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Educational Change Starts Locally

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Daniele Zedda / Flowers Photos / CC BY

This post has been inspired by a week full of educational emotions. On Monday I tweeted out about my pain seeing my young daughter struggling to cope with the overwhelming amount of homework. I must add that the small school she attends has a fantastic reputation and they really do care and work hard with the children, but they of course have their targets and performance criteria and grade sheets etc etc…

It’s upsetting to see the amount of homework my daughter (9) gets daily, there’s often no time for play #sad #education #fail

As a result, a number of kind people reacted and send me links to help support my frustrations. I can’t thank Roger Schank enough for his links (1 & 2), which went to straight to heart of the matter and inspired me to dig deeper. As always it’s a questions of time, and it’s often against me, but I’ve dedicated extra hours to research in order to prepare for a parents meeting on Thursday.

Other sources that have inspired me include Doug & Mark’s ‘Purposed‘ program. Focusing on the question ‘What is the purpose of Education?’ This campaign has already produced some very high quality 500 word articles and I’m excitedly following conversations that pursue. My own article will be out on March, 26th and will be posted here.

My friend and colleague Daniel Durrant (@ddrrnt) has also been chatting recently about a group using the #EduKare. I’m still in the early days of exploring their posts and charter, but already feel a warming to this group and their ideals.

It seems that where ever I look at the moment wonderful people are trying to make a difference in education. Like minds are gathering to discuss and solve today’s real problems, and it seems that the question of how do we learn is taking a far more prominent role in governments, schools, colleges, universities and ultimately the workplace.

As a result of following Dan’s new network, I stumbled upon this quote this morning by Goran Kimovski, which really resonated, and has given me more inspiration to share my research with fellow parents and teachers this week.

The ingredients for rebuilding the learning experience for our kids are not in the government’s hands. They’re not in the school boards, legislative bodies, educational institutions. They’re in the hands of the teachers, the principals, the students, the parents, the community!

I’m sure I’ll also find others, parents and teachers alike, who are feeling the same way, struggling with their own children, struggling to find a balance between play and school life.

That’s where you come in. Before the meeting, I’d like to ask you what suggestions, tips, links or advice you can offer. Please contribute in the comments below while considering the following question:

In practical terms, how can we help ourselves, our teachers and ultimately our children to cope with the current education system?

#itashare

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82 Comments
  1. I’ll get the ball rolling, beyond what I’ve added above.

    I’d like to see more opportunities for children to support other children. I’d like to see parents have that opportunity too, and I’d like to see schools supporting teachers to support all of us.

    Peer to peer collaborative learning utilising technology should be a no-brainer for those who have basic access to technology. Even if children are only nine or ten years of age, they probably already know as much, if not more than you do. Giving access to collaborative documents, such as Google Docs, should be as normal as handing out paper to write on.

    I’d also like to see many more activities outside than inside with games used to create the environment where learning becomes fun and enjoyable, even healthy. Knowing within a class which children are good at what and sharing this with everyone can facilitate like minds to unite, especially those who would likely have never united. Those who are good at a particular subjects should be encouraged to support those who are not so good. Talents should be shared with one another and this should be facilitated by teachers.

    The whole purpose of this is to become better at the things that resonate for you and to gain knowledge which over time can be converted into wisdom through experience. Giving children plenty of time and opportunity to reflect in a way that is fun, rewarding and in context to their individuality, and not as part of some educational machine, should be a primary focus.

    Off the top of my head, I’d value your opinion – learninganorak craigtaylor74 daniel durrant michael josefowicz roger schank alc47 graingered olliegardener hypergogue lucy hampson sumeet_moghe sahana chattopadhyay judith christian-carter mattiaskareld egoldstein scottgould liz hampson

  2. I’ll get the ball rolling, beyond what I’ve added above.

    I’d like to see more opportunities for children to support other children. I’d like to see parents have that opportunity too, and I’d like to see schools supporting teachers to support all of us.
    Peer to peer collaborative learning utilising technology should be a no-brainer for those who have basic access to technology. Even if children are only nine or ten years of age, they probably already know as much, if not more than you do. Giving access to collaborative documents, such as Google Docs, should be as normal as handing out paper to write on.

    I’d also like to see many more activities outside than inside with games used to create the environment where learning becomes fun and enjoyable, even healthy. Knowing within a class which children are good at what and sharing this with everyone can facilitate like minds to unite, especially those who would likely have never united. Those who are good at a particular subjects should be encouraged to support those who are not so good. Talents should be shared with one another and this should be facilitated by teachers.

    The whole purpose of this is to become better at the things that resonate for you and to gain knowledge which over time can be converted into wisdom through experience. Giving children plenty of time and opportunity to reflect in a way that is fun, rewarding and in context to their individuality, and not as part of some educational machine, should be a primary focus.

  3. I’ll get the ball rolling, beyond what I’ve added above.

    I’d like to see more opportunities for children to support other children. I’d like to see parents have that opportunity too, and I’d like to see schools supporting teachers to support all of us.

    Peer to peer collaborative learning utilising technology should be a no-brainer for those who have basic access to technology. Even if children are only nine or ten years of age, they probably already know as much, if not more than you do. Giving access to collaborative documents, such as Google Docs, should be as normal as handing out paper to write on.

    I’d also like to see many more activities outside than inside with games used to create the environment where learning becomes fun and enjoyable, even healthy. Knowing within a class which children are good at what and sharing this with everyone can facilitate like minds to unite, especially those who would likely have never united. Those who are good at a particular subjects should be encouraged to support those who are not so good. Talents should be shared with one another and this should be facilitated by teachers.

    The whole purpose of this is to become better at the things that resonate for you and to gain knowledge which over time can be converted into wisdom through experience. Giving children plenty of time and opportunity to reflect in a way that is fun, rewarding and in context to their individuality, and not as part of some educational machine, should be a primary focus.

