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Equipping future generations to shape a better world Who are we?

The Timeline

We have created this Timeline, curated by Director John Abbott to tell the story of our work over the last 30 years. The Timeline is structured in several folders each representing a period in time. Each folder has a key document, and a number of supporting documents sorted by a star rating ranking their importance to the story as a whole. If you read nothing else, look at the key document for each folder first. It’s the one in the large white box for each folder.

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Background

Supporting documents

The 99 Theses on Shaping a Better World

The best overview of all the issues that impact on education underpinning the Initiative’s work.

Foundational Thoughts

A series of thoughts often shared by John Abbott when considering the difficulties of educational innovation.

Towards a totalitarian education system in England

An authoritative overview of the political changes imposed on English education in the last 30 years

The three-legged stool

Appreciating that home, school and community are each integral parts of a balanced education

Why did we let it happen?

A critical review of Newsam’s paper from the perspective of the Initiative

Too Busy to Think

The problem of our times – trivia tends to squeeze out serious thought

Meandering

Creative thinking never emerges from straight line logic
2009

When Kids Come First

A challenge to the New Brunswickers to build Canada's best education system... together

Folder 1: Up to 1987

Supporting documents

1981 Letter from the Headmaster to the Times Editor

John Abbott’s first public challenge to the chaos of the 1970s

Some thoughts on the implications of technological change, and high levels ...

John’s attempt in 1982 to encourage other head teachers to think ‘beyond the box’

The Hertfordshire Project

The official 6 page document, issued to everyone within the town, just as Education 2000’s first project was starting

Bronowski, ‘The Ascent of Man’

Bronowski’s (1973) ability to create a synthesis across multiple disciplines was the stimulant to Education 2000’s work

English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit; 1850 – 1980

John and his colleagues found in Martin Wiener’s book the natural extension of Bronowski’s thinking

Shaping Tomorrow

Just as Bronowski combined philosophic with scientific thought, so this study from 1981 explores the relationship between human labour and what it means to our humanity

A Consultative document on hypotheses for education in AD 2000

To effect change there needs to be better links between the education system, and those outside it

Folder 2: 1987 - 1993

Supporting documents

A Project to demonstrate significant improvements in pupil Performance by m...

The most ambitious and realistic attempt yet made to capture the political high ground
1993

The Confederation of British Industry Speech

Educating people for change; publicising the idea

American Education: An apprenticeship for the Mind

Central to the Initiative’s thinking is the concept of cognitive apprenticeship
1991
external-link

What the Biology of the Brain tells us about Learning

Life becomes a delicate but powerful dialogue between genetics and the environment

Educating People for Change

Capturing the interest of the Head Masters’ Conference

A Report on Three Conferences

Three international conferences

NATO Workshop on The Design of Constructivist Learning Environments

NATO, having grown up during the Cold War, believed that education had to be a nation’s first line of defence.

Submission to RTZ for financial support for Education 2000

To fund the Initiative applications had to be written to a variety of sponsors.
1991

Al Shanker, President, American Federation of Teachers

The ultimate exponent of fundamental change in education based on emerging research
1991

‘Whole System Change’

A Discussion Paper arising out the Comparative and International Education Society

Education 2000’s Response to the National Curriculum (UK)

Without proper under standing of human learning it is impossible to devise a curriculum that capitalises on human ability

Children need Communities; Communities need Children

Communities have done young people a grave disservice by separating the world of learning from the world of work

Making Connections: teaching and the human brain, by Renate and Geoffrey Ca...

A highly influential book linking research to evolving practice
1991

Folder 3: 1993 - 1994

Supporting documents

The Initiative’s ‘New Synthesis of Effective Learning’

Based on diverse research in cognitive and neurological science available in the mid-90s

Learning Makes Sense

Our first publication, see enthusiastic review from the Sunday Telegraph

The Impact of Brain Research on Possible Structures of Learning

An incomplete, but most interesting paper, challenging the structure of schooling
external-link

Dr Edelman’s Brain, by Dr Steven Levy, The New Yorker, May 1994

Fascinating, and Gerald Edelman’s first reference to Neural Darwinism

Some Recent Developments in Cognitive Science

Review: Schools for Thought by John Bruer

A Report from 1995

by Education 2000 regarding a visit to the United States

Folder 4: 1996

Folder 5: December 1998

Folder 6: 2000

Folder 7: 2001

Folder 8: 2002

Supporting documents

At Home in the World

A review of Matthew Fox ‘The Reinvention of Work’; ‘The Hidden Connections’ by Fritjof Capra, and ‘The Future of Life’ by E O Wilson

Towards a Common Ethic

A review of Robert Wright’s ‘The Moral Animal’ and Richard Holloway’s ‘Godless Morality’.

