Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘21st Century Teacher’

What is EDUCATIONAL LITERACY? – another DVD Box-Set…

In Educational Leadership, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Training on 09/10/2011 at 10:12 am

In a number of our recent posts, we have been exploring the notion of Educational Literacy (EdL) – and a few of you have been asking for more on what exactly EdL is:

Simple enough, yes? But, we have also been working to demonstrate that:

All the talk of “mushrooms” has probably thrown a spanner or two into the works so I thought I’d go back to the very beginninghence the DVD Box-Set.

As usual, this summarises a lot of the posts that relate to this topic – so just hit the red hot-links to see the full post.



In one of our very first posts, we discussed the importance of:

I did, of course, link this to the work of Guy Claxton and his call for educators to get busy building up the ResilienceResourcefulnessReflectiveness and Reciprocy our learners need.

I have elaborated on Claxton’s work in another post – and shared a few great links with everyone:


Quite a few people thought that I had not really talked enough about “teachers” – so I corrected this:

But noted that perhaps:


It was that post (drawing on the ideas of Knowles) that took us a little deeper into the world of “andragogy” and adult LEARNing. Now, this was not really an area we had decided to look into in much detail – but we then discovered that we were having to explore the notions of literacy/fluency, “cooking” and oh, yes – teacher LEARNing!

Now, you see where the mushrooms come in!


What dawned on us, however, was that we were really discussing how LEARNing (or rather “learnacy” – again, another gem from Guy Claxton) had impacted the way we “see” the “effective” teacher.

This meant that, perhaps, we had to discuss the notion of Educational Literacy (EdL) in more specific terms:


The “title” of the above trilogy suggested, to some, that we were talking about allthingstechnology– we were not!


But, we have tried to clarify this in a more recent post:


There will probably be more of this over time


Imagineering the 21st Century Teacher…the PREQUEL!

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Training on 23/09/2011 at 1:39 pm

After my last post on Imagineering the 21st Century Teacher, I got a lot of questions – mostly asking:

“What exactly is Educational Literacy”?

Pretty reasonable question, actually!


In a nutshell:

Educational Literacy (EdL) is all about the capacity of an individual to make a “real difference” to the lives of others – through learning and education.

In a way, Educational Literacy (let’s stick with the abbreviationEdL) is something that should concern everyone on the planet. Any parent wishing to help his or her child make “wise” decisions about schools, colleges or university – needs to have EdL. Any teacher walking into a classroom (for the “first” or the “50,000th” time) needs to have a lot of EdL, if she wants to be truly effective.

EdL is something parentsstudentsteacherseducational administrators or anyone involved or interested in the world of learning (including, dare I say, media representatives, publishers and politicians)must have!

In the case of teachers, EdL is more than the teaching-related knowledge and skills required to manage a classroom, present content and practice teaching points – that is known as Pedagogic Literacy. It touches on a teacher’s beliefs and values, the way she interacts with her learners and the extent to which she reflects on her own practice – to grow professionally and create even “better” learning opportunities for those around her.

As such, EdL is a multi-dimensional construct – a true “multiple literacy”. It is not simply the product of adding to “a stack of facts and figures” or throwing more tools into “a bag o’ tricks” – it is experienced and lived through the synaptic-type interrelationships between a number of Literacies (and Fluencies)…

  • EdL is a “talent” – a talent that is both “learned” and “learnable”.
  • EdL is an “ability set” – an ability set that is both “rational” and “emotional”.
  • EdL is a “passion” – a passion that drives improvement, progress and transformation!

EdL is also something that many people do not possessand this is what lies at the heart of many of the challenges we face in education.

For example:

  • Parents that tell teachers that their job is to “create” an engineer or doctor out of “Little Mehmet” – have low levels of EdL…sorry mum (and dad)!
  • Students that “blame” their failure on a given exam or the “academic clubs” that manipulate exam cut-offs – have low levels of EdL…sorry guys, time to take some responsibility (unless, that is, their educators also happen to have low levels of “Assessment Literacy”)!
  • Lecturers and teachers that do not even bother to learn the names of their students or “care” what these students “bring” to the classroom – have low levels of EdL…no apologies required here!
  • Educational Managers (up to and including Principals and Rectors) who value their “seat” more than the learning of their learners and still fail to see the importance of “walking-the-talk” – have low levels of EdL…guys, just move aside (the 21stCentury is here)!
  • Schools that live off the “fat” (or prestige) of the “past” or try to “fake-it-till-they-make-it” – have amazingly low levels of EdL…time to “get real” and evidence what you say you are!
  • Media representatives that report the “league tables” without helping students and their parents to ask the right questions about how the “rankings” were carried out – have no EdL wotsoever…come on, guys – earn your pay-cheques!
  • Publishers who tell educators/teacher-trainers to put on a “show” and not bother with all that “learning stuff” – fail the “EdL test” totally…you millionaires, time to pay back a slice of those profits you’ve been raking in!
  • Politicians…Mmmmm…hey, who the hell said it was possible to “save every soul”!

