Rethinking Learning and Teaching.

There are some very interesting and challenging thoughts on education in the 21st Century published this week on the Mind/Shift blog:

 Three Things to Unlearn About Learning

If you’re not feeling uncomfortable about the state of education right now, then you’re not paying attention to the pressures and challenges of technology,” said Will Richardson, a veteran educator author and consultant, at a talk at ISTE 2012. “We need to acknowledge that this is a very interesting moment, and even though in a lot of ways this isn’t what we signed up for when we went into teaching… as educators, it’s our job to figure it out.”

Seeing the balance move from a place of scarcity of information to . . . the ability to “carry around the sum of human knowledge on our phones”  Richardson said educators must start thinking of schooling differently.

Richardson proposed a challenge to educators to unlearn three important things that have been taken for granted as immovable, unchangeable ideas.

1.   DELIVERY: The notion of delivering knowledge and information from teacher to student has already been upended. “Kids will not put up with delivery too much longer. They’ll expect something much different,” Richardson said. Rather, educators must hand over control of learning to kids, and understand that there are lots of ways to learn what they need to and want to learn.

“We have to stop being in charge of the curriculum and allow kids to create their own education,” he said. Educators should ask themselves: how am I helping kids develop important skills, dispositions, and literacies they need to create their own curriculum, to find their own teachers, to create their own artifacts that will more closely align with ways they’ll work when they leave school?

2.   COMPETITION: Rather than comparing test scores and grades of schools and of teachers, we should drive education forward on the basis of cooperation. We should use the best ideas of what others are doing, other classrooms and other schools. “Do we fear someone else is going to take what we’re doing? But isn’t that a good thing, if it’s good practice?” Richardson asked. There’s a larger gain by being transparent. “We can’t fight the greater world problems as well through competition as we will through cooperation.

3.   ASSESSMENT.  Richardson, an outspoken critic of standardized testing, pressed the point that current assessments measure fact memorization, not students’ skills. And with automated essay scoring being used, the range of knowledge is becoming more and more narrow, he said. “If we don’t assess what we value, we will end up valuing what we assess,” he said. “As a system, we’re not assessing what we value.” Richardson does not even favor “open book” or “open Internet” testing, asking the simple but unsettling question: “Why are we asking them questions they can easily find?”

3Di’s comment on this is:

This is an interesting post that deserves to be discussed in every school.

Finland has developed and run its highly successful education system along the lines described here for many years now, as the rest of the world is beginning to take note. Several East Asian countries have radically changed their approaches as a result of learning lessons from Finland, and as a result have risen in the OECD rankings.

In Finland –

“The premise for providing instruction is the conception of the pupil as an active learner.”

“Supporting the individual learning process is important and essential, along with the importance of communal process and interaction for learning.”

“Pupils are guided towards understanding their own learning processes – their ability to guide their own learning and development, and to take responsibility for these processes, is strengthened.”

“At all levels of education in Finland, trusting this willingness to learn and to take responsibility for one’s own learning is of the utmost importance.”

“Methods must be selected in a way that they enhance

* abilities such as the willingness to learn
* the command of one’s own learning programme
* the ability to work in a systematic and target-orientated way
* the ability to acquire, apply and evaluate information
* communication and social skills.”

It should also be noted that there are no national high-stakes timed examinations in Finland until the age of 18.

(These quotations are from a paper by Irmeli Halinen of the Finnish National Board of Education. Read more here:

About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at or see our website at
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