Useful Quotations

  • “It is impossible to bring children up to be intelligent in a world that is not intelligible to them.”  E130, E668, Thesis 12 The Need to Know.
  • “Children need communities, communities need children.”  Children need Communities, John Abbott
  • “If we apply the wrong model of learning for the best of reasons we will not get the results we seek.”  Executive Summary; Synthesis pg 3
  • Humankind has a new place in the universe which is more powerful, more creative — even sacred — that that which we had previously understood.
  • Knowing what we know now we simply can no longer do what we now do.
  • Learning… that reflective activity that enables the learner to draw upon previous experience to understand and evaluate the present, so as to shape future action and formulate new knowledge.
  • Schools have to start a dynamic process by which pupils are progressively weaned from their dependence on teachers and institutions, and given the confidence to manage their own learning, collaborating with colleagues as appropriate, and using a range of resources and learning situations.
  • “The cult of the individual has wrought havoc upon reality, while a cult of specialisation has blurred man’s confidence in seeing issues in their entirety.”  Schumacher, Fritz, Small is Beautiful; The Economics as if People Mattered (1973).  The Story So Far.
  • A society that has yet to discover reasons for its faith in the future is a mean place in which to bring up young people.
  • I learnt most not from those who taught me, but from those who talked with me.
  • “There are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended.  Many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period… it is as if something were crumbling, decaying and exhausting itself, while something else, still indistinct, is arising from the rubble.”  (Vaclav Havel)
  • Human values, viewed in objective, scientific perspectives, stand out as the most strategically powerful causal control force now shaping world events.  More than any other causal system with which science now concerns itself, it is variables in human value systems that will determine the world’s future.
  • Education stands in danger of seeing people only as tools for economic progress unless it is accompanied by a vision of individuals as creative, responsible, spiritual, and society as the matrix within which genuine fulfilment is the goal for all.
  • The complexities of our minds and bodies bear witness to a long history of subtle adaptation to the natural world by our enumerable ancestors.  Literally every child is born with a mind and body that recreates the imprint of the history of the species.
  • Each one of us is the latest version of the leading edge of the co-evolution of man with his environment.
  • While the human race is empowered by its own ancestors, it is certainly constrained as well.  We are endlessly adaptable but, it seems, only up to a point.  Driven to live in ways which are utterly uncongenial to our inherited traits simply drives people mad.
  • “Young and old have been totally interconnected since the beginning of time in a web that saw learning, working and living as totally interconnected.  This web has been severely torn asunder in the last three or four generations, with implications that we are only just beginning to comprehend.”
  • The human brain and the interconnectivity of the natural environment have evolved together.  We are, as it were, made for each other.  It’s a marriage.  That is why we go mad if the disconnection between our actual lives and our inherited expectations and predispositions becomes too great.
  • The brain is essentially a survival system; it takes seriously those things which matter most to it.
  • The brain learns best, and knows to grow more, when it is exercised in highly challenging but low threat environments.  Learning and emotion can’t be separated.
  • Simply put, we now know how to make it possible for people to become better learners.
  • Learning is an immensely complex business that we seek to simplify and codify at our peril.  To put faith in a highly directive, prescriptive curriculum is to so ”go against the grain of the brain” that it will inhabit creativity and enterprise… the very skills needed in the complex, diverse knowledge society that we need to prepare our children for.
  • Metacognition — the ability to think about your own thinking, and the development of skills that are genuinely transferable.
  • The way we used to learn was in community, and it was what we learned from people and in relationships to people.  It was not hived off to a place called school.
  • From the moment when our early ancestors first gained sufficient consciousness to reflect on their emotions, ponder the behaviour of other people and to be awestruck by the magnificence of the night sky, Homo Sapiens sought to use such knowledge to manipulate the world to his advantage.
  • “Kids are monitored all the time in school.  The system is coercive, and it is both fragmented and regimented.  Computers have made it possible to assess anything that crawls, and record and compare what earlier one would never have thought of.”
  • “We have become too clever for our own (individual) good; but not wise enough to ensure our (collective) security.”
  • “We are built to be effective animals, not happy ones.”
  • “Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human.  Through learning we recreate ourselves…”  Peter Singe
  • “We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created the problem.”
  • “It is critical that every child has so ‘to learn how to learn’ that each develops a range of skills that can be applied with confidence to changing an unfamiliar situation at any time in their lives.”
  • “Traditionally schools have been concerned with the transfer of culture and the development in pupils of a range of skills, habits and attitudes evolved from the experience of earlier generations.  The pace of change is now so great that this is no longer adequate; young people have to be equipped to go where no one has gone before.”
  • “Our education… is penetrated with an unintelligible utilitarianism, which makes us feel that we ought to be studying something useful… but the prior task of education has to be to inspire and to give a sense of value and the power of distinguishing in life, as in lesser things, what is first-rate, and what is not.”
  • “The test of a successful education is not the amount of knowledge that a pupil takes away from a school, but his appetite to know and his capacity to learn. If the school sends out children with the desire for knowledge and some idea of how to acquire it and use it, it will have done its work.” “Too many leave school with the appetite killed and the mind loaded with undigested lumps of information.  The good schoolmaster is known by the number of valuable subjects that he declines to teach.”  (Richard Livingstone)
  • “There is in education a law of delayed action, by which seeds sown and long forgotten only grows in later years.  The most precious fruits of a good teacher’s work are those that he is never likely to see.”  (Richard Livingstone)
  • “Forcible feeding is not education.”  (Richard Livingstone)
  • “Education is atmosphere as well as instruction, it is not an assemblage of piecemeal acquisitions and accomplishments, but the formation, largely unconscious, of an outlook and an attitude” .”  (Richard Livingstone)
  • “What an amazing and chaotic thing is our curriculum!  One subject after another is pressed into this bursting portmanteau which ought to be confined to the necessary close for a journey through life, but becomes a wardrobe of bits of costumes ready for any emergency”   (Richard Livingstone)
  • “An ‘overdose’ of concentration on a single subject, and an over-emphasis on analeptic ability, rather than the skills of synthesis, may well be inimical to the creation of the essential skills needed by knowledge workers.  that is a shocking thought.  If it’s true, then schools may well be creating the problem rather than solving them.”
  • “We have come to expect too much of the schools.  Schools were not designed to do things which parents, relatives and others in the community, are better equipped to do themselves.  Schools simply cannot handle everything which an uncertain, often selfish society would like to delegate to them.”
  • “To blame schools for the rising tide of mediocrity is to confuse systems with disease.  Schools can rise no higher than the expectations of the communities that surround them.”
  • “He who advocates radical ideas should always wear a dark suit.”
  • “We have got to do a lot fewer things in school.  The greatest enemy of understanding is coverage.”
  • “Learning is as basic a human instinct as sex or survival: we live by our wits.  Learning allows us to take control.”
  • “Children who learn because they want to — because it means something to them — are far more resilient and determined when they face problems than children who seek external rewards.”
