunity to work collaboratively, draft a research-based project of your interest and strengthen your understanding of academic integrity and plagiarism. As a scholar, you will also learn how to respond to feedback in a constructive and positive way, allowing you to effectively incorporate feedback from your teachers in your writing.

LSE Review of Books publication: In Teachers We Trust: The Finnish Way to World-Class Schools

October, 2021

In October 2021, I published a review of Pasi Sahlberg and Timothy D. Walker’s new book:
In Teachers We Trust: The Finnish Way to World-Class Schools for the London School of Economics Review of Books.

The review originally published on LSE Review of Books linked at the end.

The review text is also available below.

Book Review: In Teachers We Trust: The Finnish Way to World-Class Schools by Pasi Sahlberg and Timothy D. Walker

In their book In Teachers We Trust: The Finnish Way to World-Class Schools, Pasi Sahlberg and Timothy D. Walker draw on seven key principles from the Finnish education system that can help build inclusive and thriving school communities, positioning trust as the key ingredient for educational excellence. The book offers an accessible, relatable and timely contribution to the field of education, particularly teacher professional learning, writes Maja Milatovic.

Teaching is an ever-evolving profession which requires commitment, dedication, knowledge and resilience – but above all, a true passion for education. But what makes a good teacher? What motivates teachers to stay in the profession? What allows teachers to thrive, innovate and continuously learn?

Pasi Sahlberg and Timothy D. Walker’s book, In Teachers We Trust: The Finnish Way to World-Class Schools, aims to address some of these questions. As experienced teachers, authors, leaders and education experts, Sahlberg and Walker draw on decades of teaching experience and scholarly research to inform their work. The book revolves around the concept of trust, envisioned as the key ingredient for educational excellence. In other words, trust in teachers’ capacities, professionalism, creativity, autonomy and informed choices is the building block of thriving schools. Highlighting the importance of treating teachers as knowledgeable professionals who continuously nurture trusting, collaborative relationships from pre-service teacher training to daily classroom challenges, Sahlberg and Walker’s book offers an accessible, relatable and timely contribution to the field of education, particularly teacher professional learning.

The book revolves around seven key principles which the authors explain through engagingly structured chapters. Specifically, the book is divided into two parts: Part One provides the context to the book and the authors’ personal journeys of teaching across contexts. It also involves a detailed discussion of the Finnish cultural context and the way the notion of trust has evolved in Finnish culture and informed pedagogies and policies. Part Two of the book is divided into seven chapters, with each chapter dedicated to one of the seven key principles. Apart from success stories featuring experienced educators and teachers in training, the chapters also contain a ‘strategy box’ with practical suggestions for implementing each of the seven principles. Each chapter also ends with a list of questions for ‘Conversation and Reflection’ to promote further inquiry and exploration.

The first two principles, ‘Educate teachers to think’ and ‘Mentor the next generation’, engage with teacher professional learning, pre-service teacher education and the empowering role of mentoring through stories of experienced Finnish educators and teachers in training. Crucially, the authors highlight the importance of giving teachers time and space to actively reflect on the way they teach and they suggest using journaling methods to support this process. Here, the reflective practitioner who consciously learns, grows and innovates is an important factor in creating a culture of trust in schools. Building on this principle is the authors’ emphasis on mentoring and its role in creating confident teachers who see themselves as knowledgeable professionals.

The third principle’s chapter, ‘Free within a framework’, discusses the importance of teacher autonomy. Drawing on scholarly research and evidence, the authors contend that when teachers consider their profession as highly regarded, with its own knowledges, standards, quality teacher education and autonomy to make their own choices, they tend to be more productive (83). This particular principle is especially relevant for school leaders, who the authors see as central to nurturing teachers’ professional autonomy. According to the authors, this not only builds trust but also leads to pedagogical improvements where teachers can be creative, energised and innovate.

The fourth principle, ‘Cultivate responsible learners’, builds upon the importance of autonomy in the context of student-centred teaching and learning. Using examples from Finnish education, the authors demonstrate that students learn effectively and remain motivated when they are actively involved in their own learning and empowered to make choices on what and how they learn.

The fifth and sixth principles, ‘Play as a team’ and ‘Share the leadership’, revolve around collaboration as another key ingredient in building trust. The authors explore a range of approaches and reflexive stories which can help build inclusive and welcoming school communities. Apart from practical suggestions on team-building and fun activities, the authors again highlight the importance of giving teachers time and space – not only to reflect on their practice but also to collaborate.

Exploring effective and collaborative leadership models, the authors discuss examples of effective ‘high-trust school leaders’ who are able to motivate their staff to excel in their teaching and exceed expectations. Importantly, the authors posit shared leadership as an alternative to authoritarian, ‘top-down’ managerial approaches which ‘erode the trust relationships between teachers and principals’ (131).

The final principle, ‘Trust the process’, affirms the role of trust in building inclusive and thriving school communities. Motivating teachers to do a good job, use their professional judgement and develop as reflective practitioners requires school leaders and communities to work collaboratively, transparently and build a culture premised on trust.

