Thoughts on reading “Towards a Totalitarian Education System in England” by Sir Peter Newsam.
John Abbott’s “Overschooled but Undereducated, Society’s failure to understand adolescence”, demands that we “return adolescence to its rightful place of enabling young people to go beyond their self imposed limitations and exceed their parents aspirations. That is what adolescents do naturally – given the right opportunity.” We were all adolescents once and owe our successes to the privilege of walking “with older men and women who have stiffened our sinews and stretched our minds”. John writes of “the natural exuberance of youth” predicting “the arrival of fresh potential”. He continues “In the saga of the ages, if a generation fails, the fault lies squarely with the previous generation for not equipping them well enough for the changes ahead.”
Some good news about the English education system at last? It would be, if it heralded an understanding of why those tests had to go. Not because of teachers reluctance to be assessed. Not because “some teacher’s didn’t fancy having the attainment of their pupil’s measured”, to quote Jack Straw, answering a question on Jonathan Dimbleby’s “Any Questions” on Oct 17th and 18th. Even he thought his teacher sisters’ would say to their pupils “Hey, kids! The government has at last done what teachers have been asking for.
An excited and caring Headteacher from the West Midlands was almost at the end of a training programme with the 21st Century Learning Initiative. She had listened to John Abbott, discussed the implication of the synthesis of what we now know about learning from diverse fields of research and begun to map out “next steps” with her colleagues. Then someone had asked the question “How can we have allowed English education to get so far away from what goes with the grain of the brain?” Her response was “We seem to be suffering from ‘Learned Helplessness’.” Can helpless become a part of us as surely as a genetic mutation, passed on from generation to generation? An Australian teacher working with children affected by trauma saw changes within the community which made her ask a different question. Can the rapidly expanding field of epigenetics, help us to understand these changes in mind? Can it tell us what to do?
Janet Lawley describes how her work as a Headteacher has intersected with the efforts of Education 2000 and the Initiative over the past decade.
This article reviews two books; The Myth of Homework: Why our kids get too much of a bad thing by Alfie Kohn and The Case Against Homework: How homework is hurting our children and what we can do about it by Bennett & Kalish Few topics generate more conversation at the school gate than homework but there [...]
This is a 21st Century Learning Initiative sort of book, a masterly synthesis which, like the work of the Initiative, brings together research from a broad range of disciplines to examine one of the fundamental big questions“Where do I come from?”
This article was written by Janet Lawley in January 2002. She writes; “Those who care about young people and are searching for a better way, a way which unlocks potential and welcomes children into a community of learners, wonder from time to time if we are exaggerating the crisis we perceive and wonder, too, if we are alone or in so small a minority that we could never make a difference. A glance through the cuttings I have accumulated over the last months of 2001 has been both depressing and reassuring. Depressing because set of figures after set of figures and almost every day’s news confirms that there is indeed a problem despite constant reform and the best efforts of schools. Reassuring because almost every day brings an article from someone who believes, as those who work with the 21st Century Learning Initiative do, that there is a better way. For the sake of the children and to encourage those determined to respond to what we now know about how and where children learn, I have put together some of the things that have been written recently, some of the latest statistics and some of the questions most frequently asked.”
Following is a brief summary of the results of a partnership between the Hammersmith and Fulhman LEA, the Initiative, and the Esmee Fairbain Foundation.
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