  • “The brain operates to biological rules as a single system, rather than a series of mechanistic structures responding predictably to given inputs.”
  • “The brain can do many things at the same time — thoughts, emotions, imagination and predispositions all operate simultaneously.”
  • “The brain automatically registers the familiar, while always searching for the novel.  Learning and self-esteem are intricately interconnected; to frustrate the individual’s capacity to learn is to destroy much of what it means to be human.”
  • “It is the brain’s ability to select what it deems to be of immediate significance, and then act on it in ways that are related to previous experience, that has enabled human beings to rise to a position of mastery over all other species.”
  • “The brain is essentially a multi-processor.  It operates simultaneously on numerous different levels and tasks.  The brain tries to subdivide and compartmentalise ideas, while always looking for possible relationships and discontinuities.  The creation of ‘uncluttered’ learning environments, where the brain has no room for peripheral perception, frustrates its natural functioning.”
  • “The search for meaning is innate.  Every brain is as unique as those physical characteristics which give persons their individuality.  No two people learn in the same way or at the same speed.  Because learning actually changes the brain, the more someone learns the more distinctive that brain becomes.”
  • “Memory is enhanced when it has to search the relationship of new patterns to existing ones, rather than when new patterns are simply presented to be learned.  Learning is a social activity; it relies upon knowledge construction more than knowledge transfer.”
  • “Simply, we learn when we are motivated: we learn best when we are personally satisfied.  The brain learns when it is trying to make sense; when it is building on what it already knows, when it recognises the significance of what it is doing; when it is working in complex, multiple perspectives; and when it is learning collaboratively in a social or team setting.  People are automatically motivated to learn whatever they need to learn in order to become a member of the community to which they wish to belong.  Learning is not something which requires time-out from productive activity; learning is the very heart of productive activity.”
  • “No parent is too poor not to turn their T.V. sets off and labour alongside their child every evening.”
  • “We have failed to recognise that the family may be a more imperiled institution than the school, and that many of education’s failures relate to problems that precede schooling, even birth itself.” (1991)
  • “Children, from the youngest age, need a running commentary on everyday happenings.”
  • “It is the child’s social experience — largely in the home, though increasingly within its immediate community as it grows older — that the child develops its sense of self, of direction and of self-esteem.”
  • “Schools have to start a dynamic process through which pupils are progressively weaned of their dependence on teachers and institutions, and given the confidence to manage their own learning, co-operate with colleagues, and using a range of resources and learning situations.  School teaching creates a dependence on school, and a superstitious addiction to a belief in its methods.”
  • “Is school’s malady a cold, or a cancer?  Is the trouble with schools a superficial one that could be fixed by good will and common sense, or is it a deep flaw in the very foundation assumptions on which their entire system is built?”
  • “It is an axiom of human nature that, when the tribal sense is in decline, the moral sense is similarly threatened.  We have to rebuild our sense of community.”
  • “You’ll never leap a canyon in two short jumps.”
  • “Human history is becoming more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”
  • We are uncertain as to whether teenagers should be protected from the world, or free to discover it for themselves.  We are not sure if they are mature enough to make their own decisions, yet fear that they are growing up irresponsible.  Are they frail and vulnerable?  Or are they the essence of humanity’s endless drive to recreate itself?  Towards a New Order of Things
  • But where is all this ‘busyness’ taking education?  Why do children look so hammered?  What has happened to the natural exuberance of youth?  An awful question arises, and is left embarrassingly unanswered; are young people now too busy to think for themselves?  Towards a New Order of Things
  • In a few short years, a generation and little more, the old English ethic of family self-sufficiency seems to have been replaced by an almost over-riding conviction that the individual’s right to make choices at every twist and turn in life has to be pre-eminent.  And so it seems to have followed that a society increasingly preoccupied with its own individual search for happiness becomes less personally committed to supporting the very young, or the very old.  Towards a New Order of Things
  • How is it that whenever we see a child, we think of him or her first and foremost as a pupil, not simply as a youngster; their faults as well as their achievements as attesting to the quality, or lack of quality, of the school, rather than of their homes?  Towards a New Order of Things
  • It will be on the youngest generation’s ability to become better learners than any previous generations ─ and to be bold enough to overturn the incorrect and potentially harmful assumptions that permeate present thinking about the relationship between schooling and the life of the nation ─ that the world will stand, or disintegrate.  Towards a New Order of Things
  • Learning is more about working things out for yourself than it is about absorbing what we are told.  Towards a New Order of Things
  • Good learners are the only ones who can save the world from catastrophe.  Towards a New Order of Things
  • Education has always involved giving youngsters both roots and wings; roots to understand where they have come from, and wings to fly to where they need to go.  Thesis 1. Roots and Wings
  • To learn is to explore, to go beyond what you thought you understood.  It’s to ‘freshen you up’.  It’s to make better sense of things which previously were muddled.  Thesis 2. Excitement of Learning
  • To young children play is their most important form of learning.  Thesis 2. Excitement of Learning
  • The human race is the planet’s pre-eminent learning species — it is our brains that give us our superiority, not our muscles.  Thesis 3. The Amazing Brain
  • The brain is essentially a survival system; it takes very seriously those things which matter most.  Thesis 3. The Amazing Brain
  • We humans with our likes and dislikes, our senses and our sensibilities, didn’t fall ready-made from the sky; nor were we born with minds and bodies that bear no imprint of the history of our species.  The way we interact today at a social and cultural level is in many ways the result of organisational skills developed by our distant ancestors out on the savannah of Africa over the course of millions of years.  Thesis 4.Ancestral Influences
  • We are both empowered by the experiences of our ancestors, but we are constrained as well.  Driven to live in ways that are utterly uncongenial to our inherited traits and instincts simply drives people mad.  Thesis 4.Ancestral Influences
  • We humans are a social species, at our best when living and working within small teams; we may be gregarious but larger groups can make us feel uncomfortable, and crowds often frighten us.  Our sociability enables us to solve problems collaboratively in ways which, as competitive individuals, we couldn’t do on our own.  The work of the world gets done in teams.  Thesis 5. A Gregarious Species
  • It is inquisitiveness that best defines what we humans are all about.  Thesis 6. Burning with Curiosity
  • It’s more important to ask good questions than it is to ‘know’ the right answers.  Thesis 6. Burning with Curiosity
  • It is through asking our own questions that we construct knowledge, and we do this best when we are able to meander – or to browse; to set off with a general goal but with plenty of opportunity to stop on the way, and to explore alternative routes.  Thesis 6. Burning with Curiosity
  • Learning is not so much about being taught, as it is the consequence of having to think something out for yourself.  Thesis 7. Collecting our Thoughts
  • Learning is not only complex, but messy, frequently intuitive and very rarely simply linear or logical.  Thesis 7. Collecting our Thoughts
  • Learning is, for the brain, what strong vigorous exercise is to the athlete ─ it strengthens the brain’s neural networks, and makes cognitive processes far more effective.  Thesis 7. Collecting our Thoughts
