Miss Snuffy and Mr Snake Oil on 21st Century Learning

June 30, 2018

Lyall Lukey, Convener of Education Leaders Forum 2018, examines some of the views expressed by among others London Headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh and her host Roger Partridge, the New Zealand Initiative, before, during and after the recent researchED conference. This article was first published on Educational Central on 29 June.

Among the pigeons

The researchED conference on 2 June set the cat (and a partridge) among the pedagogical pigeons. It was no surprise that 21st century skills and modern learning environments were discounted or deplored.

Key speaker at the event and guest of the New Zealand Initiative was controversial Kiwi-born Katharine Moana Birbalsingh, the founder of “Britain’s strictest school” Michaela Park Community School in North West London.

New entrants attend a week-long military-style boot camp to learn the school’s strict rules, which include no talking in the corridors and demerit points for forgetting a pen or slouching.

Sniffy with Miss Snuffy

Birbalsingh’s Twitter handle is @Miss_Snuffy – “Headmistress/Founder Michaela: free/charter school doing it differently. Believe in freedom from state, truth on race, common sense….”

Some TV1 viewers got sniffy with her pre-event TV interview  though others sat up very straight.

Birbalsingh supports the traditional teaching methods of E. D. Hirsch in The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them (1999). She argues that education should be about teaching children knowledge, not learning skills.

Jude Barback’s Education Central piece on I June encapsulated Birbalsingh’s fears for New Zealand’s education system:   “You’re about to go off the edge of a cliff”.

The video of the cliff-hanging researchED presentation has now been “removed by the user” though other conference  presentations are still viewable.

Luckily New Zealand is devoid of lemmings.  It is also the birthplace of commercial bungee jumping and other innovations which use applied knowledge, a range of skills and plenty of initiative.

Content with content?

There was a quick response from Dr Michael Harvey:
“The key claim that Birbalsingh makes is… the paramount importance of content over skills …[ but] it is a misnomer to say that skill is not knowledge. Skill is knowledge, just of a different form. The fact-based knowledge that Birbalsingh champions [is] based on declarative memory (knowing that) whereas the skills she decries are procedural memory (knowing how)…”

The key to developing a skill such as playing the piano is practice and reinforcement. Knowing music  theory is not the same as tinkling the ivories. This is no black or white distinction but a reinforcing dynamic.

First cut isn’t the deepest

“At… researchED ‘Festival of Education’ conference in Auckland, 250 teachers and educationalists from around New Zealand had an opportunity to expose a modern-day version of Stanley’s snake oil: the so-called ‘21st-century learning movement.’” 21st century snake oil   Roger Partridge

What expanded the current education debate to a new, largely business audience was this opinion piece on the New Zealand Initiative website on 9 June and then on the NBR website.

Written by Roger Partridge  chairman and a co-founder of The New Zealand Initiative and a former commercial lawyer who led law firm Bell Gully from 2007 to 2014, it recounted the story of American Clark Stanley who created a dodgy medical cure-all he named Snake Oil Liniment .

In cutting to the chase the Stanley blade-wielding Partridge followed in Birbalsingh’s footsteps. He said 21st century learning adherents advocate ‘modern learning environments’ instead of classrooms, with 80 or 90 school children and a few ‘free-ranging’ teachers. The teachers are expected to promote child-centred, ‘inquiry-based learning’ rather than teacher-led instruction.

“There is only one problem with 21st-century learning; despite its seductive underpinnings, there is no scientific evidence it is equal, let alone superior, to more traditional, teacher-led instruction. And there is lots of evidence it fails children, particularly the disadvantaged. So 21st-century learning is seductive snake oil, not science.”

 Exposé or pose?

Partridge claims that limiting their exposure to the wealth of knowledge their parents gained at school a generation ago is dumbing down children’s learning.

“Now this wouldn’t matter if this 21st-century snake oil was simply being promoted by a few Mr Stanleys.  But it is not. It is advocated by our own Ministry of Education. Even the briefest foray onto the ministry’s website reveals how embedded 21st-century notions have become in the ministry’s approach to education.”

It was a very brief foray, not getting as far as the Best Evidence Synthesis section . The Ministry, via its internationally respected BES publications, makes accessible bodies of evidence about what works to improve education outcomes.

For more than 15 years New Zealander John Hattie has also done a great job, via his Visible Learning project, to collate research about what works best for teaching and learning in schools.  TES has called him “possibly the world’s most influential education academic”.

The snake oil metaphor may shed a little light in one or two dark corners but, like 19th Century whale oil, it is not very illuminating overall.

False Dichotomy

“[A] false dichotomy of reform versus status quo fails to capture the rich perspectives of teachers who believe in education improvements that are grounded both in research and in their own experiences with successful student learning.” Give Teachers a Voice in Education Reform

Birbalsingh’s very old school approach may demonstrate the magnetic power of a leader able to articulate shared values and practices, whatever their evidential foundation or fashion status, in order to attract funding in a low socio-economic catchment area and enthusiastic teachers and parents  who share her education philosophy.

A coherent learning culture in one school might be in complete contrast to a different mix in another. Each may get some effective outcomes for at least some learners by “the way we do things around here”.

Vive la difference!

Modern Learning Environments

“There is always more than one side to an argument; always more than one good solution to a problem – often many. Learning is a complex matter…. The issue isn’t Traditional Classrooms OR Modern Learning Environments. It is about what works for each individual child and having highly effective teachers trumps everything!” Dr Lesley Murrihy 

In the current debate there has been a lot of emphasis on physical learning environments, for example Kia King’s interesting parental perspective . This may have overshadowed discussion on other well researched teaching and learning factors. 

Dr Murrihy, Principal at MLE Amesbury School has written on the limitations of a binary argument between the traditional classroom and a modern or flexible learning environment.

She points out that John Hattie shows that what really makes a difference is what happens in the classroom (presumably of whatever configuration). Within-school variation, the difference between the most and least effective teachers in a school, is much greater than between-school variation.

As one might expect education quality largely comes down to the quality of its teachers. There are more effective and less effective teachers in traditional classrooms just as there are in mles.

Murrihy continues  “… it is not so much the architectural environment that matters in terms of outcomes for students; it is what we do for students within those physical environments that makes the real difference.”

We could add, plus what learners are encouraged to learn and do for themselves, either individually or in small groups, in a flexible range of learning settings, from teacher-led input to personal and team projects, with or without the use of enabling technology.

The process is just as important as the outcomes in terms of acquiring and accessing knowledge and developing hard and soft skills. 

