Sunday, 29 January 2017

Explore deeper the values of Modern Pedagogy

Much research around the terms 'modern' or '21st century' or 'future focused' learning have placed several values at it's centre. Learners having a choice in what they do, and teachers creating activities that are authentic to their students are two of these such values that we hear discussed in the education sector.

I believe that educators need to explore deeper than these values.

Giving students choice about which activities they complete is no longer enough. To ask them to complete a list of "must do's and can do's" or choose from a "learning menu" is not going to prepare learners for their future well enough for them to thrive in a technology-driven world.

We need to grow their thinking by scaffolding them to actually own and drive their own learning, which means students need to be in control of their learning from the beginning of the planning process, to the outcome of the learning. As long as adults are planning learning for students instead of planning with students, teachers cannot say they have relinquished control.

For students to explore learning that is deemed authentic by adults needs to be challenged. Authenticity is too broad a term, and can be interpreted in too many ways across the education community. Teachers need to explore how they can support students to have a positive affect on, and make change within their world. Opening learners' minds to the possibilities, problems, excitements and challenges that the world poses for them.

Upon hearing this, parents and teachers lament. What is the teachers' role if students are designing their own learning in order to change the world?

To broaden. Learners are not adults. They "do not know what they do not know." A teachers' job is to expand students' interests and expose them to new passions and ideals. To open their minds up to the possibilities in the world when institutionalised borders are removed.

To challenge. To make students comfortable with being challenged, to explore ways students can deal with challenge. To help students refine and develop their ideas in ways that are meaningful and helpful to the world.

To deepen. To use the flexibility of the New Zealand Curriculum to explore how students can take their learning deeper, and make it more sophisticated. How they can explore multiple subjects through their learning concepts and grasp the idea that Mathematics, Science, English, and Art don't stand alone, but rely on each other to function together.

To connect. To use experts in our communities who can share their knowledge with learners. To connect students with agencies and community groups who can help them make their ideas and dreams a reality. Teachers do not need to be the experts, indeed cannot be experts in everything, but they need to know how to facilitate connections with outside experts.

What is required of the modern teacher is not to be an expert in a subject, but to be an expert in learning and in learners. 

Monday, 21 November 2016


Knowledge. What is it?

The oxford dictionary states it as "The sum of what is known."

School's job historically has been to impart knowledge to it's students. To continue to build on humanities' knowledge by understanding what has gone on before.

  • Until around the 1900's, the sum of human knowledge was doubling every century. 
  • After the first world war, knowledge was doubling every 25 years. 
  • Now knowledge doubles every 18 months, and IBM predicts in the future to double every 12 hours.


The curve is exponential, and shows no sign of slowing down.

So now education stands at crisis point. 

We have two options going forward. Either
1. We keep teaching the small portion of knowledge that we can in the 13 years we have students for, whilst letting them miss out on the huge array of knowledge that presides before them,
2. We offer students the skills and resources to (guided by teachers) seek knowledge out for themselves, with the aim to make them life long knowledge seekers, so that they can continue to explore the exponential amount of knowledge out there after they leave school.

The options seem pretty clear.

It's time that we as a nation come to understand this. School needs to change what it looks like, and what it's priorities are if we are to keep up with the rate of innovation, and the rate of change in knowledge in the world.

Monday, 31 October 2016

The Learning Trap

Learning. Many educators see it as something we need to stuff into learners. As some information that the learner is a vessel to be filled with. Many look at teachers as the shovers of stuff into the vessel, or the crafters of learning to hit the most targets at once. 
I don't. 

I look at learning as something that students need to love. That students will love if just the right combination of environmental elements are met. 

If the environmental elements are just right for learning to occur, then it will happen in a much more meaningful and fun way than if it is poured into someone. 

Teachers are the creators of the environment. Their purpose in school is to create the traps of learning that students will fall into. Take an example we discussed today as a group. A toy baby is left lying around almost haphazardly in a junior classroom with a towel, and a bowl of water. Play will inevitably lead students towards a discussion of bathing a baby. This is the environmental circumstances that have led to the child falling into the teachers trap of where they wanted the learning to go. Set the trap, bait the trap, and watch authentic, exciting, engaging learning take place. 

The real question, and the real dialogue that teachers should be having as we move into the future is what does this approach look like when the child is 5? What about 10? 13? 17? What are some of the challenges and restrictions that hold us back and how can we get around these?