Tony Gurr

Archive for the ‘Learning & Parenting’ Category

What is SUCCESS?

In Assessment, Classroom Teaching, Learning & Parenting, Our Schools, Our Universities on 23/06/2013 at 11:03 am

A few weeks ago I stumbled on a great image:

Success (what it really looks like) TG ver

…quite by coincidence one of my favourite EDUbloggers (@ktvee) created a wonderful poster based on a quote from Will Rogers (yes…the “cowboy”)!

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I decided to “bring” them together:

What success looks like (Will Rogers quote) TG ver 02

I thunk this is now called “creative curation“…in the blogosphere these days!

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You see…I have been working on an upcoming session…on quality initiatives in EDUcation I wonder where my inspiration used to come frombefore the web (remember, I lived 60% of my life before the internet was even invented)!

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BOOKS…Tony…BOOKS!

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Neyse, during my “curation” phase…I found a few guys who just kinda “missed the point“:

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Success (Lincoln quote)

Funny…yes! BUT…would you raise your kids to BE like this?

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As an EDUcatorwould you want this to be the mantra of your CLASSroom?

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That last quote reminded me of something a dear friend had said to me…when I was was thinking of making the move to big, bad İstanbul. I had told him that one of the reasons I had put off coming here was that…the “wicked lady” of the North-West had always “scared” me (yes, I know I grew up on the rough, tough streets of North Manchester…but…İstanbul is way bigger)!

I explained that many people in (not “from”) İstanbul were not really “my Turks”…that they tended to be a bit more forceful…a bit more aggressive …dare I say it, less tolerant and welcoming (than my typical Anatolian brothers and sisters). He agreed and explained why…

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He also noted that İstanbullular have also changed over the past few years (during all that time I was “partying” in Dubai)…they have become much more “uyanık“!

Once again, Google Translate…thank you…for nothing!  

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Thank God…for the Urban Dictionary…yes, wide boy (or “girl“) is a far better way to translate “uyanık“.

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Sadly, there are many parents here (as there are all over the world) that LEARN their kids that it is important to be a Jack-the-Lad (or Jill-the-Lass)…this is how we succeed in a place like big, bad İstanbul…this is how we “play the game“.

The game of “oneupsmanship“…

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The game of…

Winning (Charlie Sheen)

And, yes…I do get the “irony” of my recent 500K Competition and Celebration!

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But, and hear me out, here…that’s different…and I thunk it goes a bit deeper than the recent trend towards more “uyanıklık”.

Much of it is embedded in culture…in EDUcational culture.

You’ve probably seen me rant about the woes of the EXAMocracy here…in canım Türkiyem:

Canım EXAMocracy (TG ver 03)

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…and the ADHOCocrats that run educational policy and many (most) of our schools!

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Many of my friends tell me that this is NOTnew“…been coming for decades…even Bill Gates and his GERM-like “reformers” have been jealous of the TESTing climate in canım Türkiyem for years.

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This “trend” has been hard-wired into our cultural DNA (yes, I can say this now…”Vatandaşlik Immunity“)! But, I’m still careful what I tweet about…

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You see, in canim Turkiyem, we do not “pass” an examwe “WIN” one.

We do not “gain” or “get” a place at University – we “WIN” one.

The way we do both is by … being very street-savvy in our TEST-taking (and, oh boy, we have a TEST for every occasion – from “conception” to “resurrection”…OK, in the afterlife sense).

Hell, we even “cancel” the last three years of High-School…just to make sure our kiddies “win” the university exam…and “win” a place at university!

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And, we wonder…why so many of our kids ask that question of questions:

So will this be on the test (Ver 03)

Day IN…Day OUT!

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Maybe…just maybeit’s time to LEARN our kids a new question:

Success (TG ver and Kaufman quote)

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Maybe it’s time to LEARN our parents…and ourselves!

TOLERANCE…

In Learning & Parenting, News & Updates (from the CBO) on 14/06/2013 at 9:40 am

Today, I have just one thunk

Tolerate ME 01

…and one image!

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I am LEARNing from my new teenage friends…across the pond!