  4. andreacarr1 says:

    @simbeckhampson
    I enjoyed reading your post and getting sense of the same – that bigger questions are being asked. Perhaps a response to current government’s painful drilling into detail. On pupil led learning and collaboration thought you would be interested in this link to work being done at Hawes Side – Mike Shepherd blog here http://smichael920.wordpress.com/.

  5. @andreacarr1 Thanks Andrea, I’ll nip across to Mike’s blog and take a look :)

  6. @andreacarr1 That’s a great idea and I love the quote “Education is about enjoying today and preparing for tomorrow. This can’t be done using the tools of the past.” Thanks again… cc: learninganorak olliegardener craigtaylor74

  7. KarynRomeis says:

    @simbeckhampson We are coming to the end of our relationship with formal schooling. One of our sons has finished, while the other is in the final stages. Your frustration echoes my own. I consider homework an intrusion on my time with my children, and on their down-time. Good grief, they have the kids for well over seven hours a day as it is!

    The problem is exactly as you have identified it. Any attempts to do anything new will have to be in <i>addition</i> to what is already being done. For as long as standardised testing is the norm, and for as long as exam results are the currency with which our chilldren must gain admission to their career paths, schools are pretty much compelled to service that requirement first, with anything else being a bonus. The problem is that that bonus is gained at the expense of downtime, of time to be children and to learn from their primary educators (their parents) through interaction and day-to-day life.

    There are schools that choose to buck the system. And there are parents who choose to send their children to such schools. However, there is usually a significant price tag attached – secession doesn’t come cheap, and must be self-funded. Also, the children who come out of those systems often find that they lack the currency for the next step, (i.e.. university) which almost exclusively recognises the existing model in terms of entry criteria.

    Some parents opt to home-school (or unschool) their children. However, this almost inevitably means sacrificing one source of income, and few can take that option today. It also means having an appetite for risk. What if your unschooling turns out to be a monumentally disadvantageous thing for your child come the end of it? There are no do-overs, so you have to be absolutely, unrepentantly sure it’s the best route to take.

    Alternatively, you could move to Finland, where they have done away with standardised testing and where they consider play a vital component of learning. And I’m only half-joking with this last point. While we’re pushing for change on the grounds that the current model is irrelevant, outmoded and irrepairably broken, our children are being damaged (and I use that word deliberately) by the model we are trying to overthrow.

    It is too late for incremental change. The educational model needs to be redesigned from the ground up, starting with that key question, “What is it FOR?”

  8. @KarynRomeis Great anorak rant! So, it looks like we’re off too Finland then :)

    Seriously though and first off, thank you for adding such a clear and concise reply that is not only clear and concise but makes perfect sense too. The question “What is it FOR?” has to be the starting point and indeed the end point with a bit in the middle that actually considers the answer to ‘how do we learn best?’.

    What do you think about the UK’s new ‘Free School’ concept? Do you see it as an opportunity or a threat? I would love it to work… but I have doubts. As you know I’m a positive chap, but whenever the private sector is involved directly in ‘education’ it makes me rather nervous. How will the private sector juggle with their purpose to make money and the overall aim to deliver education? Scary conundrum…

    As I was writing this I was thinking of others like egoldstein who has children in school and hackmanj and @CraigTaylor74 whose lads are too young yet. Don’t we have the responsibilty to take the bull by the horns and ensure that change hurries itself up a little. I also thought of people like my sister lucy hampson who has taught children in very tough conditions, who has made many attempts to change methodology but has always been given the feeling that she should not think too much, but simply follow the rules.

    That was also just reflected in Roger Schank’s tweet 30 minutes ago…

    “gov’t never wants students to learn; it wants students to behave; all gov’ts are like this”

    It is my intention to start something small here with the hope that others from a distance see the smoke rising and feel intrigued to come closer and even join in. It appears that the its up to us, the community, to get more involved and to find innovative solutions – if we have to wait for politicians to figure it out we could be here in another 10 years.

    Thanks again Karyn, most inspiring :)

  9. RinaTripathi says:

    I agree with you, Karyn is correct, infact once during a discussion she opened my eyes to the futility of this system where the student crams the facts and writes them down in that limited time and on basis of that he or she is assesed. You should be talking to the teachers and together with like minded parets put it across to the school that they need to give 1 or maximum 2 work sheets on alternate days. If you support your facts with research and studies, they will have less resistance.I suggest you read Donald Clark’s Plan B to collect data to substantiate your case. All the best, I am stiil recovering from being hauled at son’s school for telling them that the Biology teacher was not providing notes. Take care…

  10. Thanks to kristina schneider for providing this link to an excellent RSA / sir ken robinson video, “Changing Education Paradigms”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

  11. jleffron says:

    You knew I wouldn’t be able to leave this one alone, didn’t you ;-)

    I’ve been doing some preliminary writing for my Purpos/Ed post and one distinction that must be kept clear is that the purpose of education and the purpose of schools are distinct concept. In the end, the purpose of schools is whatever it is defined to be by the “owner(s)” of the school, whether that be a government, a private institution, a corporation, a union…” This is becomes a hugely limiting factor.

    During my years on the local Board of Education, I learned a lot of things. Among them: There is (in the US anyway) a push to keep consolidating school districts, in the name efficiency. I’ve seen the numbers, and often the small school districts are actually among the most cost effective, but that doesn’t stop the push to consolidate. That is unfortunate because (bearing in mind the school’s direction is driven by the owners) in smaller schools, the ownership is in effect the community, This allows for a degree of creativity and adaptability that are impossible in the factory-scale districts that are becoming prevalent.

    It’s rather like the difference between eating at a local cafe or a fast food chain. Both have certain health and safety regulations to follow, but the local cafe has a lot more latitude to adapt within that framework because the ownership – the decision-makers and stake-holders – are on site. In a fast food chain, it’s the same burger cooked the same way for the the same exact number of seconds…

    In the same way, when we run schools on a massive scale (as opposed to your small, local, adaptable school) everything gets systematized to prevent failure; things have to be run in light of the least common denominator. Innovation get’s squashed in the machinery. It’s a pre-processed, uniform, synthetic milkshake instead of locally grown strawberries and cream.

