When does the future start?

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Mother Theresa This week I visited a school that had been struggling in the past couple of decades, but since the appointment of a new principal five years ago there has been an amazing transformation in almost every way imaginable. Students are wanting to come to school now, there’s no difficulty attracting staff, the learning programmes have been changed to be inspiring and learner-centred, and the tone of the school as you walk around reflects a culture of genuine caring, collaboration and pride in the … Continue reading When does the future start?

Lessons on strategy from riding a bike

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” Albert Einstein Riding a bike is something I’ve been doing since I was very young. It’s still something I do by choice to simply get around the place when the weather and time permit, and I enjoy it as a way of getting exercise by taking long rides along the river trails or, occasionally, up the hills around where I live. As I was out on my bike yesterday my mind wandered back to when I learned to ride, and some of the lessons that enabled … Continue reading Lessons on strategy from riding a bike

Courage and collectivity

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ Albert Einstein. Educational change has been a hot topic across the globe over the past decade or so. There are now libraries of books on the subject, and post-graduate degrees specialising the area. But despite all of this, achieving change seems a daunting task. There are a couple of important things to consider here. What change are we trying to achieve, and (more importantly) why? A quick look at … Continue reading Courage and collectivity

Building – and sustaining – innovation

With nearly 45 years of experience working in education, I find myself reflecting on exactly what it is I have achieved in that time. With each of my own kids now pursuing their own life ambitions, and now my eldest grand-kids at the age where they’re thinking about the ways they might contribute to society – there are often times we find ourselves discussing exactly what’s important in life. Generally we arrive back at the same place – we all want to have ‘made a difference’ in some way. I didn’t really think of doing anything but becoming a teacher … Continue reading Building – and sustaining – innovation

We all want trees – now!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Chinese Proverb Whether we’re talking about climate change, the health system, education or environmental issues, a common refrain in much of the current rhetoric is the urgent need for action. This sense of urgency belies the fact that what needs to be done should have been started a long time ago, but by ignoring the signs, we’re now faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges in terms of the scale and complexity of the problems that lie before us – and our children. Consider the … Continue reading We all want trees – now!

Feet of Clay

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history… The crisis is exacerbating pre-existing education disparities by reducing the opportunities for many of the most vulnerable children, youth, and adults…. On the other hand, this crisis has stimulated innovation within the education sector”. UN Policy Brief August 2020 Many of us are familiar with the phrase ‘feet of clay’ – referring to a fundamental flaw or weakness in a person who may be otherwise revered. The phrase originates from the book of Daniel in the Bible where Daniel interprets a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In … Continue reading Feet of Clay

Give a S***!

I am in the habit of riding my bike along the local river trail as regularly as I can. It’s a shared trail that is used by other cyclists, walkers, runners and those walking their dogs – everyone appreciating the opportunity this great community asset provides. Cycling is one of those activities that provides me with thinking time. This morning my thoughts were on the many dogs I pass on this trail each time I ride it, the different types there are, and the different owners I observe. This morning I was reflecting on the inevitability of these animals taking … Continue reading Give a S***!

A shake-up for education?

This week I had the privilege of attending an event in Auckland where Minister of Education, Nikki Kaye, officially released the final draft of the Digital Technologies-Hangarau Matihiko Curriculum for consultation. The event was opened with a group of students from the Lynfield College Robotics club who gave an outstanding presentation about their work as a team to design and develop robots which they have been entering into various competitions since 2008 – winning multiple national and international titles in that time! One by one the group of year 11 – year 13 students gave their perspective on what contributed to the … Continue reading A shake-up for education?

Going deeper with learning

In his preface to A Rich Seam, Michael Barber writes about a revolution that is impacting almost every area of society, noting… This revolution is already in homes across the developed world and increasingly in the developing world too. And there, it is transforming the way children and young people play, access information, communicate with each other and learn. But, so far, this revolution has not transformed most schools or most teaching and learning in classrooms. Amid the barrage of new initiatives, assessment demands, achievement challenges and the like it’s sometimes difficult to lift your eyes to a horizon that’s focused on … Continue reading Going deeper with learning

Supply and Demand – the big issue for schools of the future

I’m currently attending the ConnectED conference of principals in the Newcastle region in Australia, exploring the theme of professional learning communities and enjoying hearing from speakers with a wealth of experience in this area including Alma Harris, Michelle Jones, Helen Timperley and Peter Goss. A constant theme in the presentations and workshops is change, and how, as educational leaders, we need to be disciplined in the ways we work with teachers to embrace and deal with change, empowering them through the process of inquiry and professional learning groups. Many times in the discussions with secondary teachers in particular the challenge of providing … Continue reading Supply and Demand – the big issue for schools of the future