Things we like

While out on Restart-Ed missions or reading, Ben occasionally comes across something which is just too good not to pass on to others. And sometimes he remembers to list it here:


There’s an increasing awareness that schools aren’t the best organisations in the world to offer careers advice, but few have dug deep into the possible reasons for this. I’ve often joked that a profession made up almost entirely of people who left school, went to university, and then went back to school cannot really be expected to know what other working environments are like, or what other less-hierarchical, less rule-bound organisations expect from their staff. However, I’d not fully considered the impact on their objectivity of all teachers being graduates before reading this fantastic RSA blog.


I’ve finally had the chance to use answergarden in an event … and it’s great. I recommend this real-time crowdsourced wordle application for when you want to get a feel for the thoughts or priorities of an audience of class.


We’ve been considering which 21C survival skills, characteristics and attributes are important to include in the school curriculum at Ely College. In so doing, I had a trawl through my back catalogue of inspiring videos, and was reminded of this (this is water), which seems to kick me in the backside harder every time I watch it. These two (one and two) by a spoken word artist are also usefully blunt reminders that a lot of what schools do today is not condusive to a good education.


I go to a lot of conferences and seminars, but am getting more selective as I find many go over the same ground, and fail to reach any useful conclusions. However, I risk losing out on the occasional gem – often just a throw-away line in a presentation – which either changes or enhances my view. One such gem offered today was what I now know as Goodhart’s Law: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”


Sometimes it takes a good bit of journalism to pull one’s thoughts together in a single article, cross reference them with some credible input from those who know what they’re talking about, and summarise everything in a concise headline.


I came to this a bit late, but I found Fran Abrams’ BBC Analysis programme on Hirsch and the reach of his influence on Gove fascinating. Why do we in the UK find it so difficult to view knowledge and skills as interdependent and contingent aspects of an education, and why do we need to polarise them along political lines? I like Barber’s position on this, but can see I need to dust off Michael Young’s ‘Bringing Knowledge Back In‘ and Hirsch’s ‘Cultural Literacy‘ before I can wade into the debates with any degree of credibility!


New Year, new inspiration. Loving The Ad Contrarian’s blog. This is what speaking truth to *real* power looks and feels like. Should be on the syllabus of all media studies and cultural studies programmes.


I was talking to a couple of people the other day about the way we encourage children at schools to think about jobs and business and careers, and whether we need to give them a more realistic, pragmatic idea about how it really is. And then I saw this brilliant cartoon! “So, do you wanna have fun, or do you wanna paycheck?”


Just received a copy of The Old Ways, the last in Robert Macfarlane‘s “loose trilogy about landscape and the human heart”. It’s a timely publication for me, as I am just 20 sleeps now from my trip to the Lakes for the second leg of the Coast to Coast walk with friends. I can’t get enough of this guy’s writing, and really relate to the way he sees our relationship to the landscapes we inhabit as vital to our well-being. As is clarified in an excellent Guardian review of the book by Alexandra Harris, “Macfarlane is delighted to discover that the verb ‘to learn’ links back etymologically to proto-Germanic liznojan, meaning ‘to follow or to find a track’. The walking of paths is, to him, an education, and symbolic, too, of the very process by which we learn things: testing, wandering about a bit, hitting our stride, looking ahead and behind. That is the rhythm of learning in all kinds of disciplines and ways of life. Whether we are in the kitchen, the library or the laboratory, we are seeking out paths and deciding who to follow. So this is very much a book about learning. Macfarlane presents himself as a student in the ways of the land, taking lessons from those who have spent their lives negotiating particular kinds of path.”


Wow … it’s been a while. Not because I’ve not liked anything, you’ll understand. Just busy. But I have come to the conclusion that this is a good a spot as any for a bucket list of articles I clip, but which then tend to disappear into a dark folder, never to be seen again. The first such piece was in the TES on 18/5/12, entitled Sanding the sharp edges of freedom. In it, Roger Pope, Principal at a secondary school in Devon reminds heads and teachers that, following years of budgetary uplift under Labour and now devolved authority under the Coalition, they at last have what they’ve always been asking for.


I just came across this Economist debate between Ken Robinson and Joel Klein, agreeing – despite their conflicting political persuasions – on the fundamentals of what needs to change to make schools relevant in the 21st Century.


The OECD’s PISA survey is increasingly important, but relatively misunderstood. They’ve responded admirably with this nice animated explanation, which clarifies the aims, methodology and outcomes.


I just got an email from a guy at Cisco with the following quote, attributed to Calvin Coolidge, as a tag line: “Press On! Nothing can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. This slogan “Press On” has solved, always will solve, the problems of the human race.”