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 [...]

Student Pathways into Curriculum: Chaotic or Empowering?

This article was originally published in Intrepid Ed News on 4 June 2021. 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 with skills to help them succeed in their adult lives. [...]

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 [...]

Shenpa—Avoiding hooks by asking questions

Conversation with a friend will only bear good fruit of knowledge when both think only of the matter under consideration and forget that they are friends.—Friedrich Nietzsche  This is more a reflective piece than an article on pedagogy. It does pertain to leadership, but mostly relationships with others and ourselves. I am an introvert. I [...]

Bio Scale (A Response to Jason Preater)

This is a response to Jason Preater’s thoughtful and considered article Human Scale. I am writing this in the same spirit as Jason; I don’t propose to “have the right answers and welcome your ideas.” I realize that many of these issues are addressed in superficial, generalized ways, but I am writing an article not [...]

The future of our planet depends on imagination, not academics

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.—Karl Marx, XIth Thesis on Feuerbach. I was surprised by how many people failed to seize the satire in my last blog If academics are what matter, let’s just replace teachers with androids. In that article, I proposed that “in [...]

Will androids replace teachers? Maybe, if we keep focusing purely on content knowledge.

This is a satire and a warning. I do not advocate replacing humans with androids… though maybe in some classrooms it would be a good idea. A few months ago I wrote a piece on how a teacher’s job is to teach themselves out of a job. The concept is pretty simple: a teacher should [...]

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 [...]

It’s Time to Move Beyond Student-Centered Approaches

I would venture to offer that people who advocate for a more student-centered approach to education—grossly simplified as one based on students having choice and voice in what to learn, how to learn it, and how to demonstrate understanding—do so as a form of rejection of the traditional curriculum based on some combination of the [...]

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 [...]

This is the Chance for our Kids to Write their Own Curriculum

The silver lining around the coronavirus pandemic is that there is sense of coming together amongst people from all parts of the world and this has translated into efforts to support, help, and listen to one another. Social media is full of messages from educators sharing or asking for ideas and resources to meet the [...]

Measuring impact needs to be part of any assessment strategy

What if we turned assessment upside down and, instead of starting with looking what the student can do or what they know, we started to measure the impact of students' ideas and actions? What if, instead of having assessment center on skills and knowledge in relative isolation (a test, a product, a presentation), we looked [...]

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 [...]

Collaboration that Unfetters Creativity

At Pixar, writers and directors sit around a table to go over the script during what they call crit sessions. It is an open conversation but there is a process called “plussing,” which means that no idea is shot down and you’re only allowed to make a comment if you are adding to the idea. [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

When the Time is Right

Living in Hong Kong provides many opportunities and conveniences. Cycling on the island is not always one of them. In the early hours of weekend mornings one can spot groups of riders on the road in tight formations climbing hills before zipping down their slopes, but the narrow roads and even faster drivers make this [...]

Experiential and Project-Based Learning Case Study

Students engineer an Escape Room in which they will lock up their parents. Learning happens most effectively when it is meaningful. The freedom to decide what and how one learns allows for the creation of a learning experience that becomes personal and therefore has greater impact. Students can imagine what and how they want to [...]

Personalization

Note: We are not sure we even like the term "personalization" as it can put the learner in a passive position if someone else "personalizes" their experience. If deep understanding only happens when it is personally relevant, no one can personalize an experience, but rather, the learner must find personal meaning in that experience herself. [...]

Just in Time Learning

Our idea of what the 21st century classroom looks like is different from what most of us experienced a few decades ago. The physical space can be reconfigured to meet the different needs individual and collaborative projects. Digital devices are used in ways that transform experiences. Learners are actively engaged rather than passively receiving information. [...]

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 [...]