The School of War

By |1 March 2022|Categories: Curriculum, Teaching|Tags: , , |

War raged all around but in the middle of it stood the school: peaceful and undamaged. While the bombs dropped and the soldiers fell, the children inside got on with their work. At break time they climbed on to the playground wall to watch the flames and the black smoke coming from the city. They looked up in to the sky and followed the aeroplanes of both sides twist and turn and shoot at each other. Then the bell rang and they all rushed back to their classrooms. Not a bullet nor a bomb had touched the school. There were [...]

Is Your Classroom Triple-A Rated?

By |26 January 2022|Categories: Curriculum|Tags: , , , |

I'm sitting with a small group of Year 5 children. They've got their books ready for me. I ask my first and only question: Which piece of work were you most absorbed in and why? They get right on with the search and very soon are ready to tell me. This bit here because it was a bit of a challenge; this piece - I was really in to it - like starting a new hobby; this one because I already knew stuff about it; here, this one, we got to use what we'd learned and I realised I could [...]

Thinking Stories to Save the World

By |1 November 2021|Categories: Curriculum|Tags: , , , |

  I am convinced (some would say over-optimistically) that in one of our classes, right now, today, is the child who will, one day, save the world. There they are, listening to your input, writing, talking, thinking, looking out the window, messing about. All they need from you is empowerment, education and opportunity. It's quite some reason for choosing to teach. And for continuing to do so, when the road is rough. And that's why the denial of learning is so devastating, so ridiculous, so stupid. Each child in school increases the chance of a better world. Each child is [...]

A Balanced View of Bloom’s Taxonomy

By |1 October 2021|Categories: Curriculum|Tags: , , , , |

  The way it's presented is not helpful. Nor is 'taxonomy', both inferring hierarchy, status; class- or even caste-defined thinking. 'Low order thinking' - knowledge and understanding; 'high order thinking' - application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation. Really? Is one kind better, worse, less or more than any other? After decades of helping adults and children to think better, may I propose this: All thinking is equal. Knowledge How on earth is this 'low order'? Bottom of the pile? Without it, nothing can happen. So often the battle ground of traditionalists and progressives - the former zealously guarding it as purveyor of [...]

Knowledge is Dead. Long Live Knowledge.

By |25 July 2020|Categories: Curriculum|Tags: , , , |

I'm walking in the country with R. It's a professional catch up. Executive coaching. (Coaching walks really work, try them). We've each got a Starbucks, black Americano, 4 shots. The sun is out, the air is clear. We cut through bushes and emerge to find 40 beech trees spaced evenly and set in two parallel lines - just over 2 meters apart - stretching left and right. The trunks are too wide for us to reach around; they must be 150-200 years old. Looking up, the canopy is pastel green and sunlight washes through. There is intent here, there is [...]

A One-Line Recovery Curriculum

By |20 June 2020|Categories: Curriculum|Tags: , |

It's a question. A single question. It's not this: What was your best experience in lockdown? It's not this: What was your worst experience during lockdown? Nor is it any of these: What have you lost, gained, what's changed? What are your challenges, threats, opportunities, hopes, fears? What did you do, feel, think, say? No, the 12-word recovery curriculum question is this: Which of those questions do you least want to answer and why? Try it. You'll find that children and adults alike begin to talk about what's most important to them. It's a respectful route to a meaningful conversation. [...]

Forgotten Gifts

By |29 February 2020|Categories: Curriculum|Tags: , |

What's the connection between this: Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water House And this: Fröbel's Gifts (19th Century educational play materials) You can go here (until 13th April 2020) to find out: Or read on if you're not in London before then... All play means something.Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens In 1938 Dutch historian and cultural theorist Johan Huizinga published Homo Ludens in which he argued for the importance of play in society and for its role in generating culture. He gave play 5 characteristics: It is free; freedom. It is not real life. It is distinct from real life by [...]

The 3Rs are Dead; Long Live the 4Rs

By |22 February 2020|Categories: Curriculum|Tags: , , , , |

29th December 2019 was just another Black Friday in Carnaby Street, London. But unlike its neighbours, the Raeburn clothes store was closed. A sign outside read, 'Buy Nothing Repair Something'. The sign is now a poster inside the shop, Today we are closed for business and open for creativity. We've disabled our online shop and closed our physical stores. Raeburn's design lab up the road in Hackney stayed open and offered a free community drop in repair service - of any brand or no brand of clothing. Why is it that Timberland, The North Face, Disney and many others seek [...]

Ofsted says learning is…

By |3 May 2019|Categories: Curriculum|Tags: , , , , |

...a change in long-term memory. Other definitions are available but let's explore Ofsted's, starting with three questions I ask children in class and finishing with advice and a powerful memory technique. Try asking children these questions: When you've finished, what will be different? How will you make sure that you always know this? Why can you do this? The first question has three kinds of answer: A wild stare; a furious mental scrabble for the correct thing to say. A shrug. A clear articulation of what's being learned, usually with reference to success criteria stuck in an exercise book or displayed [...]

3 Questions To Find Out If Your Curriculum Is Fit For Purpose

By |15 October 2018|Categories: Curriculum|Tags: |

The challenge with having a curriculum that's fit for purpose is knowing whose purpose  it's fit for. Is yours? Answer these 3 questions to find out: Does it anticipate the kind of knowledge, skills and qualities that your students will need in order to be successful citizens and global contributors, not now, not 10 years ago, but in 2030? Is it flexible, responsive, dynamic and evolving? Do your students authentically enjoy it? Curriculum is an arena where opinions, biases, preferences and specialisms do battle for minds. If you're as old as I am (52) you'll remember the very first drafts [...]

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