Subsidiarity or, in other words, Doing it Yourself

Association of International Schools of Africa (AISA) Johannesburg

So, What’s the Story?

CONFED summer conference
2002

Developing the Potential of All Pupils

Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, Mullingar

Folder 9: 2003

Supporting documents

Terrorism, Tolerance and the Human Spirit: the challenge for international ...

Lecture given at the International Baccalaureate Organization Annual Conference, Singapore
external-link

Iraq ten years on

From the Guardian
external-link

Iraq war: the march of time

From the Guardian
2013

Folder 10: 2004

Folder 11: 2005

Supporting documents

The 99 Theses on Shaping a Better World

The best overview of all the issues that impact on education underpinning the Initiative’s work.

Important Papers Translated into French

for a multilingual Canadian audience

Learning for the Future: The Rain Forest Model

Opening enthusiasm about BSF tinged with major concerns about its simplicity
2006

It’s All About Learning

The Learning and Development Initiative working document

Folder 12: 2006

Supporting documents

Lost in Translation

A personal reflection

Education, A Canadian Student’s View

A fascinating spontaneous piece of writing by a 16 year old user of the system.

Asking the still unanswered questions

Canadian Council on Learning, Ireland, Ottawa and the Unanswered Questions

The Challenge of Synthesis; Making sense of Research Across the Biological ...

An address to the Wesley College Institute (Melbourne) Advisory Committee

Folder 13: 2007 - 2008

Supporting documents

Occasional Pieces: Education: A Question of Democracy

This was produced in the last 10 days of October 2008 as a way of popularising the issues to overcome the slowness in the publication of the book.

A Question of Democracy…or Why the Problem of Bringing up Young Peopl...

A Paper first delivered to Secondary Head in Birmingham in June 2008, modified slightly for a conference in Sydney, Australia the following month

Occasional Pieces: Too Busy to Think

This was produced in the last 10 days of October 2008 as a way of popularising the issues to overcome the slowness in the publication of the book.

The Initiative in Changing Times

The Initiative adopted the concept of ‘responsible subversives’ to stress to all those involved with young people their direct personal responsibility to develop best practice

So What? A Young Person’s take on being Overschooled but Undereducate...

So how is it that school and learning have become synonymous, that the one thing that is most natural to every human should be associated with an environment completely unnatural to how we naturally work

School Organisation led by a Pedagogic Revolution to make Thinking Visible

Reversing the current organisation of schools as was developed more than half a century ago for a pedagogy devised on a Behaviourist view of learning

21st Century learning Initiative: An Introduction, with John Abbott

Produced in English and French by Canadian Council on Learning

A List of Useful Quotations

drawn from a variety of Initiative statements compiled in 2007

Repositioning The Initiative: A Paper for the Trustees

Ensuring that the Initiative’s policy carefully reflects the changing way in which the public understand these issues

Occasional Pieces: Teachers Good and Bad

This was produced in the last 10 days of October 2008 as a way of popularising the issues to overcome the slowness in the publication of the book.

Review: Flow: The psychology of optimal experience by Mikhaily Csikszentmih...

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

Evolving Education: Learning in the 21st Century

Produced by the Canadian Council on learning (CCL)
2011

Occasional Pieces: All Hands to the Sink

This was produced in the last 10 days of October 2008 as a way of popularising the issues to overcome the slowness in the publication of the book.

Occasional Pieces: What Schools for What Future?

This was produced in the last 10 days of October 2008 as a way of popularising the issues to overcome the slowness in the publication of the book.

Folder 14: 2008 – Parliamentary Briefing Paper, 2009

Supporting documents

A Briefing Paper for Parliamentarians on the Design Faults at the Heart of ...

Probably second only to Overschooled but Undereducated in expressing what the Initiative is about.

Magnanimity

The oft forgotten part of Milton’s trinity – justice, skilfulness and a generous heart

The Initiative in Changing Times

The Initiative adopted the concept of ‘responsible subversives’ to stress to all those involved with young people their direct personal responsibility to develop best practice

The Cambridge Primary Review

Although not agreeing entirely with the Review’s methodology, the issues it raised were very important, but the way it was dismissed at a political level was appalling

The Initiative’s Theory of Change

For those reading the briefing paper, these comments helped to explain the Initiative’s understanding of the change process
2009

Folder 15: Briefing Paper – British General Election, 2009 - May 2010

Supporting documents

Get More, Want More or how to think our way out of a bad end.