Personal Reflections on MOTIVATION – Guest Post (by Laurence Raw)

In Classroom Teaching, Guest BLOGGERS, Learning & Parenting, Our Schools on 11/06/2013 at 3:53 pm
I have decided to take the day off – to allow you all to ponder my last couple of posts.
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We have been looking at the issue of motivation – and the current challenges across canım Türkiyem have been causing more than a few of us to reflect on our lives, our work and our families.
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This guest post is the result of both these processes.
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Laurence (guest post header 04)
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The question of how to motivate learners is a difficult one.
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I was talking to my fourteen-year-old niece last Sunday, who is contemplating changing schools, as her current institution is “boring” with its incessant focus on exams and knowledge-based education.  I asked her what she would like as an alternative, and she quoted her father, who had previously described her as “a creative person.
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A good education in her view should help to stimulate creativity.
Creativity (Maya Angelou quote)
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However “creativity” is a slippery term.  Entire schools exist in universities devoted to “the creative industries;” despite the positive-sounding nature of the term, many of their members are caught in the educational treadmill of producing papers and/or research, or finding outside funding for projects, so as to ensure their futures.
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Failure (failure zone)
It would be great if we could adopt alternative visions of “creativity”for example, by encouraging our learners to rearrange what they know in order to discover something they do not know.  Maybe we need to remember what the fourth century BC philosopher Mencius once said: to promote an atmosphere of creativity we need to remember how “great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart.”
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I told my fourteen-year-old niece of how I used to amuse myself; as an only child, I didn’t have many friends and learned how to play on my own.  I used to make up stories, using my soft toys as characters; and subsequently wrote them down on an old typewriter.  Through this activity I learned how much I liked to write; I continue doing so to this day.  In other words, that “childlike heart” within me still blazes, even though it’s a long time since I played with my soft toys.
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A genuinely creative classroom values the “childlike heart” in all of its members, learners and educators alike.  It permits experiment; lets people take risks; and does not place any stigma on failure.  As Tim Harford once remarked, success always starts with failure as individuals learn from their mistakes and are encouraged to creative something new and different.  They can only achieve this in a mutually supportive atmosphere, once which recognizes that all of us, whatever our age and/or experience in life, have that childlike quality within us.
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Learnacy ZONE
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This is a far more important motivation for LEARNing than any of the rulescurricula, syllabi, and exams – that govern the most classrooms.  Thomas Edison was once asked by one of his laboratory attendants: “Mr. Edison, tell me what rules you want to observe?”  The great inventor replied crisply: “There ain’t no rules around here.  We’re tryin’ to accomplish somethin.'”  Exactly what that “somethin'” might be in the classroom should be determined through collaboration between educator and learners.  If everyone listens to each other, then they will learn to value their “childlike heart.”
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Risk-taking (quotes)
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None of these ideas can make my fourteen-year-old niece’s search for a good education any easier, as she decides whether to find a new school or stay at her existing one.  But at least by listening to her “childlike heart,” she might sustain her motivation; if she can find like-minded people to work with in any type of institution (the home, at school, in a private course, or wherever), then perhaps she can recognize the value of LEARNing.
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LEARNing vs TEACHing 02
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Maybe we should all recognize the importance of this.
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Laurence Raw

(aka @laurenceraw on Twitter)
Baskent University – Ankara, Turkey
Editor: Journal of American Studies of Turkey
http://baskent.academia.edu/LaurenceRaw
http://www.radiodramareviews.com

On Moms, Pops and “the Examocracy”…a student’s eye view!

In Assessment, Learning & Parenting, Our Universities on 08/12/2012 at 9:12 pm

expletive bubble

Yes, I did get into some “hot water” for using the “F- word” in my last post

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…but they wereSir” Phil’s wordsnot mine! 

Besides…since when was “poetry” NOT an important part of EDUcation and LEARNing?

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The point of my last post was not Larkin’s opening line – it was about a challenge that many ELL and ELT professionals and their students face on a day-to-day basis (and not just in Turkey – all over the globe). It was a “personal” view based on a “story” that involved “real people” that I care about.

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But as I reflected on my experience as “Uncle Tony” I thought I might dig a little deeper…with one of the expert LEARNers (students) that I know.

Afterall –  tis “student voices” that should carry more weight than our own.

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If anyone in EDUcation does not like that little comment:

unLEARNing SUE ME!