  • Good as they are, our natural predispositions to learn are no longer adequate to the needs of our present world; ways have to be found of extending our natural abilities so that they go ‘beyond what comes naturally’.  Thesis 7. Collecting our Thoughts
  • Learning is an immensely complex business that educationalists seek to simplify and codify at society’s peril.  To put faith in a highly directive, prescriptive curriculum is to so ‘go against the grain of the brain’1, that it will inhibit creativity and enterprise… the very skills needed in the complex, diversity of society for which we need to prepare our children.  Thesis 7. Collecting our Thoughts
  • Humans Love to talk.  It’s conversation that helps the youngest brains to grow, and the oldest brains to remain agile.  Thesis 8. Endless Chatterers
  • Intelligence is shrewdness, cleverness and knowledge all rolled together with emotional intuition, balance and a strong sense of practicality.  Thesis 10. I Can, or I.Q.?
  • “Man’s natures are alike; it is their habits that carry them far apart”.  Thesis 11. Playing to One’s Strengths
  • The behaviours that have been fashioned through evolution to activate our natural predispositions were shaped long, long ago within the collaborative, integenerational, co-operative behaviour of our distant ancestors.  Thesis 11. Playing to One’s Strengths
  • It is possible that, in the ever-faster moving de-socialised, de-spiritualized and essentially depersonalized life of modern man we are losing so many of the cultural factors necessary to unlock our real potential?  Thesis 11. Playing to One’s Strengths
  • Children who are already anxious to make sense of issues that matter to them in their own private lives, who come to formal schooling keen and enthusiastic to use whatever it can offer them to help meet their personal objectives.  It is not the other way round.  Thesis 12. The Need to Know
  • It has been on the restless, creative energy of each new generation that society has been dependent for its progress, and for the solution to problems that earlier generations had thought intractable.  Thesis 12. The Need to Know
  • The better we use our brains, the more we want to challenge the boundaries of an earlier generation’s knowledge.  Thesis 13. What is Life?
  • Humans are a story-telling species.  Thesis 14. Significance of Narrative
  • The thing which humans need more than comfort, more than possessions, more than sex or a settled home, is a good supply of stories, for it’s through stories we make sense of the world.  Thesis 14. Significance of Narrative
  • The hearing and telling of stories seems to be a highly sophisticated, evolutionary adaptation that has enabled high levels of culture to be passed on to younger generations. Thesis 14. Significance of Narrative
  • While our Stone Age ancestors have shaped the essential blueprint of the human brain, the human achievement – that which gives us an enormous advantage over other animals – is the way in which daily life experiences sculpts each brain into something truly individual.  Thesis 14. Significance of Narrative
  • Our brains are primed to analyse what’s going on around us.  We are gluttons for any information which either reinforces, or contradicts, something which is already important to us.  Thesis 15. Wisdom beyond Knowledge
  • Have we become too clever for our own individual good, but not yet wise enough to ensure our collective survival?  Thesis 15. Wisdom beyond Knowledge
  • We may know immensely more about the universe than our ancestors did, and certainly more about our minds and bodies, and yet it increasingly seems that earlier generations knew more about the interconnectivity of life than we do.  Thesis 16. Setting a New Course
  • The concept of happiness is a most elusive one.  Thesis 17. The Pursuit of Happiness
  • To our nomadic hunter/gatherer ancestors possessions were a burden to be abandoned as soon as possible; happiness to them was not some future state of perfection, no land flowing with milk and honey, it was in the present.  Thesis 17. The Pursuit of Happiness
  • “We have evolved to be an effective species, not (necessarily) a happy one”.  Thesis 17. The Pursuit of Happiness
  • To make sense of who we are, and who we might become, we have to know almost as much about our culture as we do about everything scientists are now starting to tell us about human nature.  Thesis 18. Understanding Cultures
  • “Our DNA does not fade like an ancient parchment.  It does not rust in the ground like the sword of a warrior long dead.  It is not eroded by wind or rain, nor reduced to ruin by fire and earthquake.  It is the traveller from an antique land that lives within us all”.  Thesis 23. Ancient Brits
  • The life of nations, no less than that of men, is lived largely in the imagination.  Thesis 24. Emergence of the English
  • At rare and unpredictable moments a revolutionary concept fundamentally changes the underlying assumptions that had previously held an assortment of beliefs together.  This is known as a Paradigm Shift, a totally new mindset that reshapes relationships so that nothing can ever be seen in the same way again.  Thesis 26. Reformation
  • There is in education a law of delayed action, by which seed sown and long forgotten only grows in late years.  Teachers like to see results from their efforts, and direct them accordingly, but the most precious fruits of a good teacher’s work are those that he is never likely to see.  Thesis 29. Elizabethan Education
  • Children need to learn to think, to make connections, to work together, to take risks, to discover their own talents.  They need to read about all kinds of things and explore different media.  They need a curriculum that is broad, balanced and differentiated.  Thesis 30. Man for All Seasons
  • “I call therefore a complete and generous education is that which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously, all the offices both private and public of peace and war.” Comenius  Thesis 31. Work Ethic
  • Apprenticeship was an education for an intelligent way of life, a mechanism by which young people could model themselves on socially approved adults so providing a safe passage from childhood to adulthood in psychological, social and economic ways.  Thesis 33. Learning Responsibility
  • Adolescents are neither children, nor adults; no longer content simply to be sat down and talked at, yet not skilled enough to earn their own livings, adolescents push to get out and experience life for themselves.  Thesis 33. Learning Responsibility
  • Formal education can become such a complicated, self-conscious and over-regulated activity that learning is widely regarded as something so difficult that the brain would rather not do.  Thesis 34. Natural Talent
  • Apprenticeship created people who expected to take control.  It was the yeast to quicken a dynamic society.  It did people good, and made for self-confident communities.  Thesis 34. Natural Talent
  • “Do not imagine that the knowledge, which I so much recommend to you, is confined to books, pleasing, useful and necessary as that knowledge is… The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in a closet.  Books alone will never teach it to you; but they will suggest many things to your observation, which might otherwise escape you”.  Thesis 36. A “Can-do” Society
  • Life was still on a sufficiently human scale for people to know ─ at a deeply subconscious level ─ that everything was connected.  They had to act intelligently in all that they did.  Thesis 36. A “Can-do” Society
  • Our bodies and minds are not of recent origin.  They are the direct consequence of millions of years of surviving, and evolving, in landscapes and in climates different to present-day England.  The preferences of our distant ancestors, and their ways of looking at life, still condition many of the decisions that we, and our most recent relatives, make.  Thesis 37. Landscapes of our Minds
  • The preferences of our distant ancestors, and their ways of looking at life, still condition many of the decisions that we, and our most recent relatives, make.  Thesis 37. Landscapes of our Minds
  • “This word-teaching, rote-learning, memory-loading system is still dignified with the name of ‘education’; … need we wonder that many scholars have so little practical or useful knowledge, or that the greatest block-heads at school often make brighter men than those whose intellects have been injured by much cramming?”  Thesis 39. Spontaneous Schooling
  • Apprenticeship, with its structured approach to hands-on-learning and its effective application of adolescent brawn, largely created the conditions for England’s spectacular industrial growth.  Yet apprenticeship was to become the first major casualty of the Industrial Revolution, while the grammar schools were to linger on in their unreformed state for a further half century.  Thesis 40. Schoolroom, Workshop or Quarterdeck?
  • Apprenticeship; it’s about an all-inclusive model of learning in which intellect and application are continuously combined.  Thesis 40. Schoolroom, Workshop or Quarterdeck?
