Where are We Going and Why? – by Hargreaves and Sahlberg

Continuing with our series of 3D Eye posts on the future of schools, and on the need to reinvent education and not just ‘reform’ schooling, we’re focusing in this piece on an article on the Whole Child Blog, written by Andy Hargreaves and Pasi Sahlberg, under the title Where are We Going and Why? We strongly recommend you read this article: http://www.wholechildeducation.org/blog/where-are-we-going-and-why

  • The Fourth Way pushes beyond standardization, data-driven decision making, and target-obsessed distractions to forge an equal and interactive partnership among the people, the profession, and their government.
  • Many countries are [still] focusing attention on additional accountability, school choice and competition, short-term outcomes, and data-driven decision-making (what have been called the Second and Third Ways).
  • Many high performing countries and systems, however, are reexamining [or have already reexamined] their structures and policies to move towards greater collective professional autonomy from bureaucratic control, stronger active involvement of local communities and diversified teaching to respond to today’s widely varying populations of learners.
  • This Fourth Way of educational reform heralds the next stage for educational improvement – a movement which reverts educational authority back from centralized bureaucracies to educators and communities, diversifies skills and content taught to suit each community and context, and is driven by the inspiring and also basic belief that there are skills and aptitudes that are just as critical as content knowledge.
  • The region that is widely touted to be the economic powerhouse of this century – Asia – has already begun to actively reinvent its educational systems around educational innovation, school designed curriculum, and intelligent uses of technology: when traditional bureaucracies want to do no more than raise the bar in basic achievement, centralize and standardize the core curriculum, and introduce technology in a fast and faddish hurry.
  • What the US [and the UK] devalues or dismisses as soft skills, are, for overseas competitors, the hard-edge entrepreneurial essentials of 21st century success.
  • Schools and other educational institutions should cultivate attitudes, cultures, and skills needed within creative and collaborative learning environments.
  • Creativity will not flourish and be sustained in schools unless people feel secure to take risks and explore the unknown. Moreover, working with and understanding innovation requires creative and risk-intensive contexts.
  • Unfortunately the increased emphasis upon academic success – typically around just language arts and mathematics – is having a regrettable ripple effect: an unwavering emphasis on content; a subsequent reduction in time, effort and resources to areas outside this narrow subject matter; and an unspoken refocus on why we teach and what is considered important in education.
  • Punitive measures to enforce these directives only quicken the shift towards the standardized basics that high performing systems have moved far beyond.
  • When we commit to educating whole children within the context of whole communities and whole schools, we commit to designing learning environments that weave together the threads that connect not only math, science, the arts, and humanities, but also mind, heart, body, and spirit—connections that tend to be fragmented in our current approach.
    – ASCD, The Learning Compact Redefined, 2007 (PDF)
  • What we are seeing as we view the strides taken by Singapore (Teach Less, Learn More); Canada (Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec); and of course Finland, is a growing and successful emphasis on teaching the Whole Child; developing the social, interactive and collaborative skills needed; and empowering teachers and students in their own learning.  We are witnessing high performing educational systems and approaches that are moving towards the Fourth Way, at the very same time as policy makers in the US and elsewhere (the ones whom Sahlberg describes as advancing the Global Education Reform Movement – or GERM) are persistently and perhaps even deliberately being blinkered to these truths.

teach less learn more

  • How can we respond to the diverse needs of local communities, if more and more of our attention is geared towards what is central and what is core? How can we embrace true innovation in children’s learning, if the system is endlessly persevrating on making marginal improvements on what already exists?
  • Children need literacy and math, but emotionally and intellectually, they need so much else as well.  The old ways of change are being abandoned by our peers and our competitors. There is a new way, a fourth way of change, that can inspire our teachers, engage our communities, and lift up all of our children via a more holistic approach.

To us it’s incredible that NONE of the political parties in the UK and the USA have paid any real attention to what’s happening to education elsewhere in the world – apart from taking note of the outstanding results achieved in places like Finland, Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Neither have they paid attention to the continuing decline in children’s wellbeing in the UK and the USA – or in South Korea, which is the world leader in old-style hothousing/cramming/tests/targets/attainment schooling.

A Joe Bower graphic

A Joe Bower graphic

Then again, perhaps this isn’t surprising when we consider the remarks of Michael Portillo – ex-darling of the Conservative Right in Britain – in this week’s edition of the Weekly Politics on BBC2. Portillo really spilled the beans when he spoke about the games played in Parliament which have nothing to do with achieving what’s right for the nation, and everything to do with self-promotion, ego-satisfaction and increasing one’s level of  personal power and prestige.

Within that little world of political infighting there’s little regard for truth, justice and enlightenment, and total focus on self-aggradisement, and on maintaining the status quo and certain national mythologies, including those around the purposes of education and the need to continue with a 19th Century paradigm of learning and teaching. Politicians tend not to do what is right, or what is supported by research evidence, but what their inner certainties tell them will be popular with their political supporters and/or the public at large.

“Soft skills” is a very annoying term for the intelligences that underpin the full and proper development of our humanity, and whilst our current crop of politicians sometimes pay lip service to “soft skills” they clearly have no understanding of the importance of educating all of the six intelligences that enable us to reach our full potential as human beings with high levels of wellbeing.

As this week’s Horizon programme on BBC2 made clear, the over-use or exclusive use of ‘intellect’ or cognitive functioning actually inhibits human creativity, and it’s our creativity that’s crucial for our future wellbeing as a species. That, however, is another very big story, which we’ll return to in a future post on 3D Eye.

BBC2 The Creative Brain: “The advancement of humanity depends on creativity.” #education #ukedchat

— 3D Eye (@3Diassociates) March 14, 2013

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01rbynt/Horizon_20132014_The_Creative_Brain_How_Insight_Works/

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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 https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/ or see our website at www.3diassociates.com.
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One Response to Where are We Going and Why? – by Hargreaves and Sahlberg

  1. Pingback: Pasi Sahlberg on Equity and Education in Finland | World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities

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