The Digital+ Revolution

“The true revolution of digital technology’s effect on culture is not that it replaces what has gone before, but that it shatters it like a supercollider, reconstituting the fragments into many different forms, some familiar and some completely new. ”  Michael Lascarides 

We all know that in a digitised and globalised world the nature of work and everyday life is changing rapidly with huge implications for education and training. What are we doing about it?

There is an accelerating fusion of technologies across the physical, digital, and biological spheres. This includes Artificial Intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology,   energy storage and quantum computing.

“Tomorrow’s Schools”, soon to be yesterday’s, was implemented a quarter of a century ago for a world which no longer exists, despite the apparent yearning of some to recreate it. 

Disruptive Workplace Change

“Many of the major drivers of transformation… are expected to have a significant impact on jobs, ranging from significant job creation to job displacement, and from heightened labour productivity to widening skills gaps… the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago…” World Economic Forum 2016 report The Future of Jobs

Since the 1980s governments internationally have attempted to develop strategies to help present and future workers meet the demands of rapidly changing workplaces. 

The WEF 2016 report points out that the ability to identify and prepare for present and future skills requirements is increasingly critical for education and training organisations, businesses and individuals, both to seize the opportunities and to mitigate undesirable outcomes.

But Roger Partridge seems to disagree. 

21st century skills

“What is even more concerning is the cult-like status the 21st-century skills approach occupies within many schools. Teachers at the researchED conference talked about being afraid to express their concerns that modern learning methods were not working. It is as if the 21st-century skills approach has a sacred status; anyone questioning it is at best a Luddite and at worst a traitor to progress.” 21st century snake oil

It might help to define the catch-all phrase. 21st century skills comprise skills, abilities, and learning dispositions that have been identified as being required for success in 21st century society and workplaces.

They are complementary to basic building block knowledge and skills like literacy and numeracy, not substitutes.

Specific hard skills and soft skills sets are in increasingly high demand.  There is a growing emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving, communications and collaboration, creativity and innovation, digital literacy and career and life skills, with an emphasis on flexibility and adaptability, initiative and cross-cultural interaction.

Far from “dumbing down” education many of the 21st century skills are also associated with deeper learning based on mastering skills such as analytic reasoning and complex problem solving.

The focus is not on content for its own sake.  The test is understanding why and demonstrating how, not regurgitating what. As Henry Ford has it “An educated person… is one who not only knows a lot, but knows how to do a lot of things.”

The sequence is the secret. The most effective learning comes from a parallel process of knowing and doing, not through an analogue approach of accumulating lumps of knowledge first and then focusing on thinking skills and problem solving.  

Out of step with his peers? 

“65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.”  WEF ibid

Given the business antecedents and membership weighting of the New Zealand Initiative, one would have thought that its chairman would feel at home with the sentiments expressed in the WEF’s report. A Partridge, as it were, in a peer tree. Why is he out of step with the denizens of Davos?

Perhaps because until quite recently he was a senior leader in a well known law firm. By its very nature the legal profession encourages retrospective thinking. It is hardly at the cutting edge of innovation, apart from IP policing duties.

The profession also seems to find it difficult to keep up with social change, witness the unseemly scrambling for fig leaves in the wake of revelations about dodgy legal workplace cultures which senior leadership in some blue-ribbon firms had failed to address.

Many lawyers do a little better in adopting new information technology, but Partridge himself is critical of 21st century learning tools:  “In place of exercise books that help students remember new knowledge it favours digital devices, in which students record their individual learning journeys.”

Do lawyers and accountants still use quill pens and parchment to track their transactions? What about remembering new knowledge?   In 1775 Samuel Johnson said “Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.”

Partridge gives the example of “the blacksmith’s son.”  Perhaps he is struggling to come to grips with the 20th century, let alone the 21st?  Maybe he is even more at home with 19th century Gradgrinds?  (Thomas Gradgrind, you’ll recall, is the school board Superintendent in Dickens’s novel “Hard Times” who is dedicated to the pursuit of profitable enterprise via a repressive approach to education and a limited focus on cold facts and hard numbers).

Knowledge Navigators

Savvy teachers are more important than ever as knowledge map-makers and navigators in a world awash with digital data.

Recognising this is not the same as insisting that teachers themselves are the storehouse of all knowledge which they impart, mother bird-like, to passive pupils with open mouths. Growing open minds is the thing. So is understanding the hierarchy of data, information, knowledge and wisdom.

Of course teachers should not just leave learners to their own devices. These are simply tools to be used selectively, in an action learning setting, to create and produce not merely to search and play.

A recent Education Central item said “There are some fantastic initiatives afoot, from an amazing STEM programme that sees students working on projects to help their community to a pilot to provide home internet access to students who currently don’t have access.”

But beyond the use of enabling technology the real focus should be on developing the critical and creative thinking power of the free neck top computer with which every human is equipped. New neuroscience insights can help teachers and learners alike tap this amazing resource.

Performance Indicators and Comparisons

“Not surprisingly, the 21st-century results of education’s embrace of ‘21st-century learning’ are damning. Since the turn of the century, the performance of New Zealand school children in reading, maths and science has fallen dramatically in international tests. And the decline is not gradual,it is startling…21st century snake oil

Partridge states that “whether it is the PISA, PIRLS or TIMMS rankings, since the beginning of the millennium our children have been sliding down the international league tables-and not just falling behind the rest of the world, they are falling behind their 20th-century predecessors.”

Representatives of employers, universities and trade training have also expressed recent concerns about literacy  and preparation for tertiary education and the world of work.

A quick scan of some symptoms and an off-the-cuff diagnosis is not the same as an in-depth exploration of causes and effects  inside realistic time frames. Nor is it a reason to accept the Birbalsingh and Partridge prescription for improving teaching and learning is the only treatment.

The great majority of New Zealand learners have not been and are not in mles, which are still evolving, as is collaborative teaching expertise. 21st century learning principles and practices are not stirred, bottled and dispensed from Wellington through a monolithic pipeline.

In New Zealand’s highly autonomous education system, with wide ranging curriculum choice, a smorgasbord of resources and vastly differing teaching and learning practices, the uptake of anything pedagogical or technological is uneven- and even capricious.

As well as crunch education challenges such as quality teacher recruitment and retention, salary revaluation, leadership development and on-going professional practice development there are also complex economic and social issues affecting cohort learning.

These include the developing trend of extreme behaviour among ever younger children with significant behavioural needs, including conditions like foetal alcohol syndrome and “P babies”.