    So, in practical terms… Your local school and district are the size they are, they have the rules they have to follow (whether those make sense or not). So you figure out how to work within those constraints. You find the teachers who want to be innovative and say “How do we support you?” “What do you need?” You work with the local administration (the are often open to innovation, at least in my experience) but need resources – in your case you could offer some training sessions so teachers have the opportunity to become proficient in the kinds of tools they’d like to be using. It’s a one step at a time approach.

    In my experience, most teachers want to be good teachers (and probably even great teachers); most administrators would like to support innovation. If you go in as an ally and with an open ear and open mind (as I know you will), a lot of good can happen. And as you well know, metrics from some successful small scale efforts can convince a much larger audience. Get the foot in the door, and the rest will follow.

  12. TimMoore says:

    Better teachers, more involved parents, and revamped education system. The egg is broken, we need a new one. Great thought generator Paul – I look forward to the collective input and suggestions.

  13. @RinaTripathi Thank you Rina. I think the idea of three work sheets per week, excellent idea, but as you say I’m going to need to back it up with facts. I’ll also definitely take that advice and read donald clark ‘s Plan B again. Sounds like a scary experience at the school… ;) Take care too… cheers.

  14. @TimMoore Thanks Tim. I can’t stop thinking about eggs now :) http://bit.ly/gxAgqN

  15. @jleffron Janet, you’re a star! What you describe makes total sense and even provides practical steps for moving from A-B, thank you. As you know, and I guess tim mooreknows, I do love analogies and the one you use about the cafe and fast food restaurant just helps to make things even clearer – I’m already mentally converting the story into German in preparation.

    In terms of the technology, it seems that my timing could not be better as the school announced last week that they will, for the first time, have a room that will be dedicated to IT, and the reports from daughter indicate that many, if not all, her friends have a computer at home. This a big step for the school, and its definitely moving in the right direction and as you say, it would be a good idea to offer the teachers support on the tech issues, although I’m sure the children will put them right ;)

    I really appreciate you sharing your years of experience on the Board of Education and as I progress on this mission, expect me to come knocking on your door again – bye for now.

  16. KarynRomeis says:

    @simbeckhampson It is interesting that you should ask about free schools, Paul. I posted on that recently. See here: http://karynromeis.blogspot.com/2010/11/how-free-can-free-school-be.html
    CC @RinaTripathi

  17. @KarynRomeis @RinaTripathi Thanks… skipping over there now – intrigued to hear to hear you view on them :)

  18. @KarynRomeis @RinaTripathi As I expected your post did not dissapoint… and it confirmed my own nervous expectations of the reasoning behind it, especially the last comment by donaldclark , which I’ve included below here for others to read….

    “Here are the views of former teacher of the year Phil Beadle on free schools:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/nov/02/free-schools-local-authorities

    To summarize his view: free schools are politically, not educationally, motivated: “They are an entirely calculated wrecking ball, intended to break up local families of schools and destroy local education authorities.”

    via learninganorak ‘s post ‘How free can a ‘free school be’ > http://bit.ly/bTMYdB

  19. KarynRomeis says:

    @simbeckhampson @RinaTripathi learninganorak That comment was from Don Taylor, not Donald Clark… if it had been from the latter, there would have been no holds barred ;o)

  20. @KarynRomeis Oops… maybe time for a break :) I’ll see if I can amend it or repost… thanks for the heads-up.

  21. @KarynRomeis @RinaTripathi As I expected your post did not disappoint… and it confirmed my own nervous expectations of the reasoning behind it, especially the last comment by @donaldhtaylor , which I’ve included below here for others to read….

    “Here are the views of former teacher of the year Phil Beadle on free schools:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/nov/02/free-schools-local-authorities

    To summarize his view: free schools are politically, not educationally, motivated: “They are an entirely calculated wrecking ball, intended to break up local families of schools and destroy local education authorities.”

    via learninganorak ‘s post ‘How free can a ‘free school be’ >http://bit.ly/bTMYdB

  22. ToughLoveforX says:

    “how can we help ourselves, our teachers”

    Based on the work that Sean Grainger has been doing in Alberta, we might want to somehow get the conversation framed as a Process to Nurture Resilience. From my read that is at the very heart of the “edukare” approach.  Sean has more than 10k+ hours in Special Education and now as a Vice Principal. I want to share that I’ve found his insights very helpful in pointing to simple things that teachers, parents can do to reduce some of the stress and achieve some of the results on which there has been a real convergence.

    I highly recommend spending some time with his latest post at http://ilnk.me/6909

  23. hackmanj says:

    Hey Paul, thanks for drawing my attention to this post. This is an issue that definitely concerns me. I am extremely fortunate to live in an area where the community is very committed to educating our kids. This leaves plenty of room for this debate you’ve mentioned here in your post. I think this is really a cultural issue overall. For that reason striving to find this balance will not be a one size fits all solution. I think being involved is the best thing we can all do. I am glad there are people out there like yourself who are starting these conversations. Thanks for including me.

  24. @ToughLoveforX Need to get a better understanding of ‘Nurture Resilience’, will hopefully start that reading later today / tomorrow. From what I’ve seen so far I’ve been inspired by the #Edukare approach. I will definintey follow the link, and many of those within the # twitter stream. Thanks to daniel durrant for bringing us together, I’m sure we’ll be chatting in no time, all the best Paul.

  25. graingered says:

    Balance… yes, certainly not a one size fits all element. I love to be in the high mountains where you can see many lakes at different elevations. When we perceive water from our vantage point on the flat ground, it’s easy to forget that water naturally finds level at any altitude, and in any volume… I would call this balance, but balance that adapts in nature according to the variable affecting it. Water is very resilient. It finds this balance within an infinite number of physical conditions.