  • “Doing it for your self” is a deeply engrained human instinct, something built up in the human genome over millions of years that increases our ability to survive.  It’s about resilience, the determination that the more you can do for yourself, the more in control of your future you believe yourself to be.  Thesis 45. Helping Yourself
  • “A man’s character is seen in small matters, and from ever so slight a test as the mode in which a man wields a hammer, his energy may be inferred.  A man can achieve almost anything by the exercise of his own free powers of action and self-denial.  The spirit of self-help is the root of all economic growth”.  Thesis 45. Helping Yourself
  • What a person achieves through their own efforts they most value.  Thesis 50. Who’s Responsible
  • Necessity may well be the mother of invention but, in dynamic and expanding economies, no sooner are people’s immediate needs satisfied than they want still more.  Thesis 51. The Sky is the Limit
  • “Upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends.”  Thesis 52. Fate of the Country
  • A cult of efficiency, based on the commodification of time, seems to have so pervaded our way of living that we are in danger of losing our natural connection to the beauty and majesty of life.  Thesis 53. Death of the Craftsman
  • Schools will be at their most successful when they saturate children with a spirit of service and inter-dependence; give them an appreciation of their culture and technical knowledge, and empower them with the skills of learning and effective self-direction.  Thesis 54. Preparation for Democracy
  • “Without a fully active role in community life one could not hope to become a healthy human being”.  Thesis 54. Preparation for Democracy
  • To educate is an act of social commitment both to children as individuals, and to the future society of which they will be part.  Thesis 55. Don’t Rock the Boat
  • Under pressure teachers may make things too easy for their pupils by relieving them of the necessity of finding things out for themselves.  Thesis 59. Controlling Behaviour
  • “The over-taught child is the father of the newspaper-reading, advertisement-believing, propaganda-swallowing, demagogue-led man, the man who makes modern democracy the farce that it is”, warned Aldous Huxley.  Thesis 59. Controlling Behaviour
  • Our opinions about adolescents are deeply contradictory; inquisitive yet confrontational, sometimes energetic yet frequently infuriatingly laid back, we don’t know if we love them or despair of them.  Thesis 60. Mirrors of Ourselves?
  • “Our education, like our civilisation, is penetrated with an unintelligent utilitarianism, which makes us feel that we ought to be doing something ‘useful’; useful subjects are indispensable, but the prior task of education is surely to inspire, to give a sense of values and the power of distinguishing in life, as in lesser things, what is first rate and what is not”.  Thesis 62. Learning Makes Sense
  • Our problem is that we ignore a vital educational principle, namely that studying a subject of which you have some first-hand knowledge is far easier, far more meaningful, than studying the theory of a subject of which you have no practical experience”.  (Richard Livingstone)  Thesis 62. Learning Makes Sense
  • “If the school sends out children with a desire for knowledge and some idea of how to acquire and use it, it will have done its work.  Too many leave school with the appetite killed and the mind loaded with undigested lumps of information.  If a school is unable to teach its pupils to work things out for themselves, it will be unable to teach them anything else of value”.  Thesis 62. Learning Makes Sense
  • Always remember that children are children first; they are only school children second.  Thesis 65. New Beginnings
  • Why is it, people ask themselves time and again, that after years of conventional teaching do so many youngsters appear to have little personal initiative, seem so unwilling to accept responsibility… after all, at the age of eleven so many of them left their primary schools alert, excited, inquisitive?  Thesis 73. Technology — Dream or Nightmare
  • Humans thrive when perched on the border between order and chaos.  Too much order and we become complacent, and hardly bother to monitor ourselves; too much chaos, and so much of our energy is used simply surviving that we hardly think about new ways of doing things.  Good teachers hold their pupils on this precarious boundary for it is here that learning is exciting, worthwhile and of lasting significance.  Thesis 75. Edge of Chaos
  • Our problems in education are more about the country’s confusion about values, than they are about school buildings, or a national curriculum.  Thesis 78. You only live once
  • Schizophrenia is the yeast within the dough of modern humanity which, in small quantities, liberates amazing creativity, but if too concentrated destroys a person.  Thesis 81. Shadows of forgotten Ancestors
  • If there is any logic in ‘wrap-around schooling’, which sees children in school for far longer hours than any adult would wish to spend at work, it is that this is for the benefit of the parents, not the good of the child.  Thesis 85. Does Every Child Matter?
  • Probably nothing separates us more from the world of our ancestors than that we should ever think to question “Why have children?”  Thesis 87. Why have Children?
  • In becoming a parent you are accepting that you are part of the great wonder that is Life.  Thesis 87. Why have Children?
  • The ‘career woman’ of today simply needs what most of her ancestors had until the invention of the suburbs (in the days before men went off early to work and came home late) “to be part of things, to be engaged in a social setting and to take part in working life, whilst enjoying the care and raising of children.  Thesis 88. Breast is Best
  • To be playful is to be secure and confident enough to enjoy experimenting with new ideas.  Students who ultimately get the most out of school, and have the highest expectations for the future, are those who have been fortunate enough to find school more play-like than work-like.  Thesis 89. Playful Discovery
  • So preoccupied have the English become with the importance of school as a place of “work” that they have forgotten the significance of play.  Thesis 89. Playful Discovery
  • Play is where children see imaginary things happening.  Through play they learn to get on with others, and how to work to achieve a common goal.  Thesis 89. Playful Discovery
  • The adolescent brain, being “crazy by design”, is a critical evolutionary adaptation that has built up over thousands of generations, and is essential to our species survival.  Adolescence forces young people in every generation to think beyond their own self-imposed limitations and exceed their parents’ aspirations.  Thesis 90 Don’t fence me in!
  • Adolescents are not just over-grown children, or immature adults.  Thesis 90 Don’t fence me in!
  • Adolescents are predisposed to take risks which cautious, older people are not willing to face.  Thesis 90 Don’t fence me in!
  • Suicide is becoming a frightening by-product of adolescence.  Thesis 90 Don’t fence me in!
  • Humans thrive amidst webs of social relationships.  Our innate self-centredness is tempered by the social skills learnt within the family; families prosper when they are supported by others within recognisable and lively communities, while dynamic communities are the bedrock on which democracy has to be built.  Thesis 92. Roots of Democracy
  • Having children is like planting seeds; we lay down the foundations but may never see the end result.  That is the difference between the architect, and the worker.  We are workers, not architects; doers, not leaders.  We do our best, and then pass on.  “We are prophets of a future not our own”.  Thesis 93. Faith in the Future
  • If civilisation is to survive, we have to live on the interest, not the capital, of nature.  Ecological markers suggest that in the early 1960s, humans were using about 70% of nature’s yearly output; by the end of the 1980s had reached 100%; and in 1999 we were at 125%.  We are raiding ‘the larder’, and eating seed corn.  Thesis 94. Precious, and extraordinarily fragile
  • Education as ‘the ability to perceive the hidden connections between phenomena’.  Thesis 96. Curriculum for Sustainability
  • It is a bad teacher whose pupils remain dependent on him.  Thesis 97. Subsidiarity
  • The adolescent is not naturally amenable to being taught, but they are amenable to being guided.  Thesis 97. Subsidiarity
  • Subsidiarity is the antidote to endless overdoses of scientific management, both in education, and in civic life in general.  We all want to feel that we are ‘good enough’ not to have to be told what to do.  Thesis 97. Subsidiarity
  • “We have not inherited this world from our parents, we have been loaned it by our children.”  Thesis 99. The Story now to be Told

