What ARE we making schools do?

“This week, we have been focusing on Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar. We have been practising using the past and present tense and the children have learnt how to use the present progressive and past progressive tense.”

inspireGreat – I’m sure that inspired them and made them excited to communicate. Look, I know grammar is needed, but when they are six?

How about instilling a passion for learning, not for making a grade? Get them excited about what they can achieve, not what they can’t yet do. Build a joy of curiosity, not just repeat what they “should” know. Make them explorers of the unknown, testing and creating their worlds.

We remember those teachers that inspired us and those memories are still fresh in our minds – let’s allow this generation of teachers to be that inspiration that they must be and not shackle them with tests, levels and grades.

As parents, we need to trust that are children want to learn, they will follow our example, so set them an example of life-long learning – they will thank you for it!

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The aim of education

What is the aim of education?

  • To be prepared for the future.
  • To expand awareness.
  • To learn from the past.
  • To instil resilience to persevere.
  • To think for oneself.
  • To understand oneself and become that which you want to be, need to be and can be.

And finally, education is a life long journey. If you stop learning, you stop living.

Into The Wind

21832626-0-documentary-uk-websiA long overdue post from me, but I’ve been inspired by two “world schooler” families, who travel the world as a family, learn together as they experience new cultures and experience. Incredibly creative, they find their passions and run towards them…hard.

You will be inspired by their lifestyle, and they’ve made a film, called “Into the Wind” to share why, what and how they live:

Set against the backdrop of the contemporary status quo, this film explores the transformational life choices a growing number of families are embracing. Where the world is both teacher and provider, families shed cultural expectations, challenge preconceptions of money and success, examine what it means to be educated and redefine the concept of community and home.

On an ongoing journey of learning and discovery, travel is a way of life, a way of interacting with the world and connecting with its people. So old in its origins, Into the Wind could be the modern answer to what we’re all seeking.

Sign up now to sneak a preview of the film’s trailer at intothewindfilm.com.

Personalize Education to Discover True Passion

Education doesn’t need to be reformed – it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.

Ken RobinsonThe Element

8 Competencies Schools Should Teach Now

creativeschoolsBack to Sir Ken Robinson again. In his book, Creative Schools, he outlines eight core competencies that schools should facilitate if they are really going to help students succeed in their lives:

  1. Curiosity – the ability to ask questions and explore how the world works
  2. Creativity – the ability to generate new ideas and to apply them in practice
  3. Criticism – the ability to analyse information and ideas and to form reasoned arguments and judgments
  4. Communication – the ability to express thoughts and feelings clearly and confidently in a range of media and forms
  5. Collaboration – the ability to work constructively with others
  6. Compassion – the ability to emphasise with others and to act accordingly
  7. Composure – the ability to connect with inner life and feeling and develop a sense of personal harmony and balance
  8. Citizenship – the ability to engage constructively with society and to participate in the processes that sustain it

It’s a great list, and completely challenging if you have children that are in education sytems…

Ken Robinson Defines Creativity

Sir KenSir Ken Robinson gives his take on creativity:

‘It’s sometimes said that creativity cannot be defined: Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.

There are various myths about creativity. One is that only special people are creative, another is that creativity is only about the arts, a third is the creativity cannot be taught and a fourth is that it’s all to do with uninhibited “self-expression.” None of these is true. Creativity draws from many powers that we all have by virtue of being human. Creativity is possible in all areas of human life, in science, the arts, mathematics, technology, cuisine, teaching, politics, business, you name it. And like many human capacities, our creative powers can be cultivated and refined. Doing that involves an increasing mastery of skills, knowledge and ideas.

Creativity is about fresh thinking. It doesn’t have to be new to the whole of humanity – though that’s always a bonus – but certainly to the person whose work it is. Creativity also involves making critical judgements about whether what you’re working on is any good, be it a theorem, a design, or a poem. Creative work often passes through typical phases. Sometimes what you end up with is not what you had in mind when you started. It’s a dynamic process that often involves making new connections, crossing disciplines and using metaphors and analogies.

Being creative is not just about having off-the-wall ideas and letting your imagination run free. It may involve all of that, but it also involves refining, testing, and focusing what you’re doing. It’s about original thinking on the part of the individual, and it’s also about judging critically whether the work in process is taking the right shape and is worthwhile, at least for the person producing it.

Creativity is not the opposite of discipline and control. On the contrary, creativity in any field may involve deep factual knowledge and high levels of practical skill. Cultivating creativity in one of the most interesting challenges for any teacher. It involves understanding the real dynamics of creative work.

Creativity is not a linear process, in which you have to learn all the necessary skills before you get started. It is true that creative work in any field involves a growing mastery of skills and concepts. It is not true that they have to be mastered before the creative work can begin. Focusing on skills in isolation can kill interest in any discipline. Many people have been put off mathematics for life by endless rote tasks that did nothing to inspire them with the beauty of numbers. Many spent years grudgingly practicing scales for music examinations only to abandon the instrument once they’ve made the grade.

The real drive of creativity is an appetite for discovery and a passion for the work itself. When students are motivated to learn, they naturally acquire the skills they need to get the work done. Their mastery of them grows as their creative ambitions expand. You’ll find evidence of this process in great teaching in every discipline from football to chemistry.’

(Excerpt taken from Sir Ken Robinson’s book Creative Schools; pages 118-120)

Inspiring Creativity Film by Liberatum

Inspiring Creativity is a short film (11 mins) created by Liberatum, directed by Pablo Ganguli and Tomas Auksas, and presented by illy, featuring 21 artists and cultural figures from art, fashion, film, design, technology and music. The film is an insider’s perspective on inspiration from the minds of leading creative personalities including:

Diana Picasso, Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer, Inez van Lamsweerde, Vinoodh Matadin, Academy Award nominee James Franco, Joan Smalls, Johan Lindeberg, Jonas Mekas, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Nico Muhly, Karen Elson, Karim Rashid, Klaus Biesenbach, Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels, Lola Montes Schnabel, Marilyn Minter, Mark Romanek, Tracey Emin, Moby, Paul Schrader, and TED founder Richard Saul Wurman.

Through the authentic interpretation and responses from these individuals, the overall project communicates what inspires creative thinking and behaviors for nurturing inspiration, while provoking thoughts on how culture, society, and technology continue to affect creativity.

Stubborn Creativity

Hans ZImmerHans Zimmer when talking about his educational experience said that, “it took stubbornness for [his] creativity to survive.”

You need to be determined to maintain your own views, your own tastes and be your own you.

As a father, I may not want to have stubborn children (they must get it from their mother!) but if it means that they keep on creating, I will be happy!

Creativity Is Born From Restriction & Limitation

Paul Schrader“A lot of people think that creativity is about freedom, freedom to act on your ideas and imagination. But I don’t think that is true. I think true creativity comes from restriction and limitation.” Paul Schrader

Paul mentions this quote in a  short video where musical creativity is being discussed. I think the quote, “necessity is the mother of creativity” is particularly appropriate here. Most creativity appears when it is really needed. I think it’s hard to be as creative in a comfortable environment, as the “need to” is less strong or even non-existent.

Paul Schrader is an American screenwriter, film director, and film critic. Schrader wrote or co-wrote screenplays for four Martin Scorsese films: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ and Bringing Out the Dead.