Friday, November 30, 2012

Educational Readings: Yong Zhao,Alfie Kohn, Ricardo Semler

By Allan Alach

Another mixture of items this week - the usual anti-GERM articles, as well as other articles focussing on a more positive approach to quality, child centred education.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This week’s homework!

What If Schools Created a Culture of "Do" INSTEAD of a Culture of "Know?"

Bill Ferriter is another US blogger who is well worth following. The title speaks for itself.

Britain’s bizarre plan to take schooling back to the stone age

Madness is contagious.

Yong Zhao: Redefining Excellence

This 20 minute video is well worth watching.

Homework: An Unnecessary Evil?

Articles by Alfie Kohn are always worth reading.

‘A brand-new study on the academic effects of homework offers not only some intriguing results but also a lesson on how to read a study -- and a reminder of the importance of doing just that:  reading studies (carefully) rather than relying on summaries by journalists or even by the researchers themselves.’

Students at Cooperative Schools Are More Engaged

More research to be ignored by the school ‘deform’ movement.

30 Things You Can Do To Promote Creativity in Your Classroom

Thanks to Australian reader Tess Pajaron, from Open Colleges, for this link.

Future of Handwriting and Its Effect on Learning

I’ve wrestled with this over the years- what role does handwriting play in an increasingly technological world? This article makes the case for teaching of handwriting.

TEDxTeen - Jacob Barnett: Forget What You Know

Watch this!!!!

Jacob Barnett is an American mathematician and child prodigy. At 8 years old, Jacob began sneaking into the back of college lectures at IUPUI. After being diagnosed with autism since the age of two and placed in his school's special ed. program, Jacob's teachers and doctors were astonished to learn he was able to teach calculus to college students.

Learning a Living: The Lumiar schools, Sao Paolo, Brazil

Here’s an antidote to the Bill Gates’ model - Brazilian business entrepreneur Ricardo Semler has developed this schooling model.

Ricardo Semler:Check out his book 'Maverick'

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Re-imaging education; lessons from Galileo and Brazil.

Education stands at a crossroad caught in the lights of market forces ideology which blinds all but a few to beginnings of a new era some call the Second Renaissance – a new creative era.
The freedom to learn.
In his 1980 essay ’The World of Tomorrow and the Person of Tomorrow’ psychologist Carl Rogers contemplated the kind of people that would usher in the new era as people with the capacity to understand , bring about and take part in a paradigm shift.
It surely is over to educationalists to take a positive part in fleshing out Rogers' vision? The problem is that schools are constrained by reactionary compliance requirements that emphasize an emphasis on literacy and numeracy that are being reinforced by arbitrary National Standards and comparative ‘league tables’. Unfortunately this emphasis has side-lined the positive future emphasis of the 2007 New Zealand National Curriculum which focussed on the bigger picture of developing the competencies in all students of being lifelong learners – learners able to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’.
The current government is undervaluing such competencies and this must change. It will be over to ‘persons of tomorrow’ to take the lead. It will not be easy but the current all-powerful corporate competitive market forces model will not solve problems beyond their comprehension.
There is no shortage of thinkers to show the way although those who become involved will have to ‘make their own paths’. Contrary to Mark Twain’s advice that ‘you can’t play an uncertain trumpet’ future thinkers will have to learn to play an uncertain trumpet.
Galileo is forced to recant.
There is a parallel to the beginnings of the first renaissance. At this time the Catholic Church defined the beliefs that were to be seen as the unquestioned truth.  The first to question the church faced the inquisition, were tortured and then burnt alive at the stake. This torture was seen not as punishment but as a means to bring the truth to the surface.
They may have painful beginnings but paradigm shifts have a life of their own.  Galileo, working in the liberal court of the powerful Medici family in Florence, challenged the views of the church by writing his dialogues about the observations that the earth went around the sun and not vice versa. He also paid the price and after torture recanted – the church even refused him a proper funeral.
What we need now is to value positive deviants to confront the narrow measurement 'truth' as defined by the current government through their agencies – the Ministry, The Education Review Office and contracted officials. Literacy and numeracy do not lie at the centre of a student’s education what is required is to create theconditions to develop the gifts and talents of all students, to develop thecompetencies to become positive future learners – competencies that naturally encompass literacy and numeracy.
Even Michael Fullan, long an ally of top down literacy numeracy reform, seems to have seen the light and recanted now believing that innovative educational progress depends on identifying and sharing the work of ‘deviant teachers’. To value the input of creative teachers and share their ideas do this requires the establishment of a new educational environment.
It is not easy to go against a system that was designed for past industrial age conditions that required mass education focusing on the ‘three Rs’; a system that used standardised approaches, based on measurement to sort out students for their predetermined place in life.
Standardised learning making a comeback!!
A visit to any school, except for early education centres, will show how old thinking permeates how the school is run and structured. In most schools, as one commentator has said, ‘it is as if literacy and numeracy have gobbled up the whole curriculum’.  Increasingly what is to be tested will become the default curriculum and diversity and creativity is all but being crushed. Standardisation of teaching sorting students by ability is, unintentionally or otherwise, devaluing the very competencies and the individual creativity the future requires.
Standardisation, conforming to imposed beliefs, and teaching to the tests leads us back to the past. The future is about valuing creativity, diversity and requires personalising learning.

