Interim reports

Education Learning Log

Bart McGettrick-the voices of children

I listened to an inspirational talk today, by the always wonderful Bart McGettrick. It fitted beautifully with some of the things we’ve all been thinking about recently re the CFE

He talked about the following:

What is education about?

The flourishing of humanity.

The curriculum is not the purpose of education – it is a means of helping humanity flourish.

We should be looking at both personal and social well being and attainment and achievement.

We must raise people to distinction. If we can’t help children start on this road early ie in the nursery the incline will become more and more steep for them.

We need to listen to the voices of children. Converse with them – education is a conversation we have through the ages where we pass on matters of significance.

We have to develop citizenship  – our voices will be listened to if we develop a sense of courtesy. We need to develop an  identity – children who have conversations with responsible adults learn to have an identity.

The voice of a child requires a relevant space where relationships can be developed. We need to look at school architecture – there should be a variety of spaces, corners etc where children can meet and develop these relationships with other children and adults in school. We also need neccessary time. Relationships are at the heart of education – values come from our relationships. Children need confidence, emotional well being etc to develop their voice.

What is our role as teachers? We have a collective responsibility in education to provide every child with a relationship with a responsible adult. A relationship where someone hears their voice.

We need to understand that to be human is to have frailty and fragility. Perfection is not what we are about.

The driving force of an effective education is HOPE and its purpose is JUSTICE. If you don’t have justice in your hearts how can you have peace?

He asked to what extent do the children in our establishments think school is a place of justice where their time is used usefully, where they feel they are learning and developing? If we or they think something is a waste of time then more than likely it is…

He quoted the following:

“Justice has 2 beautiful daughters – Anger and Courage. Anger at what injustices there are and courage to ensure they do not remain.” Do we use this in our work?

He suggested listening to voices is not only a pedagogy it indicates a change in relationship within the classroom. Hope must be realisitc. We must have the courage to do good. As teachers we need to not just be compliant with the powers that be but have the courage to do the right thing for the children we serve.

Education is not just about Learning – we must move to make it about thinking. As teachers we need to be thinkers!

He reminded us about Michael Fullan’s book “Breakthrough” . We can breakthrough and make a difference, not when we have resources thrown at us but when every child has a relationship with an adult who really knows what that child is learning. When you know each child fully you’ll breathrough the system.

We need to move from a culture of accountability to a culture of responsibility. If we are responsible and do the right things then we will become accountable within that. We can develop a culture of co-responsibiliyt with teachers, children, parents etc.

He continued that we need not just rigid learners (shades of Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk on creativity) but resilient learners who can solve problems and be creative.

The 3 conditions for transforming learning and thinking?

  1. Motivation to learn and high expectations through conversations
  2. Time on task and a real opportunity to learn and think deeply
  3. Focused learning and thinking will come from focused teaching.

In an education establishment he suggested that too much or too little structure will stop creativity – there has to be a balance.

A lot of what he said reminded me of Patrick Duignan – the tone and emphasis on the good school in the good society and the notion of being fully present for the children and for teachers. As he said – Do the right things and success will follow.

Affirmation of these ideas is always useful and always reminds us of why we do what we do – and often we do need reminded! One day I hope to grow up to be even just a wee bit like some of these heroes of mine like Tim Brighouse or Bart or Patrick Duignan (or like my English teacher Brian Duncan who planted that golden seed of wanting to learn in me)! And just as I’ve said before these people are not weans out of college they have some age and with it a lot of wisdom – the connection though of understanding how the world is shifting with change, technology etc is always there, the world changes but we are always human. As Ewan MacIntosh also says we need to stop being holidaymakers – whether digital or teaching holidaymakers – we have to encourage and remind ourselves of the privileged position we have in the lives of our children.

November 1, 2007 - Posted by | Creativity, leadership, learning | , ,

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