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Those of you that know the blog…might remember Emre Gökhan Şahin

Gökhan is in his final year at Özyeğin University in İstanbul and he did one of my first “guest” posts (in fact, my very first student guest post) – entitled “Need a BUDDY, buddy?”

He has “grown up” since then – and has been “promoted” to the rank of TEACHing Assistant – Yes, a TA…and he ain’t even graduated, yet!

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He is a real LEARNer!

…and it just goes to show what expert TEACHers can do when we get together with expert LEARNers.

mentor student

What really impressed me about Gökhan was that he actually “acted” on what he saw in himself (as a novice LEARNer) and what he LEARNed  – “with” and “for” some of his friends who were also struggling with their own ELL.

He built a student-centred Buddy System…and he still helps out with students that need help with their ELL!

What’s even better…he’s actually seriously thunking about becoming a TEACHer himself when he graduates. OK, it’s in “accounting” –  but we can’t have everything!

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So…after that last postI tweeted Gökhan!

I asked him for a student’s eye view on what I was “ranting” about…

Hazırlık 01

Mmmm, not as good a start as I was hoping…he wasn’t even reading my latest post!

Shock-horror!

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He just needed a bit of time…

Hazırlık 02

I had to ask the obvious question:

Hazırlık 03

Gökhan is clearly a “good son”!

Many other kids see a lot more pressure from their parentals (esp. if they are at a private or “vakıf” university)…often the subtle type that goes on for years...and “eats” away at us slowly.

I’m sure if we asked most parents what they expect from their children in Hazırlık, the answer would be “PASS” – not “LEARN how to effectively interact with speakers of English and their texts”!

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However, because I knew about Gökhan’s “Buddy System” I had to ask:

Hazırlık 04

Read what he said again…go on!

“Success” is the result of enjoyment and self-confidence!

Do I really need to say any more?

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OK – let’s come back to my twitter-enabled LEARNing Conversation with Gökhan.

He had said something I almost missed:

Hazırlık 05

“I don’t like being restricted”

…if we went to most Hazırlık students right now, I bet most of them would use the term “restricted” (or something like that) when they discuss their experience of  Lise 5 …sorry, their ELL Hazırlık experience!

OK, but “watch” what Gökhan “does” next:

Hazırlık 06

This young TA recognises he does not have enough “data” to inform his own decision-making.

HE decides to “listen” to students…WTF (sorry)!

HE suggests a doing a “study”.

HE proposes doing it in “groups”.

HE chooses who he wants to help him…HE selects his own “TEACHer”…WTF (OK…maybe not so sorry for that)!

I…just see an “opportunity” for a new blog post!

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HE starts to “plan”:

Hazırlık 07

HE is in charge…because HE wants to LEARN something!

And…HE gives ME permission to do this post!

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I can’t help wondering why more colleges and universities have not caught on to the type of Collaborative LEARNing that Gökhan and I did – over twitter, not in a classroom!

However, I’m more impressed that Gökhan “gets it”!

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HE “gets” that the two questions below are very different:

Hazırlık FQs

…he just knows that there are only TWO “real” answers for both these questions:

Hazırlık IMP FQ (answers)

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…and, he also knows which one is more important!

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I had one final thing I wanted to say to Gökhan:

Hazırlık FINAL

…we do, afterall, have to keep these good ones from going over to the Dark Side!

LEARNing Parents…

In Learning & Parenting, The Paradigm Debate on 03/03/2012 at 8:23 am

A friend of mine is getting ready to deliver a presentation to a group of parents on how they can best help their kids with school and homework. We’ve been brainstorming ideas on the types of things she can do and I’ve been suggesting that she get them activeinvolved and questioning – you know with activitiesgames and reflective discussions (rather than the typical “edumercial lectures” parents get at things like this – when they do actually happen).

Makes sense, yes? – Getting them to “live” LEARNing – rather than telling them about it.

 

This morning I stumbled on a post that almost made me re-think the advice I had been giving my friend. The post was written by Phil Cullen (a guiding light on the Australian “Treehorn Express initiative) and in it he relates a conversation that he had with a parent:

I asked a parent how learners learn at school. He thought about it quite seriously and then remarked. “The teacher teaches them something, maybe from the black-board.  She then questions them and might set a test or the kids write something down.”

