Overwhelmed and under-coherent

I have been feeling rather overwhelmed this week with the number of different study-related things that need my attention (not to mention work and family). Between trying to get to grips with the module 2 reading, keeping up with forum posts for colloquia, thinking about my case study proposal (and the recommendation to dip into module 3 for that), other reading requirements AND blog posts, I’m starting to feel like I’m going in circles spending a lot of time not getting anything done. And I’ve just come down with a cold…that’s what you get for congratulating yourself on how healthy you are!

So, an apology first up, this post will be a bit of a mish-mash of various thoughts I’ve had over the last week and a bit, and probably won’t flow as a coherent whole.

Firstly, while listening to Mike Hourahine on last week’s colloquia it occurred to me that Think Global School’s Learning philosophy had quite a bit of synergy with Modern Learners’ Ten Principles for Schools of Modern Learning

TGS Philosophy

Modern Learners Principles

Think Global School Learning Philosophy

 

Modern Learners Principles of Modern Schools

Students should have more autonomy and choice in their learning Principles 3 and 4
Students should be designers of their own curriculum and experiences Principles 3 and 4
Technology should enable authentic, real and rigorous learning Principles 6, 7 and 8
Learning should not be limited to the classroom and the classroom should not be limited to one teacher and one group of students Principles 5, 9 and 10

Modern Learners’ principle 1 is implicit in a school’s philosophy – “clearly articulated and shared beliefs” while principle 2 could pretty much sum up TGS in a nutshell “Live a mission and a vision deeply informed by new contexts for learning”.

TGS’ Lesson learned #3 really resonated with me: “A focus on high stakes exams and teaching to the test all but eradicates wonder and curiosity.” When will those with the power to dictate curriculum and outcomes to schools wake up to this?

Questions raised by the session:

How might we apply what TGS has learned to our geographically fixed schools?

How could the travelling experience be realised for more students?

Could it be virtual as discussed by Davidson and Goldberg in The future of learning institutions in a digital age (2009). What about programs like the Victorian Education Department’s Alpine, Snowy River and Gnurad-Gundidj campuses of the School for Student Leadership, or other term or year-long experiences for year 9 students? Could it be like the School of the Future where “class schedules and locations change every day (the goal being to break down our culture’s dependency on time and place)” (Davidson & Goldberg, 2009.p. 50).

Davidson and Goldberg was a good read, I particularly liked this statement: [Banning wikipedia]…” is a catastrophically anti-intellectual reaction to a knowledge-making global phenomenon of epic proportions” (2009. p.28).

Back to Mike Hourahine who posed the question “What is the purpose of required secondary education?”. I answered in the chat “to keep them off the streets” and I was only half joking. In Victoria now the leaving age is 17 unless the students has a job/apprenticeship or recognised training course to go to. In the past kids could leave school at 13, 14 or 15 and go into real career paths with the post office, public service, in trades or even just retail. Those opportunities are long gone, VCE is a minimum for anything. For the kids who don’t want to go onto further education the purpose of their education might just be keeping them busy until they are allowed to leave (and hopefully get a job or access welfare if they can’t). My previous school was in an area with a high percentage of generational poverty – 2 or 3 generations of families where no one had ever had an ongoing job, where the family lived on welfare. Job search allowance isn’t available until you are 17. Staying at school is an end in itself.

Interestingly, I was listening to Bruce Dixon and Will Richardson’s latest podcast where they discussed the notion, put forward by Seth Godin, that going to college is a bigger risk than not in terms of cost vs value. They discussed going straight to college or university versus taking one or more gap years or, for those young people with great computer skills (often learned outside of formal school) going straight to the workforce. It made me reflect on my own children and what the future holds for them.

My eldest daughter has just started this year at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of music. People ask me what she plans to do with her music degree. I don’t know, she’s just started…who knows what will happen in three or more years. In the meantime she’s having some amazing experience, meeting and playing with interesting people. She’s also exploring casual work options on the side, one that has come from her year 10 work experience with Daniel Donahoo – she is now apparently a “creative professional”. I don’t know what will come out of that, potentially amazing stuff or maybe nothing at all, but I’m certainly not worried.

As for my other daughter, she’s in year 10 and right now facing up to selecting her VCE subjects. She’s a polymath, at this stage for year 11 it looks like English, German, Music Performance, Studio Arts, Maths Methods, and Physics (Unit 3 & 4 as she is doing units 1 & 2 this year). Again, who knows where that will take her, but really, does that matter now? She’s choosing subjects that interest her and that she’s reasonably good at, which as far as I’m concerned are the main considerations. I’m fairly certain she won’t go straight to uni, she’s been planning a gap year (visiting Girl Guide World Centres) since she started secondary school. I’m not concerned at the prospect it might turn into two, three or even five years as apparently Bruce’s daughter’s did – she’s now a successful lawyer.

So there’s my rambling collection of thoughts from week 3. Now back to reading…

2 thoughts on “Overwhelmed and under-coherent

  1. Hi Heather,
    Lots of your thoughts resonate with me. I also found a real synergy between Bruce Dixon and Mike Hourihane’s presentations, and have also been quite overwhelmed by the intensity; I think both presenters caused a little bit of overdrive in my brain – my own analysis of what learning is about and the purpose of education are not easy questions to ponder. Pip’s presentation this week required less thinking as I am already working within the Digital Technologies space, and it was a nice relief to not be as thought challenged as I have been.

    Cheers
    Lisa

  2. Hi Heather
    I know how you feel with the frenetic pace of INF537. I feel much the same, hence my tardiness in responding to your blog post. I really liked the way you put the two slides together to illustrate the synergy between Bruce Dixon and Mike Hourihane. I have also been listening to some of The Modern Learners podcasts and they do challenge the status quo. The episode on ISTE was interesting.

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