A review of Spencer Wells, ‘Pandora’s Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilisation’

Battling for the Soul of Education

A review of Diane Ravitch, ‘The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How testing and choice are undermining education’.
external-link

Face to Face with the Stone Age: Master and Apprentice Chapter 15

Unique opportunity to understand personal study of one of the last surviving Hunter/Gatherer societies, the Hadza in Tanzania
external-link

Evolution for the Good of the Group

The Process known as group selection as once accepted unthinkingly, then was widely discredited; it’s time for a more discriminating assessment
2009

Magnanimity

The oft forgotten part of Milton’s trinity – justice, skilfulness and a generous heart
2009

The Cambridge Primary Review

Although not agreeing entirely with the Review’s methodology, the issues it raised were very important, but the way it was dismissed at a political level was appalling

Folder 16: 2010 - 2013

Supporting documents

No Small Matter

The clearest and most succinct explanation of the dilemma facing British society and the possible role of education in providing a solution

HMC Conference, St Andrews

The most complete statement of the Initiative’s ideas
2011

Schools in the Future: What has to Change, and Why

The paper which subsequently helped shaped much if British Columbian education policy
external-link

Britain’s education system is being tested to destruction

A highly influential article that stimulated much public debate

Nearly there but Not Quite

Funding application laying out the Initiative’s expectations for education and the conflict with present education policy
2011

A Proposal based on the revitalisation of Civil Society

What the country needs now... revitalisation of civil society

A Complete and Generous Education: Creating Big Society

A proposal specifically directed to Oliver Letwin, Minister without portfolio in the UK Government

Executive summary of the Route Map

A most substantial proposal for solving the educational dilemma of a major city

Memo to all Trustees

The alternatives, their implications and their costs

Deciphering Political Thinking in the UK

An account unpacking conflicting political expectations

Learning for the Future: The Rain Forest Model

Opening enthusiasm about BSF tinged with major concerns about its simplicity
2006
external-link

The Ministry’s 21st Century Obsession

A Teachers’ Union Response to ‘Schools in the Future’
2010

Stormy Weather

Development of Initiative policy over the summer months

Further Thoughts from a Safe Haven

Development of Initiative policy over the summer months

Seeking a Safe Haven

Development of Initiative policy over the summer months

The 21st Century Learning Initiative Strategic Plan

A theoretically correct, if politically almost impossible, set of directions

What the 21st Century Learning Initiative is all about

An accessible exploration of the theoretical model

U-Start Prospectus

An exciting proposal to draw some of the most thoughtful 17-18 year-olds into some practical experience of teaching
2010

Breaking New Ground

imaginative and exciting specification for a new form of Secondary education.
external-link

A Premise that Wanders into nomad’s Land

TES review of Overschooled but Undereducated, June 2010
2010

Folder 17: 2011 onwards

Supporting documents

What price ‘Intelligence’?

The following short monograph was written by Neil Richards, a Trustee of the 21st Century Learning Initiative in response to the publication of Tony Little’s book, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Education.

Why is school reform difficult and frequently problematic

A collection of the relevant documents used both in British Columbia and the UK to make the case for whole system change
2012

A Complete and Generous Education: Creating Big Society

A proposal specifically directed to Oliver Letwin, Minister without portfolio in the UK Government

From Comenius to Cutting Edge Curriculum

Presentation to an influential conference of Middle School staff from across Europe which took place shortly after the death of Vaclav Havel in Prague
2012

Overschooled but Undereducated: Preparing for Turbulent Times

Presentation to high School students in Gulf Islands and other school districts
2011
external-link

Evolving Education: Learning in the 21st Century

Produced by the Canadian Council on learning (CCL)
2011

Almost right but ultimately, totally wrong

A response to the Reith Lectures by Niall Ferguson, 2012-07-10
2013

The Eye of the Storm: An overview of the relationship of all the separate folders

Supporting documents

A Failure of Democracy: A Current Postscript

English Education at the start of the 21st Century

The Born to Learn Animations

A ground breaking new series of animation has been released to expose the current flaws in our educational system and to highlight the better ways by which children can learn.

The case for a major 90-minute television documentary

to be entitled 'The Brilliance of Their Minds'

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