Personalising learning - talent development.
David Hargreaves and several others have pointed out that institutional change comes in two forms .The first is change that does not depart far from existing practices. This gradual change he calls reformation . This is where schools are placed today.

The second form of change is more a paradigm shift and departs considerably from existing practices can be called ‘transformational’.

While our Ministry, following direction from the government, is pushing schools into the test oriented environment of the UK, the US and Australia there are those who warn that such a narrow curriculum will destroy the possiblity of a creative economy.

Yong Zhao, a respected American educationalist, has research to show while American students might not score highly in International ‘league tables’ they score the highest in confidence, creativity and innovation. Yong points out that Americans still develop the most patents, the most Nobel Prizes and that the Chinese education system will never produce a Lady Gaga or a Steve Jobs!
 Lady Gaga:Not possible in a standardised system
All about democracy and trust.
A recent Guardian article features the development of Lumiar Schools in Brazil, founded in 2003 by Ricardo Semler a radical businessman who had previously turned his huge family firm over to its workers. Semler believes that students learn best when they have a say in what they are learning. Students choose to involve themselves in project based learning through which students pick up life skills by osmosis. Semler was encouraged by University of Chicago statistics that showed that 94% of what is learnt at school is never used in later life. ‘We are trying to prove that by giving kids freedom,’ says Semler, ‘ they will end up better educated…that they can have a much better existence and be more prepared for life if we don’t teach them the stupid things that traditional schools do’. Having satisfied himself that his adult workers thrive on responsibility he set out to show children would react the same way. Semler,  a Harvard graduate, says that for children ‘learning is what they do best. We kill it for them…everything we do is a learning experience. Our assumptions about human beings –  is that they are basically honest and interested and ready for gratifying work –were not wrong…we have the same assumptions about schools and what we’ve seen so far corroborates what we thought’.
Many early education centres make use of the similar ideas of the Italian Emilio Reggio approach and the American ‘Big Picture Company’ extends a similar philosophy for secondary students.
Such developments are the work of creative deviants and are spread by the strength of their ideas. We need to return to an environment that trusts teachers and allows for ‘deviant teachers’ to ‘emerge’. New Zealand has always had such creative individuals, Elwyn Richardson the most notable, but in recent times teachers have been captured by approved ideas spread by contractual advisers. The Ministry and the Education Review Office (and sadly some school principals) have much in common with the Catholic Church and the Inquisition of Galileo’s time!
An ERO team!
Jay Allard, one of Microsoft’s vice – presidents, was right on the mark when he said in Business Week (Dec 2006) ‘the only way to change the world is to imagine it different than the way it is today. Apply too much wisdom and knowledge that got us here, and you end up where you started. Take a fresh look from a new perspective and get a new result.’
Galileo knew this!
Human beings, Lumiar thinkers believe, are capable of defining their own life project. Ones life’s project specifies what one wants to do with one’s life. Babies are born with an incredible capacity to learn. That is what makes education possible but schools have to be transformed in line with this principle.
Learning is not something given to students through predetermined teaching - it is being able to do something you couldn’t do before. It is an active doing approach – something achieved by individuals making feely a conscious decisions to accomplish something, not by themselves but by interacting and collaborating with their teachers and other students.