Embracing the Future

“…the choice between cocooning ourselves in the past and shutting out all the inconvenient noises of change, or embracing a future based on innovation, disruption and using our brains is stark. Alex Malley CE, CPA Australia

According to Malley there is a direct link between a nation’s future prosperity and its ability to leverage innovation and change to improve international competitiveness.

Focusing on the downside of technological change deflects debate from the more important topic; how to best take advantage of the opportunities arising from the digital and other revolutions.

We don’t want to squash the initiative of any young New Zealanders by confining them, however upright, in neatly aligned single desks in passive one-dimensional learning settings.

The challenges of now and the imperatives of the future demand better.

Lyall Lukey  Convener,   Education Leaders Forum 2018: Valuing Educators-Revaluing Education

 

 

 

 

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May the Taskforce be with you!

May 23, 2018

Beyond the Education Summits

 “The primary purpose of the review of Tomorrow’s Schools will be to consider if the governance, management and administration of the schooling system is fit for purpose to ensure that every learner achieves educational success.” Tomorrow’s Schools Review

In the wake of Education Minister Chris Hipkins appointing a high-level taskforce of five educators to lead the review of the school governance structure that has been in place since the 1980s, Katie Fitzpatrick offered some food for thought in an Education Central piece on 2 May headlined Tomorrow’s Schools being reviewed by yesterday’s experts.

She concedes that each of the appointees is respected within the education community and, as a group, they appear to be reasonably diverse. “However, a closer look reveals that they are all representatives of educational institutions, most of which are partially or entirely funded by the Ministry of Education or the Government in some way… they largely represent existing sectoral interests…”

Taskforce Members

The Taskforce chairman is Bali Haque, an independent consultant who has worked for NZQA, NZ Principals’ Association and PPTA.  Members are Dr Cathy Wylie, NZ Council for Educational Research; Professor Mere Berryman, Waikato University and Te Kotahitanga; Professor John O’Neill, Massey University and NZ Association for Research in Education; and Barbara Ala’alatoa, chair of the Education Council.

Katie Fitzpatrick goes onto say that “The review is about repurposing schools for the 21st century and it requires, by definition, new and innovative thinking. As a person ‘inside the tent’ … I think it is imperative to have outside input into a systemic review such as this. Representation is also needed from other sectors with youth interests at heart.”

I couldn’t agree more. The challenge is to get a dynamic balance between those inside the tent and those outside– and between the mature experience of those who lived through and learnt from earlier system changes and the fresh ideas of those who didn’t.

But while there certainly needs to be a good mix of ages, experience and ideas in people contributing to and advising the Taskforce, not to have educators with mana and experience leading it would be to show a lack of trust in a sector which needs to be highly trusted not tightly trussed.

Advisory Panel Members

At the first Education Summit on 5-6 May the Minister of Education announced that he had also appointed “a diverse group of knowledgeable and passionate New Zealanders” on a cross-sector Advisory Panel to help the Taskforce and the Government guide the reform of the education system.

The Advisory Panel, led by Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft, will ease some concerns about the range of input. It includes former National education minister Sir Lockwood Smith, former Labour minister Marian Hobbs, Victoria University professor Rawinia Higgins, Pacific health consultant Debbie Ryan, Auckland University of Technology professor Welby Ings, playwright Etta Bollinger, and the chief executive of the Centre for Gifted Education, Deborah Walker.

Trial by fire

No shrinking violets, the members of the Advisory Panel will provide cross-sector perspectives in advising the Taskforce on the strengths and challenges of the current system, the changes required to ensure equity and excellence for all children and young people, how they would work in practice and with what impact.

It is also prepared to get fired up if necessary. Panel Chair Judge Becroft says the challenge of providing a world-leading education system is an issue for the whole community and will need the perspectives of all of us, including the voices of children and young people.

“As an advisory group, we are tasked with ensuring all of these voices and perspectives are heard and acted upon, across the full spectrum of the work that government is doing in education….In that sense, the group is both guardian of these voices, and a watchdog in the best sense. We intend to hold their feet to the fire to ensure that the future of education in New Zealand reflects what people are sharing.”

During 2018 this group will provide a high level overview and help connect strands coming out of the education conversation and summits with the development and delivery of the Government’s strategic education work plan, which includes the reviews of Tomorrow’s Schools and NCEA.

The latter has a separate group of innovative advisers to help review the NCEA process; Jeremy Baker- Chair, Barbara Cavanagh, Pauline Waiti, Michelle Dickinson (“Nanogirl”), Jonathan Gee, Arizona Leger, Charles Darr, plus an NCEA youth advisory group of students . Again there is a good balance of experience and youth and different perspectives.

Given these counterweights, having well regarded representatives of public education institutions at the top Taskforce table might avoid some of the uneasy compromises which led to the changes three decades ago which are now under the spotlight.

Picot Task Force

It is instructive to look at the genesis of many of the changes now under review. The Picot task force was set up by the Lange Labour Government in July 1987 to review the school system and draw some new lines in the sand.

Chaired by businessman Brian Picot its members were Peter Ramsay, an associate professor of education at the University of Waikato, Margaret Rosemergy, a senior lecturer at the Wellington College of Education, Whetumarama Wereta, a social researcher at the Department of Maori Affairs and Colin Wise, another businessman.

They were assisted by staff from the Treasury and the State Services Commission, with the Department of Education sidelined advice-wise but squarely in the cross hairs of the reforming sights of the then Treasury’s Billy the Kid sharpshooters.

There were only two, not particularly high profile, educators in key review positions. This was not the case with the Education Development Conference working parties of the previous decade, in which Prof. Phillip Lawrence, University of Canterbury played a key role, nor is it the case with the make up of the current taskforce.

So those selected for the 2018 Tomorrow’s Schools Review Taskforce appear to have somewhat more collective and diverse knowledge of things educational than their Picot predecessors.

The governance philosophy of the 1980s was based on the tenet that management skills were interchangeable Lego-like between industries. When it came to dealing with groups like teachers and doctors  it was thought necessary to avoid “professional capture” and ignore engaging properly with professionally credible people. Change had to be engineered speedily to head off defensive reaction.

Administrative Focus

The 1987 mandate was to review management structures and cost-effectiveness, but it did not include curriculum, teaching or effectiveness. Over nine months the commission received input from over 700 people or organizations. The Picot Report Administering for Excellence: Effective Administration in Education was released in May 1988.

For slow learners administration was mentioned twice in five words in the title, which still sends a shiver up the spine of those who are wary about too much horse-scaring change management and administrative oversight at the expense of professional leadership which directly enhances teaching and learning.

