Sunday, July 25, 2010

Two Agendas for School Review

This blog has been written as an introduction to a group of schools who are getting together this week to consider the implication of school self review.

Learning through ‘dialogue’ or ‘learning conversations’

‘The task of the teacher is not to impart knowledge where it does not exist, but rather to lead the minds eye that it might see for itself’ Plato

1. There are two agendas for school change

(1) To improve current programmes with predetermined ‘best practices’

(2) To transform current programmes for the 21stC - best practices continually 'emerge'.

The first is a conservative approach – the second a creative one.

2. For a school to ‘self view’ itself it needs to clarify its teaching beliefs; what it is stands for. Only then can it become a ‘learning community’ able to evaluate progress and continually grow. To do this schools need to uncover hidden assumptions or taken for granted ways of doing things. They need to look hard at how they timetable their day.

'Creativity ...consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know.....we must think to look a fresh at what we normally take for granted.' George Koeller.

3. To develop ‘confident life long learner’ schools to be transformed so all children leave with their innate spirit of learning alive. The desire to learn, to explore, to create, is the ‘default mode’ of all learners but for too many this has been ‘flipped’ by school experiences.

4. In current programmes the teachers determine and assess the learning often within a narrow range of achievement. Some children learn to fail by having their talents neglected. The major emphasis is a narrow focus on literacy and numeracy (which takes up all the ‘prime time’) with other areas of the curriculum receiving lesser attention.

5. In a transformed or creative programme, student inquiry is placed at the centre with an emphasis on students ‘voice’, questions, culture. Learning how to learn (process or key competencies)) as important as what is learnt or content. Literacy and numeracy can be still in ‘prime time’ but need to be ‘reframed’ and integrated in the service of inquiry and seen as ‘foundation skills’. Literacy is vital to ensure children develop the skills to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’ NZC.

6. A transformed agenda leads away from a past orientated standardized mindset towards a personalized or creative future.

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