    I think people (teachers, students, parents, community members, politicians) should be spending serious time in every school and community thinking about the “balance” that is and should be found within their learning/living ecosystem. Alas, I think all would find through their thought effort that many timeless qualities exist as positive elelements of learning culture… and they, like water in the mountains, find balance in any school or community. That’s how they became timeless.

    Really appreciate your thought efforts, and looking forward to reading more.
    Cheers,
    Sean

  26. graingered says:

    Balance… yes, certainly not a one size fits all element. I love to be in the high mountains where you can see many lakes at different elevations. When we perceive water from our vantage point on the flat ground, it’s easy to forget that water naturally finds level at any altitude, and in any volume… I would call this balance, but balance that adapts in nature according to the variables affecting it. Water is very resilient. It finds this balance within an infinite number of physical conditions.

    I think people (teachers, students, parents, community members, politicians) should be spending serious time in every school and community thinking about the “balance” that is and should be found within their learning/living ecosystem. Alas, I think all would discover through their thought effort that many timeless qualities exist as positive elelements of learning culture… and they, like water in the mountains, find balance in any school or community. That’s how they became timeless.

    Really appreciate your thought efforts, and looking forward to reading more.
    Cheers,
    Sean

  27. JanetHarkin says:

    Hi Paul, thanks for this, your post is very interesting. May I ask what age your daughter is?

    My own experiences with my 6 yr old son, so far, have fortunately been really great. He’s in the Irish eductation system and attends the local national school (primary to you and I) that his dad and Grandad attended before him. There are 30 pupils in the whole school aged between 5 and 13 under the care of two teachers. The emphasis from the beginning has been on learning through play with a very healthy emphasis put on the develoment of the child socially and emotionally as well as academically. The children are encouraged to look out for each other and, in my opinion, therefore get a great sense of self as they learn and play with kids both older and younger than themselves.

    I have to say this is not the case for his similarly aged cousin who attends another equally small but better resourced school 500 metres up the road. She has far more homework and the school is much stricter about compliance. Such are the vagaries of the Irish education, I suppose.

    Interestingly, given Ireland’s financial woes, there was a govt campaign in the 80′s to amalgamate such small village schools together which local parents successfully fought off. The pay off, though, was that parents have to pay towards the upkeep and maintenance of the school each year, in addition to govt funding. Some may say this is a small price to pay.

    Best wishes

  28. @JennaLanger Was thinking – it would be nice to be able to include images into posts too… is this on the horizon? cc: livefyre

  29. g_kima says:

    Hey Paul,

    Thanks for including the quote from my blog!!

    I have a 6 years old daughter in grade 1 in a French Immersion school here in Vancouver and I find it a struggle to deal with the school and some of the coercive methods used by her teacher. You can see for yourself a recent episode at http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/learning-is-supposed-to-be-fun-no/

    I like what I read so far on #EduKare and find it oddly similar to some of my thoughts in the post you linked. In my vision for schools, they should nurture learning in its true inspiring and transformational form: http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/learning-is-transformational-can-schooling-come-close/

    I also highly recommend checking http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/the-future-of-big-box-schooling/

    Cheers,

    Kima

  30. TomHampson says:

    Nice Blog Paul, thanks, perhaps we should focus on this idea:

    Education to face the world, Formation to change it.

    Easier said then done?

  31. ToughLoveforX says:

    @simbeckhampson daniel durrant
    I think an important challenge is to get to an Operational Defintion of “Resilience” that allows the collection of real time process metrics. The point is to create an actionable feedback loop that enables changes in behavior.

    One possibility comes from the work folks are doing in Complexity Theory and Social Media. Consider that a “school” is a node embedded in a Complex Adaptive System. In that framing the speed and shape of information exchange might be a path that gets to real time Process Metrics to suggest a the level of Resilience within the System.

    Daniel, Sean and I have been playing with “EbDish” jargon to help make this kind of notion more precise. I apologize in advance for introducing even one more jargon into the already jargon filled conversations about education ( specifically NOT including this thread.) I hope the benefit is worth the initial confusion.

    Using EbDish framing we might say that a School is a set of Nested (n) Rtubes. Each Rtube emits and receives information in the form of NME ( comes from a process used denote “Thinking” – Notice. Mull. Engage” An NME is the visible outcome of that process. Can be equally applied to a video, poster, blog post, tweet or any thing else that serves as a Token of Information – such as facial expressions or bodily movements. )

    Using this jargon, the locus of Interest is the Speed, Frequency and Shape of the Exchange of NME from one rTube to another. The exchange is denoted as NMEX.

    In those terms “Resilience” might seen as multi sourced NMEX.

    I think it’s fair to say that the hope of all the tweeps that have collaborated to get to these terms are on a path to get to practical process metrics to gauge whether a Complex System is moving towards or away from Resilience.

  32. JudithCC says:

    Paul, I don’t know about the educational system in Germany but if it’s anything like that in the UK then it has probably got progressively controlled by those on the fringes (e.g. Governments) who set stupid and unrealistic standards at the expense of what is really in the best interests of youngsters. The only way forward that I can see is to break these controls and to put the responsibility for education firmly back into the hands of the professionals (i.e. the teachers) and the schools who are accountable to parents and not to governments.

  33. @JudithCC If only it were that simple Judith! I do agree though that a shift from central control towards teacher / parental control is needed, just not sure how that shift will occur… probably by a collective collaborative approach from the likes of us :) If we continue to stifle creativity and innovation, the real skills need in the 21st century, the outlook for kids will be very bleak. I’m inspired by sir ken robinson , amongst others, and his idea of refocussing on children’s talents and passions is so important. If the education system does not focus on this and provide a more motivational personal approach to learning, the continued upswing in school dropouts will ensure that we really failed an entire generation of children. Thanks for you comment.