On one hand there is depth of content understanding to gain and at the same time the schools needs to ensure all students develop the competencies to learn. Students will leave with their unique content learning but all need to be equipped with competencies to learn. This is the essence of personalised learning.
Students learn while doing things – they involve themselves in projects in which they see as important. Educationalist Jerome Bruner has written the ‘teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation’. Students learn, as do scientists and artists, by enlightened trial and error – helped sensitively by adults.
It is important to appreciate that not all learning is fun. What it does mean is that, as Guy Claxton has written, children need to see the point of learning, that it is something they want to achieve, reach for or do. With this in mind students will involve themselves in difficult, even painful, learning tasks. Anyone who has seen a student learning to ride a bike, swim, or skateboard, or play a musical instrument cannot but conclude that children are capable of incredible learning feats that are difficult and hard.
Contrary to the current focus on intentional teaching project based learning can lead individual students to explore unplanned content to their advantage. In this respect students are learning like artists – new ideas unfolding as opportunities arise. Every study undertaken provides opportunities for students to follow up their areas of interest – to personalize their learning while at the same time working with others as required.
Current assessment is constrained by learning objectives and criteria and increasingly by an emphasis on summative National Standards in literacy and numeracy. With personalised learning, or project based learning, assessment is seen by the depth of understanding and creativity of the students, by what they can do, demonstrate, exhibit or store in their portfolios.  Constant feedback and assessment is part of the teacher’s role.
Like Galileo we need to imagine new ways to interpret the world and break free of politically imposed dictates.
Schools need to re-imagine to respect the freedom to learn that is innate in all students, to value and build on their own set of interests and passions and to expose them to experiences that will challenge their imaginations.
It is time for ‘deviant teachers’ to stand up for their beliefs, better still whole schools and best of all networks of schools.
At least it is no longer the practice to burn people at the stake for challenging outdated authorities – at any level of the system.

The future depends on such people. Roger's 'tomorrow people'

Friday, November 23, 2012

Educational Readings:Roger Schank, Jo Bower

By Allan Alach


Another pattern in the GERM movement, across the world, is the hypocrisy of the authorities over the use of ‘achievement data’. While schools are expected to ‘play the game’ and follow the requirements to the letter, the authorities play by different rules. I’ve read many overseas articles on this topic, and now evidence is starting to appear in New Zealand that indicates a similar process is happening here. We’re not yet quite sure what the intent of this fudging of information is, and investigations are continuing. In the meantime Kelvin Smythe has covered this in a number of articles.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This week’s homework!

Roger Schank: Only two things wrong with education: 1) What we teach; 2) How we teach

I’d add politicians, economists and corporates to the list..

Ruth Sutton on Rethinking Accountability

Via Canadian blogger Joe Bower.

‘This study of the links between assessment, learning and achievement revealed for the first time what many people interested in this field – myself included – had always suspected. To use an agricultural analogy, ‘Weighing the pig doesn’t make it grow.’

Instructional Leadership

Les Treichel, Retired Queensland Regional Director of Education, has sent me this document that he prepared a couple of years back. This is well worth reading, by principals and others in leadership roles, and also by all who are interested in real education as opposed to GERM infected education.

