Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘21st Century Learning’

What EXACTLY are the “Skills” needed by 21st Century TEACHERS? – The “Robocop” Upgrade…

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Technology on 18/02/2014 at 3:24 pm

21C Teacher (Robocop ver) 160214 TG


I have been heard to say that you can’t throw a rock into the blogosphere these days without hitting a post or article on the 21st Century “something-or-other”.

Love it or hate it – the notion of 21st Century Skills is one of those HOT topics these days – especially in Turkey. Sadly, however, the discussions on EDtech here seem to be dominated by some very strange creatures…you know them as:

21C Digi Cheerleaders

…IDIOTS, mostly!


The real problem is:

Digi Cheerleading Rabbits


IDIOTS that are breeding like bloody rabbitson steroids!


IDIOTS that (still) do not link the 21C concept to real LEARNing – choosing instead to focus on what seems to be both the engine and the fuel of the 21st Century…..


Don’t get me wrong…I’m not some kind of EDtech luddite who wants to put a stop to the so-called tablet and akıllı tahta dönemi we are currently witnessing in Turkey.

Turkey is my adopted home, I am a “milli enişte” and I am amazingly proud that I helped co-create one of Turkey’s first “digital natives” (and also one of the toughest and most beautiful, too – ask me about the “Türk kızı” who took down men twice her size on the Turkish TV version of “Wipe-Out”).


I am a “daddy”, too!

A very proud one….




But, my business is LEARNing (as if you didn’t know) – not TECHnology. And, I’m interested in how we actually “do” something with all the talk-we-are-talking these days – talk about the new kids on the curriculum block:

(a wonderful “skill” that brings many of the above together)… 

 21C SMARTBoards and DUMBIdeas


We know here in Turkey (not that different to the rest of the world…really) that we still have major challenges with:

  • ORAL and WRITTEN COMMUNICATION (the 3R’s in TURKISH) – of course!
  • ENGLISH LANGUAGE (the 3R’s in ELL)


But, the TECH (and the so-called “new digital landscape”) still gets many more column inches and pixels than student LEARNing.


Our raging debate, a debate that others in the US and Europe have picked up, centres on Turkey’s plans to purchase 15,000,000 tablets over the next few years (as part of the Fatih Project) – and has international and domestic commentators really talking:


Actually, I’m not sure if we should be talking about the tablets (the PM was today…again and again and again) – we should be discussing the skills the tablets are supposed to be ushering into Turkish schools.

…and, the impact of these skills on TEACHers.


In an earlier post, I discussed how these 21st Century realities are creating a new set of roles for TEACHers:

However, discussion on how these roles translate into a new evolving set of teacher skillsliteracies and fluencies has been (very) limited – especially, in Turkey.


Isn’t it time we started to ask some REAL questions:

  • What skills do TEACHers (in Turkey) need as we continue our march into the 21st Century?
  • How many of these skills actually relate to how we deploy and use TECHNOLOGY?
  • How many of them relate to effective LEARNing and TEACHing?
  • What do TEACHers actually think themselves – and what do their LEARNers think?
  • How effectively is TEACHer (and LEARNer) LEARNing being promoted and supported (in Turkey)?
  • What else needs to change to make the 21st Century “wishlist” a reality?


Hey, maybe we can even start asking some of the most basic questions.

Questions like:



I’d love to see some fresh ideas and comments. 

If not (and you are a lover of “bedtime reading”) – here’s a little list of some resources on allthings21Cskills:


Tony’s 21st CENTURY LEARNing Library


Back to Basics – “QUESTION Basics”, that is!

In Classroom Teaching, Teacher Learning, Technology on 04/11/2013 at 2:45 pm

DNA (LEARNing TEACHer) Blog ver 01


I’ve been getting a lot of flak recently for doing so much on all that “bloody TECHnology stuff”!


Come on…not my fault!

I’ve been doing a few programmes / projects of late that are designed to put the TECH into the EDwithout forgetting the LEARNing – especially the TEACHer LEARNing!


Tech Change (Clay Shirky quote) ver 01


…and, Clay is a guy I choose not to disagree with too much

(unless it’s about hair-styles)!


Now, the plan (for this current post) was to look at some of the questions that we (as TEACHers) really need to be asking ourselves as we look at ways to “use” (more) EDtech – to enhance what we need to be doing….to help our students do more with the stuff they are supposed to be LEARNing….with us!

Yes, that’s a mouthful…and a half.