You get the idea!


EdL is essentially “realized” (and developed or learned) through the application of Critical Literacy to allthingseducationcritical reflection as applied to learning and teaching.

However, because of the very nature of both learning and teaching, EdL has a powerful emotional component. EdL appreciates that education and learning are fundamentally “emotional experiences” that require Emotional Intelligence (or EQ) is also brought to bear on matters of learning and teaching.

This is why learning and teaching professionals need to exhibit high levels of Emotional Literacy:

  • Emotional sensitivity
  • Emotional memory
  • Emotional problem-solving ability
  • Emotional learning ability

and, to borrow from Gardner:

  • “Intrapersonal Intelligence”
  • “Interpersonal Intelligence”

It’s funny how little we “pay” teachers – considering the job requirements!


EdL thus describes what an individual (especially educators) “thinks” or “knows” about education, learning and teaching, what s/he “does” with what s/he knows and also what s/he does to “improve” what s/he knows, does and feels in regard to allthingseducation.

EdL also respects the role of the ” professional teacher” – and what an “effective” teacher can do with what s/he can do with what s/he knows – as such, Pedagogic Literacy is also a focus of its attention, as is Curriculum Literacy and Assessment Literacy.

The problem is, taking Assessment Literacy as an example:

Assessment Literacy is perhaps the best-known of the components that make up EdLwell, in educational reading circles at least. It has been described in the following ways:

Assessment literacy is present when a person possesses the assessment-related knowledge and skills needed for the competent performance of that person’s responsibilities. 

W. James Popham (2009)

Assessment literate educators come to any assessment knowing what they are assessing, why they are doing so, how best to assess the achievement of interest, how to generate sound samples of performance, what can go wrong, and how to prevent these problems before they occur.

Stiggins (1995) – Assessment Literacy for the 21st Century


Using the questions we looked at for Learning Literacy, an educator could critically reflect on his own literacy in this area by asking:

Many do – many do not! Most are not given the opportunity to improve on what they cannot do with what they do not know!


OK – so what do we have, now?

  • Critical Literacy – CHECK!
  • Learning Literacy – CHECK!
  • Emotional Literacy – CHECK!
  • Pedagogic Literacy – CHECK!
  • Assessment Literacy – CHECK!


Anything else? Mmmmmmmmm….

My thanks to my dearest “editor” – you know who you is!

Also, to the HLU, Testing, Curriculum and Training Teams at AU-SFL for inspiring me to get this down on paper….or, was that “on screen”? More “badtime reading” for you guys!

Imagineering the 21st Century Teacher…

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities on 18/09/2011 at 7:19 pm

In one of my very first posts I tried to outline what I thought were the ingredients for great teaching (or even “great teachers”) – I did this because a couple of bloggers had criticised my over-emphasis on LEARNing (had to set the record straight).

I is a “teacher”, too!


But, perhaps (more importantly) I did this because I’d also been invited to speak to a group of “4th year under-grads” – who had put me on the spot by asking me to talk to them about “what makes a great teacher”!

The chat with the under-grads went something like this:

I have to admit – I even surprised myself with that!


Feeling as if I might have short-changed them a bit, I sat down and tried to elaborate on a couple of themes we had touched upon (they had, you see, also asked me if I had a blogthey could “follow”gulp)!

In version 1.0 I said this – having “switched”, sharpish, to the idea of the “effective teacher” – teachers should:

  • Treat students with respect and a caring attitude
  • Present themselves in class as “real people”
  • Spend more time working with small groups throughout the day
  • Provide a variety of opportunities for students to apply and use knowledge and skills in different learning situations
  • Use active, hands-on student learning
  • Vary instructional practices and modes of teaching
  • Offer real-world, practical examples

But, also I made the piont that it was the  level of “LEARNing Literacy” (or “learnacy”) of the teacher her or himself – that was the “critical factor“:

Not everybody liked my choice of “image” – but, I do love my South Park!


I did, for a nano-second or two, actually believe that I might have “coined” my first original  educational phrase (as I had done a few years back with “Assessment Literacy” – damn you, Stiggins) – I had to settle with a pretty “neat” set of questions that teachers could, perhaps, use to reflect, learn, growand get off the planet quicker!

In more recent posts, I have been waxing lyrically on “How to make a mushroom omelette” (my other hobby is cooking – with a good glass of vino by my side, of course)…

The mushroom was, of course, a bit of a metaphor…we do love our literacies (and fluencies) in education.

And, if we want 21st Century Learners…surely, we need 21st Century Teachers who speak the same language(s) so as to co-create the LEARNing that everyone demands of us all.


And, so…thought it was time for version 2.0…

the “effective” 21st Century Teacher!

My darling wife has just called me to “act” on my love of allthingscooking – tis Sunday evening after all (and Dexter wants his dinner, too) – have a thunk and we can chat later!