The challenge of creativity in a compliance environment

This blog by Bruce Hammonds should be read and reread and reread….

“Payment-by-Results” in 1862!

History repeats, it seems, and still doesn’t work.

Using Just 10% of Your Brain? Think Again

Popular 'neuromyths' about how we learn are creating confusion in the classroom

Goes with all the other learning myths, like national standards, raising achievement, national testing, performance pay, charter schools, and so on….. My personal favourite myth is ‘brain based learning.  Thanks to Michael Fawcett @teachernz for this link.

Finland's Secret Sauce: Its Teachers

"Anyone Can Be A Teacher:" A Salute to American Education Week

A good response to this oft heard statement of ignorance:

Education is a Process of Living and Not a Preparation for Future Living

Written for the USA; however this is very transferable to education in all GERM infected countries. It’s a longish article but well worth reading in its entirety. Will provide great ammunition to support you in debates with deformers and to inform parents etc.

Michael Gove's national curriculum reforms: where's the creativity?

“We could look to the unconventional Lumiar schools in Brazil, which believe that children learn best when they have a say in what they're learning.’

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The challenge of creativity in a compliance environment

Difficult environment for creativity
I was recently asked how would I run a classroom if I was still a teacher!

 To be honest the majority of my blogs make my ideas pretty clear but I have to admit that I very rarely observe such ideas in practice - one of the reasons I have given up visiting classrooms.

Teachers are naturally conservative and the pressure to comply to school  and Ministry requirements make creativity difficult. School principals are even more conservative and most seem to simply go along to get along. As a result politicians have had no trouble pushing their ideological ideas on schools - the standards agenda a good example. To make things even more difficult most schools,  by opposing compliance requirements, simply end up defending the status quo.

As a result of such internal and external pressures  creative thinking is missing in most primary classrooms.

The conformity of Nat Standards

I guess education has always been conservative - the only real innovation comes from the few creative teachers prepared to stick their necks out. The ideas of Elwyn Richardson come to mind.

All school should have this book!

Creative classrooms ought to be seen as communities of inquiry where students act as scientists and artists ( and historians, poets mathematicians etc) inquiring into whatever has attracted their attention. This sense of community underpinned Elwyn Richardson's classroom.

In creative classrooms students and teachers are  continually assessing their progress and  making new choices on the basis their reflections. Attitudes , or 'feeling for' the various learning areas, would be in the forefront of teachers minds not just recording sterile achievement. Assessment would largely be seen in the work of the students compared to their previous accomplishments. Creative teachers can show evidence for improvement.
Creative teachers could take to heart the phrase from the New Zealand Curriculum that their students need to be able to, 'seek, use, and create their own knowledge'  and as a result, do their best to focus on developing the talents and gifts of all their students along with ensuring that all students retain the innate learning attributes they were born with. Creative teachers understand the importance of relationships and work alongside their students to help them value their lives, thoughts, and views through language and the arts. The work on display celebrates the diversity and 'voice' of all students and the quality of their thoughts. Room environments  continually change as students complete a range of inquiries.

Creative classrooms are true personalised learning environments  while traditional classrooms are still stuck in the standardised  ethos relying on harmful ability grouping to instruct their teaching.

A personalised classroom is one where helping students develop their own ideas is more important than achieving what a teacher , or outside agency,has determined they should know.

In such  schools is leaders need to create the conditions for both teachers and students to be creative learners - within agreed teaching beliefs that they have come to believe in.

Creative classrooms, let alone schools, are far and few between but they hold the genesis for a creative future; creative teachers are rare and endangered.

My own agenda is clear

To place in depth student inquiry studies central to all learning and for such inquiries not only to focus on the inquiry process but also to develop in-depth understandings.

First hand inquiry learning

To place inquiry central there is a need to 'reframe ' literacy and to a lesser degree numeracy so as to ensure all the skills  necessary for students to undertake in-depth inquiry are in place.