That’s because we need to be doing more than just “DOing” stuff in the classroom…

Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

…we need to be THUNKing DOers – in our classrooms!


What I was going to do (in this post) was look at a few of the questions all TEACHers need to ask BEFORE they jump on the latest band-wagon or hand over their credits cards to one of the many…

Digital Cheerleaders ver 02

…that are out there – lots of whom (sadly) are TEACHers, too!


You know, questions like:

LEARNing First TECH Laters 01


This one is even “sexier” (probably because I stole and co-opted it from Clay Christensen):

LEARNing First TECH Laters 02


Not only the EDtech you “hire” yourself…what the school also hires – for you!


Why, Tony?

Why do we need to question everything?

I just want to get on with my job…


Well, because…of what Uncle Clay (the first one) tells us above – but perhaps, more importantly,



Let’s look at an example (very) close to home (if you live here in canım Türkiyem):

Fatih Project

I am a Turk now – can say what I want about OUR projects!


Did it work? Is it working? Will it ever work – if we throw more money at it?

Why not?

DUMB things with SMARTboards (Heidi Hayer Jacobs quote) ver 02 TG


What’s the price-tag?


Me thunks…someone, somewhere got some ‘splaining to do – to all us tax-payers!


Questions, questions, questions…are GOOD!

Never let anyone tell you any different…


If we start asking these types of questions (about allthingsEDtech), others just start bouncing around and out of the old grey matter:

How does this tech 01


But, heywhy stop at student LEARNing:

How does this tech 02


…when we can (also) do so much more with our own TEACHer LEARNing!


Questions, questions, questions…


…because we all know (especially if you speaks a wee bit of Mandarin):

Questions (Chinese Proverb) ver 02 TG


Now, that was what I WAS going to say (in this post)…but I won’t – because a few of you are a bit fed up withall that “bloody TECHnology stuff”!


So, let’s really get back to “basics”:

What is this




The Next “BIG THING” in #EDtech…

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, Technology on 14/10/2013 at 12:34 pm

Next Big Thing (Cameron Evans quote) ver 02


I know, I know…some of you are still recovering from that last post I did.

Not only did it have the longest blog post title ever (there has to a “prize” for that somewhere, yes?) but it had enough links & “bedtime reading” to put you off ever stepping back into the blogosphere!

OR, perhaps, just trapped in the Blog-a-Matrix…..forEVER!


Sorry (bw)


On reflection, it might have been better to split it up – you know, into 12 parts or something. That certainly would have made planning my bloggery writing schedule easier for the next few weeks!


In fact, this is what I am doing now – but I thought I’d begin with the last section of that monster post:

Pt 12

…and see how it goes!


I’m starting with a “part” on “hardware”…not because I think the “toys” are more important than the “stuff” we do with the toys…but because it’s the hardware that most frequently scares us to death.

It’s always been that way – even since we all started watching those Sci-Fi movies in the 1970’sheck, even way before this…who remembers the re-runs of Flash Gordon – all the way from the 1930’s?



…it’s not just hi-tech hardware (or robots) that give us the willies!


Take a look at this lovely video (with thanks to Joan Kang Shin for sharing this at the recent conference hosted by AİBÜ in Bolu)


See – and we got used to these things (and Norwegian)…just dandy!


On the list I did, however, I chose to focus on:

Google Glass (TG ver 2013)

Google Glass is just so cool…the coolest!


I want…I want….I want – now!


I also wanted to share a few thunks from others that agree with me:


The downside of an innovation like Google Glass is that it has serious…and I mean really shirious potential to create another major educational disruptiona disruption…the likes of which…not even God has seen!

But, didn’t we also say that about “the book”?


SergeyYES, you and your crew!

If me and my crew lose our jobs in the next few years (because of your bloody “specs”), you will “giz uz all a job”  yeh?


The thing was, as soon as finished up that post (ain’t it always the way?), I came across another post – a post suggesting that Google Glass was perhaps not the be-all-and-end-all of EDtech over the next few years.

This post was penned by Hartmut Esslinger (the grand-daddy of allthingsAPPLEDESIGN). Harmut tells us about 4 sexy EDtech trends to keep our eyes on


…while wearing our Google Glass, of course!


His list was not exactly full of all the “small things” that Cameron Evans (look back at the very first image) told us about last year. Now, Cam probably wouldn’t be seen dead saying something about Apps (unless they were all MS Apps, that is) – but I guess this is what he was really talking about.