I wondered how many other parents (and remember that a parent is, essentially, a child’s fırst and most influential TEACHer) would agree with this kind of conceptualisation…we haven’t got a bloody chance, have we?

Unless we help parents LEARN more first!

 

The central challenge here is that it is not really this parent’s understanding of “what LEARNing is” that is the real problem – it is what he (or she) does with this understanding that needs to really concern us. If children are “taught” that this what LEARNing is all about (before we even get our hands on them), they are being put on the road to LEARNing illiteracy before getting to the really “good stuff”…

For years I have been working with teachers and lecturers (especially those who have not had much formal training in LEARNing and TEACHing) to help them gain the type of LEARNing perspectives that make a real difference to the lives of their students – maybe I have been barking up the wrong tree

A few years back Chris Watkins did a brilliant paper for those lovely chaps at ATL and in it he outlined what he considered to be the three main “ways” of thinking about LEARNing:

Clearly, the parent Phil chatted with is operating with the first of these – LEARNing is all about the TEACHing! In a way, this view is wholly understandable – we’ve all had great teachers who LEARNed us really well.

But, we all know there is a great deal of TEACHing that takes place in classrooms all over the world – with very little LEARNing!

And, this is exactly because:

The critical issue is, however, what happens if some primary teachers also work with this conceptualisation? Hang on, what happens if our kids then get to meet high school teachers who think the same way? And, what the hell do we do if the higher LEARNing of little Durmuş and little Kezban is also topped off by lecturers who think in the same vein?

As I said before…our kids haven’t got a bloody chance, have they?

 

Time to GET REAL…life is not orderly, neat and easy! The world is a complex place….getting “complexer” with every keystroke and blog post.

Little Durmuş and Little Kezban need to develop “habits of mind” that mirror this complexity. They ain’t gonna get these if our starting point is a view of LEARNing that is grounded on what a teacher “presents” and the quality of “tests” that teacher uses.

This is why so many of our education systems have become little more that “bureaucratic examocracies” that do more to switch our kids off LEARNing – and ensure they are poorly-equipped for the brave new world they will have to enter…………

TRUE…the notion of LEARNing as “individual sense-making” is a huge improvement…but this too is also not sufficient (unless, of course you fancy yourself as a 21st Century Robinson Crusoe).

For example, if we take a closer look at the so-called habits of mind we say kids need to develop (or rather the “ability set” or “talents” they need to LEARN) – we see a whole new “emerging curriculum”:

Kids are not going to LEARN these by being “told” about them – they are not going to LEARN how to do something with what they LEARN “about” these things from a blackboard (even a technologically-enabled version). They have to LEARN by “doing” them….and have these things reinforced by seeing grown-ups “walking-their-talk”!

This starts with parents…

Or, does it?

 

In one of my very first posts…I talked about the idea of the “LEARNing parent” and challenged mummy and daddy to reflect on whether they were, in fact, being good role-models for their kids. The problem was, and a couple of people reminded me of thisparents have been LEARNed by TEACHersand by their own experiences of education and the schools they went to.

 

When I work with teachers and lecturers on their understandings of LEARNingI often begin by asking them:

This freaks a lot of people out (teachers do not like “drafting in ideas” from the world of allthingsbusiness) – but I find this approach to be far superior to starting the conversation with a question like “What’s school all about?“…especially, when we ask a few more questions:

  • Are we in the MONEY-MAKING business?
  • Are we in the TESTING business?
  • Are we in the TEACHing business?
  • Are we in the LEARNing business?

Educators “hate” the first one – after all most of us wear those famous t-shirts (Will TEACH for FOOD) at the weekend!  They just “know” the second is “wrong” (even though we are increasingly being asked to buy into the “examocracy mentality”). They also get that we cannot justify placing the “means” before the “ends” when answering the last two questions

What freqently bakes their noodle is when we move onto a fifth question:

I do not care what “subject” a TEACHer teaches…what “discipline” they owe their loyalty to…all teachers and educators recognise the moral imperative of putting put the cart before the horseINTELLECTUALLY.

 

The problem is that many of us do not walk-our-talk…we, too, have been “socialised” in the same school systems that have created the parents that operate the “foundation feeder programmes” of our schools…and frequently feel powerless and unable to “fight the machine“.