The report was highly critical of the Department of Education, which it labelled as inefficient and unresponsive. How many education bureaucrats did it take to replace a light bulb in a school? From memory 18 or so, but that may have been a suburban myth.

The Picot report recommended a system where each school would be largely independent, governed by a board consisting mainly of parents, although subject to review and inspection by specialized government agencies. The Labour Government accepted many of the recommendations in their response Tomorrow’s Schools, finally drafted by two officials from the Treasury and the SSC but no educationalists. It became the basis for educational reform in New Zealand starting in 1989 though some key elements in the report were never implemented.

Blaming an inefficient centralised bureaucracy for slipping school standards, the government disestablished the Department of Education, replacing it with a slimmer Ministry of Education and moving the governance of state schools to their individual school communities.

The Department of Education was replaced with six new siloed bodies, the Ministry of Education, the Education Review Office (ERO), the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), the Tertiary Education Commission, Careers NZ and the New Zealand Teachers’ Council.

Curriculum reform tinkering occurred in the 1990s, followed by more comprehensive and innovative reform a decade later to update what was being taught in schools in and for the 21st century.

The pendulum had swung radically as pendulums do when given a good shove. Schools scrambled to find property management, financial and HR expertise among their staff or board, particularly in lower decile catchments and struggled with professional development and learning culture change.

To balance their books many schools, particularly at the secondary level, became engaged in what some considered unseemly domestic and international competition for students.

2018 Terms of Reference

The 2018 Taskforce, like 30 years ago, is tasked with looking at “the changes needed to governance, management and administration to better support all learners throughout their schooling” .

Per its terms of reference  it is expected to consult widely with all stakeholders, including representatives of teachers, principals, boards of trustees, the LGBTQIA+ community, parents of children with learning support needs, employers and young people.

The term “Tomorrow’s Schools” still has some surprising currency three decades later, at a time when, according to the OECD, “Skills are the new world currency”. New Zealand’s state schools have hardly been “tomorrow’s schools” for a long time. There is a pent up need for a review of the administrative weight, formerly regionalised or centralised, placed on schools.

No one wants to go back to the constricting confines of the old Department of Education. Its occupation of the reputed biggest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere made too emphatic a bureaucratic statement.

But while distributed leadership is crucial and empowering in domains such as professional development and curriculum application, when it comes to things like physical infrastructure, HR, health and safety, more regional collaboration and national co-ordination is long overdue and would take pressure off principals and boards.

In the face of a growing quantity and quality crisis a vital national priority like teacher recruitment is still largely devolved to autonomous tertiary teacher education providers.

Senior leadership teams in schools need to be able to focus more on professional development and support, the keys to a quality learning environment. There have been some  promising collaborative initiatives in recent years like the establishment of Communities of Learning involving local primary and secondary schools and sometimes early childhood centres.

Despite  scepticism in some quarters this is a welcome development to encourage knowledge and resource sharing, grow professionalism and develop education leadership. This is also a key strand of Education Leaders Forum 2018: Valuing Educators- Revaluing Education to be held in August.

CoLs give educators the opportunity to model the soft skills like collaboration, knowledge sharing, problem solving, creativity and innovation which are increasingly required in the modern earning environments to which their learners gravitate.

More input and feedback

“The essence of feedback is that the effect of an action is fed back to alter that action.” Edward de Bono

What is needed downstream of the two recent Education Summits, book-ended by The Education Conversation -Kōrero Mātauranga which closes on 31 May, are on-going live and online opportunities for continuing dialogue and feedback on pending reforms.

This could involve using distributed education facilities throughout the country plus interactive platforms like Zoom for focussed live and virtual meetings on key topics.

As well as wider involvement it would provide platforms for special interest groups and experts to pick up in depth on the threads that have evolved so far. It would build in a feedback loop that would go a long way to improving the productive outcome of the education conversation by helping to focus the minds of those on the Taskforce and the Advisory Panel.

To have only a “tick the box” online questionnaire and two invited Summit audiences involved for two days providing input and feedback would be a missed opportunity in terms of continuing real dialogue and feedback.

As always in education discussions there needs to be an adjustment for the Dunning-Kruger effect and its Socratic corollary: “The less you know about something, the more you think you know; the more you know about something, the less you think you know”.

Piloting the next stage of the ambitious millennial education reform juggernaut should not yet become a Han Solo effort. In order to escape the gravitational pull of old systems and outdated mindsets, the energy required to fuel lift-off needs to come from the continued involvement of those affected by or interested in the outcomes of the reform process.

The bandwidth of knowledge is trust. May the Task Force be with us all!

[ https://educationcentral.co.nz/what-do-you-think-about-tomorrows-schools/ 12/6/18-Have your say.]

Lyall Lukey   Convener, Education Leaders Forum 2018


The May Education Summits- Talkers and Walkers

April 29, 2018

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Talking the Talk
“…education belongs to, and is about, all of us. That’s why we want all of you – children, young people, parents, teachers, employers, iwi, families and whānau – to have a conversation about building not just a better education system, but the world’s best. Because second-best isn’t good enough for our kids. Or for New Zealand.”
https://conversation.education.govt.nz/

The Education Conversation – Kōrero Mātauranga, which opened 23 Mar and closes 15 June 2018, has so far allowed more than 5,000 New Zealanders have their say about the future of education, some via some face to face discussions, the majority by filling in a “five minute” on line survey.

It is aimed at providing some content for the two education summits, Christchurch (5-6 May) and Auckland (12-13 May). Education Minister Chris Hipkins has described it as “the most popular education consultation in decades”.

Have you had your say? The online survey asks four questions about the future of New Zealand’s education system:

  1. What does a successful student of the future look like to you?
  2. What will they need to know and be able to do?
  3. What things need to be in place to make sure every learner is successful?
  4. If you were the boss of education in New Zealand, what would you do first?

Budgeting 1¼ minutes per question makes this a short answer test, though not a very objective one, for people wanting to have “ a say on the future of New Zealand education… for the next 30 years or more.”

Some would argue that productive change is best brought about best by continuous improvement, at a rate that can be handled by all concerned, not by occasional big bangs. Taking pressure off  fault lines not waiting for large seismic shocks.

Still it’s good to have a reason to engage people in discussions about education. After all, everyone has a view, albeit sometimes outdated or idiosyncratic.

But if it is to be more than a tick-the-box consultation the dialogue needs to be anchored to a sound evidential foundation. Educators and others now have access to a large body of new information about brain function, how humans learn and effective professional development, among other things.