Perhaps, the biggest news of the week (about all these “small things”) was the announcement that Apple has just launched its new iPad Apps for TEACHers section on iTunes – actually, it’s TWO sectionsone for TEACHers and parents on Apps for kids (broken down into age groups and LEARNing activities)…and, the otherstuff TEACHers can use in the classroom

If the massive adoption of the iPad (by everyone and his dog) was the last “big” thing (before we all get our hands on Google Glass) – the Apps are certainly all those small things that could change how we “do LEARNing”.


Boyz n’ girlz…before I forget:




…to all my Sevgili Hocalarım!

Have a wonderful Bayram – from big, bad İstanbul!


Everything NO Single Teacher Should EVER Want to Know About EdTech, Digital Literacy and 21st Century LEARNing…

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, Technology on 05/10/2013 at 12:31 pm



Now, some of you may have noticed (from my last 3 posts…and mini-dizi) that I have had my “techie” head on of late. But, I have to admit it is the “TEACHer LEARNing techie head” or (as I like to say…to convince myself, perhaps) my “THUNKing DOer techie head”!


Those last 3 posts were not just about the “tech” of Twitter – they were more about the capacity of a tool like Twitter to help us TEACHers LEARN, GROW…and get off the planet faster!

A tool is just as good as the purpose to which it is put…nuff said!


Twitter Blog Post 03 (21C Culture 3C ver)


However, I have been working on a little project (for a group of ELL/ELT professionals here in canım Türkiye) with my partner in “EdTech crime”Ana Cristina Pratas (our “Desert Rose”, yes the one with a digital footprint bigger than that of a Sasquatch on steroids).

We got to thunking what it would be like if we pooled our favourite online bedtime readings on Edtech, Digital Literacy and 21st Century LEARNing – and looked how we could feed them into the “syllabus” we are co-creating for our little project…



…you might thunk!


This is the “result” – yes, probably the longest title of any blog post ever written…ever!


We have tried to group our favourite bits of digital reading into 12 parts – and included a few posts / articles that would also be useful for those of you “new” to Edtech – or perhaps just looking for ways to continue your journey of becoming a more connected educator. As I noted, the list was developed for practitioners in ELL and ELT – but we have tried to draw on the thunks of a wider range of THINKing EDUcational DOers…across all our EDUsectors.

Thank you (glass image)


ALL…so much…for caring enough to share!



Pt 01


These are some of our fave speakers doing their thing – these ideas have inspired us, made us thunk…and even given us a laugh or 3.





Pt 02


These bits of bedtime reading are just in case you need a reminderEdTech is not just HEREit is here to STAY…and it can help all of us do more with what we know, who we are and how we all improve as educators. 




Pt 03


I know, I know…a lot of you are sick to the teeth of hearing the phrase 21C LEARNing!

Remember, “a rose by any other name“.

bla, bla, bla!


There are a lot of thunks to be had by stepping back from the “tech” and thunking over the issues…and terminology (so, check out that last one from Terryreal cats n’ pigeon stuff there).




Pt 04


These great posts and articles follow up on many of the issues raised in Part 03 above – they will keep you going for days…weeks….months! 




Pt 05


OK – before we really get into the “techie tools”, this little list are those things you can bookmark (and keep coming back to…again and again).



Pt 06


Here we tried to give you as wide a range of tools as possible – the writers of these posts spent hours weighing up the best tools around. Of course, no-one (except an idiot, perhaps) would suggest that we need to know all of these inside out – start with the ones that help you solve the very real problems you have…or just do what you do – “better”




Pt 07 8

Ahhh, and where would any half-decent, curated Edtech list be…without a nod to Social Media. Again, we have tried to give a few introductory bits of reading – but do check out that last one.


Pt 08


This list was one of the toughest to “prune” down – the list of tools is (literally) endless! However, we tried to focus on the ones that are either most useful or most used…

…by connected educators.




Pt 09


We almost decided against keeping this little section – well, the second part of it at least. But…with so many of our institutions (sadly) doing such a poor job of supporting (real) TEACHer LEARNing, “going DIY” is probably the best route!

Then, use LinkedIn to find yourself a better job!

Did he just say what I thunk he said?

Yep, he did!


Pt 10


Now, considering that both my partner in EdTech crime and I both suffer from acute Idiopathic bloggeria, we opted to keep this one short and sweet (but notice I did manage to sneak one of me own posts in there – tricky, tricky)!