 

From the Paper Adolescence; a critical Evolutionary Adaptation

  • Here is the radical thought; maybe schooling has created more problems for modern man than it has solved.
  • Of the greatest importance to such early people was the progression of their dependent child to that of autonomous adult.
  • The adaptation that had earlier enabled the young to learn easily in their earliest years through intense emotional connection with older people, had to be balanced by an internal mechanism that prevented the children from becoming mere clones of their parents.
  • What we do know, and what our ancestors have known for millennia, is that there is something going on in the brain of the adolescent, apparently involuntarily, that is forcing apart the child/parent relationship.
  • Could “being crazy by design” be an evolutionary adaptation that actually helps the human species to survive?
  • Csikszentmihalyi reported that the youngsters who eventually did best in adult life were those who earlier had “found school more play like than work like.
  • It is as if modern society is trying to outlaw adolescence by over schooling children.  That is not education.
  • So what can evolutionary psychology, and evolutionary studies in general, tell us about the possible “deep” origins of human behaviour?
  • The Great Leap Forward could have resulted from the emergence of a set of genes that created schizophrenia.
  • These are differences in the way men and women perceive certain phenomena
  • And so, some sixty thousand years ago the evidence suggests, our ancestors simply started walking out of Africa
  • The brains of people from all over the world seem to work in exactly the same way as do the rest of their bodies.
  • We are, literally and figuratively, the children of travelers from antique lands.  In twenty first century terms our children face the same challenges, as did our ancestors’ children; our basic biology still needs to empower them to master both basic skills (those that can be readily taught) and think creatively for themselves (experiential learning).
  • We know that the human brain is essentially plastic, that it constantly reshapes itself in response to environmental challenges, but that it does this within the blueprint of the species inherited experience.
  • Experience during each of these phases became critical to how the individual brain is reconfigured to deal with the next stage of life.
  • Subsidiarity states: “it is wrong for a superior body to hold for itself the right to make decisions for which an inferior is already qualified to make for itself.”
  • Youngsters who are empowered as adolescents to take charge of their own futures will make better citizens in the future than did so many of their parents and their grandparents who suffered from being over-schooled, but under-educated in their own generations.

 

From the Paper Adolescence; a critical Evolutionary Adaptation Executive Summary

  • By being “crazy by design”, adolescence is actually a critical evolutionary adaptation that is essential to our species’ survival.
  • As such it is adolescence that drives human development –it is adolescence which forces individuals in every generation to think beyond their own self-imposed limitations, and to exceed their parents’ aspirations.
  • Such a Model of Learning would match exactly the neurological progression of the brain of the young child as it transforms itself into the adolescent brain.  Adolescents, it seems, have evolved to be apprentice-like learners, not pupils sitting at desks awaiting instruction.
  • People have always learnt through constantly facing challenges somewhat beyond what they think is within their own reach.

 

From the Paper Individualism, Community and Learning

  • We humans ‘tick’ best when we are faced with challenges always slightly in advance of what we had earlier though we could do, providing we are within a supportive community that gives us our sense of identity.
  • In biological terms, humans are a ‘small group’ species.  Not for us the army mentality of the ant, or the herd mentality of the buffalo, or the flocking of the swallows.   Nor do we seek the isolation of the sea eagle.   In physical terms we are, pound for pound, puny in comparison to the ant.   It is only in our brains, and in our ability to communicate with one another, that the human species is pre-eminent.
  • Small, vulnerable and puny humans populated the earth because they could, increasingly, use their brains in an intentional way.   They understood the significance of collaboration.
  • If parents do not understand what children need, then schools do not have a clear mandate within which to operate.
  • Too often when governments look beyond themselves for partners they see clearly leaders from the private sector, and indeed actively seek the support of business and commerce.  In practice, however, this fails to identify the other nine-tenths of the population as being the social sector.  Money and politics, of course, go hand-in-hand, but in so many ways they fail to realise the significance of human dynamics at the micro-scale.  This has encouraged the destruction of strong community.  No wonder so many people have decided to opt out of the democratic process, and everywhere seek single-issue politics.  Community is where traditionally all the conflicting expectations of individuals were resolved, but community is increasingly seen as being under threat from economic forces.
  • “The key to understanding our evolutionary success, as well as our unique combination of every-day behaviour that sets us apart from any other living thing to date, is our unique talent as human beings”.  (William Orman)
  • Freud and various thinkers since, saw civilisation as an oppressive force that thwarts man’s basic animal urges such as lust and aggression, transmuting these into psychopathology.   But evolutionary psychology suggests that a larger threat to mental health may be the way that civilisation thwarts civility
  • if the goal is to raise children as successful lifelong learners and productive members of communities, then the youngest children need an environment that offers them the stability, challenge, values and cohesiveness that we attribute to functional, loving families.   Children need to know where they belong.
  • Where wealth accumulates, men decay.  (Oliver Goldsmith)
  • Very simply, people who work together hold together so that, “In the modern world community is an achievement not a given”.
  • In other words a community that talks together, understands the connections between the various aspects of life.   Consequently a truly functional community knows that it can’t have its cake and eat it at the same time.
  • It was the institutionalisation of learning during the latter stages of the Industrial Revolution  that the move from the community the very task that had earlier given reason for its existence.
  • “This community believes in Functional Literacy for all; that is the ability to feel comfortable amidst all the change and confusion of the fast-growing, technological society.   That comfort comes with knowing that you have learned-how-to-learn and feel confident in your ability to face the future.   This depends on developing to the full the ability to think, to communicate, to collaborate, and to make decisions”.