Many of us have also been brought up in the “cultures of blame” that hold us back from being the teachers we all know we can bewe often choose the wrong questions to ask:

What Phil Cullen’s conversation with his parent has got me thunking is whether I need to be doing more work with parents…whether all of us in education need to be doing more with parents – and not just marketing our schools by telling half-truths about the number of exam passes we can manage in an academic year!

So, here’s an idea – why don’t we seriously set up real partnerships with our parentsLEARN them what we know is rightand take back our schools, colleges and universities...together!

Politicians might be able to resist “teachers” calls for changebut can they really resist the same calls from LEARNing parents?

What is LEARNing?

In Learning & Parenting, The Paradigm Debate on 30/10/2011 at 12:20 pm

The translation is in the “comments” section!

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A friend of mine is getting ready to deliver a presentation to a group of parents on how they can best help their kids with school and homework. We’ve been brainstorming ideas on the types of things she can do and I’ve been suggesting that she get them active, involved and questioning – you know with activities, games and reflective discussions (rather than the typical “edumercial lectures” parents get at things like this – when they do actually happen).

Makes sense, yes? – Getting them to “live” LEARNing – rather than telling them about it.

8

This morning I stumbled on a post that almost made me re-think the advice I had been giving my friend. The post was written by Phil Cullen (a guiding light on the AustralianTreehorn Express initiative) and in it he relates a conversation that he had with a parent:

I asked a parent how learners learn at school. He thought about it quite seriously and then remarked. “The teacher teaches them something, maybe from the black-board.  She then questions them and might set a test or the kids write something down.”

I wondered how many other parents (and remember that a parent is, essentially, a child’s fırst and most influential TEACHer) would agree with this kind of conceptualisation…we haven’t got a bloody chance, have we?

Unless we help parents LEARN more first!

8

The central challenge here is that it is not really this parent’s understanding of “what LEARNing is” that is the real problem – it is what he (or she) does with this understanding that needs to really concern us. If children are “taught” that this what LEARNing is all about (before we even get our hands on them), they are being put on the road to LEARNing illiteracy before getting to the really “good stuff”…

For years I have been working with teachers and lecturers (especially those who have not had much formal training in LEARNing and TEACHing) to help them gain the type of LEARNing perspectives that make a real difference to the lives of their students – maybe I have been barking up the wrong tree

8

A few years back Chris Watkins did a brilliant paper for those lovely chaps at ATL and in it he outlined what he considered to be the three main “ways” of thinking about LEARNing:

What is LEARNing (Watkins taxonomy 2003)

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Clearly, the parent Phil chatted with is operating with the first of these – LEARNing is all about the TEACHing! In a way, this view is wholly understandable – we’ve all had great teachers who LEARNed us really well.

But, we all know there is a great deal of TEACHing that takes place in classrooms all over the world – with very little LEARNing!

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And, this is exactly because:

TEACHing is not LEARNing

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The critical issue is, however, what happens if some primary TEACHers also work with this conceptualisation? Hang on, what happens if our kids then get to meet high school TEACHers who think the same way? And, what the hell do we do if the higher LEARNing of little Durmuş and little Kezban is also topped off by lecturers who think in the same vein?

As I said before…our kids haven’t got a bloody chance, have they?

8

Time to GET REAL…

Life is not orderly, neat and easy! 

The world is a complex place….getting “complexer” with every keystroke and blog post.

8

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Little Durmuş and Little Kezban need to develop “habits of mind” that mirror this complexity. They ain’t gonna get these if our starting point is a view of LEARNing that is grounded on what a teacher “presents” and the quality of “tests” that teacher uses.

This is why so many of our education systems have become little more that “bureaucratic EXAMocracies” (and the ADHOCocrats that run them) that do more to switch our kids off LEARNing – and ensure they are poorly-equipped for the brave new world they will have to enter…………

TRUE…the notion of LEARNing as “individual sense-making” is a huge improvement…but this too is also not sufficient (unless, of course you fancy yourself as a 21st Century Robinson Crusoe).

8

For example, if we take a closer look at the so-called habits of mind we say kids need to develop (or rather the “ability set” or “talents” they need to LEARN) – we see a whole new “emerging curriculum”:

8

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Kids are not going to LEARN these by being “told” about them – they are not going to LEARN how to do something with what they LEARN “about” these things from a blackboard (even a technologically-enabled version). They have to LEARN by “doing” them….and have these things reinforced by seeing grown-ups “walking-their-talk”!

