How we learn (VIDEO) from www.born-to-learn.org

I read John Abbott (@21learn)’s book, “Over-schooled but undereducated” a while ago now and have kept up with the 21st Learning Initiative (@iwasborntolearn) with interest. This animation (the first of a series) is the latest in a new suite of projects they’re launching. It’s definitely worth a watch and sharing with staff and parents and carers to generate discussion. They are launching a website on 28th March at www.born-to-learn.org to accompany the video projects. 

 

New blogging project: TEDucation goes live!

Image

As a result of my love of the many learning possibilities presented by www.TED.com, I’ve finally got around to putting into existence an idea I’ve had for about two years now. I have created a new blog site, www.teducation.posterous.com. The purpose of this site is to capture, organise and create an interactive and reflective learning space that is regularly refreshed by the inspirational speakers of TED Talks and TEDx Talks.

My entire learning philosophy is underpinned by my conviction that we learn best when we are both outward looking and inward thinking. This means that I feed my insatiable curiosity by listening, watching and learning from as many different people doing as many different things in as many different fields. So, if businesses are finding new ways to interact with their clients, then maybe there’s something in what they find out that can be used by us to find new ways to interact with our students. Alternatively, if sport has some insight on motivation, then I reckon we can probably use this in a range of contexts when we’re inspiring young people.

I reckon that TED talks offers a rich environment for us all to collect some pretty good ideas when it comes to how our students are motivated to truly involve themselves in their own learning journey.

I am keen to hear from others using the comments section or emailing me with their own favourite TED talks for learning, so we can build a bigger resource bank of TED-inspired ideas for learning.

I hope you enjoy the site and get involved with the TED talks here.

 

 

Creatively, science needs to catch up with art

I’ve been doing a load of work on creative learning and thinking and, parallel to this, some research and development into the inter-relationship between curriculum subjects. If you ever want to demonstrate the absolute need for cross-curricular projects and for collaboration between subject experts, external visitors from professional fields, here’s a fantastic TEDx video from Charles Limb for you. (thanks to @limeandginger for tweeting it to me)

The questions he ends with (as all good scientists should end with questions rather than answers, shouldn’t they?!) are as follows:

What is creative genius?

Why does the brain seek creativity?

How do we acquire creativity?

What factors disrupt creativity?

Can creative behaviour be learned? 

Now there’s some excellent enquiry questions to get stuck into…

 

Curiosity as a route to intellectual risk-taking

I have had the most amazing week of learning. It began on the South Coast (see previous post), working with a group of teachers who are bravely searching for ways in which they can give permission to their students to take intellectual risks, and, more importantly, encouraging their students to accept this offer. Without doubt, one of the hardest tasks for us all. They are well on the way to develop ways that explicitly foster the characteristics of independent learning and that generate a love for learning in and of itself.

The following day, I was on the train, travelling to Nottingham ready to meet with some inspirational educators generously sharing their approaches that offer opportunities to ‘learn-things’ differently. This was an absolute treat. I was introduced to a diverse range of ways to encourage deep thinking, learning design that offers creative immersion and common-sense, insightful ways to foster positive attitudes towards learning.

Whenever I have the opportunity just to sit and listen to what others are doing to drive learning forward, my brain goes into overdrive. New connections are inevitably formed in my brain and any existing connections and ideas are consolidated. In the frenetic world in which we all work it shames me that I do not manage to do more listening and less doing, as I know this would most certainly make my ‘doing’ far richer. After all, I spend a whole heap of time banging on about this as one of the fundamental characteristics of an ‘expert pedagogue’: the need to be a professional reflective practitioner [Note to self: must try harder].

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting an Agent Of Wonder. Really. That’s his job title. I think that he must be the only “Agent of Wonder” in the UK Education system, if not the world. Dr Matthew McFall is an extraordinary man. He is leading an amazing project in a school that aims explicitly to foster curiosity across the whole school community. He has created a ‘Wonder Room’ which is packed full of interesting, unusual, out-of-time, out-of-context, thought-provoking objects (see photos). All members of the school community are encouraged to come into the room and simply explore, think and marvel at the objects on display. There are puzzles of all descriptions, abstract photographs, petrified animals, a typewriter, illustrated books, keys upon keys upon keys…

He held up a woolly mammoth bone. He explained that he had carried the bone around the school, inviting students to suggest what it might be. He invited them to look closely, to hold it, feel it and to sense it properly. Once they had decided that it was a bone, he asked them to look even closer, pointing out two distinct bulges; “What do you think happened here?”… “This mammoth must have had a tough life, don’t you think? A couple of serious blows that resulted in breaking his/her rib in two places…I wonder what sort of character the mammoth needed to be?” And then he went on his way, leaving students to imagine and to wonder.

When we were there, Dr Magic (for he also does magic tricks…well why wouldn’t he?), had just been into a Year 7 English lesson to work alongside the teacher and the group on developing their curiosity using appropriate objects from the wonder room to enhance their imagination and creative writing. Delightful.

