• How would curriculum change if our priority approach was on critical, creative, and collaborative thinking?
  • What does the reality of the modern age of information– this age of Google –suggest that we “teach”?
  • Can we simply “update” things as we go, or is it time for rethinking of our collective practice?

These questions make me reflect the overall education system macro level, that makes me wonder whether ‘change’ will occur within the next decade, or we will still be waiting for schools to catch up with 21st century educational debate and those ‘islands’ of educational innovational practice.  They help me reflect on my recent readings for the Scholarly Critical Review, Redesigning Education (GELP) as well as the course module readings, and what I have experienced in my own school settings on a micro level.

I am placing text in bold and numbered, what my immediate thoughts were, and then including my own comments and excerpts from my review or direct quotes that have resonated with me throughout these readings. This is a pondering and musing, so will follow a similar meandering pathway.

1. For curriculum change to occur there needs to be a broader educational systems change. Governments still need to play a prominent role. However, new stake holders need to be included – non-government, business, social, philanthropic as well. ‘Learning is everybody’s business’ (GELP, 2013, Chapter 1).

Seven years ago, Phillip C. Schlechty  wrote “It is not enough to try to fix the schools; they must be reconstituted in fundamental and radical ways. In a word, the schools….must be restructured [which] … means altering systems of rules, roles, and relationships so that schools can serve existing purposes more effectively or serve new purposes altogether” (Schlechty, 1990, Preface, p. xvi)

His comments are not alone, and have been reiterated since then (and even before then – see course reading citing 1939 ).

Thanks Katherine Herbert for posting the resource by Dave Cormier. While I enjoyed reading his and Stephen Downe’s conversations, it was Cormier’s remarks that resonated.

Dave Cormier (2015) comments:

“There is something wrong. The problem is that we have built an education system with checks and balances, trying to make it accountable and progressive (in some cases), but we are building it without knowing why. We have not built an education system that encourages people to be engaged. The system is not designed to do it. It’s designed to get people to a ‘standard of knowing.”

Phillip C. Schlechty stated how ‘the present structure of schools simply does not accommodate the new means of doing the job. Indeed, the structure is so impervious to change that new technologies, not matter how promising, are generally rejected’ (2009, p.41).

I think that new technologies are being accepted, but I do not know if they are being utilised to their fullest extent. If anything the ‘structure of schools’ is acting as an impediment to digital technologies and their use in the classroom.

It is a time for change. Some educational systems have achieving it (see Finland – link below) and yet other countries are not.

2. ‘Education’ happens anywhere, anytime, through formal and informal learning.  ‘Schooling must become an activity, not a place’ (GELP, 2013, Chapter 1).

We are, though, entering the age of the ‘learning society’ (Cisco, 2010, 2011). We need to ‘rethink how, where and by whom learning takes place’ (GELP, 2013, Chapter 1).  The learning society moves beyond the ‘academic’ functions of the school, to ‘build culture, values and societal fabric’ and to recognize both formal and informal learning contexts and environments (Hannon, Patton & Temperley, 2011)

What will this mean for our schools? Schlechty noted that historical circumstances have shaped both the purpose and vision of schools, and therefore shaped the structure as well, and that the shape of schools to come.

Creating a flexible work structure and policy environment that permits and encourages restructuring is critical. But unless an internal and external support system is put in place, it is unlikely that the structural and cultural changes that are needed to turn schools into knowledge-work environments will, in fact be implemented (p.83). Flexibility will be needed (p. 78)

3. So how do we change our curriculum when we obviously need to prioritize our approach on critical, creative and collaborative thinking! After all, these are key skills recognized for living and learning in the 21st century

Redesigning Education describes effective learning environments and proposes ‘game changers’ – ‘radical shifts’ that dramatically influence systems and practices in learning. These include transfer of ownership to the learner and the ‘optimal use of powerful digital technologies’ (GELP, 2013, Chapter 2; Hannon, Patton & Temperley, 2011, p. 13; Niehoff, 2015). However technology itself will not change education on it and by itself.

Niehoff believes that we need to be focusing more on relationships, and that we need to transfer the ownership of learning to students.

Mimi Ito’s conversation on Connected Learning was very powerful.  Students need to be able to make effective choices for themselves, and that we need ‘to bring people together who want to learn together’.

Recent headlines re changes in Education in Finland  sees a move from subject based to interdisciplinary. They are not planning for restructure from the ground up, but they are acknowledging that Finnish students need ‘to keep up with a changing world that is more technological and global’.  They acknowledge that:

“We have to think and rethink everything connected to school. We also have to understand that competencies needed in society and working life have changed and they are changing rapidly.”(The Huffington Post, 28 March 2015).