Basically, blogging is good for you…and even better for your LEARNers!

See why…



Pt 11


Now, I know I have said (in the past):


Its NOT about (edtech) TG ver 02


…and emphasised:


It IS about (edtech) TG ver 02


I stand by that…still!


But, especially here in canım Türkiyem these days…more and more of us are being asked to play with our “classroom toys”. It’s pretty silly to have a “toy” and not know how to use it!

The problem is that our dear friends in the primary sector have kinda cornered the market in half-decent web-based ideas and tips for IWBs. We have done our best here – but let us know, if you have found better stuff. 



Almost there…boyz n’ girlz!


Pt 12


Now, I bet you thought I was going to start banging on about the “flipped classroom”…..“MOOCs” perhaps….even “augmented reality”?

No, no, no!


Google Glass is just so cool…the coolest!

I want…I want….I want – now!


Besides, it’s my blog and I can write whatever takes my fancybut I might come back to that other stuff later.





You know the jingle…yes?


SergeyYES, you and your crew!

If I lose my job in the next few years (because of your bloody “specs”), you will “gizza job”  yeh?


BLOGGING – the “secret weapon” that is (finally) helping TEACHers “trump” SCHOLars? (the RE-boot)…

In Adult Learners, Our Universities, The Paradigm Debate on 05/07/2013 at 8:39 am

big bad İSTANBUL


Still doing a couple of bloggery RE-boots to celebrate reaching my 500,000th milestone


This one took me totally by surprise and was one of the most popular posts of 2012. Initially posted at the end of May, it stayed on my list of top 10 “best-sellers” for over three monthsnot too shabby, when you realise that most blog posts these days have a shelf life of around 7 days…tops!


In a way, this post is quite significant for me (as a bloggery LEARNer) as it was the first time that I started to use images to “tell my stories” – rather than just use graphics to “support” the thunks I wanted to get on “paper” (on “screen”).

Some people have told me that this makes my posts more difficult to read…but I find it also makes them more fun to write!


Anyways, I hope you enjoy seeing it again…or seeing it for the first time!


TRUMP card Ver 02


One of my favourite EDUreads from the last 15 years or so is Larry Cuban’s How Scholars Trumped Teachers.

Larry is my kinda EDUscholar and EDUcator – a real “thunking doer” who tells it like it is and does not pull his punches where the LEARNing of others, especially our “kids”, is concerned.

He also has an amazing blog – Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice – and, if you ain’t checked it out, you just don’t know the EDUblogosphere well enough.


Anyways, the book, written in 1999 (yes, we “oldies” actually read these paper-based thingies back in the day) describes the development of the American Academe over 1890-1990 – using Stanford as his “case study”.


OK, so he picks up that old chestnut of a question:

What is more important within the university – TEACHing or RESEARCH?


But…his “answer” really hits the “spot” – and probably cost him a few “Academy pals”!


Most of us in EDUland know:

Karabell Paradox (Ver 02)

… don’t we?


Larry does! And, he basically “proves” that it is what academics are “trained” to do that has won out – again, and again, and again.

Not only in the States – all over the bloody globe!


What Larry also does is also help us “see” through the smoke n’ mirrors that have characterised the type of “changes” and “reforms” the Academe claims to have realised over the years…

It’s a good read! A VERY good read…


We TEACHers – knowing how much we have been trumped” (click this one) left, right and centre (yep, definition #02 is the one!) – have been known to get a bit miffed about this (…isn’t that Urban Dictionary just great)!

We tend to work harder (with the “people” who “matter”), we put in more hours (planning for the people who matter) – and we take more crap from the parents of the people who matter…and journalists, politicians, wanabe EDUgurus, publishers – do I need to go on?


A lot of us see conventional higher LEARNing for what it is…and accept that…

Tradition and Bureaucracy (Moe quote) Ver 02


We also know that the famed “holy trinity” that represents the “purpose” of the Academe – TEACHingRESEARCH and PUBLIC SERVICE – basically, and in practice, “translate” into:

Holy Trinity in HEd (Ver 02)


We also see that our universities can and do make some very serious “mistakes”:


Even…the best of them!


It is because of these, and that fact that we do focus so much of our energy on LEARNing the people who matter, that many of us also ask the question:

Folk Wisdom (Schleicher quote) Ver 02

A fair question really!