I wish I could have reversed my week. If only I could have shared this very deliberate ‘curious-learning’ methodology with the group of teachers I met on Monday. I am sure that they would have loved it just as much as I did! What a great way to encourage learners to take those intellectual risks..to imagine…to question, to speculate and to take those much needed but very risky intellectual leaps of faith into the world of ‘there are no stupid questions; so have a go and enjoy seeing what happens.’ Now there’s a route to full on learning.

 

Optimus National Gifted & Talented Conference

I’ve been speaking at the Optimus National G&T Conference today and I’ve had a great day meeting lots of enthusiastic teachers eager to develop quality teaching & learning opportunities for all learners in their schools. Optimus are great conference organisers, it must also be noted.

7th November 2010: I’ve now taken the pdf documents down as I’m busy creating and adapting new versions. Once they’re ready, I’ll put them up for your perusal and further comment. If you want to get hold of any of my resources, just drop me a line and I’ll try my best to help out.

I’m writing the Full On Learning book at the moment, so everything I write and create is now subject to copyright, hence I have to be watchful about what I can make available. This is weird for me as I’m used to putting everything up for sharing. Sorry about this!

Happy learning.


 

“If everyone could educate, we could educate everyone”.

First thing this morning, I was uploading a file to my @DropBox account and noticed that they were hiring. Out of interest, I had a look at what working at a company like DropBox might entail, and saw this:

Screen_shot_2010-08-31_at_12

How cool! It describes how it offers a working environment that appeals specifically to to the way in which they want their employees to think and live.

How might we define the ‘benefits’ of learning to reflect the type of mindsets we want our learners to develop, I wonder? Could we write a Job Description for a learner that truly reflects the skills and dispositions we are seeking to draw out of them? And how would this same rule apply to educators? I would have loved ‘sense of fun, play and exploration’ to have been listed under ‘essentials’ in my job description when I was starting out in the classroom. That’s certainly that type of learning environment I always sought to establish when I was teaching. I would like to think that I still express this quality as ‘essential’ now I work with teachers and teaching assistants.

It chimed with the work I’ve been doing recently that incorporates the concepts of Daniel Pink’s book DRIVE into an educational pedagogy. In particular, his TED Talk and RSAnimate talk about Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. I’ll be posting about this very soon, with some very simple ‘think-resources’ that I’m testing out, but take a look at the talk(s) and see what you think.

I then came across this TEDx Talk by John Werner and MacCalvin Romain from Boston TEDx and was reminded of the @theRSAorg   RSA Area Based Curriculum Projects; something I would love to start developing with schools in my own work. As I continued to listen to the talk, however, an alarm bell went off. I love the sentiment of ‘if everybody could educate, we could educate everyone’ but ONLY if they are supported to share their thinking through the channel of an effective pedagogy. In this way, we would create a truly collaborative environment of learning:

1.Teachers and students would learn about their subject as it is applied in a wider and applied context
2. Industry would learn from educators about how to the develop skills, gifts and dispositions found within in their workforce
3. Industry would gain an insight into the perspective of young people, their next generation of consumers, participants, employees and leaders.
4. Young people would have access to mentors, role-models and indutry-trained and experienced practitioners
5. Schools and colleges would connect with local business and employers to form a community hub

All of this would ensure that they schools can offer the best possible ways in which students can access the curriculum, in addition to the offer of an enhanced curriculum in itself. 

Not only that, but it then makes me think of how powerful would it be if we, as educators, shared our own expertise about how humans learn and develop with those who run businesses, laboratories and retail outlets. I wonder what impact that might have on the way in which the workplace is organised, how we encourage innovation and how organisations can nurture the capacities of not just our children and young people but those who are already in the workplace, seeking fulfilment in what they do, how they act and how they contribute to the future economies and communities which we are preparing for our young people to enter. How this might support the development of life-wide (rather than life-long) learning?

Some random musings for a Tuesday morning, at least.

PLTS resources created through fabulous collaboration

(Taken from an original post on a PLTS Action Research Blog)

These resources are under development with the PLTS team at the moment….it goes something like this…

(1) Have an idea

(2) Ask, “I wonder if…?” within earshot of team members

(3) Prototype gets developed

(4) Prototype is tested and refined both in terms of its design and its application to task

(5) Prototype becomes a real resource

We are a great team!

The resources are designed to stimulate QUALITY LEARNING CONVERSATIONS, using the language and concepts of the PLTS. We’ll let you know how are ‘field trials’ go.

The dice are designed as one per PLTS, in two versions, one set is to be used reflectively with the prompt of ‘Have you…’ and the other set is to set PLTS targets ‘Try to…’. They are made out of wood and are, in themselves, things of beauty! The swatch cards are for teachers to refer to when they are observing learning, to support the integration of PLTS language and the cards are for learners to use to reflect and develop the PLTS as a shared language for learning. We’ll be road-testing them all with our project teams of Confident Communicators on Thursday, when we’re holding the Presentation Day for the project. The day is being run alongside an LA AfL teacher conference, and the teachers will attend some of the presentations as a CPD workshop to have a go at observing the PLTS in action using ‘Observing Learning’ techniques we’re developing.

Dsc_0023
Dsc_0024
Dsc_0025
Dsc_0026
Dsc_0027