Messages need to be sent and received both ways. We are not starting with a blank sheet of paper. There needs to be appropriate context for the content.

Walking the Talk
“The views shared through the education conversation will be discussed at the Education Summit in May and will then inform the strategies and reviews that are part of the education work programme announced in February.”

Beyond talking the talk it is important to think strategically about how to provide those at the learning interface-especially learners, teachers and parents—with the maps, the guidance, the opportunities and the resources to actually walk the talk.

‘Walking the talk’ matters in the use of evidence for transformative education’ is the title of an invited paper published late last year for the UNESCO Project: ‘Rethinking and repositioning curriculum in the 21st century: A global paradigm shift’.

By Dr Adrienne Alton-Lee, Ministry of Education, this is a cornucopia of accessible digital resources for underpinning professional development, as well as enhancing lay understanding, including that of politicians.

Vision and Strategy
“…vision and strategy are as much about creating meaning for people as they are about establishing direction.”  Andrew Smith

The challenge for Education Summiteers will be merging perspectives from the lay and professional streams of input. This is not easy. The Share an Idea community consultation process following the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, while highly engaging, did not manage to bridge this disconnect and led to artificially raised expectations.

The Christchurch City Council jumped too quickly from a feel good consultation process into “strategic planning” without developing key strands from the public input and articulating visions for the future of the city for further in-depth discussion. The result was a Government takeover via a flawed 100 Days “Blueprint” which stifled community participation and contestable professional input.

The sequence is the secret. A properly crafted vision describes the endpoint and outcomes of the collective journey or collaborative enterprise and contains the criteria for evaluating its satisfactory completion.

A vision should lift our sights, focus our attention and fortify our aspirations. A confusing mishmash of ideas in the guise of consultation can obscure rather than elucidate the shape of key issues.

There are ways to improve the quality of conversational outcomes downstream.

Mobilising Knowledge
“Out of 947 source reviews the New Zealand Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme’s Teacher Professional Learning and Development BES was found to be the most consistent and rigorous. The New Zealand Best Evidence Synthesis has substantively informed this new evidence about what it takes to develop great teaching that makes a difference for student achievement. “…Comprehensive international review

Prof. Toby Greany, keynote speaker at Education Leaders Forum 2018 Valuing Educators-Revaluing Education, Rotorua 8&9 August, has a particular interest in policy, both as a process and the ways in which it impacts in education.

Prof. Greany, Professor of Leadership and Innovation at the IOE and Director of the London Centre for Leadership in Learning, is interested in school systems and how leaders operate within those systems, both as a result of deliberate and unintended policy-driven incentives and of personal agency.

He was one of four contributors to a Comprehensive international review  launched in the UK House of Commons in 2014 on professional learning and development.

He focuses on the intersections between policy, practice and evidence and the ways in which knowledge, expertise and capacity moves around within and between organisations.

His models for knowledge mobilisation, the development and impact of networks and collaboration and his approach to education leadership and professional development are highly relevant for building momentum for positive change in the months and years after the Summits.

The Future of Education
“Public education belongs to us all. Its future is too important to be left to politicians alone.” The Education Conversation

Perhaps education is too important to involve party politics at all apart from providing a high trust and well resourced environment, with cross-party agreement on key strategic priorities like attracting and retaining quality teachers by valuing them more highly.

This would enable learners, educators, parents, childcare workers and others to walk the talk without the sudden lurches caused by an over politicisation of education issues.

The online question asking people what they would do first if they were “the boss of education” is gratuitous. It invites people to focus on the simplistic and short-term. The challenge for those invited to the Education Summits is to grapple with the complex and long term.

Knowledge and data about education in New Zealand is both widely distributed and aggregated via the Ministry of Education’s Best Evidence Synthesis publications, led by Dr Alton-Lee.

For the education conversation to be truly meaningful it needs to be processed in a coherent way which distils key messages for generating better education policy. But above all, if we are to truly value educators and revalue education, the focus needs to be on resourcing and supporting the walkers more than the talkers by mobilising knowledge and turning it into action.

The role of the Minister of Education and his Ministry in planning and carrying out the Education Summits is co-ordinating, resourcing, supporting and facilitating- more Colonel Hunt than Ed Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

High level performance requires good systems and a continuous flow of oxygen.

Lyall Lukey, Convener of Education Leaders Forum 2018 Valuing Educators-Revaluing Education, Rotorua 8&9 August.


LIFE PASSAGES & LEARNING PATHS

April 28, 2017

 ELF 17 Rotorua Web
“Why can’t they be like we were,
Perfect in every
way?                                                                     
What’s the matter with kids today?”
Kids – Bye Bye Birdie                                                 

Why are young people like they are? What can we do so they can do better? Some key answers will be provided at Education Leaders Forum 2017  Life Passages & Learning Paths, to be held in Rotorua on 23 & 24 August.

ELF17 is about making a positive difference to individuals and their communities by understanding life shaping developmental and environmental factors and path changers in the journey from infancy to adulthood.

Key research findings

The forum will pick up on key research findings from world leading New Zealand longitudinal studies. These include the University of Otago’s Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study founded by Dr Phil Silva. This internationally renowned study examines the progressive results of ongoing research into the lives of 1,000 New Zealanders born 46 years ago in Dunedin.

Other relevant findings will come from the University of Auckland’s Growing Up in New Zealand study which is keeping tabs on the growth and development of initially 6,000+ children from a variety of ethnicities. The study aims to improve the lives of their generation and answer the fundamental question: What makes us who we are?

Cross-Sector Collaboration

The 2017 forum will be the eleventh in an annual series involving Education leaders and aspiring leaders from across the learning spectrum from early childhood to post-tertiary education. It will also be highly relevant for those working with children, youth and families in Social Welfare, Health and Justice agencies.

Speakers from different sectors will explain how collaboratively those who work with children and young people can help influence the choice of individual learning and earning pathways for the better and draw on support networks when intervention is needed at different life stages. Better life trajectories, based on individual talents, passions and personalised goals, add up to better outcomes for individuals, families and communities.