 

Quotations from the writings, lectures and courses of the 21st Century Learning Initiative.

(Most quotes are from writing or presentations by John Abbott)

Learning

  • Learning is a social and collaborative activity.
  • Learning is a consequence of thinking.
  • Learning … that reflective activity which enables the learner to draw upon previous experience, to understand and evaluate the present, so as to shape future action and formulate new knowledge.
  • “Thus, learning becomes a delicate but powerful dialogue between genetics and the environment: the experience of our species from aeons past interacts with the experiences we have during our lifetime”. (Sylwester)
  • “In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” (Hoffer)
  • The brain does not have to be taught to learn. Learning is what it does – automatically. To thrive it needs plenty of stimulation, and it needs suitable feedback systems. Effective learning is dependent upon emotional energy. We are driven more by emotion than by logic. Children who learn because they simply want to work something out because it matters to them, are far more resilient and determined when they face problems than children who seek external rewards. The brain is essentially a survival system; it takes seriously those things which matter to it. Emotional well-being may well be more essential to the brain, for survival, than intellectual.
  • Metacognition is the ability to think about your own thinking, and the development of skills that are genuinely transferable and not tied to a single body of knowledge, and which can be applied in different settings.
  • Apprenticeship learning is about the development of expertise, not simply specialisation. It develops within knowledge-sharing and building communities in which collective intelligence goes beyond the scope of any one individual.
  • Learning is an immensely complex business which we seek to simplify and codify at our peril. To put faith in a highly directive, prescriptive curriculum is to so “go against the grain of the brain” that it will inhibit creativity and enterprise … the very skills needed in the complex, diverse, knowledge society that we desperately need to prepare our children for.”
  • Just as we are undoubtedly on the brink of new understandings about learning, so too are we on the brink of radical developments in technology which are so fundamental that they hold the power to alter, not merely our education system, but also our work and our culture.
  • The technical revolution puts learning and conventional education systems on a collision course. The traditional role of education has, for too long, been predominantly instructional and teacher moderated, but the essence of the coming integrated, universal, multi-media, digital network is discovery – the empowerment of the human mind to learn spontaneously, without coercion, both independently and collaboratively.
  • Schools now have a vital role in starting the dynamic process by which pupils are given the confidence to manage their own learning, to co-operate with colleagues and to use a range of resources and learning situations which progressively wean them from their earlier dependence on teachers and institutions. But such skills, practices and attitudes cannot be taught solely in the classroom, nor can they be developed solely by teachers.
  • The greatest incentive to learn is personal, it is intrinsic. That is why a caring, thoughtful, challenging, stimulating life – a life of manageable child-like proportions – in the greater community is so vitally important. That is why streets that are unsafe for children to play around are as much a condemnation of failed policy, as are burned out teachers or inadequate classrooms.
  • Teachers need to see that the starting point of learning is the rich complexity of the conceptual structures that a child brings to the classroom, and seek to build upon this, rather than attempt to control a pupil’s knowledge-development by force-feeding facts
  • and knowledge outlined in a syllabus.
  • No education system has ever tried to educate all its students to be higher-order thinkers. Improving our schools to educate everyone to this level, not just the select few, may not be possible if all we do is reaffirm past standards, raise graduation requirements, and apply existing methods and practice more rigorously.” (Bruer)
  • “Thinking skills should not be seen as an esoteric add-on to good solid knowledge and routine skills. …. If students do not learn to think with the knowledge they are stockpiling, they might as well not have it.” (Resnick)
  • “Perhaps the most important contribution schools can make to the education of our youth is to give them a sense of coherence in their studies, a sense of purpose and inter-connectiveness in what they learn.” (Postman)
  • Advocates point out that the real power of ICTs lies in their ability to offer multi-sensory, reflective and collaborative learning environments unconstrained by time, place or formal structures.
  • The nature of constructivist learning and the power of ICTs call for a model of learning that does not draw sharp boundaries around the learning needs of young people.
  • “A life-long learning approach calls for a sweeping shift in orientation, from institutions, schools and programmes to learners and learning.” (OECD)
  • “The teacher delivers someone else’s curriculum with its precisely defined product and there is little room for that transaction in which the teacher responds to the needs of the learner. When the learner becomes the client there is no room for the traditional apprenticeship into the community of learners. When the product is the measurable targets on which performance is audited, then little significance is attached to the struggle to make sense or to the deviant or the creative response.” (Pring)
  • “For the first time in human history, it is easy to envisage a mass educational environment where instruction can be truly individual. Computers can be programmed so that they present information and stimulate interactions that are appropriate for each student.
  • But this is fundamentally different from a teaching machine. It offers a range of modes, it allows students to take the initiative, it permits and records various forms of response and it can constantly readjust in terms of earlier successes or failures.” (Gardner)
  • A National Curriculum or outcome-based education which is too prescriptive quickly saps the energy of enterprising people and removes the space for imagination. Progressive problem-solvers stay healthier, live longer and experience the intense mental pleasure known as flow. They go well beyond well-learned procedures, avoid getting stuck in ruts and challenge themselves by reformulating problems in ever more challenging ways.
  • If we change the representation of intelligence, teaching and learning, we change the relationship between children and teachers, schools and community.
  • Do children’s natural learning styles fit the traditional classroom? In the end you cannot force a person to learn. You can coerce them to show superficial understanding of information and concepts for tests but in the final analysis each individual is in charge of their own learning and they will decide whether or not they want to work at it.
  • With a constructivist form of learning, each child structures his or her own knowledge of the world into a unique pattern, connecting each new fact, experience or understanding in a subjective way that binds the child into rational and meaningful relationships to the wider world.
  • Rather than thinking of the brain as a computer, it is now seen as a flexible, self-adjusting, ever-changing organism that grows and reshapes itself in response to challenge, with elements that wither through lack of use.
  • “A live tutor will never be expendable. Human beings learn and want to learn because they want to be like individuals whom they admire, who care for them and for whom they care. Computers could free tutors to focus on showing students how they might use knowledge in their own lives, giving encouragement and praise, guiding and advising, putting a hand on the shoulder when the student becomes discouraged and having the courage to say “from now on, it is up to you but I will never forget you”.” (JML after Gardner’s “The Complete Tutor”.
  • “We don’t teach people how to deal with failure and that is a fundamental oversight.” (O’Connor)
  • “Children are given quality time, shielded from their parents struggles with the vicissitudes of life and don’t learn how to overcome difficulty or failure. No wonder they expect to have all they want and can’t cope with falling out with friends.” (JML)
  • If our pupils are to be qualified to act as stewards of our humanity then we need a curriculum that “joins things together” rather than splits them apart. A curriculum that values synthesis as much as analysis. A curriculum that honours emotion and individual experience, and spiritual values. As Vaclav Haval wrote three years ago, education is the ability to perceive the hidden connections between disparate phenomena.
  • “I learned most not from those who taught me but from those who talked with me”.(St Augustine)
  • The brain is naturally curious, (good at seeing what is going on).
  • It is a novelty detector (expecting to compare what we already know with what we see).
  • It must adapt and adjust, rejecting and accepting ideas.
  • It wants to do and understand, (emotional engagement leads to activity in the amygdala)
  • It is about making sense, (learning) and constantly adjusting to its conditions,
  • So we build our brains as we use them.