  34. @TomHampson Like the idea. So where do we start? What’s the plan?

  35. KarynRomeis says:

    @simbeckhampson @TomHampson This is problem, isn’t it? We’ve been talking about this for years. Certainly since my children started school. And here we still are, having the same conversation. Nothing (significant) changes. The people with the ideas aren’t the people with the power to bring about change, and the people with the power to bring about change have got their fingers in their ears, shouting “Lalalalaaaaaa!”

  36. @g_kima Sorry that I did not reply yesterday, my fingers got tired on typing. Back again today and with recovered fingers, I followed the links you added above. I realised that after reading the first link, that all the other links we’re going to be as good – they did not disappoint, so much so infact that i have scheduled all the posts to be tweeted out today.

    I do love the quote by Carol Black aka. schoolingworld and can’t resist citing it here too. I’m also a huge fan of Sir Ken, and it resonates greatly that across your posts and Carols’ his thoughts and posts are mentioned.

    “I think the way western education has grown over the last few centuries, especially with the rise of industrialization, was basically not to create human beings fully equipped to deal with life and all its problems, independent citizens able to exercise their decisions and live their responsibilities in community, but elements to feed into an industrial production system.”

    Thanks for taking the time to comment here and supplying such useful links. Keep in touch, and know that you have gained a new fan :) Best, Paul.

  37. ToughLoveforX says:

    @simbeckhampson @JudithCC sir ken robinson It’s also important to consider the down side of Parent Control. the fact is that some of the most stressful situations for kids occurs in private schools where parents are very much in control. They bring with them the drive to success they believe will be best for their children. It’s only natural.

    But i think it’s fair to say that enough research and anecodotal evidence exists to suggest that the stress produced is entangled with drug use and emotional problems. EduKare approach is trying to grapple with that reality.

  38. @ToughLoveforX @JudithCC That is an interesting addition, thanks for sharing. I’m thinking, is the use of drugs whether self taken, or prescribed in the case of ADHD, a sign that something deeper is at the underlying root of this problem, ie. a disconnect with education, a lack of intrinstic direction leading to depression and pure boredom. Can technology help to resolve this issue by joining like minds together, even over distance, to restablish that connect around passion points, to facilitate conversation and ultimately inspire a change in cognitive behaviour…

  39. @KarynRomeis @TomHampson In their ears, or their wallets ;-o

  40. @JanetHarkin Hi Janet, thanks for joining in. I think this a topic that plays on the mind of all of us with children. Finding ways to solve it must become even more a focus and part of our lifes’ challenge.

    It’s a coincidence that your son is going to the same schol that his Dad and Grandad did, as my daughter (9) is also attending the school where her Mum went to! Before school, and from the age of three she attended the most amazing Kindergarden where the circumstances you describe above were the same ie. play, fun, health, community, support, talent and passion focus etc…

    I’ll never forget how she reacted when she realised that she would be leaving this environment and going 200m across the way to school. Tears were exchanged both by her and the teachers. Wonder if that will be the case when she leaves school? On the one hand she felt all grown up and pleased with the coming of age and the transition from little child to big girl. It was however for me, upsetting to see her leave this wonderfully supportive environment, and even more so watching the decrease in vibrancy and spring, which I can only attribute to the education system she’s in.

    My daughter is very artistic. She loves to dance and sing and paint and act. She is very people orientated and for someone so young I’m very impressed how she relates and cares for people of all ages. I love the analogy that Sir Ken uses of the bally dancer who couldn’t sit still – Click the image below, it should start at exactly the right place – if not forward to 15:04…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY&feature=player_detailpage#t=910s

    Last night, my final research of the day, at 1am, was to re-watch all the video takes on Ken Robinson’s site (http://sirkenrobinson.com/skr/watch). Although each one touched on a similar theme, it was inspiring to listen to his clearness and clarity on the topics of children, creativity, innovation, education and how and what we can do to make a difference. I’ve not yet ordered his latest book, but it’s on the list :)

    I think we can learn so much from the people like Ken, @rogerschank and jaycrossto mention but a few. We need these thought leaders to continually shine the torch in the right direction, enabling common folk like ourselves to find practical and local initiatives that can benefit the next generation at a grass roots level.

    Thanks again, Janet – should I find myself in Ireland this year (any other year) it would be great to meet up for a coffee or a guinness or both ;)

  41. ToughLoveforX says:

    @simbeckhampson @JudithCC
    What I think I see is that there is little doubt ( to me anyway ) that the stress implicit in living the early 21st century are transferred directly to our kids through much of “education.”

    My thought is that what has been called the “granny cloud” and which Mitra and others call Self Organizing Mediating Environments ( SOMES) are working to precisely that point. Interesting vid about the Gateshead Granny Cloud http://ilnk.me/6a1c

  42. ToughLoveforX says:

    @simbeckhampson @JanetHarkin jaycross
    Paul you might be interested to know that yesterday Sir Ken Robinson presented to Sean Grainger’s School District in Alberta. I’m here in New York City. From here it feels that something both interesting and positive is happening in Canada.

  43. @ToughLoveforX @JanetHarkin jaycross WOW! I am interested, especially having re-listened to Ken’s entire website video collection early this morning… he often referred to the appalling dropout rate in Canada, some 30% at the time of filming. Interesting how Sean connects to the scenario too… the internet is just one huge serendipity machine – long live the internet and all who connect to her ;)

  44. @ToughLoveforX Love the story of Mitra. His experiments, if that is the right word, just adds emphasis to the point that children, given the right tools, motivations and environment can and do flourish. One such story I remember was how peer organisation in the slums of India was so successful. It did not require a ridgid system of control to organise children, as there was no one to organise such a thing anyway, it just requred someone, ie. Mitra, to leave a computer with accesss to the net, and then get out of the way and let them play. On returning it was amazing to see how self organised they’d become with old children helping younger ones – very inspiring… thanks for reminding me of his achievements, I must re-watch this TED video too…

    Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education
    http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html

  45. @jennalanger Thanks Jenna, great support :)

  46. ToughLoveforX says:

    @simbeckhampson to the point of ADHD I just came across this in the twitterstream..