Stimulating Speakers

Speakers include Dr Phil Silva , Founder and Past Director, Dunedin Longitudinal Study; Ass. Prof. Susan Morton,  Director, Centre for Longitudinal Research, University of Auckland; Dr Reremoana (Moana) Theodore , Co-Director, National Centre for Lifecourse Research (NCLR); Dr John Langley ONZM, Strategic Lead- Evidence Informed Practice, Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki; Ass.Prof. Nicola Atwool, Social Work Programme, Dept of Sociology, University of Otago; Dr Adrienne Alton-Lee, Chief Education Advisor, Ministry of Education; Dr Annelies Kamp; Ass. Prof. Leadership, College of Education, University of Canterbury; Dr Craig Jones, Dep. Sec. Evidence, Data and Knowledge, Ministry of Education; Sue Blair, Director, Personality Dynamics Ltd; Jackie Talbot, General Manager, Secondary-Tertiary Group, Ministry of Education;  Dr Gaye Tyler-Merrick, Coordinator: PGDip.Ed (endorsed in Positive Behaviour Support), UC and Dr John Boereboom, Director, CEM (NZ) – Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring.

See Programme as at 21/6/17

Making a real difference for children

ELF17 will have a strong strand linked to the aims of the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki. It is also relevant to learners at all levels, including the highly gifted, in terms of unlocking their potential.

As well as developmental themes, ELF17 will pick up on the fast changing environment, especially in terms of rapidly evolving learning places and work spaces, and the implications for educators in terms of enhancing teaching and learning and strengthening connections with parents, employers and communities.

While early childhood years are crucial for facilitating the development of healthy and engaged adults who become lifelong learners there are other key life passages where timely intervention can make a huge difference. This can come from the personal attention of an interested teacher or the support of another sympathetic adult, often outside the immediate family circle.

Positive Goals
 “Hope is necessary. It is a necessary concept. What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?”  Michele Obama

It is important to give children hope in terms of their future prospects, as demonstrated in Dr Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology work. Better work pathways are revealed by helping learners set personalised goals based on their talents and passions. Better learning and work outcomes help to break the cycle of material and cultural poverty.

ELF17 is supported by the Ministry of Education and the Wright Family Foundation

Lyall Lukey, ELF Convener      lyall@smartnet.co.nz

*Blinks
Overview: ELF 2017
All Speakers
Programme
Registration Options


Tomorrow’s Skills: Action Now

July 13, 2016

“…we’re about to be late for tomorrow.”  Alvin Toffler
 Toffler, the author of Future Shock who died at the end of June, issued the famous wake-up call above to an earlier generation. Will  too many learners currently in New Zealand’s education system be late for tomorrow’s  new world of work?

Education Leaders Forum 2016 Tomorrow’s Skills will help educators  understand the implications for all learners of technological , economic  and social Shift and the  fragmented future of work , which will bring both threats and opportunities.  Forum participants will also access timely strategies and resources  for preparing learners now to adapt to the future by developing an appropriate skills portfolio.

Yesterday’s Schools?

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn,” Alvin Toffler
 “Tomorrow’s Schools” was implemented a quarter of a century ago in a world which no longer exists. Drones, electric cars, 3d printing, hover boards and virtual reality will all be our collective reality as we move into in the Fourth Industrial Revolution which transcends the digital revolution of the last 50 years.

Wireless farming  is a reality in the Waikato and an example of much more than number 8 wire ingenuity. My stepfather, who immigrated as a 10 Pound Pom in 1951 and got his first job as a tie-wearing herd tester in the Waikato, would be flabbergasted.

In a digitised and globalised new world the nature of work is changing rapidly in terms of what is done, where and by whom, with huge implications for education and training. As technology becomes more pervasive, traditional trades disappear and a different mix of skills is demanded by employers .

The ability to anticipate and prepare for future skills requirements is increasingly critical for education and training organisations in order to seize the opportunities presented by these trends and to mitigate undesirable outcomes.

21st Century Skills: A different mix

In today’s world, technical and digital literacy is of equal importance to English literacy and it is essential that progress be made in the way we educate and prepare our children.” Ian McCrae CE, Orion Health
The term “21st Century skills” contains the idea that the demands of the 21st century are sufficiently distinct from those of the previous century to make educational reform a necessity. Instantaneous access to information and the speed at which it dates have rendered an information-based education system redundant.

Education is not only about preparing people for the world of work, but employment readiness and adaptability are imperatives. Laying and strengthening the foundations for transferable cognitive, social and ICT skills is a lifelong journey from early childhood.

A 2015 Economist Intelligence Unit report sponsored by Google Driving the skills agenda: Preparing students for the future shows how evolving business needs, technological advances and new work structures are redefining what are considered to be valuable skills for the future.

The EIU’s extensive research programme examined to what extent the skills taught in education systems around the world are changing. It inquired into the extent to which 21st Century skills, such as digital literacy (including coding), creative problem solving and live and distance teamworking and collaboration are complementing traditional skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic.

The recent – and some would say belated -announcement that digital technology is to be formally integrated into the New Zealand Curriculum picks up on the importance of preparing children and young people for a future where digital fluency will be critical for success .

The integration of skills

“Teachers need to understand that these are not taught skills but modelled skills,” B. Schreuder
Are young people learning the skills they need to adapt to New Zealand’s rapidly changing workplace?
21st Century skills cannot be taught in isolation: they must be integrated into every learning area via group projects, not bolted on as additional subjects for individuals, so that social and cognitive skills development becomes inseparable from knowledge sharing.

To be work ready students need to understand deadlines, to be able to work under pressure and to prioritise. They also need ongoing opportunities to gain experience of public speaking, networking, multimedia production and non-digital creative pursuits in music and the arts.

Opportunities and Threats

“Recent discussions about the employment impact of disruptive change have often been polarized between those who foresee limitless opportunities in newly emerging job categories and prospects that improve workers’ productivity and liberate them from routine work, and those that foresee massive labour substitution and displacement of jobs. Both are possible. It is our actions today that will determine whether we head towards massive displacement of workers or the emergence of new opportunities.’  World Economic Forum report The Future of Jobs 2015

People are on the move, changing jobs more often and switching careers or taking a portfolio approach to how they earn their living.

Work changes bring both opportunities and threats. There is the obvious risk of increased employment insecurity. More than half of the new jobs in advanced economies since the 1990s have been temporary, part-time or self-employed. At the same time the “portfolio economy”, self-employment and new business startups present big opportunities not available a generation ago.

Up to two thirds of new job entrants are getting their first job in roles that will either look very different or be completely lost in the next 10 to 15 years due to automation.

The changing economy certainly creates risks for individuals as well as organisations. As business models change, often abruptly because of disruptive technology, people will have to master multiple skills if they are to survive in such a world—and keep those skills up to date.

Microcosm or Time Capsule?

