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  • 05 Sep 2014 10:13 AM | Anonymous

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  • 02 Jul 2014 11:28 AM | Anonymous

    Bill Lucas and Janet Hanson spent a day with staff at Highlands College, Jersey, to celebrate the end of their year-long action research project called How to Teach Vocational Education.  Over 80 lecturers participated in the project, each undertaking an action research inquiry in their own classroom, lab or practical areas. Inspired by How to teach vocational education (Lucas, Spencer and Claxton, 2012), their individual projects explored the use of vocational pedagogies to enhance vocational and expansive learning outcomes. The pedagogies included flipped learning, peer learning, and assessment for learning. The outcomes for the students  included expansive dispositions such as perseverance and resourcefulness and real-world communication skills. The lecturers were delighted with the impact on their students: 

    "Overall engagement was at a significantly higher level that I expected. There also seemed to be ‘fun’ involved; students appeared to enjoy the process." (IT lecturer) Talbot

    As well as developing expansive habits of mind,  the lecturers' interventions  also enhanced  students' achievement and progression, so they did better in tests and exams that they had done the previous year: 

    "Some unexpected characters emerged triumphant; this cohort had HIGH success at exams." (Maths lecturer)

    All going to show that developing learning dispositions and subject knowledge need not be mutually exclusive activities, teachers can achieve both by foregrounding dispositions in their classrooms. 

  • 28 Apr 2014 10:49 AM | Anonymous
    Bill will be at The Rethinking Schooling Conference, Pullman Sydney Hyde Park. Thursday 1 & Friday 2 May 2014

    If our starting point is about building the capabilities and talents of children and young people, their motivation to learn, and a future beyond school, what do we need to do differently to maximise opportunities and engage and challenge all young people in learning?


    The challenge is to develop the road map of how to get there.

    • In rethinking schooling, what can we learn from young people, from families, and from leading practitioners about this roadmap?
    • It is time to engage directly with school communities in thinking about what the point of school really is and how change can be led from the bottom-up.

    More here

  • 28 Apr 2014 10:43 AM | Anonymous
    Why and how are teachers integrating ICT (Information and Communication Technology) into primary education? In this course we analyse examples from schools in different parts of the world, and bring professional teachers, headteachers and policymakers together to share their best ideas and inspiring stories. The materials in the course are based on studies carried out for the UNESCO Institute of IT in Education, Moscow.
    Free Course
  • 23 Apr 2014 12:10 PM | Anonymous
    When English children are compared unfavourably to those in Finland or parts of China by their PISA test scores (as they frequently are), there is always a temptation for people to suggest that teachers should change tack.  ‘We must focus on the basics of English and maths and stop being interested in this wider learning capability stuff’, is the cry from some.
    But such polarizing sentiments are deeply unhelpful and ill-founded. Doing really well at maths and becoming a powerful learner are not mutually exclusive goals. We can and must achieve both. It was in an attempt to reconcile these ‘false opposites’ that Guy Claxton and I coined the expression ‘expansive education’. In our recent book Expansive Education: teaching learners for the real world, we explore the underpinning research for this view (it’s strong) and share examples from across the world of teachers who want outstanding results but not at any price. For primary schools wanting practical examples, Building Learning Power  is an excellent starting point.

    There are three strong arguments to be made here. The first is based in research, the second is a moral argument and the third requires us to be principled pragmatists.

    1. Heeding the evidence
    ‘For 20 years it has been known that students with more elaborate conceptions of learning perform better at public examinations.’  Specifically we know that certain pro-learning capabilities improve attainment. Two powerful examples are emotional self-management (persisting when the going gets tough) and the possession of a positive or ‘growth’ mindset  as Carol Dweck has termed it. Such a mindset would include self-belief, willingness to practise, learning from mistakes, and an inclination to collaborate. John Hattie  has specified very clearly those aspects of learning and teaching which best correlate with raising achievement. These include formative feedback such as assessment for learning, peer/reciprocal teaching, and learning to learn strategies.

