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Published on December 22, 2008

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Innovation & Enjoyment in the Primary Curriculum : Innovation & Enjoyment in the Primary Curriculum Bart McGettrick University of Glasgow Hertfordshire Primary Headteachers’ Conference 12-14 October 2005 The Context for Educating Children Slide 2: The challenge to learning in the 21st Century, as it has been throughout the evolution and development of the human condition, is to have learners who love and enjoy learning. It is the disposition to learn which is the key to effective and enjoyable learning. Slide 3: Some Initial Thoughts: Education is concerned with developing people… not systems. Systems can support change, but real change is in the hearts and minds of people. It is a moral purpose and dimension… unreservedly to improve society. All people are vulnerable and even fragile - Good Teachers remember this Teachers respect and celebrate cultural difference and variety Enjoyable learning in the 21st Century will develop from the realisation that learning is embedded in a system of values and that when these values are positive and infuse the processes of learning then cognitive development and all other forms of learning are enhanced. : Enjoyable learning in the 21st Century will develop from the realisation that learning is embedded in a system of values and that when these values are positive and infuse the processes of learning then cognitive development and all other forms of learning are enhanced. It is, as it were, this disposition to learning which raises the tide of learning so that everything is raised by that tidal flow. Slide 5: “Amongst the other blessings (which God gives) it is to be reckoned not least that by assiduous study man may win the pearl of knowledge. This shows him the way to live well and happily and its preciousness opens the door for him to understand the mysteries of the universe; it helps and raises to distinction those that were born in the lowest places.” (Nicholas V, Bull of 7 January 1451, Glasgow University Archives) Slide 6: “Education thus presents itself as at once preparation for life and an irreplaceable part of life itself: Hence the good school is to be assessed not by any tale of examination successes, however impressive, but by the extent to which it has filled the years of youth with security, graciousness and ordered freedom, and has thus been the seed-bed for the flowering in due season of all that is of good report.” Advisory Report on Secondary Education in Scotland, 1947 Slide 7: In contemporary society there are two main functions of “schooling”: Attainment and achievement and The flourishing of humanity. Is “schooling” different from education? Have schools narrowed their activities in the face of systems of accountability? Are schools places of education…? Slide 8: Schools have to look beyond the functional nature of the curriculum, and see that they are communities with prized relationships and careful nurturing of young people. This takes place both within and outside the classroom. The teacher is not an “instructor”… or a person to “deliver” the curriculum…. But has a responsibility which is richer and more precious. Extra-curricular activities are crucial. Slide 9: Education is in the hearts and minds of people … not in the papers and documents of a bureaucracy. Education is fundamentally concerned with HOPE, WISDOM and JUSTICE FOR ALL Slide 10: Education is deeply concerned with humanity....to raise people to distinction...to make the most of human assets in the service of others. It is an enterprise which, of course, has both a value and a price. We ought not to lose sight of both these attributes in a world which pays more attention to prices than to values; more attention to employment than to critical curiosity; and more attention to the individual than the collective spirit. Slide 11: We live in an adolescent-centric society, in which relationships are superficial and fragile emotions are on the surface the marketplace is dominant the media emphasises appearance and income change is more important than stability fashion is everything the peer group is highly significant Slide 12: A challenge for the teacher is to move from a culture of accountability to a culture of co-responsibility. There are two broad types of schools : There are two broad types of schools Past-orientated Forward-orientated Work by opinions Work on evidence Assessment by examinations Assessment by varied ways of collecting evidence Looking good Taking opportunities for change Being good on results alone Developing relationships Slide 14: Effective teachers themselves have to be learners…. Reading, writing, listening, conversing… A learning school requires all people to be thoughtful, inquisitive, creative…. Do systems sometimes crush the creative impulse? Consider the role of teamwork in Ferrari! Slide 15: Creativity is recognised as being a priority by government. The question really is whether this is capable of being developed adequately while other pressures of cognitive accountability are so severe? Slide 16: Among the most significant purposes of education are: Forming people Of love, care and compassion With a deep sense of hope Who appreciate beauty and wonder Who will serve the world by their gifts Slide 17: Education has a moral and ethical purpose. The main aspects of “the educated person” need to be experienced and seen and felt in the practical aspects of daily life in education…. The sounds, the artwork on display, the movement and dance at our celebrations, etc. Young people value ideals and adventure. They are inspired by great thoughts and dreams of the future. It would be tragic if these aspects of life and living were to be denied in an education which was restricted to the measured outcomes of the curriculum. : Young people value ideals and adventure. They are inspired by great thoughts and dreams of the future. It would be tragic if these aspects of life and living were to be denied in an education which was restricted to the measured outcomes of the curriculum. This is to reduce education to instruction, and the person to a learner. It is to starve the spirit of its rich nourishment. Slide 19: A Model for Learning Content – Principles, Knowledge, Concepts, Ideas, Skills Dispositions to Learning – Learning to Love Learning Slide 20: The content The disposition The relationships, or The emotional or spiritual need. Assessment should pay special attention to the quality of relationships… a key to learning. What seems to be the case that each person will have their interest in learning driven by one of these aspects Slide 21: Hierarchy of Learning Learning how to become Learning how to be Learning how to do Learning how to learn Learning how to repeat Slide 22: The curriculum is not the purpose of education. Assessment is not the purpose of education. Achievement and attainment are not the purposes of education. These are means to the end, and not the ends in themselves. Slide 23: Are we to value what we assess or Assess what we value? Slide 24: Assessment should promote effective relationships. Weak assessment patterns can create relationships which are fragile uncertain threatening Effective education is based on relationships which are robust confident give positive feelings Slide 25: The excessive concerns for the targets and standards set by others can become paralysing to creativity and the pursuit of new ideas. Learning is not most effective when it is largely about compliance and conformity. This is the antithesis of the open, creative and investigative mind. CREATIVITY IS FOOD FOR THE INNER SELF Slide 26: There is evidence to suggest that a plateau is reached by seeking to raise attainment through externally imposed change. The real need is to develop a culture of professional co-responsibility in which change and improvement are developed by the intrinsic motivation of the learner… facilitated by the teacher. Professional conversations : Professional conversations There is a need to have focal points for conversations: Statistics Mutual observation Video recordings Student feedback Students voice School-to-school exchange visits. Etc Slide 28: Those who are engaged in education might well reflect on the importance of knowing that we should not -be afraid of our weaknesses, but of our strengths -be afraid of our uncertainties, but of our beliefs; -be afraid of our limitations, but of our talents and gifts; -be afraid of what we do not have, but what we do have. Slide 29: A vision of education is one of continuing growth and development, serving the world through gifts, and having a heart of justice and hope. It should lead to a meaningful understanding of society and the capacity to make a positive difference to that society. It is not a new set of information to be recalled and to be tested, but it is a deeply meaningful understanding of society and the capacity to make a positive difference to that society. Slide 30: A vision of Education has to release a spirit of optimism and hope in which there is a freeing of the spirit to engage students in creative and imaginative thought, and to provide a framework for democratic participation and action that can meet the rapidly changing needs of the society. Slide 31: Teachers need to ensure that children can dream of a city of humanitarian values where they are safe and where their gifts can be put to the service of others. Teachers cannot allow this dream to die. We owe this to our children, and to our children's children -–to create a future of hope and of justice. A spirit of the teacher : A spirit of the teacher To the fearful heart everything is threat To the greedy eye everything is possession To the loving person everything is possible Slide 33: How could I have come so far? And always on such dark trails? I must have travelled by the light Shining from the faces of those I have loved Thomas McGrath 1916-90

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