    @briankotts Teachers believe some parents seek false ADHD diagnosis in children to claim benefits http://bbc.in/eovnKe /via @bbcnews #SpecEd #ukedchat

  47. ToughLoveforX says:

    @simbeckhampson Also to get on your radar :

    @ukedchat #ukedchat Summary from 3/2/2011 via @bevevans22 now available via http://bit.ly/eC8yJZ

    It’s the best conversation on twitter I’ve found so far. Seems like an intelligent mash up of of blogs, tweets and # .

  48. @ToughLoveforX (raise eyebrows) (shakes head) — on the other hand, if a system exists that can be exploited, it will be… and don’t forget that ADHD is a disorder that has been created by drug companies and governments in the wake of kids losing the will to be educated – it was only discovered (term used loosely) in the 50′s – it’s a farce! And yes, it is a clincially proven illness but it is not an epedemic and kids in such proportions should NEVER be given drugs to sedate them just becuase their passions and hopes are eradicated by a totally outdated and non-aligned system of education.

    On the BBC article, it states that more money is being pumped into to support therapies such as counselling… which is what – asking the kids what’s wrong – I wonder what the top three answers will be… let’s take an educated guess

    1) Disconnect from the Education system.
    2) Lack of understanding from teachers and schools.
    3) Disillusioned as to what the future holds – bored to tears!

    And now they complain that people exploit it… what’s the saying,, ‘It’ll come back to haunt you’ – time to wake up! cc: adriangoldberg

  49. ToughLoveforX says:

    @simbeckhampson adriangoldberg I see precisely the same thing.

    It’s worth focusing on the perverse incentives that are created by lots of well intentioned people. Good people can do very stupid things in a climate of moral hazard and and perverse incentives. There is much to learn from the history of the most recent financial crisis.

    The hope is that clarifying the nature of the system with transparency and the ensuing accoutability will have a saluatory effect on both the legacy financial system and the legacy education system that has also outlived it’s usefulness.

  50. @ToughLoveforX adriangoldberg Here here!

  51. @graingered Hi Sean. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I couldn’t agree more with you about the need to focus on the balance of a learning / living ecosystem. As with any ecosystem, if one element dominates and the balance gets unbalanced it has a knock-on effect across the entire system. @jaycross used the term ‘Learnscaping’ and later ‘Workscaping’ to describe the process of planning a system that reflects the key elements required to ensure an environment where learning can grow. You may like to consider Jay’s latest book, available on Lulu, ‘The Working Smarter Fieldbook’ (http://bit.ly/gluBoD). Not only can it be applied to the to workplace, it can also be read in context to education.

    I’ve been humbled and inpsired by the comments on the post here. Tonight I’ll be attending our small community parents’ meeting to discuss issues that relate to our children’s future and I hope that I can convey some of the wonderful tips and suggestions mentioned here.

    @ToughLoveforX mentioned that Sir Ken was in Canada yesterday, could you tell me more about how that was received?

  52. An inspiring conversation with Amit Jain from India who is looking to change Education in his country. He describes the challenges of sharing… over to you Amit…

  53. An inspiring conversation with Amit Jain from India who is looking to change Education in his country. He describes the challenges of sharing… “most importantly regarding Education ..People are aware about the latest tech .. but they donot want to share with anyone …thats very wrong on their part..and thats opposite to my nature…” over to you Amit…

  54. AmitJ says:

    @simbeckhampson thankx Paul ..
    So..I was telling about one of the most important challenges in india ..regarding the Education..on this one..I want to say that I always try to explore some technically sound knowledge to the people .by putting on the site , blogs etc. and I need evryone do the same…so that we could be specialist on something ..something the one wishes to be ..

  55. @AmitJ Thanks for your input and good luck with getting others on board.

  56. JudithCC says:

    I hope your meeting at the school goes well this evening and my apologies for not replying to you before now. My view of what needs to change in the educational system has never altered since I left teaching in 1985. In my teaching career I was extremely fortunate to be a Head of Department in a large and forward-thinking 11-18 comprehensive school in Berkshire, where I experienced at first hand just what could be achieved with an inspired head teacher and a supportive bunch of governors. Youngsters of all ages and abilities were treated with equal respect and their needs as human beings were always at the forefront. I left when the head teacher left as I could see what was likely to happen with his successor at the helm (and, unfortunately, I was not wrong) but as the years went on I realised that I couldn’t go back to teaching because I would never find another school like it, plus in a very short time there was a national curriculum and so many standards and paper work that I could not go along with. You are quite correct though, as no one person can bring about the change required, but people power can and I do sense a growing dissatisfaction with the way things currently are, just as I do with learning generally, particularly in the corporate world.

  57. francisotolo says:

    Is your daughter’s class trying to cover up parts of the curriculum that were skipped? From my experience many parents are very happy with that! They want their children to be caged with academic works. This in turn has adverse effect on the children since they are not well baked. How do we really assess the academic performance of a child? And what does the child’s performance translate to in the society? What’s the purpose of education? – an important question that stakeholders need to answer.
    Here the only parameters for assessing good schools are enough home works to prevent children from playing.
    I like what is happening at #Edukare. #Edukare’s philosophy identified detractors that have actually caused the decay and renders educational system ineffective. #Edukare advocates the wrap-around model of education which gives room to individual circumstances and practically addresses your area of concern.
    When you say “educational change starts locally”, I look at it as “an option” (an alternative means) to assuage an already bad situation. The government is a stakeholder and part of the community so they cannot be excluded from the start.
    The government can’t pay deaf ears to the teachers, the principals, the students, the parents, the community!
    “The ingredients for rebuilding the learning experience for our kids are not in the government’s hands.” On a more thorough look at the quote, I will weigh on the word “ingredients” and in that I will agree, not fully.
    This is because ingredients encompass sustainability, the responsibility to the welfare of teachers as well a check to correct what is and is not, as a result of fatigue and natural slackness. There are individual debates that are not put into action and tested because the government is not involved in the debates.
    Stakeholders (government, teachers, principals, students, parents, community etc) need to know what is happening in the schools and what they are meant for, create the big picture together, help to identify and define trends for schools, to emulate, set precedent and create policies that encourage, influence factual decision making, research and well thought out opinion and puts the system under check. They make sure the system is not obsolete.
    When the government is ignorant of the importance (value) of education, the activities of teachers, parents, school & community falter on the long run – Edureform is only trying to reform those accumulated old mess in the educational system.