This starts with parents

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Or, does it?

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In one of my very first posts…I talked about the idea of the “LEARNing parent” and challenged mummy and daddy to reflect on whether they were, in fact, being good role-models for their kids. The problem was, and a couple of people reminded me of this, parents have been LEARNed by TEACHersand by their own experiences of education and the schools they went to.

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When I work with TEACHers and lecturers on their understandings of LEARNing, I often begin by asking them:

What business are WE in

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This freaks a lot of people out (teachers do not like “drafting in ideas” from the world of allthingsbusiness) – but I find this approach to be far superior to starting the conversation with a question like “What’s school all about?“…especially, when we ask a few more questions:

  • Are we in the MONEY-MAKING business?
  • Are we in the TESTING business?
  • Are we in the TEACHing business?
  • Are we in the LEARNing business?

8

EDUcators “hate” the first one – after all most of us wear those famous t-shirts (Will TEACH for FOOD) at the weekend!

They just “know” the second is “wrong” (even though we are increasingly being asked to buy into the “examocracy mentality”). They also get that we cannot justify placing the “means” before the “ends” when answering the last two questions

8

What freqently bakes their noodle is when we move onto a fifth question:

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I do not care what “subject” a TEACHer teaches…what “discipline” they owe their loyalty to…all TEACHers and EDUcators recognise the moral imperative of putting put the cart before the horseINTELLECTUALLY.

The problem is that many of us do not walk-our-talk…we, too, have been “socialised” in the same school systems that have created the parents that operate the “foundation feeder programmes” of our schools…and frequently feel powerless and unable to “fight the machine“.

8

Many of us have also been brought up in the “cultures of blame” that hold us back from being the TEACHers we all know we can bewe often choose the wrong questions to ask:

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What Phil Cullen’s conversation with his parent has got me thunking is whether I need to be doing more work with parents…whether all of us in EDUcation need to be doing more with parentsand not just marketing our schools by telling half-truths about the number of exam passes we can manage in an academic year!

8

So, here’s an idea – why don’t we seriously set up real partnerships with our parentsLEARN them what we know is rightand take back our schools, colleges and universities...together!

8

Politicians might be able to resist TEACHers’ calls for change

– but can they really resist the same calls from LEARNing parents?

Why we must put an end to this “READING” craze…

In Learning & Parenting, News & Updates (from the CBO) on 10/04/2011 at 10:59 am

I’ve just returned from a wonderful conference in Eskişehir – when I got back to Ankara last night, I found this “letter to the editor” in my mailbox….


Reading books chronically understimulates the senses. Unlike the longstanding tradition of gameplaying – which engages the child in a vivid, three-dimensional world filled with moving images and musical soundscapes, navigated and controlled with complex muscular movements – books are simply a barren string of words on the page.

Only a small portion of the brain devoted to processing written language is activated during reading, while games engage the full range of the sensory and motor cortices.

Books are tragically isolating. While games have for many years engaged the young in complex social relationships with their peers, building and exploring worlds together, books force the child to sequester him or herself in a quiet space, shut off from interaction with other children.


These new “libraries” that have arisen in recent years to facilitate reading activities are a frightening sight: dozens of young children, normally so vivacious and socially interactive, sitting alone in cubicles, reading silently, oblivious to their peers.

Many children enjoy reading books, of course, and no doubt some of the flights of fancy conveyed by reading have their “escapist merits”. But for a sizable percentage of the population, books are downright discriminatory. The reading craze of recent years cruelly taunts the 10 million Americans who suffer from dyslexia – a condition that didn’t even exist as a condition until printed text came along to stigmatize its suffers.

But perhaps the most dangerous property of books is the fact that they follow a “fixed linear path”. You can’t control their narratives in any fashion – you simply sit back and have the “story” dictated to you. For those of us raised on interactive narratives, this property may seem astonishing. Why would anyone want to embark on an adventure utterly choregraphed by another person? But today’s generation embarks on such adventures millions of times a day.

This risks instilling a general passivity in our children, making them feel as though they’re powerless to change their circumstances.


Reading is not an active, participative process; it’s a submissive one. The book readers of the younger generation are learning to “follow the plot” instead of “learning to lead”.