    2. Making the moral case
    Schools, we believe, have a moral duty to prepare children for a lifetime of learning. Doing well on tests is important, but it is only a part of a bigger educational and societal project. The outcomes we desire from schools include communal virtues - honesty, trustworthiness, kindness, tolerance and empathy, the virtues of self-regulation - patience, self-discipline and the ability to tolerate frustration or disappointment. And then there are the epistemic or learning virtues, those that enable one to deal well with real-world challenges. These include determination, curiosity, creativity and collaboration. (We know that will power, for example, behaves exactly like a mental muscle that can be strengthened by exercise ). Teachers should be consciously, persistently and systematically cultivating the habits of mind that will serve children well, adding to the harmony, prosperity and creativity of society.  
    The good news from this moral argument is that the development of almost all of the kinds of the virtues we list will help to improve the PISA results. It’s not an ‘either/or’.

    3. Being pragmatic
    For some primary teachers it can come as shock to realise that it is, in any case, simply not possible just to ‘do the basics’, to concentrate on subject expertise alone. For whether you are teaching maths or English or history or science, you will also be shaping the way learners see themselves. Will children be acting dependently or resourcefully in maths? How will children view their drafts in English - embarrassed by their mistakes or comfortable with their story-in-progress? Will dispositions like empathy and rigorous analysis be cultivated in history, or will they be colouring in and getting ready to regurgitate? And will they be thinking like scientists or in a lab devoid of first-hand experimentation?

    Even if we were to want to, we cannot choose between PISA-focus and genuine learning. For whatever curriculum we teach our values will be on show and learners will see which kinds of learning counts for us. That’s what I mean by principled pragmatism. We all need to provide an apprenticeship for children that produces both powerful learners and great test-takers!

    Bill Lucas

    This article appeared in Teach Primary May 2014
  • 01 Apr 2014 11:17 AM | Anonymous

    In this article, the authors suggest that current notions of advocacy in early childhood education should be expanded to include a view of young children as citizens. The authors ground their discussion in a how-to book project in Providence, Rhode Island, consider different concepts of children and citizenship, share commentary from City Hall and propose four key features of their perspective: 

    (a) highlighting the civic nature of schools as central to the teaching and learning process;

    (b) focusing on young children's distinctive perspectives and competencies, not just their needs;

    (c) providing professional development around shared projects that promote literacy and higher order thinking skills; and

    (d) documenting children's learning in order to challenge assumptions about their capabilities and put forth an alternative image of teaching and learning.


  • 14 Mar 2014 10:54 AM | Anonymous

    On Thursday 20th March 2014 the second Our South Downs conference will take place at the University of Sussex, Brighton.

    This conference is FREE for teachers to attend and it will be a platform for you to explore the unique, diverse and rich learning resources within the South Downs National Park.

    Come and be inspired by some great speakers, including:

    • David Bond, Award winning director and producer and director of Project Wild Thing
    • Charles Davies, Head Teacher, Moulsecoomb Primary School
    • Rob Lucas, CEO, Field Studies Council

    and take part in a number of experiential workshops, including:

    • Bringing history to life in the classroom (The Story of Saxons in the Meon Valley)
    • Food on the South Downs (Brighton Permaculture Trust)
    • Earthship Brighton (Low Carbon Trust)
    • John Muir Award in the South Downs National Park (South Downs National Park Authority)
    • Art on the Downs (Towner Gallery)
    • Lessons in the Landscape (Farming and Countryside Education)
    • Wildlife on the Downs (Sussex Wildlife Trust)
    • An introduction to teaching outdoors (Learning through Landscapes)

    These practical workshops will cover a wide range of subject areas through the use of the South Downs National Park. You will be also be inspired to take teaching outdoors through hands on activities and networking with other teachers.



  • 24 Feb 2014 12:35 PM | Anonymous

    The subject of vocational pedagogy has been sorely neglected for far too long. Now it’s time for practitioners to lead the debate

    In almost 500 years of formal vocational education, it seems as though the conversation about vocational pedagogy has never really happened.