  58. @JudithCC Thanks for sharing your story, it was really interesting to hear your journey through a school system that you and the students really enjoyed. I found my self thinking about the school systems in comparison to organisational corporate change – surprised how little difference there is… children may grown up, but they’re still child-like ;)

  59. @jennalanger @jkretch Still no auto-spell check? Any update? Last time I mentioned this, quite quickly it started working again…

  60. @simbeckhampson The fix for spellcheck will go live with our next updates, thanks for the heads up!

  61. JudithCC says:

    @simbeckhampson You know, what I found when I taught was that the youngsters I was involved with behaved in a more adult manner than many teachers I knew. I bet, though, that once they entered the world of work that was soon drummed out of them. Like you, I think there is very little difference between the problems which are besetting education and the world of work.

  62. francisotolo says:

    this might interest you –> “testing” has been elevated to a level where it no longer “competently” performs its intended function http://bit.ly/hqmahn
    How to Measure Educational Success—A Former House Education Leader Speaks Out

  63. ITGeek says:

    Have a look at this set of classes by Harvard’s Michael Sandel: “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” > http://bit.ly/92Mv6x <
    The Socratic method. No brain-washing. Zero tolerance for specious logic and sophistry. Rhetoric as the skillful use of language. Something close to what I’d call discourse. In the end? Unassailable truths get wacked and individuals feel dignified!

  64. @ITGeek Thanks for the comment and link :) Off to explore… I’m a big fan of roger schank , currently reading ‘Coloring ouside the lines’… this quote from his book resonated this evening… “Think of original as a substitute for smart; it’s much more useful for parents to find the area in which their child is original rather than to wait for the schools to determine the area in which they’re smart”

  65. ITGeek says:

    @simbeckhampson @ITGeek roger schank /me greets Roger
    You know, I balked immediately at this. My method (tech_docs geek at work!) is to simplify / reduce, to see where I tripped up or heh where you did. ;-)
    “Original is better than smart” … hmmmm … “Better creative than smart” ….hmmm.

    Now I have 2 things to work on: 1) does “think of” mean “there’s benefit to using this term rather than that one”? If so, I’d explore that. 2) does he mean “deprecate smart and aim for original”? Because I think that’s foundationally flawed. If one doesn’t have the stuff of smart then whatever originality manifests would likely be the stuff of delusion, like fanciful fiction.

    I can’t see how synthesis can take place without the stuff of “smart”. (To me “smart” means not only general knowledge but familiarity with how entities relate.)

    Originality? *blink* There’s something new under the sun? Now /trouble-shooting/, that’s dandy stuff … and then we move on to creation of solutions. <i>Techne</i>, ehh whot?

  66. @ITGeek I just watched this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50L44hEtVos by Alan Kay, it was amazing how this lady, who had never played tennis, described how much easier it was when she did not think, but rather let the whole experience flow. As a tennis player myself, I can affirm this. In the first 15 minutes of a game, when I’m relaxed and not connected to the mind, not thinking, my game is always much better.

  67. ITGeek says:

    @simbeckhampson Seems to me that’s pretty close to describing “peak experience”, where things are heh “just as they are” (a simplistic definition of vipassana).

    Laterally I got into a bit of a quibble match on the subject of “multi-tasking”. I’m on record saying that we can’t, that what we do is “context switch” or “task switch”, not true multi-tasking. But I’m willing to accept that there is, at a level of brain activity, something like sub-conscious continuity. I’ve always thought that if we kind of dumb-down the frontal / editorial function those back-ground functions have more effect. And they’re reptile fast. Ever catch a glas you knocked over before the consciousness really kicked in? Raw hand/eye coordination!

  68. The parents evening update…

    During the first 30 minutes I felt a little out numbered, 11 Mums to 1 Dad! Once we’d discussed the agenda items which consisted of litter collection in the forest, the upcoming Fasching party and the weekly fruit delivery, things got much more informal. I listened carefully and observed the topics being discussed. The conversations were very positive and everyone seemed to be enjoying the evening.

    The teacher present described a funny story of a pupil who was purely motivated by food, which was understandable, him being the butchers son. He’d actually been put back a class as he had not made the mark a few years earlier. His mum was present and listened proudly. The story was regarding a maths test that the children had recently taken. The boy was told that he had to finish the maths test before he could eat his sandwich, much to his annoyance.

    The test began and within 3 minutes the boy put down his pencil and began eating his sandwich. The teacher looked at him and said, “erm, I just said that…” before she could finish the boy replied “I’ve already finished!.” The teacher looked at him with one of those teacher looks, but he seemed indifferent and continued to tuck into the sandwich. The teacher walked over to his table and took the maths test. She was more than surpised to see that all 25 questons had been completed , it was for the most part a multi-choice test.

    She scanned the document with amazement. Correct, correct, correct and so on until she reached the last question which was also correct! The young boy was not a maths genius (as far as I know), but had instantly recognised the same paper that had been given to him a year before. He had memorised the answers and was simply regurgitating it all over again. She smiled at him, and he lent back on his seat and polished off the sandwich.

