Our knowledge will take its revenge on us, just as ignorance exacted its revenge during the Middle Ages. —Friedrich Nietzsche In the previous article, I asked “What if schools’ primary purpose was to nurture thriving relationships?” I did so thinking about “21st-century skills,” which are so often pushed by industry and education. I am not [...]
We are not beings, we are becomings
This article was published on UNESCO’s IDEAS LAB on 11 March 2022. While the UNESCO report Futures of Education came out with much fanfare and generated much excitement, its most powerful consideration has received surprisingly little attention. It’s not that the authors haven’t put this consideration front and center—on the contrary—yet somehow it has eluded [...]
A Curriculum of Kindness
This article was inspired by my conversations with Louka Parry and David Penberg. It was published in IntrepidEd News on 1 October 2021. Sometimes I fixate on a subject or idea and find myself buying a bunch of books and watching videos to feed my curiosity and further my understanding of a single topic. Recently, [...]
A Learning ecosystem that values questions not answers
What if instead of an education system based on “show what you know,” which can discourage curiosity and creativity because of the right answer syndrome, what if we built a learning system that conceived achievement as the quality of questions the learner asks, not what they are asked to know? The power of this learning system of questions is in how it would foster curiosity and creativity, because if a learner stops asking questions, they stop learning.
Embracing the Interconnectedness of Learning
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” —John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club So much space is taken up rebuking the Industrial Revolutionary model of education that still inspires most schools today. You can hear, watch, and read people questioning why it [...]
Twenty-first century skills: Are they just the same old story?
This article was published in a slightly different form in Intrepid News 18 June 2021. There is something insidious about pushing schools to change so they can prepare students for jobs that do not yet exist, for problem-solving to address threats to productivity, or for new business models with geographically and culturally distributed workforces. There [...]
What if we created a Curriculum for the Commons?
This article was originally published in Intrepid Ed News on 4 June 2021 under the title "Student Pathways into Curriculum: Chaotic or Empowering?" We justify our need for a set curriculum by invoking our responsibility to prepare students for the future, expose them to ideas that will make them respectable well-rounded citizens, and equip them [...]
How Could Ethics Guide a New Purpose for Education?
This article was originally published on 21 May 2021 in Intrepid Ed News. Every once in a while, a report comes out from a behemoth transnational organization that rings alarm bells, warning us about how the education system is not equipping young minds to meet the challenges of tomorrow. A lengthy document outlines the skills [...]
Will androids replace teachers? Maybe, if the system keeps valuing what it values
Trying to measure learning is absurd because there is no dualism between the student and the world
"When we measure something we are forcing an undetermined, undefined world to assume an experimental value. We are not 'measuring' the world, we are creating it." —Niels Bohr, recipient of the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physics and contributor to our understanding of quantum theory. Last week, I led a staff workshop to launch a new [...]
Incubators in Schools to Unleash Potential Creative Energies
What if schools were places where learners could explore their interests and produce objects, ideas, and initiatives that made impact in the community? What if schools encouraged learners to build networks of mentors and non-age dependent peers and contribute to writing organic, personalized curricula centered around intent, not content? What if students could evidence their [...]
Flipping the Flipped Classroom
I find it puzzling how the “flipped classroom” is so often presented as a new groundbreaking and transformative idea, with the potential to unlock the power of formative assessment and personalized learning. I am not suggesting that exposing students to the material at home and then practicing what they learned in class can’t be useful [...]
Homework May Be the Biggest Impediment to Learning
If It Doesn’t Lead to Learning, It’s not Worth Teaching
A couple of weekends ago I surprised my son with a box of Meccano and suggested we build something together. I don’t have a particularly glorious track record in the field of assembly (we won’t discuss the unfortunate table football incident), but I thought that if he and I constructed something together, it would not [...]
Impact and Net Promoter Scores—How we can re-think curricular innovation
There doesn’t seem to be a universal definition of what curricular innovation is all about, even if it’s one of the hottest buzzwords in education. Curricular innovation is often associated with student-centered experiences, learner empowerment, creation over consumption (or regurgitation), and preparing kids for the unknown. Of course in some circles this raises the question, [...]
Innovation vs. Tradition – who decides?
This photograph popped up on my iPhone recently and got me thinking about innovative education and the growing tension between preparing students to be future-ready while also retaining more traditional elements of the practices that we believe are beneficial for students and their learning. Is it possible for schools to be innovative in the presence [...]
What if teachers were required to go on externships as part of their professional development?
I have been thinking quite a bit recently (and I am certainly not the only one) about how much of the curriculum delivered in the classroom actually prepares students for success in their professional and personal lives. There is so much discourse out there about 21st-century skills and the preponderance of competency development over knowledge [...]
Competencies Should Drive Curriculum (and Reports!)
Twenty-First Century Skills, Survival Skills, Soft Skills, Approaches to Learning, the 6C’s, the 4 C’s… whatever we decide to call the dispositions, approaches, and abilities that are difficult to quantify and supposed to be so critical for success in the world, they remain inexplicably absent from the core of curriculum development and reporting in many [...]
The Hour Glass Model of Education or How Every (High School) Learner Should be an (Social) Entrepreneur
Walking into an Early Years classroom can often be a disorienting experience for a high school teacher. There are sand tables and water table; shelves with blocks in one corner, easels in another; firefighter, doctor, and police officer getups in a third; and an adult or two who observe students and take notes on the [...]
History as Reverse Chronology
I am not naive enough to believe this will be easy, but maybe if we just throw the idea out there we can start something that will change the way we think and do things. Also, this may be more problematic with Early Years and lower grades. Americans will probably remember a specific Seinfeld episode [...]
The Curriculum Cloud
Thinking about curriculum in a way that uses student agency to develop thinking, core skills, and socio-emotional growth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6zAVvzCTTw
Co-Curricular Activities Should Inform Classroom Experiences and Learning
Over the last hundred and twenty years, not much has changed inhow most schools organize their co-curricular or after school activities. Traditionally these programs offer students the chance to participate in sports, learn to play an instrument, or be part of a club that gathers like-minded or interested peers. These activities offer wonderful opportunities for [...]
What inquiry is not and what maybe it is
The word “Inquiry” is used in education all the time, whether in marketing brochures, school mission statements, or curricular plans. Most people in the sector will agree that an inquiry-based approach comprises of some form of central question and is designed to promote student exploration and curiosity, with the majority of the learning coming not [...]