For Schlechty (2009) – ‘Failure, therefore is not the opposite of success, for failure is part and parcel of the definition of success’ (p.57)

He also claims that with a ‘knowledge-work school the curriculum becomes a body of material to be worked on by students, processed by students, moulded and formed by students…Rather than being concerned with scope and sequence, teachers would concentrate on richness and texture (pp.42-43)

Thomas M. Philip and Antero D. Garcia (2013) believe the crucial aspect to prioritize is on TEXTS, TOOLS and TALK. Student and classroom discourse and interactions – not teacher talk! They continue saying how ‘ classroom discourse and interaction—what we refer to as talk—remains one of the most overlooked dimensions of incorporating technology in learning’ .

4. The role of the teacher is being closely examined – as teachers we need to rethink roles such as teaching, facilitating, guided inquiry. How can we move between instructional and facilitating learning. How can we engage students?

Thomas and Garcia (2013, p. 308) note how the ‘role of an effective teacher is not diminished but becomes even more indispensable with the increasing presence of technology.

On Twitter this afternoon, I caught note of a tweet by Diane McKenzie (Hong Kong) today that she had posted following a workshop in Macau. I know Diane and am in awe of her knowledge and practice.  It was the practical aspect of looking at technology, teaching, and the role of teachers that reflect Philip and Garcia’s beliefs (2013, p.311).  Namely that  as teachers we need to “ clearly articulate the rationale for how a tool will allow students to meaningfully collect, represent, visualize, analyze, or communicate texts for a particular set of learning goals.”

Schlechty (2009, 68) – In the 21st century…the teacher as leader, as coach, as organizer, goal setter, instructor and director will be in evidence” not ‘teacher as performer and provider of information’.

5. All the change largely has been ‘updating’ as we go. We continue with the same systems and structures, and add, and add, and add…

Philip and Garcia (2013) note how “technology use in classrooms can also be a tool in promoting specific educational policies. Instruments initially intended for convenience can easily shift in usage to become data-gathering tools that facilitate the hyperscrutiny of educators”.

 It concerns me that we are seeing this in education (I have seen it in the schools I have worked in), this focus on ‘data-driven hyperscrutiny’ and the continuation of standardized testing.  It is as though it is all okay because it is implementing the latest technological software, devices etc.

As Philip and Garcia (2013) continued:

“The evolution of standardized testing from a tool that was meant to assess students and inform instruction to a score that evaluated teachers (Nichols & Berliner, 2007) is a compelling example of the ways in which educational technologies morph within changing political contexts.”

In Australia, the NAPLAN tests have been adopted by largely all schools, and yet they are not a mandated test. Schools do have a choice. I have heard of schools saying ‘No’ and I applaud them – they are very much a minority.

References – Thank you to Katherine Herbert for posting

Cormier, D. (2014). “There is something wrong in education” A response to Stephen Downes. Retrieved fromhttp://davecormier.com/edblog/2014/12/30/theres-something-wrong-in-education-a-response-to-stephen-downes/ 

Downes, S. [StephenDownes]. (2015, February 22). @oldaily [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Downes/status/569529395716759552

Course readings Module 3.1

Philip, T. M., & Garcia, A. D. (2013). The Importance of still teaching the iGeneration: New technologies and the centrality of pedagogy. Harvard Educational Review, 83(2), 300–319,400–401. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/1399327199?accountid=10344

Are you teaching content or are you teaching thought?


Brabazon, T., Dear, Z., Greene, G., & Purdy, A. (2009). Why the Google generation will not speak: The invention of digital natives. Nebula, 6. Retrieved from http://www.iiav.nl/ezines/IAV_607294/IAV_607294_2010_3/BDGP.pdf


Cisco. (2010). The Learning Society. USA: Cisco Systems, Inc. Retrieved April, 2015, from https://www.cisco.com/web/about/citizenship/socio-economic/docs/LearningSociety_WhitePaper.pdf

Conole, G. (2013). Open, Social and Participatory Media. In G. Conole, Designing for Learning in an Open World (pp. 47-63). Dordrecht: Springer Science + Business Medai, LLC. doi:10.1007/978-4419-8517-0_4

Hannon, V., Patton, A., & Temperley, J. (2011). Developing an Innovation Ecosystem for Education. Cisco Systems, Inc., Innovation Unit for Global Education. United Kingdom: Cisco. Retrieved 2015, from http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/docs/education/ecosystem_for_edu.pdf

Innovation Unit for the Global Education Leaders’ Program. (2013). Redesigning Education: Shaping Learning Systems Around the Globe (Kindle ebook ed.). Seattle, Washington, USA: BookTrope. Retrieved 2015, from http://goo.gl/CO9935

Niehoff, M. (2 April, 2015). New Tech, New Standards, New Everything….Won’t Matter Unless We Change Old Mindsets. Retrieved 6 April, 2015, from Edu Change & Advocacy: http://changingislearning.blogspot.sg/2015/04/new-tech-new-standards-new.html

Schlechty, P. C. (1990). Schools for the Twenty-First Century – Leadership Imperatives for Educational Reform. San Francisco, USA: Jossey-Bass Inc. Retrieved 10 April, 2015, from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED461161