Because…every one of us “knows” (in our heart-of-hearts) that…

EXPERT Brain Ver 02


I mean, would any university department shiriously consider putting together a “research team” (on the back of a big, fat government grant) made up of people who had not been trained in research methodology, had limited experience of conducting field work or (God forbiddid not have clue about MLA citations.


That last one is quite interesting – and it now seems that we can even cite our tweets in MLA format. This little change is one tiny example of the “campus tsunami” everyone is banging on about these days…

Bob Dylan (for the times they are a chagin) Ver 02


The difference…is that TEACHers are ahead of the game, this time – and blogging is our secret weapon!


The WORLD has changed…

EDUcational THUNKing has changed…

LEARNers are changing…

LITERACY is being transformed

SCHOLARship (and AUTHORship) are being assimilated…


Blogging is leading the charge with allthingsdemocratisation – and TEACHers have proven themselves to be the BORG of the blogosphere. Just take a look at the blogging figures – those groups of professionals actually using the blogosphere to get their voices “out there” – and inspire others to find their voices!



TEACHers rule…and are ROCKing the blogosphere!


It used to be the case that we ran around our classrooms “exposing” ourselves to every Tom, Dick or Harriet who presented themselves to us…Now, we are sharingreflecting…and ADAPTing on a global scale – the likes of which God has never seen!


Good for us…GOOD for our LEARNers!



And, it’s fair to ask, I thunk:


Where are all the SCHOLars?




I did, in fact, do a couple of follow-up posts to this one.

But…and remember:

TELLıng theTRUTH (Ver 03)


…neither of them really took off in the same way. Maybe, I tried to push a “neat idea” a little too farmaybe I got a little too self-indulgentmaybe they were just “crap”!

There’s a BLOGGERY lesson to be LEARNed in there…

Neyse, have a look at them…if you have 10 minutes to kill!



(posted on 30/05/2012)


I’m still STANDing…yeah, yeah, yeah!

(posted on 18/06/2012)


LEARNer Engagement in a Culture of LEARNacy (Part 05)

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities on 14/09/2012 at 4:45 pm

Krissy’s wonderful image…sums up why all is not so well in Denmark. 


It’s true, we have been able to create a fair few LEARNacy Zones in many classrooms, in many schools…even a few universities…

…but as I noted in Part 04 of this series:


Do you remember Part 02?

You know…I asked you all a few questions – and three of my favourites were:

…a lot of you “passed”, by the way!


An old friend got me a note (not to thank me for the questions – he’s always telling me that I need to give more “answers” than “questions”…but we agree to disagree on that).

What he said was quite interesting:

The funny thing is…that most us would never have come across questions like this 25-30 years ago. We just didn’t do much of that kind of thunking in teaching then…!

He went on:

…I showed the questions to a few teachers in our staff room…many of them answered “NO”…and said you are a total LEARNatic…and not in the nice sense!

As I have said before – WE can’t win ‘em all!


The issue is, of course, what happens to a student that walks out of “Classroom B” (after a really engaging lesson…with a thunking TEACHer) and has to do a “double” in “Classroom A”…with you-know-who! 

In Part 02, I asked the question: 

…but surely the more important questions are: 

  • What are the consequences of this on the LEARNacy of individual LEARNers?
  • What are the consequences of doing nothing about this?
  • What are the consequences…?


For sure…advances in psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience have picked up the pace of our thunking over the last decade…but, in essence, education has been witness to a broader paradigm shift in how we approach TEACHing and LEARNing for much longer…so much so that many of us now prefer to talk of LEARNing and TEACHing!

Indeed, TEACHing itself has become redefined as the “facilitation of LEARNing” and we now routinely talk of LEARNing outcomes – rather than just delivering “CONTENT”. Further, over the last 25-30 years, LEARNers have become of central importance – as have the motives, activities and feelings of individual LEARNers.

We have made huge steps in helping LEARNers become “insiders”insiders in their own LEARNing…

 …I’m thinking you “feel” me!


There are many out there (Bill Gates and Chris Woodhead should really “do coffee” some time) who see “bad TEACHers” at the root of all these woes…however, it’s much more likely that many TEACHers are “poor consumers” of LEARNing

The thing is…just as LEARNers need to exercise their LEARNing muscles in a LEARNing gymnasiumso do TEACHers… 


…it’s not as if most TEACHers aren’t trying! 

