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Amazing Stories #324

I’m not a huge fan of the new Apple News app, and I don’t expect that Nine News is going to break new ground in education news I’d value. But, even by those un-lofty standards the article below that appeared tonight was a new low. This was the article in full! (More behind the paywall?) Note, both the assumptions are flawed: the view of  current school as kids in rows AND the radical future, ie Wifi.

Startling revelations.


I’ve written a couple of pieces for CSM Teach, this year, one on risk management, and the most recent on teaching with technology. I was pleased that it made the front page of the issue on innovation. I’ll put up the full text of this later in the year.


Making sense of ACEL

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Back now for a couple of days after three days in Sydney for ACEL, blog posts about some of the individual sessions below, and trying to make sense of what I heard, and sort through a busy three days of sitting and listening mostly.

There were recurring threads this year: compassion, identity and the bigger picture of teaching beyond scores. And ideas that were ‘contested’, PISA particularly, which I found particularly interesting. Hargreaves (who I was disappointed in) and Harris (who I was impressed by) differed greatly on that one (see my tweet below!)

There was also a big gap at times between the quality of the keynotes and the quality of the break-out sessions, some of which were neither inspirational or particularly practical. It was a lot of sitting, I can’t imagine how students cope with this kind of thing all day, two hour sessions, a break, more hours of sitting. I went for a walk at one stage and rediscovered some favourite Sydney haunts, but it was mostly pretty conventional, passive kind of presenting and receiving.

Interesting too, the gap between the big picture future orientated, no time to waste, let’s transform kinds of presenters, to the attendees locked into specific systems and schools; that’s not the agenda at my school kind of thing.  There was some disquiet among people I talked to about opening the conference with a war story, and about killing people as Australian VC winter Mark Donaldson put leadership into a violent context. Context, that was one of the key words for me; big picture vs life in a school, equity vs excellence, Australia vs the world, transformative vs little picture nervousness. Tragically, the last day commenced with a minute’s silence for yet another school shooting in America, thus bookending the conference with images of violence permeating even an education conference.

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One of my favourites at the NSW Gallery – John Glover’s idyllic view of Tasmania.Processed with VSCOcam with e5 preset

Bottoms up

Bottoms Up
Dame Jenny Shipley

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Two things New Zealanders always talk about: Maori culture and rugby.

Ambitious, adventurous, brave; the early settlers of Australia and NZ, good lessons for leadership today, she argued, neatly avoiding ideas of invasion and dispossession.

Roles are cloaks we wear, but who are you? Shipley argued for the authentic self in leadership.

Like Hargreaves, Shipley argued that identity was important, knowing who you are, and the importance of students discovering their own identity.

Shipley spoke really well, passionately, and with personal convictions, with some good quotes:

‘The world is flat for this generation’.

‘Are we ready for the age of interactions?’

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Every minute counts

Andy Hargreaves

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‘Every minute counts’, began Hargreaves, opening the final day opening keynote, a presentation I was looking forward to a lot. He began with a personal story of his own life and his mother.

Hargreaves argued that the need was well beyond the basics, beyond 21C skills; it was about finding identity, engagement with history and the world.

He reminded us of old things, Delors in 1925 (learning to know, do, be, live together). He talked big picture, of being bold, of a national priority for ‘joy’ in the curriculum (Finland), of knowing where you want to go.

He made a case for PISA, arguing that evidence matters, especially in revealing matters of equity.

He admitted that boldness was harder to measure, and therefore perhaps riskier to go for; how will you know you’ve got there? But you need to try: to be bold and specific.

He argued for professional capital, for collective efficacy, ‘what do we believe we can do together’, not the star system of programs like Teach for America.

It was all bit scattered in the end, and if I hadn’t read his work, I would have thought even a bit shallow, but the key messages were very strong.

Collaborative curriculum innovation: balancing rigour and engagement.
Mathilda Joubert and Cheryllynne Gostelow

This session, from two Western Australian presenters, began with the need for change, but began with a NAPLAN reference as the need for that change, a marked difference from the emphasis of the presentation this morning.

Their challenge was to develop a personalised curriculum that covers AC, enables progression … but also leads to engagement in rich learning experiences that result in deep learning (21c skills)

What they did was adopt a creative curriculum development process. This begins with student voice, learning from students and use these as ‘hooks’ to develop rigorous curriculum that taps into their interests and passions, balancing rigour and enjoyment. (eg Teaching ratios using Minecraft)

The process was ten steps: (see pic)

Maybe I’m a bit weary, but I had some reservations. I liked the idea of responding to students, but how meaningful? Don’t students have a lot of different interests? I wouldn’t want to have to do a unit on The Bachelorette! And, how does AC match? Wouldn’t there be vast gaps and overlaps? They did address this later.

I liked that they emphasised the ‘soft skills’ of the AC, ‘the hard currency of their future’, showing an approach that is term by term, with students being explicitly taught these skills, which they apply later.

They argued that the themes had to be context free, history is often contextual, and these outcomes are separated out.


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