Perhaps, Ray Bradbury was right all along…..

S. Johnson (New York City)

Are you a GOOD parent?

In Learning & Parenting on 22/02/2011 at 7:53 pm

OK, maybe that’s a bit of an unfair question. What I really mean to ask is how good are you as a “LEARNing parent” or how much do you help your own kids (not your students) LEARN?

 

There’s a Turkish saying that goes “terzi kendi söküğünü dikemez”Roughly translated it means “tailors are not very good at repairing their own stuff“!

As a young teacher (who was also a young “dad”), I always doubted my own ability to do the “parenting stuff” really well. I remember I used to say that I do the “work stuff” really well – just not so good at the whole “life thing”. I’d see these “great dads” in the parks or leaving work early to spend time with their kids – they always seemed to do more with their kids than I could ever manage…

I would always work too much – extra classes, developing new materials (without a “sexy iPad”), drafting end-of-term exams, running student clubs, going to meetings (more often than not about “administration” – not student LEARNing) and grading (with a “correction code”, of course)!

I did a silly amount of professional development – this conference, that diploma, this course, that book! I was, by all accounts, a very good LEARNer, in addition to being a half-decent TEACHer.

It was, to me at least, as if there had to be some kind of “trade-off” between “work” and “life” – and the fact that  I had been exposed to a “mixed marriage” myself meant that I had the “protestant work ethic” along with all the “catholic guilt“. I just felt bad about not having the “daddy ethic“…

 

I wondered, seriously, if I had been a really good dad (and “husband”, at times – my wife described my first PC as “Tony’s mistress” and since then my mistresses have got smaller and smaller – and they sit in my lap or pocket!).

I wondered if I had spent enough time helping my own daughter LEARN over her “seven ages”:

She is gonna kill me for publishing this!

 

I look back now and think “Hey, maybe I didn’t do such a bad job”!

I am still married to a wonderful woman (the same one) and I have this amazingly strong, young woman that I am proud to call my “big, little girl”. She’s away at university these days – doing school work, running her own life by also working part-time and earning enough to write and tell me that she doesn’t need that much cash this month!

Now, that’s the kind of kid all of us need to raise!

 

A few posts ago, I introduced some of you to the work of Guy Claxton (in a piece entitled “REAL Learning”).

In his book “What’s the point of school?” – Claxton offers some great advice to parents who might want to become REAL “LEARNing parents”.

I took a quick look again today:

TIPS FOR RAISING LEARNERS

  • Be a visible learner for your children
  • Involve children in adult conversations (sometimes I wish I had done this “less” – Çağla got far too smart, far too early)!
  • Let them spend time with you while you are doing difficult things (they also learn very colourful language this way, too)!
  • Involve children in family decisions (Çağla used to “dread” the “family meetings”)!
  • Tell your children stories about your learning difficulties
  • Encourage children to spend time with people who have interesting things to share (we did have lots of fun “grown-up” parties – and she was often the hired “bar-staff”)
  • Don’t rush in too quickly to rescue children when they are having difficulties
  • Restrain the impulse to teach (especially if you are a “teacher” – we are the worst)!
  • Don’t praise too much – use interest rather than approval
  • Acknowledge the effort, not the ability
  • Make clear boundaries and maintain them (Çağla once told me “If I hear the bloody word CONSEQUENCES again, I’ll just…..)
  • Don’t over stimulate – boredom breeds imagination
  • Choose multi-purpose and open-ended toys (I gave Çağla a cardboard box when she was 2 – she loved it)!
  • Encourage different kinds of computer use (she could use a mouse at the age of two – in 1992)!
  • Talk to children about the process of learning (without offering too much advice)
  • Watch and learn from your children’s learning

 

Now, I’m not sure I did “all” of these (I know I definitely did not do one of them) – but I did a fair few!

Maybe we should ask my “big, little girl”!

 

P.S: My thanks to Çağla and Nazlı hanim – for everything but mostly for helping me become a better “man” – and “daddy”! And, to Guy – on behalf of  “LEARNing parents” everywhere!

P.P.S: Part Two of “Fatmagül’ün Suçu Ne?” – is coming!

 

 

What’s the Point of School?: Rediscovering the Heart of Education by Guy Claxton.