To develop an inquiry based classroom students need all the relevant skills in place to 'seek and use' information. As for mathematics it needs, as much as is possible to be based on real life or interesting inquiries to develop real 'feel' for mathematics. The key to maths is to do less maths and what is done to be done in depth.

Conventional teaching places literacy and numeracy as the most important areas of learning and this will be further reinforced by National Standards.

It is important for literacy and numeracy  to be seen as 'foundation skills' that are vitally important to allow students to complete their inquiry studies. I am strongly  opposed to ability grouping and 'streaming' of such learning areas. I cannot see the latter suggestions being taken up by teachers- quite the opposite schools are reverting to such unethical

In a creative classroom the 'voice' and imagination of all students needs to be valued as this is important means to identify and extend every student's unique gifts and talents ; every student's needs their own Individual Learning Programme.( personalised learning).

Schools need to tap into a wide range of intelligences

It would be interesting for teachers to contrast such ideas with their current practice and to consider what ideas  conflicted with their current ideas in their own schools?

For teachers who believe in inquiry based classrooms , classrooms that value in depth understandings and student creativity, is to begin with 'the end in mind'. This can be achieved  by considering  the outcomes, classroom displays, students' book work, and students' competencies required, and then to plan for all the various skills  to be in place for students to develop and take responsibility for their own quality work - both process and content.

Completed  and ongoing inquiry studies need have key questions , processes, and quality examples of finished work including research , language and art - both descriptive, or observational, and associated creative work.

Inquiry based teachers do their best to base  studies on students' questions and concern and to negotiate with their students inquiry and learning tasks and also the criteria for evaluating their achievements.

With observational and descriptive writing skills in place, in particular how to write 'research writing', students can complete quality results.  With skills in place such as the  writing up of experiments or activities including   how to acknowledge sources of their information students can work independently. Such skill teaching ought to be the focus of the  'reframed' literacy and numeracy programmes.

Students need to be taught design /presentation skills so as to present their work in pleasing ways. If such 'scaffolds' , 'wizards' , or guides are developed students need to be encouraged to make use of their own creativity. Many students have never been taught how to layout their work. Best models are exhibits for Science or Maths fairs. Visual language skills need to be included in literacy programmes.

Creativity lies  between order and chaos

If students are to achieve quality in depth work students need to work in safe secure organisational patterns. Such  group working patterns are best seen in the literacy and numeracy blocks but the group task idea needs to be extended to the afternoon inquiry studies. Few school do this. Ability grouping has no place in inquiry based classrooms - students need to be helped at point of need.

Information technology ( ICT) is best integrated as a natural part of inquiry studies. New technology skills could be introduced as a part of the literacy programme.

 Another important aspects of a creative  classroom is ppersonalised writing about students' own lives. Student's need to be encouraged to focus on  small events in their lives and to write thoughtfully about them. Personal writing is the best way to ensure each child's voice is acknowledged. Such writing could also be part of the literacy programme - with one piece completed , with an equally focused illustration, each week. Such writing could be an important part of any early reading programme.

Last thoughts:

Do fewer things well.

Slow the pace of students work.

Ensure students have skills and time to complete work

Value student's perseverance, effort or 'grit'.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Educational Readings: Eleanor Roosevelt, Marion Brady, Will Richardson

By Allan Alach
If you only read one article from this list, make sure it is ‘The Parenting Trap.  However that doesn’t cancel out the other articles in this list. Skim reading is a very useful skill and I confess that most of my reading consists of skimming through articles to extract the information that is useful for me. Mind you, there are some authors that are always worth reading carefully, such as the article by Marion Brady.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This week’s homework!

What if testing is STOPPING our kids from learning?

No evidence' that teacher performance pay works

The Parenting Trap

Thanks to Ken Woolford, Queensland, for this article. It is indeed a gem!

