The real agenda – New Minds for a New Millennium

New Minds for a New Millennium
The Past Present and Future of teaching and learning
Readings June 9th 1980
For a number of years, we have published our blog which often includes a set of readings that we hope teachers might find worth reading. We know that teachers are far too busy to spend time searching but we also know that keeping up with reading about new ideas is an important part of being a professional.
We appreciate that only a few will read our blog but as someone once said there is nothing like a hopeless cause – climate change comes to mind.

New connected mind

Our Vision – a view from the edge
Our Vision is for schools to create learning environments to develop the interests, gifts and talents of all students. Our Vision relates back to such writers suchas John Dewey and in New Zealand to the philosophy of Dr Beeby who, as Directorof Education of the First Labour Government, introduced progressive ideas into the New Zealand educational landscape.

Communities of scientists and artists

For us it is the work of pioneer teacherElwyn Richardson that is our inspiration. Elwyn believed that his class was a community of artists and scientists exploring and expressing their ideas about their experiences. Important in this development and sharing of creative teaching was the work of the art advisers who developed related arts programmes. And we would add Sylvia Ashton Warner and Marie Clay whose ideas about reading are as relevant as ever

Holistic education

 More recently holistic ideas about developmental holistic progressive education were championed by the late KelvinSmythe who fought the fight against the mechanistic, formulaic and technocratic approaches imposed on schools over the past three decades.
All forgotten history, we guess, for many teachers today.
Our view is possibly from the edge but it is the edge where new ideas evolve.
Signs of creative growth
It seems to us the centre of progressive education has shifted to a few new innovative secondary schools. Currently their creativity is under threat with the possible introduction of literacy and numeracy requirements for all students rather than these areas integrated into meaningful contexts.  You would’ve thought that with the current focus on testing, assessment and documentation in these areas in primary schools, this would not be a problem?

Innovative secondary schools are experimenting with new organisations while most primary classroom timetable have changed little over the decades, if anything, have become more traditional than ever with their over emphasis on literacy and numeracy (with their shameful ability grouping).
There are also signs of progressive growth in the primary area. Such things as ‘play based learning’ (1950/60s developmental teaching), ‘place based learning’ (earlier environmental education), ‘project based learning’ (John Dewey lives on), and integrated learning.  Then there is, of course, the introduction of Modern Learning Environments (70s open plan schools revisited) and the use of modern information technology which is still ‘over promised and underutilised’; used properly it can amplify student


Literacy and numeracy still, it seems, reign supreme along with oppressive testing, assessment and documentation requirements – often self-imposed by the schools themselves.
Time to develop communities of learning
Time now to focus on developing classrooms as creative learning communities with the overriding aim of developing the gifts and talents of all students and to see literacy and numeracy as foundation skills necessary to achieve this end. We imagine modern classrooms as ‘mini Te Papa’ where students answer questions that are relevant to them, digging deeply into such areas to create exhibitions, displays, demonstrations and portfolios of based on their researching and, in addition, making use of all the creative arts to express their ideas. This aligns with the NZC which asks teachers to ensure students are able ‘to seek use and create their own knowledge’ – personalized learning.
Students in such an environment learn to see the world holistically in contrast to the traditional fragmented approach of many schools – ‘new minds for a new millennium’. Students driven by purpose – new minds amplified by new technology.
Teaching as the most creative career of all
Time for new thinking

Creating such a learning environment would make teaching the most creative career of all. And it’s not simply handing learning over to the students. As Jerome Bruner has written, ‘teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation’ and they will also need to withdraw learners to teach missing skills so learners can get back to the exciting task of the ‘game of learning’ they were born to play.

It is this Vision that keeps us posting – even if most teachers are too busy to notice. As Elwyn Richardson used to quote, ‘It’s hard to remember you came to drain the swamp when you are up to your backside in alligators’.

Bruce Hammonds and Allan Alach
The Circle of Courage – Native American Model of Education
‘Anthropologists have long known that Native Americans reared courageous, respectful children without using harsh coercive controls. Nevertheless, Europeans colonizing North America tried to “civilize” indigenous children in punitive boarding schools, unaware that Natives possessed a sophisticated philosophy that treated children with deep respect.”’
How One Colorado Art Teacher Inspires Kids By Leaning Into Chaos, Not Control
Research and reflection led her to the realization that she was usually following a set plan: Her

students all made the same thing as she instructed them on how to do it.“There was no room for creativity,” she said. “Everything was preplanned for them. There was a moment where I realized, ‘Oh, these are my ideas and not my students’ ideas.’”

Going for Depth: How Schools and Teachers Can Foster Meaningful Learning Experiences
For Mehta and Fine, “deeper learning” consists of three interrelated conditions: mastery, when students fathom a subject; identity, when they connect the knowledge of the subject to their own sense of self; and creativity, when they can apply that understanding to another endeavor in what Mehta calls “the next layer of learning.”’
Dylan Wiliam: Teaching not a research-based profession
‘Classrooms are just too complicated for research ever to tell teachers what to do,’ says Dylan Wiliam In many ways, teaching is an unusual job. It shares with other professions the requirement that individuals make decisions with imperfect knowledge, but, unlike other professions, there is no shared knowledge base – no set of facts that all involved in doing the job would agree on.’
Why We Should Stop Segregating Children by Age
One of the oddest, and in my view most harmful, aspects our treatment of children today is our penchant for segregating them into separate groups by age.’
Making Progress on Progressive Education: First Empower Teachers

At the heart of progressive pedagogy are questions about student motivation: How can teachers best motivate students? How can schools best motivate teachers?. Research tells us that for this to happen, schools must first maximize the intrinsic motivation of their teachers.’

Rethinking “Student Achievement”
‘When it comes to “student achievement,” I hardly know where to start. Literally. Should I begin with trying to define it? Or should I start with the fact that hardly anyone defines it? Or that whatever definitions do exist suggest a total lack of consensus and coherence?’
A Childs Brain Develops Faster With Exposure To Music Education
A two-year study by researchers at the Brain and Creativity Institute (BCI) at the University of Southern California shows that exposure to music and music instruction accelerates the brain development of young children in the areas responsible for language development, sound, reading skill and speech perception.’
The Hidden Meaning of Kids’ Shapes and Scribbles

‘Your child’s quirky art isn’t just cute—science suggests that even the most bizarre depictions can have deep creative intention.’

What we think we know — but might not — pushes us to learn more
‘That’s because our doubts about what we know pique our curiosity and can motivate us to learn more, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley. The findings, just published online in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, challenge a popular belief that curiosity in general is the prime driver of knowledge acquisition. They also give new meaning to the Montessori approach to learning readiness, which encourages children to follow their own natural inquisitiveness.’

Categories: Education