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Constant change is here to stay: why schooling is always about the future

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Guy Claxton's Keynote Speech at ESRC Education Futures conference, Open University, 17th May 2011

Guy Claxton's Keynote Speech at ESRC Education Futures conference, Open University, 17th May 2011

Published in Education
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  • 1. Constant change is here to staywhy schooling is always about the future
    Guy Claxton
    Centre for Real-World Learning
    University of Winchester
    guy.claxton@winchester.ac.uk
  • 2. Reasons to be forward-looking
    Education is what societies lay on to equip all their young with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values they will need (and which cannot be reliably assumed to develop in the normal process of growing up) to flourish amidst the risks, demands and opportunities of the future, as they imagine it will be
    i.e. relative to future conditions; not ‘timeless’
    dependent on accurate imagination (e.g. Foresight project on Mental Capacity and Well-being)
    the future is always uncertain (Landscapes of Fear)
    now more than most (or is it?)
    the ‘comfort option’ of religion / authority is less available to many
  • 3. An old idea…
    “The test of successful education is not the amount of knowledge that pupils take away from school, but their appetite to know and their capacity to learn.”
    Sir Richard Livingstone, Oxford,1941
    “We need people who are able to function well in situations for which they were not specifically prepared”
    Seymour Papert, MIT,1978
    …that has yet to fulfil its potential
    It keeps appearing… and disappearing
    New Basics; Essential Learnings; Key Competencies; PLTS; Soft skills; Learning to Learn
  • 4. e.g. the new Australian national curriculum
    “All young Australians [should] become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens”
    Successful learners
    “develop their capacity to learn”
    “are creative, innovative and resourceful…enterprising and use their initiative”
    “are able to plan activities independently, collaborate and work in teams”
    “develop personal values and attributes such as resilience and empathy…”
  • 5. One school’s version…
    “It’s our job not just to help children master literacy and numeracy but to prepare them for a very turbulent and complex world. We are failing if we don’t prepare them with the skills they need to cope with uncertainty; to cope with differing perspectives; to cope with working with different kinds of people; to ask good questions. Our children are at a very crucial age. We need to get those skills right into the DNA of the way our children think and learn – before it’s too late.”
    Dr Simon Buckingham Shum, Chair of Governors, Bushfield Primary School, October 2011
  • 6. Are We Serious?What does it take to do 21st century education properly?
    Why is the idea that education is a preparation for the future for all such a contentious and vulnerable idea?
    Eight key features of a robust and practical Expansive Education
  • 7. 1. Broadening the goal
    Not OR but AND
    It’s hard to achieve escape velocity…e.g. Assessment for Learning
  • 8.
  • 9. Year BLP introduced
  • 10. 2. Benefits for ALL
    Not selection but inclusion
    50% are not too unintelligent to ‘win’
    “It has proven easier to retrain a plumber to be a programmer than to retrain a manager”
    Richard Sennett
  • 11. “Successful” students are losing too – meet Emily
    I know I’m bright, and that I’m going to get good grades. But I worry I’ve become a tape-recorder. I worry that once I’m out of school, and people stop handing me information with questions, I’ll be lost.Emily, 16Spoon-feeding works – but it works at the expense of something that British schools have always been rather good at, namely, turning out young people who are creative, thoughtful, critical…even intelligently awkward sometimes.Independent Schools Inspectorate
  • 12. 3. Strong rationale
    Not Snake Oil or Sentiment, but research-based
    (R, R and R)
    e.g. New theories of expandable intelligence
    “Intelligence is the sum total of one’s habits of mind” Prof Lauren Resnick
    Without this, innovation is vulnerable
    e.g. NZ, Australia, UK …
  • 13. 4. Precision language
    Bin these words –
    “Inspirational”
    “Transformational”
    “Excellence”
    “World-class”
    “Best practice”
    “Metacognition”
    “Autonomous”
    “Agency”
    “Child-centred”
    “Liberal”
    Not empty aspirations that fudge the values issue but accessible goals
    Vagueness and pomposity are other sources of vulnerability
    “How do you teach empathy through history, resilience through writing, or questioning through science?”
  • 14. 5. Infusion
    Not add-ons but habit change
    Not ‘implementing initiatives’ but ‘growing a culture’
    Not Quick Fixes but Gradual Embedding
    PS – you can’t not be teaching dispositions towards learning
    “I used to teach maths – now I’ve got to teach bloody thinking as well!”
  • 15. 6. Prioritisation
    Focusing on what’s important - teachers
    “An effective school is [essentially] a school full of effective classrooms. It matters much less which school a child attends than which classrooms they are in at that school. In England there is a four-fold difference between the most effective and least effective classrooms.” (Dylan Wiliam)
    “The largest effect sizes on students’ achievement occur when teachers become learners about their own teaching, and when students become their own teachers” (John Hattie)
  • 16. 7. Evaluation and progression
    Not Hope but Evidence
    e.g. how do you tell if students are growing in their ‘appetite to know’ and their ‘capacity to learn’?
    “If we do not find ways to measure what we value, we shall simply end up valuing what we measure”
  • 17. 8. Strategic leadership
    Readiness for innovation and dissatisfaction with piecemeal approaches
    Enthusiastic, visible and continual support from SLT
    An open, inquisitive and supportive staff culture
    ‘Tight but loose’ supervision
    Teachers have time to experiment and safety to make mistakes
    There is a precise programme of peer observation and report back
    Students are involved in reflection and improvement
    Planning is long term (3 years or more)
    Parents are informed and supportive
  • 18. What does it take to do 21st century education properly?
    The eight core principles of Expansive Education
    Broadening the core aims of education
    A vision that offers success for all
    A strong rationale
    Precise and accessible language
    Cumulative change to habits and culture
    Focusing on teachers and teaching
    Honest individual and collective self-appraisal
    Visible leadership
  • 19. e.g.s of what schools should be ‘teaching’
    Skeptical intelligence (knowledge appraisal)
    Assessing source reputability
    Checking assumptions / reasoning
    Plausibility-monitoring
    Triangulation
    Attention modulation
    Scrutiny < - > Synopsis
    Inward < - > Outward
    Surfing < - > Sustained
    Immersed < - > Reflective
    Deep reading – ‘the joy of the struggle’
    Creativity – delights and rigours
  • 20. Beyond the 19th century idea of ‘outstanding’
    19th century
    I am secure in my curriculum knowledge
    I explain things confidently and clearly
    I ask probing and good diagnostic questions
    I build interest, variety and change of pace into lessons
    I respond creatively to students’ learning styles
    Assessment clearly shows students how to ‘close the gap’
    Students are highly engaged in discussing content
    21st century
    I frequently show students I too am learning in lessons
    I model thinking like a researcher in my subject
    I challenge students to formulate their own questions
    I vary activities to develop different learning capacities
    I work to build broader repertoires of learning capacities
    Self-assessment builds students’ capacity for self-diagnosis
    Students often pause to reflect on their learning process
  • 21. Our gift: confidence