I recently attended a 2-day conference on the topic of ‘Capabilities’ at the Association of Independent Schools. Capability refers to the higher level of ability that an individual can achieve or improve to, whereas capacity is the ability that exists at present. Some may get caught up in the various labels used such as capabilities, dispositions, 21st century skills, global skills, competences, non-cognitive or soft skills, 4Cs, 6Cs, 7 Cs etc. My view is that educators and leaders should focus not on the label but on the purpose. Why do we value these skills and abilities and how do we design learning experiences to develop these in our students? Presenters spoke of a balanced approach to learning. 'Don’t fall for false dichotomies-progressive versus traditional, content versus skills'. It’s a balance of both. We need to develop knowledge (brain) and character (heart).
While I could comment on the keynotes and workshops I attended and how I’ve been inspired, this post is focusing on one single tweet. One that I collated from slides provided by Charlie Leadbeater @LeadbeaterCh and added a simple comment.
The biggest problem I find in education is that we never ‘drop’ anything. We keep adding new but don’t replace. Is it about taking a risk? I’m wondering ... #
The responses this post generated provided some wonderful analogies.
For every ‘implementation’ what do you take away? Pruning works for plants, axons, dendrites and overall growth. We need to look to nature to grow children and schools. Don’t water the rocks.
I spent many summers on my family’s orchids and love your analogy - still worried we might be pruning an unhealthy tree
We never have anything taken off the table. Just added to. When does the table collapse?
The analogies here are great! Add to them a multi-layered cake... Eventually it becomes unstable, unhealthy and too complex to eat (where do you start?!)
Yes, we are so scared by compliance. I love seeing my Ts as risk takers and designing & implementing an innovative learning program.
I like to think about it as making visible the approaches that are already there, perhaps they are subversive influences (for good or bad). How do we tweak/challenge or amplify what's already there, perhaps subconsciously. Must go deep!
One person, one political party, one organisation cannot design a dynamic learning culture; it needs to be a collective effort. A collective review and renewal of our curriculum and assessment practises to allow organisations/schools to design, facilitate and lead dynamic learning opportunities for our students. Students, teachers and educational leaders need to have more influence and be more involved in the decision-making process. As the tweets and analogies above highlight, maybe it's time we rethink education in Australia.
- What isn’t working in our context?
- What is working well and how do we know this?
- What can we learn from research, data and evidence?
- What can we learn from other countries and contexts?
- How could we adapt what we learn from others for our context? (not replicate)
- How can we give all stakeholders a voice in the decision making process?
- How can we promote and recognise educators as the 'professionals'?
- Who is prepared to take a risk for our students' education?
- What should we drop, retain or introduce?
Always asking questions...