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Occasional Pieces: Education: A Question of Democracy

To send your child to the local school, or decide to go private, is a question that splits families apart.  Is education primarily for private gain, or for the public good?  And, if it’s for both, how does this work out?  Although we rarely see it in these terms, isn’t this actually a question about […]

Occasional Pieces: Teachers Good and Bad

Pupils can often be the best judges of the quality of their teachers – not necessarily immediately for who likes to be told that they are lazy, illogical or downright stupid!. It is only years later that we recall how, in often less than spectacular ways, those people who made us what we are. The […]

Occasional Pieces: Too Busy to Think

We know the feeling far too well; as deadlines press upon us we fail to see a new opportunity until it’s almost slipped away. That makes us nervy. Being nervy the brain ‘down-shifts’ into survival mode, and that makes us focus even more on the immediate task in hand. Especially is this so for people […]

Occasional Pieces: What Schools for What Future?

The question is apparently simple – what are we educating children for?  Put figuratively, is it for a future comparable to battery hens, or is it about free-range chickens?  If the former, which might seem to give a high return on input/output calculations, then such over-refined children (sorry, chicken!) can’t even stand on their own […]

Looks Like Entertainment: Thoughts on New Media and Big Ideas

October 12, 2008

Considering Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. Since John Abbott and Heather MacTaggart completed the pre-publication edition of Overschooled but Undereducated: Society’s Failure to Understand Adolescence the Initiative has been involved in the process of trying to market the book in various mediums. Educationalists, scientists, religious leaders, thinkers, and business people have thrown their support […]

Review: Flow: The psychology of optimal experience by Mikhaily Csikszentmihalyi

Being a teenager, I am compelled to write from a teenage perspective, and to promote in my writing, the benefits of adolescence and of course, point out all those lovely mistakes we humans are so fond of making.

Learned Helplessness

August 16, 2008

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?

So What? A Young Person’s take on being Overschooled but Undereducated, by Leigh MacTaggart Richter

A review written shortly after Leigh Richter completed ‘So what? A young person’s guide to Overschooled but undereducated’

Towards a School Beyond Boundaries

July 24, 2008

After reading John Abbott’s new book Overschooled but Undereducated The Senior Management Team of one Primary School felt impelled to grab a blank piece of paper and try to draw up a mainframe of what they would like a school to be. It’s not definitive or exhaustive. It was such stimulating ‘play’. Perhaps you would like to join in! After all, we know so much better than the legislators! Share your thinking with the children. A liberating moment!

A Question of Democracy…or Why the Problem of Bringing up Young People will Never be Solved Simply by School-based Solutions.

A Paper first delivered to Secondary Heads in Birmingham in June, and subsequently slightly modified for a similar conference to be held in Sydney, Australia later in July To those of us living in First-World countries the early twenty-first century appears rich in opportunity, yet paradoxically the immediate future seems full of uncertainty.  Individuals oscillate […]

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