“Forget all the advice. Forget the special tutors, camps, coaches, and therapists. A father of four argues that the biggest problem kids face is the byzantine education-industrial complex known as school, which ruins the most carefree and memorable years of their lives.”

Teaching as a Team Sport

What, no performance pay?

Good Citizenship: The Purpose of Education

Eleanor Roosevelt, writing in 1930. How times have changed, and not for the better.

Worst primaries to be turned into academies

‘Four hundred primary schools in England deemed to be the weakest are to be turned into academies in a bid to drive up standards, the prime minister has announced.’

The ultimate education reform

Veteran educator Marion Brady has a very different take on reform than the so-called education reformers that dominate the schools debate today.  He has a big idea, which he outlines here.’

Rethinking Assessment

US educator Will Richardson has some useful observations here. Time for everyone to rethink their assessment practices (separate from mandated assessments). How much time do kids waste on meaningless assessments?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Educational Readings: Susan Ohanian, Diane Ravitch,

Educational Readings

 By Allan Alach

As covered in an article below, the re-election of President Obama doesn’t sterilise the GERMS from the US education scene. The “Race to the Top” programme is still alive and well, and so the battle continues. This has obvious implications for the anti-GERM battles in Australia and New Zealand.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This week’s homework!

Ohanian: Putting a test on computer doesn’t make it up-to-date

Susan Ohanian is another very active anti-GERM campaigner in the USA. Another expert for the power brokers to ignore…  This article is timely, given the corporate funded drive towards online education. New Zealand readers may like to consider e-asTTle  in this light. Note that this is another bequest to NZ education from John Hattie.

The Future of Teaching?

Diane Ravitch commenting on the projected future of teaching in US if present trends continue. Another chance to play ‘spot the similarities’ with other countries.

Why is PISA getting such a bad rap lately?

PISA should be ignored, for many reasons. Amongst these is the fact that countries are rated on the basis of results in one test per subject - sounds familiar?


“Could it be that Standardization is another vehicle for segregation, gender bias, socio-economic division, height, weight, physical ability, special needs. . . Wait!  That's getting scarily like the eugenics of days past. “

Where Are The Poets and Where is Einstein?

Examining the trend to drop the non- tested subjects such as the arts and science and music and so on.

A call for President Obama to change course on education

We must not lose sight of the GERM focus in the White House.

Psst: Heard the one about the National Pupil Database? Thought not

A concerning story from England, matching similar stories from USA. Something to look forward to arriving down under?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Sir Ken Robinson (and Abraham Lincoln) on the need to transform our outdated education system – to  ‘tread softly on children’s dreams’.
Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Ken Robinson is well known to most teachers but for all the admiration few schools have put his ideas into action.
The trouble is although there have always been a small group of creative teachers whose teaching is aligned to SirKen’s views their ideas have been side-lined by the standardized approaches being foisted on schools by the current government; an approach that favours narrow achievement above love of learning.
Sir Ken’s follow up TED talk (which is still the most viewed TED video of all time) provides educators and opposition politicians with a real alternative but only if admirers have the necessary courage to translate words into action.
Unfortunately far too many schools have been pressurized into complying with  implementing a narrow educational approach  based on assessing students on literacy and numeracy achievement. Literacy and numeracy have, in effect, become the default curriculum. Arbitrary national standards and league tables have reinforced the natural conservative ethos of schools.
Sir Ken’s videos (s) provide inspiration for a real change. And he is not alone.
Sir Ken believes that not only do we have to face up to a climate crisis but that there is also a ‘crisis of human resources and that we need to deal with the  crisis  with the same urgency as we make such poor use of our talents’. ‘Many people’, says Sir Ken,’ go through their  lives not knowing what their talents are…many people don’t think they are good at anything…many people simply do not enjoy what they do…they get no great pleasure…they endure it’. In contrast some people ‘love what they do…it is who they are…it is their authentic self’. Such people however, says Sir Ken, are a minority.
An explanation for this sad siyuation is education. ‘Education' , he says, ‘dislocates many people from their natural talents'.
An education that taps into student’s talents is not easy according to Sir Ken, ‘(talents) are buried deep…we have to looking for them…you have to create the circumstances for them to be realised.’
‘Every system around the world is being reformed but reform is not enough….we do not need evolution but revolution… education has to be transformed into something else.’
To make his point Sir Ken quotes a speech made by Abraham Lincoln during the civil war in the 1860s.
 Lincoln said, ‘The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the striving present, the occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new so we need to think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we can save our country.’
Building on Lincoln’s speech and relating it to the crisis in education Sir Ken said there are ideas about schooling we take for granted.
 Such ideas were suited to a previous century but our minds are still captured by them. We need to ‘disenthrall ourselves of them.  This, he said, is easier said than done because ‘it is very difficult to know what you take for granted the reason being we take them for granted’.
Until we challenge currentassumptions and way we do things currently we cannot move into the future- all we are currently doing is tinkering with a failing system. Worse still the current standardisation government’s’ agenda is reactionary at best; an agenda that is creating a system unsuitable for far too many students.
Two things, in particular, are limiting education according to Sir Ken.
The first thing we need to ‘disenthrall ourselves of is the idea of linearity…the ideas that students need to follow a specific track….Life is not linear, it is organic. We create our lives as we explore our talents. We have become obsessed with this linear narrative’.

