Saturday, 17 March 2007

"One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star."
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Despite our success this year we still face a reality where about half our young people are achieving mediocre and unsatisfactory outcomes at the end of eleven years of statutory education. There is increasing recognition that secondary schools as we know them will not deliver for all of our young people. The current testing and standards approach will only ever slowly ratchet up the scores; it will not reform learning, improve outcomes and close the increasing gap between the best and the worst.

Schools need more than tinkering at the edges… we need a learning transformation to achieve transformational and brilliant outcomes. While Tony Blair and Lord Adonis believe that autonomy and academies will provide us with the answers, I have my doubts. Deep down I believe that if schools are to be significantly better they must be significantly different. I think the answer lies in new institutional models that recognise the nature of learning and the nature of the learner. New community based learning centres with local leadership creating new dynamic institutions with creative and imaginative responses to a rapidly and constantly changing society.

To achieve this fundamental transformation we must:
¨ Make our institutions places that support 24:7:365 learning;
¨ Focus on learning not teaching;
¨ Move away from the idea of the teacher to the coach, consultant or learning leader model;
¨ Ensure that each learner has a personal learning plan, a personal adviser and a personal mentor;
¨ Focus on the powerful and imaginative use of ICT;
¨ Develop new systems to encourage innovation and creativity;
¨ Build learning networks;
¨ Develop integrated multi-agency partnerships;
¨ Develop ways of engaging parents and carers;
¨ Develop ways of engaging children and young people;

In this brave new world, we need to understand the importance of people, of ideas, of networks and of connections. Above all, we must to be open to new ideas and we must continue to thrive on chaos.


1 comment:

Pat said...

You know I absolutely agree with this vision. Your passion and energy and drive are fantastic. But are we carrying people with us on this vision.

I attended a funeral of a lovely man recently. He used to be a painter and decorator until poor health forced him into retirement @ 59 without a pension. His last few years were riddled will ill health but he loved his time with his grandchildren and his extended family. At the service his son explained to those gathered to pay our respects and say fawell that his father taught him to be kind, to love his children, and to value friendships. He explained that at times some people took advantage of his father's kindness and generousity. Without any anger but with conviction he said "shame on those people".

Maybe we should be satisfied by ensuring powerful and appropriate values and beliefs are instilled in our own children. Maybe our time and energy and passion should be rationed for loved ones and friends. Maybe that should be our enduring legacy. Maybe system improvement and change will happen organically anyway, without us striving to make it happen a few days or weeks or months earlier.

My salualation to my children every time I leave for work or leave them at school or university is "have fun and learn a lot". We try to instill in them respect and kindness for others. Maybe we should simply work harder at being better parents, and loving partners.