 

Adolescence

  • Why do we persist in seeing children as people we have to organise, rather than progressively seeing them as people whose maturity will grow rapidly if we give them the opportunity to organize themselves?
  • “Rage filled adolescents only seem to come out of nowhere: they come, too often, from the nursery.” (Carr-Morse and Wiley)
  • While modern parents and teachers find adolescence disruptive, earlier cultures directed this energy in ways that developed those skills on which the community was dependent for its ongoing survival. In doing so it also ensured that young people learned, and practised, what was seen as appropriate social behaviour.
  • “The most stunning change for adolescents today is their aloneness. The adolescents of the 90s are more isolated and more unsupervised than other generations … not because they come from parents who don’t care, schools that don’t care, or a community that doesn’t value them, but rather there hasn’t been time for adults to lead them through the process of growing up.” (Hersch)
  • “In all societies since the beginning of time, adolescents have learned to become adults by observing, imitating and interacting with grown-ups around them. The self is shaped and honed by feedback from men and women who already know who they are, and can help the young person find out who he or she is going to be”. (Csikszentmihalyi)
  • “Students get the most out of school – and have the highest expectations – when they find school more play-like than work-like. Engaging activities with intense involvement regardless of content are essential for building the optimism and resilience crucial to satisfying lives as adults.” (Csikszentmihalyi)
  • In accepting that the impact of the neurological changes in the teenage brain makes them “crazy by design” it can be seen that adolescence is actually a critical evolutionary adaptation that is essential to our species’ survival. It is a mechanism that prevents children from becoming mere clones of their parents.
  • It is adolescence which forces individuals in every generation to think beyond their own self-imposed limitations, and to exceed their parents aspirations.
  • Unlock the creative abilities of each person; it can emerge whenever they are engaged. Harness it. It flourishes when there is a flow of ideas between people and thrives on an atmosphere of risk-taking and experiment.
  • Are we afraid to let them off the hook of control for fear of how their energy and imagination might rock the boat?

 

Cognitive apprenticeship – making thinking visible.

  • Tell me and I will forget                 Show me and I will remember  Let me do it for myself and I will understand.    (Chinese proverb)
  • “What we need is help to understand how to learn so that we can deal with new situations when there is no one to tell us what to do.”(a 15 year old 15 years ago)

 

Learning is messy.

Early years

 

  • If the youngest children are progressively shown that a lesson about learning something can also be a lesson about how to understand how they “learn-to-learn” and remember something, then the child, as he or she becomes older, starts to become his or her own teacher.
  • Children’s search for meaning starts young. It is the children who are already anxious to make sense of issues that matter to them in their own private lives, who come to formal schooling anxious to use whatever it can offer them to help meet their personal objectives.  Not the other way round
  • “children have a special way of spelling “love”: T I M E.” (Zinsmeister)
  • “The spiralling strands of development transform helpless new-borns into sociable and socialised small people, are plaited into their relationships with known, loved and loving adults. Those adults do not have to be parents or relations but, unfashionable and unpalatable though the facts may be, it is much easier if they are.” (Leach)
  • “It is a pity that an old man’s experience makes no heirloom for a child”. (Chief Dan George, Native American)
  • “We have not inherited this world from our parents; we have been loaned it by our children.” (Native American Proverb)
  • Children need to learn to fly when they are young.
  • “I’m sure you love your children but why don’t you enjoy them anymore?”

 

Community

“If you create an edgy, uneasy, tired and hypercritical society, its members get more prone to give up the struggle and fall for irresponsible moonshine about nothing being anybody’s fault”. (Libby Purves)

  • “Human life is not organic; a shared existence is a matter of intention, not of fact.” (John MacMurray)
  • After years of studying the evidence, we have come to the sober conclusion that much of the world is dealing not so much with a crisis in schooling as with a crisis in childhood and community.
  • What is “the glue” that can unify people of diverse interests and backgrounds around agendas and dreams?
  • “Factors outside school are four times more important in determining a student’s academic achievement than are factors within the school.” (Kellogg foundation).
  • The most significant predictor of success was the quantity and quality of dialogue in the child’s home before the age of five. (Kellogg foundation)
  • “It’s not people’s ignorance you need to fear it’s what they know that damn well ain’t true anymore that causes all the problems.” (Billings)
  • A community that talks together understands the connections between the various aspects of life.
  • Community, especially when expressed as a place, is where the inter-connectiveness of all aspects of life is most apparent. Very simply, people who work together hold together.
  • It is within communities, which by their very nature include people of differing views and opinions, that young people first start to appreciate the essential interconnectedness of people and events.
  • Without that sense of community in their greater lives, young people can’t relate their theoretical school-based knowledge to reality.