 Because of this linearity teachers all too often do not take their student’s interests seriously. Students are pushed into ability groups and courses that do not suit them – all too often more the convenience of teachers and their intentions. ‘Schools’, believes Sir Ken, ‘need to focus on the innate gifts of the students.’ ‘Human communities depend on a diversity of talents’ The challenge for teachers is to ‘reconstitute our conception of ability’. Our ability grouping is subverting students –‘ignoring their gifts and talents’.
The second big issue is conformity. We have designed our education on the model of fast food. Everything is standardised rather than customised’. Our current education is ‘impoverishing our spirit and energy as much as fast food is depleting our bodies.’
No wonder students become disengaged or leave alienated from their own learning. Many can no longer see the point of it all.
(The two taken for granted assumptions that come to my mind is the current over emphasis on literacy and numeracy and, associated with this, the harmful effect of demeaning ability grouping. By the use of such approaches and associated obsessive assessment schools have already all but moved back into 3rs Victorian education.  )
According to Sir Ken ‘we need to recognise that human talent extremely diversified…we all have unique aptitudes….we need to recognise the power of passion…what excites our spirit and energy…the things we love and want to get good at.’
Imagine schools based on developing this love of learning – the need to tap into and amplify every student’s talents.
‘We need to change our metaphors. We need to go from an industrial model which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people and move to a model that is based on the spirit of agriculture’.
The model for education!
We have to recognise that human talent is not a mechanical process – it is an organic process and you cannot predict the outcome of human development, all we can do is to create the conditions under which they will flourish.’
‘We are not into cloning education’ ( standardising it as is the current agenda)’ it is about customising to your circumstances and personalising teaching to the students you are actually teaching.
Personalising education to develop the talents and gifts of all students is the ‘answer to the future – it is about creating a movement in education with external support based on a personalised curriculum.
Sir Ken concluded his presentation with a quote from W B Yeats,
 I have only my dreams to offer,
 tread softly on my dreams’.
W B Yeats
‘We should tread softly on our children’s dreams’.
So far we crushed more dreams than realised them. No wonder so many students leave our current school system seeing themselves as failures.
Imagine a country with an educationsystem dedicated to realising the gifts and talents of all students. How would a school look dedicated to developing the talents of all students? Could schools be developed to ensure all students to leave with their innate desire to learn and explore alive and well?
Sir Ken believes that the combination of new technologies and creative teachers could form the basis of transformed system but only if we ‘change from an industrial model to an agricultural one.’
Teachers would have to change their own minds first

More Sir Ken

And lots more on Google