Archive for January, 2011

Powering up the kids

January 24, 2011

The title is not a phrase I like, though the opposite concept works for me – of the kids powering down when they come into a classroom, putting away their phones and personal computer devices and expecting a linear experience with carefully controlled and limited conversations. I much prefer to talk about the kids engaging with work, becoming highly motivated and taking personal responsibility for what they have to do and the quality of what they produce.

I suppose this is a teacher viewpoint, but we do need to help the teachers see their role in how learning will happen in the future (and should be happening now). This is not just about giving the kids their head to explore what they want to in school, it’s about teachers stimulating and leading their engagement and guiding them to make their learning more explicit and rigourous.

The reason for this post is that I have just watched the video of Karen Cator, US Department of Education, speaking to the Learning Without Frontiers conference It’s really good to hear her say that the examples of new approaches to learning that really impress her are those where the pupils are powered up, creating a much richer and more diverse learning environment and helping each other to personalise the experience. This is very much what I believe from seeing many examples over the years – it’s when the pupils are enabled to take responsibility for their learning that it all starts to happen. And it’s their attitude changes that drive this. The UK schools I have been talking to these last few weeks, to work up ‘compelling case’ studies (in conjunction with the e-Learning Foundation) have been full of these sorts of examples. I will be getting some of these up on my website soon.

It’s just such a pity that the kinds of things Karen is saying are not being said by our current UK government. Expectations, particularly parental expectation, will grow much faster if led by those making education policy. And this need not conflict with schools having full control of how learning and teaching happen. Politicians should not allow their own pride in what they achieved in the school system they went through to blind them to the fact that there are now much richer and better ways for learning interactions to happen. Just think how good these politicians might now be at their job, had they had the opportunities now offered by schools that have embraced pupils’ personal computer devices.