 Why else would TEACHers… 

The list goes on…


Yes, of course, there are those in “the teaching game” who are in it for the regular paycheck…or because they can’t see any other alternatives.

But, these are in the minority…

If we now recognise that LEARNers need Julia and Jean’s 3Rs and 3Cs, surely it’s not too much of a stretch to see how TEACHers might need these things, too? Surely, in developing a true Culture of LEARNacy – we have to emphasize TEACHer Engagement and much as we do LEARNer Engagement?


Guy Claxton talks of the need to create a classroom climate and culture that actively builds the LEARNing Power and the innate LEARNing dispositions and capabilities that all kids have.

What happens when: 

  • …we have school climates that do not emphasise TEACHer LEARNing or meaningful improvement in how TEACHers might expand and improve student LEARNing? 
  • …we have school leaders that create a stressful climate based on the fear of failure (and play “the blame game”)? 
  • …we have national educational agendas based on the whims of politicians and their “examocrat buddies” or so-called “educational reformers” (who couldn’t even spell LEARNacy, if you paid them – and we do)?

I’ll tell you:

Dream much, Tony…?

LEARNer Engagement in a Culture of LEARNacy (Part 04)

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities on 14/09/2012 at 12:20 pm

LEARNacy (or the capacity of human beings to LEARN and also LEARN how to get better at LEARNing) is certainly not new – Maria Montessori just “got” it over 100 years ago when she “discovered” that:

…but it was Guy Claxton that gave the idea a “name”.


Guy draws heavily on the concept of the LEARNing gymnasium – and the metaphor of sport and exercise. Just as our muscles need exercise – so do our minds.

The four muscles he drills down into are his “4Rs”:


…and it is pumping iron in the classroom that can help LEARNers get better at..


In truth, although Guy coined the phrase – he does not dwell on it that much (that’s all my “bad” – just a sucker for “sexy” words, I guess). His priority is LEARNing Power – the building of all those innate LEARNing dispositions and capabilities that we all have and the classroom practices that help to cultivate those habits of mind.

His “vision”, if you will is to, is to get this sign:

…into every school and university (OK – that’s just me, again)!

And, by all reports (except those that come from Chris Woodhead’s desk)…he’s done a bloody good job! A lot of dedicated, forward-thunking TEACHers have breathed life into these ideas…and got results!


  • Does this mean they “stopped” TEACHing?
  • Does this mean they “threw out” all their CONTENT?
  • Does this mean they went over to the Dark Side?



Our kids will always need “great TEACHing” – they will always need “STUFF” that also LEARNs and ENGAGEs them…we just need to restore “greater balance” (…to the Force, Luke)!


Oh, yesand before I forget (again)…

Yes, I was supposed to use this in Part 03!


…YOU just had to know something like this was coming…


All is still not well in the state of Denmarkbut more on that in Part 05!


LEARNer Engagement in a Culture of LEARNacy (Part 03)

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities on 13/09/2012 at 1:35 pm

One of the challenges of running a mini-series on your blog (apart from the fact that they never seem to end…) is you can, if you are not careful, leave a few loose ends

For example, in Part 02 of this “dizi” – I posed this question:

This one touches at the very heart of student engagement debates in our 21st Century world…but I kinda left it hanging there and did not really plan to talk about EdTECH that much in the series.

Fortunately (for me), Bill Ferriter did a guest post on Larry Cuban’s blog recently and drew on Dina Strasser’s wonderful one-liner:


Like most EDUsmart LEARNatics, Bill and Dina both recognise that TEACHers cannot really “engage” students with TECHnology – for LEARNers the TECH is “invisible” and our attempts to make it more “visible” (and thus “motivating”) will probably get us as many giggles as when we told them that we did not have the internet when we were LEARNers! 

As we noted in Part 01LEARNers want choicechallenge and collaboration (to feed their need for responsibilityrespect and real’). 

As Bill puts it: 

What students are really motivated by are opportunities to be social — to interact around challenging concepts in powerful conversations with their peers. They are motivated by issues connected to fairness and justice. They are motivated by the important people in their lives, by the opportunity to wrestle with the big ideas rolling around in their minds, and by the often-troubling changes they see happening in the world around them.


The role of the TECH – is just to “help” them do that, as effectively and efficiently as they canReal engagement and a real culture of LEARNacy means that, as TEACHers, we prioritize the purpose, success (or “mastery”, if you are a fan of Dan Pink) and autonomy – and make sure we build on the curiosity that LEARNers naturally bring to the table.