    We all laughed, as did his rather proud mum. I commented that it was amazing how he had stored this information and that when it was important, ie. to eat the sandwich when he wanted, his memory sprang into action to complete the task in extra quick time. This broke the ice and I suggested to the other parents the importance of finding the motivations and talents of all children and not only trying to funnel them through the same system. The mum giggled and added, perhaps her son should always have sandwiches available, again we laughed.

    This story led into a deeper consideration of children’s talents. It was clear that the Mums we’re concerned that the system did not wholly take into account what children were actually good at, but more was the focus on what was required of them to pass the tests. Having finished my strongish Bavarian beer, and with a renewed sense of dutch courage, I found myself asking if I may recite a short story of a young girl who was taken to the doctors, believed to suffering from a form of ADHD. It’s not my story, but one that sir ken robinson uses in many of his talks. Of course I did not deliver it as he did and translating into the local dialect was quite challenging, but each of them was very attentive. I’ve clipped the video at the start of the story…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY&feature=player_detailpage#t=910s

    At the end of the evening a number of parents thanked me for coming along and made it clear that they would enjoy seeing me at the next parents evening. Although I was not able to convey much more on that evening, I feel as though I planted a little seed and made a new connection with many of the parents. My next mission is to speak with the Principal, hopefully next week, to informally discuss education in general and the new computer room – I’d like to support the school by offering strategic advice on how IT can be used as an enabler, both for teachers and pupils alike.

    Well, that’s all for now. Have a nice weekend, and HUGE thanks for all the comments, tips and links you’ve added, both here and on Twitter.

  69. ToughLoveforX says:

    @ITGeek just want to thank you for link. And most especially for “Unassailable truths get wacked and individuals feel dignified!”

  70. @francisotolo Thanks for the great link! I especially liked this quote… “This one-size-fits-all approach to college and career readiness does not fit the varied needs or interests of many of our students, he maintained, and forcing all students into this mold is “devastating and destructive.” Success in life beyond school should be the ultimate measure of our students’ success, he said, and it’s wrong to think that there’s only one pathway to success, hinging on higher-level math skills.” ~ Paul Sadler

  71. ToughLoveforX says:

    @simbeckhampson Just want to get on folks radar that @francisotolo is a tweep pal of mine. Doing some really interesting thinking in Lagos Nigeria. Thank you Francis for taking the time to weigh in.

    From what I think I’m seeing the “edukare” framework seems to resonate in many contexts. Starting in Alberta, evidently with Francis in Lagos. Also with @be_pure in urban St Louis. I’ve also gotten an @ from @teachersabrina a working professional in Denver schools. If one ads that to the reaction at #ecosys, I think it’s fair to say it might be onto something as a way to communicate the insights that have been moving below the radar for many years now.

  72. ITGeek says:

    @ToughLoveforX That’s a re-jig of some of my boilerplate. “Discourse-based decision support”; “speaking deeply about simple things” … my thinking is that even when the factual basis for a given issue is relatively clear, what folk care about and just how is deeply complex and subtle. So “promote the subjective narrative”.

  73. Great post and interesting topics. Rather difficult to give a comprehensive reply. From my experience some issues: 1) for a complex and fast changing world, knowledge is not enough, more important is to learn to read a complex world to change it; 2) learning and experiencing to develop social and environmental responsibility; 3) an education preparing the young to understand and work in complex and changing environments, practising CREATIVITY, inquiry and knowledge searching, develop skills as researcher and project leader, to become a Change Agent; 4) develop collaboration and cooperation skills, including use of new media tools; 5) ENJOY learning to develop IMAGINATION and discovery desire, remember Vygotsky – that there is not imagination before play; 6) let the youth to organize their own time, learning spaces and rhizomatics flows; 7) for a fully cultural and emotional development, education is not a school affair, it is a parents, community, friends and teachers, parents learning about learning is basic. In this context, homework just for some new knowledge, does not serve much purpose, it’s just kill imagination and creativity, the basic stones of children growth for a new world.

  74. @GiorgioBertini Thank you so much for the excellent comment. Since meeting you via amplifytheweb I’ve come to hold your opinions in very high regard. The words you highlight, Creativity, Enjoy and Imagination are so important. If those issues are not at the top of the education agenda then something is very wrong. You may be interested to follow the hashtag #EduKare on Twitter.. also follow graingered michael josefowicz and daniel durrant – best wishes, Paul.

  75. Pingback: When Knowledge Retires | Simbeck-Hampson Consultancy

  76. Pingback: The Purpose of Education | Simbeck-Hampson Consultancy

  77. @GiorgioBertini Would be interested to hear your thoughts on “The Purpose of Education” – http://goo.gl/Qx7J2

  78. @ITGeek Would be interested to hear your thoughts on “The Purpose of Education” – http://goo.gl/Qx7J2

  79. jleffron says:

    @TomHampson This comment has stayed in my mind over the past few months; the concept of formation is really quite important in learning (or change of any sort) and is often neglected or glossed-over.

    This hit me front and center last week as I was finishing up some work tied to a project (which was framed around some principles about how to best support real learning). Now, I had the education and the information to do this work well, but as I was proceeding I was finding it difficult to do the job differently to how it is usually done; my actions were not as good as my principles. It was, in a time crunch, easy to fall back on less effective approaches, simply because they were so familiar that it was easy to instinctively use that framework. I was not lacking in education, nor commitment; I was was lacking formation. Knowing that gives something to move forward with.

  80. @jleffron @TomHampson I like the insight you stumbled across, Janet. It ties is in with my research on cognitive formation. Re-wiring the brain is the game here – how we go about it is dependent on a number of factors, but in all cases requires a disciplined repetitive, motivated approach. The brain has to understand that new actions make far more sense than the old way, until the new re-wiring becomes the standard default.

    Tom, would you add anything?

  81. Pingback: The Purpose of Community | Simbeck Hampson

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