 

General

  • You can’t bring up children to be intelligent in a world that is not intelligible to them. Streets that are unsafe for children to play in are as much a measure of failed educational policy as are burnt out teachers and decaying classrooms.
  • Despite fundamental changes in how people work, live and find meaning in their lives, education systems at the beginning of the 21st century have changed little.
  • To unlock its full potential, technology must be allowed to change the ways in which the organisation and all those who work and learn within it operate.
  • Children need the wings to fly and the roots to understand why they are as they are?
  • Are we educating young children to know how to live well and make wise judgments or is it all about making them effective producers and insatiable consumers?
  • There aren’t any great leaders out there any more: there’s only us.
  • The task is not so much to se what no one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody sees. (Schopenhaur)
  • Too many leave school with the appetite killed and the mind loaded with undigested lumps of information. The good school master is known by the number of valuable subjects he declines to teach. (Livingstone)
  • Expertise is difficult to achieve without first being a specialist, but it is much more than simply specialization. It requires the knowledge of much content, and the ability to be able to think about this both in the specific, and the abstract.  It is essentially that deep, reflective capability that helps people of all ages break out of set ways of doing things, unseating old assumptions and setting out new possibilities.
  • Reversing an Upside Down and Inside Out model of education.
  • The eventual choice depends on what kind of education you believe (and this has to be a matter of faith) our children deserve.  The decision could go either way – Battery Hens or Free Range Chickens. One way is difficult and time-consuming but could release the phenomenal ability latent in so many people. The other, the one we seem to have drifted into, leads to a new form of Dark Age – full of consumable goodies but with no soul. We start, as did Dr Faustus, facing Mephistopheles.
  • “If you look to lead, invest at least 40% of your time managing yourself – your ethics, character, principles, motivation and conduct. Invest at least 30% managing those with authority over you and 15% managing your peers. Use the remainder to free other people to do the same.” (Dee Hock)
  • “If we are wise enough, our insights can help us to create learning communities, that are grounded in the hopeful and enduring characteristics of the natural world, the human spirit, and the brain itself.” (S. Pace Marshall)
  • “Perhaps the most important contribution schools can make to the education of our youth is to give them a sense of coherence in their studies, a sense of purpose and interconnectedness in what they learn. The curriculum is not, in fact, a “course of study” at all but a meaningless hodgepodge of subjects. It does not even put forward a clear vision of what constitutes an educated person, unless it is a person who possesses skills. In other words, a technocrat’s ideal – a person with no commitment and no point of view but with plenty of marketable skills.” (Postman)
  • What is needed is independent-minded individuals who have the greatest possible personal stake in their own futures, and who can perform to their full potential.
  • You can take the person out of the Stone Age but you cannot take the Stone Age out of the person.
  • This community believes in functional literacy for all; that is, the ability to feel comfortable amidst all the change and confusion of a fast-growing technological society. That comfort comes with knowing that you have learned-how-to-learn and feel confident in your ability to face the future. This depends on developing to the full the ability to think, to communicate, to collaborate, and to make decisions. (From Princeton)
  • The future sanity of the world depends upon the coming together of the two great disciplines that have hardly spoken together for a hundred years – Biology and Theology. (State of the World Forum)
  • I understand the need for economic growth but, as a gaol in itself, surely it stands as barren and arid? Education stands in danger of seeing people as tools for economic progress, unless it is accompanied by a vision of individuals as creative, responsible and spiritual, and society as the matrix within which genuine fulfilment is the goal for all.
  • “No time to waste says the National Commission on Education Report, and I would add another: “No people to waste”. I believe that at this moment out society is In danger of wasting people.” (Bishop of Ripon)
  • Youngsters in the 21st Century will need a broader, more challenging – yes more exciting – education than we received. “To have all their wits about them” is a good description. So is the expression “nous” – good old-fashioned commonsense linked to a fine application of intelligent behaviour. “Gumption” is another description, the ability to find a creative solution outside the box.
  • Intellectual weaning – Do it for yourself.
  • Subsidiarity – It is wrong for a superior body to retain the right to make decisions that an inferior body is already able to make for itself.
  • “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor is it necessarily the most intelligent. It is the one who fits in best that survives.” (Darwin)

 

Over-schooled but under-educated.

  • Wisdom, although not a fashionable word, is what is required at moments of uncertainty, when change occurs, when differences become apparent, or when different “certainties” meet or collide.
  • Wisdom requires a moral stance, a value system that acts as a filter to enable us to get at the essence of a problem, and to find an appropriate solution. There may be many different answers to the same problem, this is what has led to the great diversity of Humankind, and this is what enriches us all, but as human beings we must base our responses on common values; values that whilst protecting the rights of the individual will still demand a social response from each of us, and hold each of us accountable for our actions.

 

  • Three periods in a normal life span when the brain goes through a kind of spring-clean to get rid of those synapses that appear unnecessary – synaptogenesis –  in the first  six months of life, in adolescence and in old age.
  • Traditionally Education has often been likened to a three-legged stool which will always adjust to the most uneven surface. The Home – emotions, the Community – inspiration, the School – intellect.
  • The 21st Century Learning Initiative’s essential purpose is to facilitate the emergence of new approaches to learning that draw upon a range of insights into the human brain, the functioning of human societies, and learning as a self-organized activity. We believe this will release human potential in ways that nurture and form democratic communities worldwide, and will help reclaim and sustain our world. Value systems underpin man’s understanding of who we are and what we could achieve.
  • “The biggest crisis we are facing is the Crisis of Meaning. The tremendous social changes of the last hundred years have stripped modern society of that which gives us meaning. Within this Crisis of Meaning our young people are facing a MORAL crisis – a crisis of values. Without these anchors young people no longer understand the value of perseverance, learning for learning’s sake. Instead our daily lives are filled with the pursuit of money and temporary ecstasy. Both of these goals are unfulfillable and result in a misguided frenzy in the pursuit of the next thrill, or in depression.” (from Jakarta)
  • We are indeed a wondrously ingenious species, but the confusion about our moral values also makes us extraordinarily dangerous. So ingenious are we that our generation is the first to have the knowledge to blast our part of the universe to pieces. We have become so enamoured with immediate gratification and the so-called rights of the individual, that we are forever marginalizing the most vulnerable group in society – the children.
  • We are accountable to the children of the world. We cannot know what we now know and do nothing. No apology is needed but years into the future our grandchildren will look at us and say “What did you do about things?” We can’t drop the ball now.
  • Children will say to us “Are you sure that the knowledge you have isn’t actually responsible for the mess we are in? You have made it worse.”
  • We have a system of education a bit like a pressure cooker. Conventional wisdom holds that by getting schools to do more we will see well-educated young people. So, external pressure is put on schools with a constant strengthening of power and control in the hands of central administration to manage activities. The head of steam created by thus emasculating the profession of teachers has built up to critical levels.
  • The faith that such a system will produce people who can stand on their own feet, work creatively and live as responsible citizens has its roots in the social engineers of the Industrial Age, to save children from their ignorant and backward ways.
  • The human brain is an open system, constantly working to make sense of the world around it. It does not turn on when it enters the classroom and off when the lesson ends. It is more likely to be the other way round. Learning and schooling are not synonymous.
  • Your work defines your role in life (from the roll of parchment an actor reads). Take responsibility for your role, Know your part and where you fit in.