The starting point is to ask our LEARNers to LEARN us


The second loose end was a question I asked at the very end of Part 01:

Now, I have to admit this was a tough question – but what I was getting at was that to really make student engagement “work” (in a school context) is that the whole school community has to be committed to LEARNacya community of purpose committed to creating a culture of LEARNacy. 

Many TEACHers (and I got a few e-mails to prove it) say that this is their real challenge…that their schools do not give them the opportunities and the time to “work ON” the business… 

 …and, sadly, focus on “working IN” the business – and what is convenient for them!


If TEACHers cannot answer that question in the affirmative, the first thing the school or university needs to do is open up “space” for all staff to ask other questions:

  • Why not? What is stopping us?
  • What needs to change in us, our TEACHing and our school to make this the way we all “do” the business of LEARNing?

Because, you know…

…if we don’t!


The really big loose end is, of course, that I have not really defined what I mean by a Culture of LEARNacy.

That’s easy (gulp!) – when I get round to Part 04!

LEARNer Engagement in a Culture of LEARNacy (Part 02)

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities on 11/09/2012 at 5:57 pm

The other week (caused, in part, by the little image you see above and a few of the questions I shared with you in Part 01 of this little mini-series) someone called me a “LEARNatic” – a term I had not heard before!

I actually thought it was quite “smart”…and I took it for what it was – a bit of venting by a TEACHer who was clearly bored of life…and certainly wasn’t interested in student engagement or post-summer CPD workshops!

Hey, we can’t win them all!


What I didn’t know was that the term itself also served to put me in some very esteemed company – a community made up of people like Carl Rogers…like Jerome Bruner…like Jean Rudduck…like Guy Claxton…please let me go on…please!

I was chuffed to bits!


The term LEARNatic was in fact coined by that pillar of virtue, Chris Woodhead, the former Chief Inspector of Ofsted (the UK’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) – basically Darth Vader’s “school inspectors”.

Woodhead used the term to describe the ideas of people like Guy Claxton – you know, those UK-based LEARNatics that were suggesting that schools hadn’t quite got it right and that they all needed to be thinking about Julia and Jean’s 3Rs and 3Cs…those LEARNatics that were suggesting that the “examocracies” we had created all over the bloody planet just weren’t working…and we needed a new educational agenda for the 21st Century…

…an agenda based on LEARNacy!


BTW, Chris Woodhead also earned himself the reputation of being Righteous, Reactionary and Rong – the 3Rs UK educators use to describe him…but that’s for another post!


It was Guy, actually, that thunked up the term LEARNacy…in his 2002 book – Building Learning Power.

Now, I bet you are now expecting me to jump right in and “tell” you what it is all about!

…and, you’d be totally “wrong”


Well, what I thought was that I’d prefer to ask you a few…questionsand see if you are a LEARNatic, too!

Is that OK?


Here we go (and remember…be “honest”…no copying!):

Nearly there…just 2 more to go!

Would you like an “answer key”? 


Now – boyz n’ gurlz, if you answered all those questions (well, 8 out of 10 of them) in the affirmative – congratulations!

You are a LEARNatic – welcome to the community!

Bedtime Reading…

LEARNer Engagement in a Culture of LEARNacy (Part 01)

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities on 11/09/2012 at 6:58 am

You can’t throw a rock into the educational blogosphere without hitting the word “engagement” these days. It’s been that way since the mid-1990s but the recent interest in 21st Century LEARNing (or the 21C Paradigm) means that it has got a much higher profile of late…


Today, in order to “compete” with the power of self-directed, edtech-enabled LEARNing, classroom TEACHers have to engage, engage, engage…and woe betide thee, Molly Woppy…if you are still using carrots n’ sticks to get your LEARNers to LEARN!

The problem is, in today’s brave new world of education, rapport just does not cut it – neither does a great curriculum or a great assessment matrixif we ever get round to creating these!

Engagement has become the educator’s best friend in the “war on motivation” (or the lack of it). The real problem (yes, you knew it was coming) is that we seem to throw the term around so frequently and loosely that for many TEACHers it has lost its meaning.



Is it just topics that LEARNers find “interesting” or activities that they “like” or work that allows them to “express” themselves – even…shock-horror…“having fun” in the classroom and “working with friends”?


Of course, it’s more…a lot more.

