All educators are familiar with the concept of the learning pit.
When we first start out with a new skill – whether it is a swimming stroke, writing, mapping or playing an instrument – we always struggle/make things a bit worse before we start to see success. Then we improve, iterate based on feedback – either personal or from others. As we improve on this skill, we start seeing/making an impact – faster times, more fluent writing, accurate maps, beautiful music.
I have recently been wondering if this is what is happening with humans now? With many a head bow to David Attenborough here – we are now living in the Anthropocene. The age of humans. For most of life on Earth, nature has determined our existence, now humans determine nature’s existence.
The Industrial Age was the start of when humans had more influence over nature. Our technological advances gave us great societal advances but what we didn’t realise at the time was that it also had other consequences. Now we have global awareness that we have put ourselves into the pit. Gradually, over the last few decades, we have noticed and received feedback about our impact on the world. Think Ozone layer, Great Pacific Garbage Patch and of course, Climate Change – or in fact Climate Crisis now organisations like The Guardian are calling it. Continue reading
I have had multiple conversations lately about the power of critique in forcing deeper thinking and the lack of critique occurring in many schools. A couple of years ago I wrote about how we might develop a culture of critique within a school. This was focused on actions within the school and looked more at the individual level. I have had great experience of how a Critical Friends set up can help. At Hobsonville Point Secondary School we were all paired up with a critical friend. This worked so well for me that when I left, Claire Amos and I kept up our critical friend relationship going. My recent thoughts have been more around how an external critical friend could help provoke at a school level.
Critique is not something that we do or take particularly well in schools. Often within school we can be threatened by someone asking us why about our actions. Our typical response is to get defensive rather than being open to digging deeper. I have a hunch that external critical friends who are there with that clear purpose may not be so threatening. They aren’t challenging you personally but trying to prompt reflection on why the school has made certain decisions.
A series of recent activities, events and discussions have seen me imagining a range of future education scenarios. So, this post is an attempt to write up a few possible scenarios. What could education look like in the future?
I have always been a large advocate of listening to what teachers have to say about education. I much prefer to read books by teachers or those who are working closely in/with schools over those who have lots to say but lack the authenticity of recent work on school grounds. The same with blogs – I’m a big ol’ nerd, who loves to read blogs of what teachers are thinking about and doing in their classrooms.
Teachers, though, have a very vested interest in the future of schools. Will those of us whose jobs depend on the system staying fairly much the same way it is now, really investigate all possible options for the system could shift? Continue reading
If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it.
Austin Kleon – Steal Like an Artist
But I’m just not creative!
This sentence irks me ridiculously – whether a student or teacher saying it, it just irks me. I know the pain of looking at a blank page and how the hardest thing in any creative pursuit is to get started. In fact I have even blogged and run workshops based upon ideas to help teachers (and help them help their students to) get over that initial blank and get started.
Yet, the biggest mind shift for me was realising that there is no such thing as a blank page. I don’t have to be completely original. I read and see creative ideas all the time – online and in person. I see inspiration in front of me every day – landscapes, my children, students, colleagues, books… Every single one of these ideas and inspirations that enter my head mean that I will never face a blank page. Continue reading
I recently finished reading a wonderful book by Grant Lichtman called #EdJourney. This book is the result of an 89 day trip in which he visited 64 schools and interviewed over 600 people on educational innovation and the future of schools. Part One of the book is on roadblocks to change and innovation in schools and then gives examples of how schools he visited have overcome these. The four major obstacles found were:
- Time (the most common)
- People (risk, fear and growth mindset)
Each of these are discussed in a chapter and also gives examples of how schools have overcome each of these. Continue reading