Perhaps there is another way

“The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed — it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardise education, but to personalise it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.”

― Robinson, Ken, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, 2009

I was very sad to learn of Sir Ken Robinson‘s passing.

His 2006 TED Talk and subsequent work had a profound effect on my educational outlook and practice; and featured significantly in my M.Ed.

Schools should be places where young people have room to breathe and grow; able to explore ideas and make mistakes; where creativity is not only encouraged but actively nurtured. Those of us at the chalkface can honour his memory by working every day to “inspire and engage the imagination and creativity of the students” we teach.

If you haven’t read ‘Out of Our Minds‘ or ‘The Element‘, now would be a good time to do so; not least given the disruption that the pandemic has wrought on schools over the past six months.

Perhaps there is another way – free from ‘one size fits all’ and ‘standardised tests’, where children are not “educated out of” creativity.

The tranquility of the creative act…

When I was an art student I could lose myself for hours sitting at the potter’s wheel. This video truly captures the tranquility of the creative act.

Artist: Sue Paraskeva

Video created by: Jamie Isbell

Music: Chihei Hatakeyama

Study Group Teachers’ Conference

Today, I am delivering a presentation at the Study Group Teachers’ Conference in Brighton.

The title of my session is: Getting interactive: Moodle in the Secondary classroom

Abstract: What is Moodle for? And how can it enrich your students’ learning experiences? This workshop will aim to set out a practical and pedagogically sound consideration of the role that Moodle can play in helping to support learning inside and outside the classroom. The belief? That Moodle should be a tool to garner interaction and not simply host resources.

Here are the slides that accompany the presentation:

Since I submitted the abstract, the presentation has evolved. As such, it begins with an explanation of how I use Moodle, building up to a consideration of when to use a VLE and when a VLE is not the best tool for the job. It culminates with a reflections on the work I have been doing with Google Docs & AFL.

You can find out more information about the conference on their Moodle Site. Enter as ‘Guest’.

Thinking Space

Where is your ‘thinking space’? The place where you order your thoughts; think things through; where the creative juices flow?

If you don’t have such a space, I recommend that you find one. Whatever it is that you do, it’s important to take the time to pause and reflect. This process can result in improved focus, increased productivity and greater creativity. Finding the space in which you do this best is therefore worth doing.

As well as becoming an early riser I have also learned to be more mindful. My interpretation of what this means is skewed, influenced by the interpretation of others, including: Patrick Rhone and Merlin Mann. However, what I have taken on board so far has really helped me to be a more focussed and creative person.

Being mindful (for me) is about removing distractions, whatever they may be, and taking the time to be at one with your thoughts; allowing ideas to percolate.

What has this got do with finding your ‘thinking space’? As I began to understand what it meant to be mindful, I began to realise that there were certain times and places in which I was able to better focus on the myriad of thoughts swirling around my mind. The first time and place where I realised this was in the shower. Free of distractions, completing a relatively mindless activity, I can sift through my tasks for the day; think through a lesson I’m going to deliver; even write (in my head) an entire blog post. The latter, resulting in a rather rushed drying of one’s body in order to get to my laptop and write it down.

Having found one space to be at one with my thoughts, I then started to actively look for others. As such I don’t have one ‘thinking space’ but rather a number of times and places where I choose to be mindful. These include:

  • Making a cup of tea: As demonstrated by Dave Caolo, the time it takes to brew and enjoy a good cup of tea is perfect for sitting and reflecting.
  • Doing the dishes: An activity I previously did not enjoy, I now actually value the thinking time that it offers.
  • Waiting in line: Rather than playing with my mobile phone I now observe my surroundings, taking in the place, the people…
  • Taking a walk: As many will attest to, taking a walk remains one of the best ways to clear your mind, clarifying things.

As with becoming an early riser, it took time for me to develop habits. Resisting the urge to check Twitter, Email, Google Reader while standing in lines or during a train journey was particularly hard. However, it has certainly been worth it, improving my focus, productivity and creativity.

Do you already have a ‘thinking space’? If so, please share it by commenting below.