    Admittedly, there have been pockets of research - Germany and Switzerland are routinely held up as exemplars of apprenticeship success, and academic work exploring the Australian vocational education and training system has recently emerged - but these are exceptions rather than the rule.

    It is an oversight that is increasingly being highlighted by high-profile figures. In her Review of Vocational Education, published in 2011, Professor Alison Wolf asserted that many young people in England were on courses that provided little realistic chance of progression towards work or higher study. She added that the vocational education on offer to 14- to 19-year-olds was “not good enough”.

    This sentiment was shared by James Calleja, director of Cedefop, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training. He told TES recently that adult education was failing because “too often it is assumed that if [teachers] have got the skills from doing the job themselves they can step up and teach others…but everyone benefits from proper, structured teaching and learning” (“EU chief complains that those who can’t, teach adults”, 17 January).

    But is anyone listening? Will anything come of these warnings? To answer that question, we must first ask why the concept of vocational pedagogy has so rarely been discussed.

    Read the full article

  • 24 Feb 2014 12:30 PM | Anonymous
  • 06 Feb 2014 12:48 PM | Anonymous

    The ‘nature or nurture’ question has long interested educationalists. Can children get smarter? Or are they stuck with whatever intelligence they inherit from their parents. 
    This issue is at the heart of our thinking in the Expansive Education Network and we believe that there is compelling evidence for the learnability of much of what we currently refer to with the term ‘intelligence’.  Indeed the emerging science relating to this topic is one of four dimensions of the way we use the word ‘expansive’. Readers please accept this declaration of our position and read what follows with appropriate open-mindedness! 
    We are by no means alone in our thinking about the learnability of intelligence. The former president of the American Educational Research Association, Lauren Resnick, describes intelligence as “the sum of one’s habits of mind.” (1999). Intelligence, she suggests, can be thought of as comprising an orchestra of skills and attitudes brought to bear at the appropriate time in order to meet the challenges of life. In this sense it is a matter of common sense that we can all get more intelligent. 
    Undoubtedly there is a part of intelligence that is predisposed by genetics in each of us, and our temperament is also inbuilt to a degree. Yet just as any habit can be developed, so habits of mind such as self-discipline and resilience can be taught and learned. And these habits of mind (or dispositions) are just as likely – if not more so - to be indicators of exam success than IQ (Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman, 2005). Learning dispositions also develop through experience – either positively, or negatively – and so the aspect of intelligence determined dispositionally is, to a large degree, learnable. Exactly the size of this ‘large degree’ is debatable. But the message to educators is positive: you CAN influence the academic chances of those you teach. 
    Increasingly, approaches that focus on the so-called fixed ‘ability’ of students are being replaced by those that focus on the expandability of intelligence. Research in the US by Carol Dweck has demonstrated that those children who believe they can get smarter actually do so. 
    Without that belief that mental capacity can grow, there would be little point focusing on developing learning dispositions and ‘habits of mind’. It would not make sense to try to cultivate deliberate practice, risk taking, and creativity. 
    In this issue we show how the debate about intelligence has moved beyond testing.  We explore some of the recent and current research, and ask what this means for teachers. 

    Bill Lucas, Ellen Spencer and Janet Hanson

    Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman (2005) Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents. Psychological Science. 16(2):939-44


    Lauren Resnick (1999) Making America Smarter. Education Week Century Series. 18(40): 38-40

    Inside This Issue

    2           What is intelligence?

    5           Why I.Q. is not enough

    7           Learnable intelligence: an emerging science

    8           The importance of mindset

    10         Training for intelligence; {signature pedagogies}

    10         {thinking skills}

    11         {optimism}

                {grouping by ability}

    12        Putting ideas into practice

                 {some principles}

                 {expansive talking}

                 {normalizing confusion}

                 {dispositional thinking}

                 {assessing intelligence}

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