L > C  For an organisation to survive its rate of learning must be equal to, or greater than, the rate of change in its external environment.” Reg Revans
How well is the education system preparing young people for the future of work? It would seem that many young people are not being prepared for the right jobs and roles. Many are enrolled in fields of study that will be radically affected by automation.  They will need to learn how to learn and how to unlearn.

For all the outlier progress in some pockets of educational innovation, the world of education is not changing at the same pace as the world of work and the rate of technological disruption. Education at all levels needs to be a microcosm of the changing world not an anachronistic time capsule.

All involved in education and training need to reinterpret the world through new lenses not extrapolate the future from past experiences and present perceptions. Only then will they be able to truly help learners navigate their personal pathways to the future.

*Upcoming Event The tenth annual Education Leaders Forum Tomorrow’s Skills-Pathways to the Future will be held on 23 & 24 August 2016 at the Waipuna Conference Centre in Auckland. ELF16 is about the seismic shifts happening in the world of work, the demand for different skills and the implications for education at all levels. More at http://www.smartnet.co.nz/ 

Lyall Lukey, Convener of Education Leaders Forum 2016- Tomorrow’s Skills

 

 

 

 

 


Educational Change-Engage or Resist?

December 21, 2014

 

In January 2014, like a missile out of the blue, the Prime Minister launched the Government’s $359 million Investing in Educational Success (IES) policy.  Some education leaders think it misguided. Others believe that, with feedback and course correction, it could end up spot on target.

IES seeks to help raise student achievement throughout the compulsory education system by encouraging collaboration between schools and expanding career pathways for teachers and principals.

Key components of the evolving initiative are communities of schools- voluntary primary and secondary school collaboratives resourced around agreed student achievement plans.

Proposed new roles nationally include approximately 255 community of schools facilitators plus 1000 cross-schools and 5000 in-school practice support teachers.

The payoff for the financial investment, if matched by an intangible investment of professional commitment and knowledge sharing, will be to lift student achievement, enhance professional job satisfaction and raise the status of the teaching profession.

Education representatives have been involved for some months in an IES advisory group and a working party. Despite the unexpected largesse, opinion is divided about the merits of the policy. The recent centenary of the outbreak of World War I is a reminder of the dangers of getting bogged down defending entrenched positions.

Tom Parsons, President of the Secondary Principals Association of New Zealand (SPANZ)  stuck his head above the parapet early on to encourage his members to be fully engaged with the Government’s “game changer” to smooth out the disparity between schools.  ”With your commitment and your engagement a successful educational and far more secure economic future lies ahead not just for our students but indeed for our profession also.”

The Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) was also open to change and took part in IES-linked remuneration negotiations with the Ministry of Education before seeking the endorsement of members.

The New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF) sees the IES policy as the wrong model to achieve the Government’s objectives. Presenting distinct signs of premature exhortation, the Federation released in early July the results of a survey of more than 1000 principals which showed they had no confidence IES could achieve “a strong collaborative culture for schools, nor lift the achievement of especially our priority learners.”

The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) expressed early reservations about an “untested mentor approach”, despite examples from elsewhere,  including vaunted education model Finland, of the mutual benefits for both mentoring and mentored schools.

After a NZEI survey of members, in the weeks weeks before the general election, 93 percent of teachers and principals voted “no confidence” in the government’s plan and 73 percent voted to reject the proposed new roles outright rather than try to change the policy through negotiation.

In quite a different response, in November PPTA members voted to include two teaching roles central to Investing in Educational Success (IES) in their collective agreement. 80.3% voted to include the Community of Schools (CoS) Within School Teacher and the CoS Across Community Teacher positions in the Secondary Teachers Collective Agreement (STCA).

Why the differences in the primary and secondary responses?

Perhaps the secondary sector assumes it will capture most of the new positions and remuneration, though good education leaders come from across the learning spectrum. Possibly it is easier to timetable principals and teachers out of typically larger secondary schools with a subject teaching focus. Maybe the primary sector is still tender after the introduction of National Standards, whereas the secondary sector has progressed through several assessment iterations.

But part of the answer lies in the role of the national secretaries in teacher associations.  They are the permanent agenda setters, while elected president come and go.

The classic example of obsessive-compulsive-disorder (OCD) is the person who can neither stop thinking about germs nor washing his hands to kill germs. For some time the NZEI has been fighting the equivalent of the Bertie Germ dental campaign of half a century ago. In his recent lead Education Aotearoa editorial National NZEI Secretary Paul Goulter says: “The choice is clear – a GERM-based future for our children or a non-GERM-based future.”

This antiseptic choice is offered without any explanation of the acronym. Because it has been used rote-like in so many previous issues it is assumed that readers know that it means the dreaded Global Education Reform Movement which apparently lurks Ebola-like behind any educational initiative of the Government.

The primary teachers’ union washed its hands of constructive professional involvement in the IES initiative in favour of a secular jihad in election year, but governments are entitled to govern by introducing new policies, especially if they have been flagged well prior to a general election, as was National Standards in 2008,(but not Charter Schools, which was smuggled in at teatime in Act III of that government).

Taking a different strategic starts PPTA president Angela Roberts was pleased with the way PPTA had been able to work constructively with the government to turn IES into something that could operate well in schools. “…It is an example of teacher unions being in their rightful place, at the table taking part in the process. Decisions are being made with us rather than for us,” she said.

The Ministry of Education says that IES “focuses on raising student achievement across the board, by supporting the education profession to build quality and consistency of teaching and leadership across the system.”

Positive education change involves lifting both professional and organisational competence, with a mutual appreciation of how each reinforces the other in each learning community.

Teachers are more likely to support what they have been engaged in creating, especially if they can share ways of helping students learn more effectively and pursue new career pathways.

The Ministry’s own best evidence synthesis, School Leadership and Student Outcomes, found school leaders promoting and/or participating in effective teacher professional learning have twice the impact on student outcomes across a school compared with any other leadership activity.

No school is an island unto itself. Every school needs to ensure that its own rate of learning at least equals the rate of external change and all education professionals benefit from best practice sharing.

Developed constructively by all concerned, with the focus on raising learning and achievement, this is what IES could be about.  A well designed initiative would be the catalyst for systemic and sustained learning development.

The voice of teachers is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient of education policy decisions.  In the pursuit of better public policy the Government needs to also tap into the views and expectations of parents, employers and others.

Learning culture is the invisible force that shapes professional behaviour and student achievement for better or for worse. Systems and practices can be copied, culture cannot. Everyone involved needs to understand the culture of their own learning organisation and agree on initiatives to enhance it. Well grounded change principles are as important as change principals.

