Tony Gurr

10 Questions…all GREAT SCHOOLS should “ASK” this year…

In Our Schools, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 04/09/2012 at 8:07 am

…and “answer” with their TEACHers!


A couple of weeks ago, after having been bitten by the social media “Top 10 bug”, I did a post entitled 10 Things All GREAT TEACHers “DO”…(and “KNOW”).

This post was meant to be the follow-up but, as so often is the case, I got side-tracked by “life”. The idea was to focus on the Top 10 questions that these teachers might have asked…in order to get them to where they is – after all I had suggested that:



Earlier today, however, I stumbled on Grant Wiggins’ latest blog post – Thinking about a lack of thinkingGrant likes to do “longer posts”, too. See…it’s not only me – and thank God he does!

It’s been bugging me for a while that so many blog posts on education are full of little more than wordbite-sized motherhood statements, cookie-cutter advice and flimsy sets of tips n’ hints…all packaged in “Top 10 lists”!

RANT over!


Anyways, in his post Grant bemoans the “absence of thought” in students, teachers, administrators and policy-makers…and reminds us that “education is the enterprise of making people more thoughtful”.

He got me thunking about whether the fact that many of us in education are so busy “working IN” the business (and, we are) is the reason that we forget that “working ON” the business is also the on the “job description”.

More than thatthunking and working ON the business of EDUcation and LEARNing are exactly the things that will get us out of the holes that have been dug by others (for us) and the holes we are busy digging for ourselves…


The problem is that this overemphasis on “working IN” the business is very much the result of how our schools, colleges and universities “do business”. So, I decided to change the focus of the post and, as many of us are starting a new “school year”, and want to suggest a few questions that perhaps our schools should ask… 


My Top 3 Questions are these:




…because thunking about them helps us re-engage with the question of “purpose” in our schools, colleges and universities – and (inşallah) hold back the tide of “valuing what can be (easily) measured”…and get us back on track with regards our efforts to “measure what we value”. 


We also need to do a bit of a “reality check” and align that purpose in the wider context in which we find ourselves today. This question helps:


…because the future really ain’t what it was!


Grant, in his post, discusses what it means to be “thoughtful”. He tells us that thoughtful people ponder the “consequences” of what they do. One question I love – that does this is:


…but, perhaps more importantly, thoughtful educators ask “tough” questions, of themselves and of others – questions we do not often ask:


This last question, as Guy Claxton has noted, can be a lot more fruitful than banging our heads again the brick wall of “motivation” and the question “How can we motivate our LEARNers?”


But, then again – a couple more questions are needed:

…and a couple more:


You see…LEARNacy is not just for LEARNers it’s for TEACHers and their institutions. If we are not asking thoughtful questions, how can we hope to role-model it…

  1. Hi Tony,

    Thanks for your launch pad of interrogating questions; this reminds me of the action research project I have undertaken at my school to build a gifted & talented learning community.

    I started with a survey of the students’ view of teaching and learning (asked them to judge our effectiveness and suggest improvements), moved on to staff interviews and will soon be hosting a parent discussion led by current year 10s.

    Unless we enact the recommended changes in order to yield improvements, status quo will prevail.

    I agree with your exhortation to sustain the change we want to see in our schools. Without action, ideas remain unfocused and innovation fails. And, yes, I am learning a great deal from this learning process.

    Take no prisoners 😉

  2. Very good points, though if you continue like this I shall have to arrest you for quotation mark abuse.

    • Robin,

      Yes, the quotation mark “police” have been after me for months 😉 Funny, I just read a post on how to spot “fake” online reviews – seems I break many other “rules” too 😉

      Take care,


    • TY Charles – I don’t know Julia’s work – but I’ll make a point of looking her up. She sounds like a very sensible woman – and “LEARNatic” 😉

      Much appreciated,


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