No two ways about it. It was a massive week at ICOT2013, not just because I was helping the CORE Education events team roll out this huge event. I was on the media team, and had the privilege of interviewing some of the invited presenters, included Dr. Sharon Friesen, Ewan McIntosh and …(drumroll)… Dr Edward de Bono. I also presented the first tentative soundings from my Masters research into social networking online as part of teachers’ professional learning – and am grateful to those who attended and helped me kick the tyres on it:-)
I tried to keep track of the ‘big ideas’ emerging through the week. I couldn’t attend many breakouts but I made it to most keynotes – and if I had to produce a piece of ‘thinking knitting’ that reflected what kinds of thinking approaches would best prepare young people for a complex future, these would be the three main strands in the weft and warp:
- Thinking processes and heuristics, in 2013, are firmly focused on helping participants make lateral, creative leaps, based on rich questions to which there is no easy answer. I’m thinking of….
- De Bono’s exploration of provocative, “interesting” solutions and avoidance of the either/or dichotomy
- Tap into those avenues that have real meaning and purpose for students. Help them pursue their passions, their projects – and if they can de designed to have impact on the community around them, so much the better. I’m thinking of….
- Hana Olds, the young writer who uses her talents to support community projects
- Kerry Spackman and Mai Chen, with their focus on social responsibility
- Deliberately focus on making thinking processes visible, spotlighting pathways and working collaboratively to meet transparent goals. I’m thinking of…
- Design learning environments that foster design thinking, rapid prototyping and creativity. I’m thinking of…
- NZCER’s role-playing workshop on futures-thinking through science fiction and process drama
And all of this doesn’t include the wonderful Gala dinner, celebrating the retirement of Sherry Chrisp (CORE’s amazing events co-ordinator) – and of course, the amazing connections with old and new friends (you know who you are).
Bilbao #ICOT2015 – here I come;-)
A new report is out this month from NZCER that adds to the ’21st century’ schooling conversation that they have been championing for several years:
Bull, A. & Gilbert, J. (2012). Swimming out of our depth? Leading learning in 21st century schools. Wellington, NZ: NZCER.
They set out to explore the extent to which schools have shifted the way they manage learning, including professional learning, in the face of increasing exposure to thinking and conversation about ’21st century’ dispositions for learning. We are well down the track of a new curriculum that has this thinking at its heart, but
“… how are the signals it gives being interpreted by teachers, school leaders and other education stakeholders? Is the new curriculum transforming how we “do” schooling? Is it changing the sector’s “ways of thinking”? Or has the old jargon simply been replaced by new jargon, leaving the old ways of thinking intact?” (p. 5)
Is it old wine in those new bottles?
The researchers explore three schools as cases to illustrate ways in which well-led staff can nurture shared conversations in “communities of practice” (Wenger et al.), but they challenge the extent to which “learning communities” (ref. Ki te Aotūroa) are in place. That is, they find plenty of rich examples of ways in which educators gather together to exchange ideas, even deep inquiries, about their practice.
But there were far fewer examples of teachers who are:
- objectifying their practice,
- holding it up to the light, critically examining it for ways to improve and
- acting upon new thinking created by this, potentially uncomfortable, challenge to the way we usually respond to issues.
Key points that were takeaways for me were:
- the importance of leadership in deliberately creating structures that allow these uncomfortable conversations to take place safely, fostering a shared vision.
- the need for “slow, reflective” questioning and reflection that considers practice purposefully.
- the need for professional development to address “cognitive growth”, looking objectively at problems of practice.
- the importance of time dedicated to the slow reflection for each teacher, as well as time to share and connect in communities, both face-to-face and online.
[Image source: ant.photos]
This is a compelling video from Dan Brown, a self-declared drop-out who forcefully drives his argument that education must reflect the way the world is today. While we have seen many riffs on this topic, and you could blow holes in many of his arguments (and there are some great video responses that do just that), he does remind us that the landscape has changed and that often, educational institutions have not.
And he dropped out because school was interfering with his education.
I wish he’d been in my debating class at school, too;-)
Thanks to Claire Amos (ICTs in English) for the tip.