Check out this summary from WikiI must admit these guys are still impressing me with some of their stuff…but do not tell anyone I said that! This time, however, I’m going to focus on those elements that impact LEARNers and TEACHers…in the classroom.

And, what better place to start than with Carl Rogers…and his insight into the “real” meaning of engagement:

…he elaborates:

…he gives us even more:

Now, I have to admit…when I first saw this (as a younger teacher), I thought “No way…no way is that possible in the classroom”!

I guess I am not alone…


Rogers’ comments highlight many of the key elements that educational researchers started to hone in on in the mid-1990s:

…a holy trinity that seem to fuel a visible delight in the LEARNers – and a persistence or resilience that allows these LEARNers to “see things through” to “success” and “achievement”.

Now, you see why this scared the bejeebers out of me!


Some of you – familiar with the work of Dan Pink – will have picked up on that last word, the title of his 2009 book. Dan writes a great deal about the changing work of work or what he terms “21st century work”. His book, Drive, was summarised in a “twitter post” he made at the time the book was published:

Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery and purpose. 

By which he meant (but could not fit into a 140-character tweet):

  • Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives.
  • Mastery – the urge to get better and better at something that matters.
  • Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. 

Drive, of course, refers directly to “motivation” (more indirectly to “engagement” – the product of high levels of motivation), and Pink suggests that the keys to unlocking and sustaining this type of (intrinsic) motivation (at work, school and home) lie in focussing in on autonomy, mastery and purposethe exact same thing that Carl Rogers was talking about.


Now, you might say – and would probably be very right to do soTony, surely this type of “engagement” is only possible out-of-school – when kids choose to “tune out” school and focus on things they “love”, their “real” interests, their own hobbies? 

The thing was that early research into classroom engagement did actually show that it was possible in school…in the classroom. 

We started to see that those students that were “engaged” in their school work seemed to be “engergized” by success, curiosity, originality and satisfying relationships. Richard Strong, Harvey Silver and Amy Robinson, for example, picked up on this and highlighted four core needs that these students seem to have – and explained them a bit more (we did not have twitter then):

  • Success – the need for “mastery” (not just grades or exam passes)
  • Curiosity – the need for “understanding” (not just “information” that has to be memorised)
  • Originality – the need for “self-expression” (not just be a “good student”)
  • Relationships – the need for “involvement with others” (not just be a “vessel”)

Obviously, all these elements basically touch on the issue of “motivation” and many TEACHers realised that it might be a good idea to start looking at the things that they were already doing “right” – and discover a few more ways to build on these things. By asking questions like:

…and more reflective (and disorientating) questions like:

…that only the bravest of us ask!

All of them…great questions!


What these teachers were realising was that student engagement also came from TEACHers engaging with their own TEACHing!

John Hattie, noted this:

He is right – on both counts!


BUTthere is another element!

TEACHers can improve LEARNer engagement by engaging LEARNers in conversations about what engages them. They can ask LEARNers to LEARN them! 

…through direct approaches vis-à-vis “motivation”: 

…and, also taking this…further: 

It is exactly these types of questions – suggested by Julia Flutter and Jean Rudduck (in this instance) – that start to pull LEARNers out of their more traditional role of “outsiders”…and help them assume the role of an “insider” – an insider in the very process of their own LEARNing…


Julia and Jean also take this a step further – in their 2004 book – when they describe a great model that captures the very essence of engagement. They maintain that schools have been getting it wrong for years and suggest that children at school are “hungry” for the 3Rsresponsibility, respect and reality…and that teachers and schools can meet these needs by focussing on the 3Cschoice, challenge and collaboration.

These 3Rs and 3Cs can be adapted into another group of questions that TEACHers can ask themselves:

…again, TEACHers engaging with their own TEACHing!


OK…so far, I have been doing most of the heavy-lifting in this post (or was that “heavy-asking”?) – let’s try a little task. Ask yourself those six questions inspired by Julia and Jean’s thunking – just give a “yea” or “nay”.


If you answered “yes”, try evidencing those answers with two other sets of questions:




…’cos we all need to LEARN how to do this better!


Now, I have just realised I have gone over my self-imposed word limit (again!)…and we haven’t got to LEARNacy…let alone the notion of a CULTURE of LEARNacy. 

I did say, at the very start of the post, this was Part 01 


I’ll leave you with one last question…a question that might hint at where we are going with this: 


…after all – we teach LEARNers, not COURSES – right?


Bedtime Reading:

Bedtime Reading (saved for Pt 02):