Together, the seven principles explicate ‘the Finnish way’ to achieve educational excellence, as declared in the book’s title. Throughout the book, the authors analyse and evaluate the reasons behind Finland’s excellence in education, its students’ high performance and its competitive teacher education programmes. This contextualisation allows readers to understand Finnish culture and the ways in which history and society inform its education and pedagogy. However, the authors’ positioning of Finnish culture is relational rather than hierarchical – it invites readers to consider how Finnish approaches could be applicable and translatable across cultures without perpetuating imperialist discourses. Specifically, the authors do not posit Finnish educational models as superior forms of knowledge, actively inviting dialogue, knowledge exchange and collaboration.


Overall, this book offers timely insights and suggestions on how to build inclusive and thriving school communities which value both teachers and students. The book’s emphasis on trust is particularly relevant in the context of the globalisation and marketisation of education, including high stakes testing and increased competition. This book will be of interest to educators and leaders striving to create meaningful change and nurture positive and enabling relationships within their own communities. The suggestions from the book are also applicable to other contexts such as vocational education and universities, and it may interest postgraduate students and researchers in the fields of education, management and organisational psychology.

UNSW Ignite the Spark presentation: Talent development and transdisciplinarity: a case for challenging boundaries

September 2021

On the 10th of September, 2021, I gave a presentation on the topic of talent development and transdisciplinarity which builds on my current research in this field and my interests in challenging disciplinary boundaries, collaborative work and innovative pedagogies. The abstract of the presentation is provided below:

Title: Talent development and transdisciplinarity: a case for challenging boundaries

Reflecting the shifting educational terrains in an increasingly globalised world, a particular area has gained increased importance in recent years : transdisciplinarity. Moss at al. (2019) provide a useful definition of transdisciplinarity in the context of the curriculum development, where one begins from a problem or issue and the framework is built around this question while highlighting the fluidity of subjects (26). The emphasis on problem solving is also apparent from the articulation of transdiciplinarity in the context of an interconnected world which requires solutions to “urgent, persistent, complex sustainability challenges” on a range of levels (Tejedor et al., 2018, 31). The ethical imperative inherent in transdisciplinarity as problem-solving complements gifted education’s emphasis on talent development and utilising one’s talents to effect meaningful change in the rapidly shifting terrains of the 21st century (Olszewski-Kubilius et al., 2016).

This pecha kucha presentation aims to analyse and evaluate the benefits of transdisciplinarity for developing gifted learners’ talents for future, technologically enriched educational contexts. The presentation suggests that there is an urgent need to challenge and re-think rigid boundaries and pedagogical limitations imposed by high-stakes testing cultures in Australian schools. Indeed, Bleazby (2015) argues that traditional curriculum hierarchies discourage higher-order thinking and engaging with contentious subject matters which inspire criticism, problem-solving and inquiry (678). Teachers of gifted learners operate within such a context, negotiating the complexities of curriculum construction for increasingly diverse learners, rising administrative demands and meeting performance targets along with limited resources and access to professional learning opportunities.  Considering the heterogeneity of gifted learners and their complexities, the presentation argues that transdisciplinarity allows for more collaboration, and nurturing of divergent thinking identified in numerous gifted learners.  Ultimately, the presentation suggests that challenging disciplinary boundaries has the potential for more inclusive pedagogical practices for developing gifted learners’ talents across schooling contexts.

UNSW GERRIC Workshop: Read, write and research like a scholar: essential skills for university and beyond

January, 2022

In January 2022, I led an online workshop for gifted students in years 9-10 targeting reading, writing and research skills utilising a transdisciplinary lens combining neuroscience, linguistics, arts and research methodologies amongst others. The workshop was pitched at least two grades above, with differentiated material accessible at university undergraduate level. The event was well-received, with diverse students across Australia contributing, creating and engaging with their peers in an inclusive and intellectually challenging environment. The students were also provided with feedback on their writing, downloadable resources supporting their skill development beyond the workshop context, and developed unique research projects focused on global issues through enriching collaborative work. Apart from a formal survey, the students were asked to describe the workshop at the end of the program – their comments are displayed in a word cloud format below:


The abstract describing the workshop can be viewed below:

Read, write and research like a scholar: essential skills for university and beyond

In our turbulent world, we have unprecedented access to information and knowledge like never before. Technology, social media and digital platforms have accelerated our knowledge exchange and learning, and continuously expand our horizons. But how do we know which information is reliable? How do we know certain perspectives are legitimate and based on evidence rather than just opinion? How can you tell if a resource is scholarly and based on researched evidence? This workshop introduces you to the importance of scholarly research when formulating persuasive and informed arguments. It teaches you to conduct scholarly research using different databases and internet searching, filter relevant information and evaluate it. Furthermore, the workshop will teach you to read scholarly articles effectively, understand what you are reading and develop confidence in tackling complex material and vocabulary. Crucially, the workshop will refine your academic writing skills, from expanding your vocabulary, formulating fantastic thesis statements and logical arguments to tackling basic referencing skills and academic integrity. You will get the opportunity to work collaboratively, draft a research-based project of your interest and strengthen your understanding of academic integrity and plagiarism. As a scholar, you will also learn how to respond to feedback in a constructive and positive way, allowing you to effectively incorporate feedback from your teachers in your writing.

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