Learning as inquiry is about powerful questions and shared knowledge and practice. It requires open minds, open dialogue and a long term perspective. The bandwidth of collaboration is trust.

Like all new policies IES needs more engagement, more time to bed in and more shaping. There are different ways of sharing both the collaborative responsibilities and the remuneration and the tiny amount of budget for school-based innovation needs augmenting.

But if the focus stays firmly on the learning needs of students, as they move through the learning system, everything else will fall into place.

Of course, in the words of W. Edward Deming: “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” 

*Blinks

http://www.nzei.org.nz/NZEI/Media/Releases/2014/8/Primary_teachers_and_principals_vote_to_put_kids_first_and_reject_the_IES_.aspx http://ppta.org.nz/resources/media/3201-media-ies-vote http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/10463634/Teachers-protest-planned-education-policy-nationwide http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/307854/otago-principals-agree-ies-initiative-flawed http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/10372352/Vote-looms-on-future-of-359m-education-fund  http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/10333139/Educated-questions-over-changes http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/jun/19/strong-schools-helping-neighbours-national-leader-education http://www.quality-equality.com/publications/qe-articles/emergent-change-strategy/

#Lyall Lukey 21 Dec 2014 http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz https://bluggerme.wordpress.com/  My other (bit less serious) blog


Opening our schools to the future

September 10, 2013

The Christchurch quakes have thrown up ground-breaking opportunities to accelerate the rate of education innovation.

Ministers like opening schools, not closing them: ask Trevor Mallard. But as the present Minister of Education Hekia Parata argued a year ago, for obvious seismic and demographic reasons there has to be major post-quakes rationalization of education provision in Greater Christchurch after the  devastating earthquakes of 2010-11.

The quakes threw up earth-shaking challenges and ground-breaking opportunities for education leaders and boards of trustees to look more clearly to the future as they build 21c learning communities fit for the second decade of the third millennium.

Renewing or reconfiguring learning environments because of seismic, technological or demographic disruption is a challenging process. Closures and mergers are tough on children, parents and teachers though, as the Mallard closures show, many soon embrace fresh beginnings, difficult though the transition may be.

But crisis and change also provide positive opportunities for leaders to engage their wider learning communities in the design and use of new learning environments and activities which will better equip 21c learners with the skills to navigate to the future.

The Ministry of Education has committed an investment of up to one billion dollars over a decade to develop greater Christchurch as a leading education community.

In the words of the Ministry’s  Shaping Education document “the impact of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes… has also been the catalyst for much creative thinking. The consensus seems to be: yes, we have lost much, but these events also give us an opportunity, as we renew, to rethink how we do things in education.” 

The original prospect was that 13 Christchurch schools would close and 18 could merge. Five Aranui schools would also combine into an education “cluster”. The announcement was a cluster bomb for many parents, teachers and learners.

The aftershocks are still being felt. After consultation some changes were made: for example, Chisnallwood Intermediate was removed from the Aranui “superschool” plans. But the main thrust remains and now it must be implemented well.

It would be a pity if the timing and initial handling of the education recovery and renewal strategy has inoculated some school communities against real opportunities to accelerate some necessary changes, earthquakes or no earthquakes. All learning communities, from early childhood to post tertiary, should be open to shaking off the remaining 1950’s vestiges of Yesterday’s Schools educational arrangements and adapting to a mobile and connected age.

Christchurch is an exciting test-bed for the future of education throughout New Zealand. Post-quakes renewal, demographic changes here, in Auckland and Hamilton, and well as leaky building and ICT issues nationwide, have accelerated transitional and new education building designs incorporating safety, adaptability, UF broadband, energy efficiency, weather proofing and future proofing.

The current seismic swarm in Central New Zealand will reinforce that many of these are national issues which demand long term strategic thinking.

This has already been articulated in the Ministry’s Christchurch design brief for recovery and renewal work which is not just to repair earthquake damage but to produce schools that would have flexible teaching spaces that can be expanded or reduced depending on requirements to support the learning activities of individuals and groups.

Now is not the time to paper over the physical and metaphorical cracks in education in the region. It is an opportunity to build deep and strong new foundations for differently configured learning communities. After early input from education professionals and students there needs to be built-in learning by design and construction which meets  evolving learning practices.

In the face of rapid change people tend to adopt one of two stances: either they look to the past to what has worked historically and do more of the same; or they look to the future and develop new solutions which use the changes as a springboard.

Many people will resist change if they are not actively engaged in it. But in the words of Marvin Weisbord:  “People will support what they help to create.”  After a shaky start, success in implementing education renewal initiatives in Greater Christchurch will depend on how well education leaders across the learning spectrum engage their professional colleagues, their boards and their wider communities.

Providing a timely platform for this engagement is Education Leaders Forum 2013, to be held in Christchurch on 28/29 August, with the theme Building 21 Century Learning Communities.

ELF13 will be part topical forum and part education safari to the future, with visits to innovative learning spaces and workplaces, to show the similarities between modern earning environments and modern earning environments in terms of teamwork and technology.

In the words of William Gibson “The future is already here-it’s just not evenly distributed”. Participants can learn from the future as it emerges and embrace it rather than reflecting on past experience and reacting.

Education site visits include Clearview Primary, Lincoln University’s School of Landscape Architecture, St. Margaret’s College, St. Thomas’ New Technology Centre, the new CORE Education Building and UC’s Hit Lab.  Innovative workplaces include Schneider Electric’s  Vision Room, showcasing energy sustainability, the  Enterprise Precinct and Innovation Campus and  The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team.

Major Sponsors of ELF13 are Schneider Electric and the Ministry of Education-Schools Infrastructure.

Contributors include Mark Osborne, CORE Education; Prof Christopher Branson, University of Waikato; Dr Andrew West, Lincoln University; Hon Nikki Kaye, Associate Minister of  Education; Jasper Van der Lingen, Sheppard & Rout Architects Ltd; Gillian Simpson, St Margaret’s College; James Petronelli,  Clearview Primary School; Robin Staples, Southern Cross Campus; and John Rohs, Aranui High School.

Education Leaders Forum 2013 provides quality thinking time for education professionals and board members to escape the tyranny of urgent day to day concerns and focus on the important longer term strategic perspective.

Note: This Perspective by Lyall Lukey, the Convenor of Education Leaders Forum 2013 Building 21c Learning Communities held in Christchurch on 28/29 August, was first printed in The Press on 20 August 2013.  For feedback and links to ELF13 presentations and videos visit Education Leaders Forum 2013