How vampiric are you?

I picked up a little book on holiday this week and read the short biography of the editor. This revealed a career path from Grammar School to Cambridge to Public School to Eton housemaster which filled me with sadness and contempt for its utter lack of imagination.

Now, I know this is judgemental and probably wildly wrong but but this judgement seemed to be underlined when I read this editor’s introduction to the book. It was safe, unadventurous and deadly dull. Having read it, I wish I hadn’t wasted those precious minutes of my life doing so.

So, here is a stereotype of a man who was good enough as a child to secure a place at a Grammar School (I did, but the year they dropped the 11-plus). At Grammar School he was successful enough to go up to Cambridge. No doubt he was inspired by his role models, his teachers. Having read languages – with the whole wide world open right before him – he becomes as teacher. Straight back to the swamp from which he had just emerged. Continue reading

How can systems learn? Metacognition of organisations

The degree to which organisations and systems, like people, have control of their destiny depends not insignificantly on how well educated they are. This audioboo considers what learning in an organisation is and how leaders might begin the process of educating their organisation.

Interview: Radio #edutalk

smiley

George Smiley, apparently

Last night, I was interviewed by John Johnston of Sandaig Primary fame, digital educator and edu-technology guru whose wisdom is now informing our Scottish Executive. As any of my students will know, I talk too much. Our nominal 30 minutes extended beyond 50 but I think it made for interesting listening. I am thankful to John for not adopting a Paxman persona (or taxman, as my autocorrected text to him pleaded). The consummate radio show host, he quickly put me at ease, pushed a couple of buttons and off we went.

We talked about the changing structure of education and what schools might look like in 2020; professional networks and the Cambridge tutorial and other “inverted” models of teaching where the learning takes place principally when the teacher is not present.

If you’d like to hear the show, you can find it here. Links to some of the sites mentioned in the programme are below:

My stuff:

Networks:

Mandela and another African Democracy

What will schools be like in 2023?

What will education look like in 2023?

Yesterday I attended the SELMAS Annual Conference at Stirling University. The tagline for the conference was, “What will education look like in 2023?” The day was chaired by Dr. Dee Torrance. These are my notes and thoughts from the conference and I should warn you, they are quite long, certainly for a blog post.

The event took the form of four keynotes spread across the day, with opportunity to network over coffee and lunch, followed by a (too) short panel discussion. The planned “group tasks” were ditched as minor technology gremlins conspired to eat the available time (is this the future?). We were also given a presentation by senior girls from Ross High on leadership and a “bonus” session from Terry Wrigley and Danny Murphy on Terry and John Smyth’s new book: Living on the Edge: Rethinking Poverty, Class and Schooling. The keynotes were at first sight eclectic but themes emerged from the four very distinct perspectives shared by our speakers: Donna Manson, Matthew Syed, Ollie Bray and Tommy Boyle. Continue reading

Never…

… a crossword. One of the interesting things about being a producer of online material – whether that be blogs, learning resources, online community sites or crosswords, is that sometimes you get no direct response. Feedback is important so that you can gauge whether or not what you’re doing is any good. If it’s rubbish, you can consider whether it’s worth the effort doing it again. If it’s brilliant, you can be encouraged to keep doing it. If it’s in between, you can find out how to improve it.

Pixie Puzzle No8

Click the puzzle.

Some of the things I do online yield positive responses: the physics resources site I run over at sptr.net gets little response online but when I meet users or engage in one-on-one email exchanges, I often get positive comments about how useful it is, and this encourages me to keep working at it. It’s a nice feeling to be making lives easier.

Sometimes, though, you can work hard to put something “out there” and get little to nothing back. Two examples: one, is the audio commentaries and reflections I publish through iTunes and AudioBoo. Although most of these get thousands of listeners, which itself is gratifying, I almost never get a response. It’s a bit like shouting at the radio. I know how that feels, I do it often enough.

The other example is the cryptic crosswords I have been publishing over the past year – 7 in total. As any cruciverbalist will tell you, these take quite a bit of effort to put together, even with the aid of the brilliant tool that I use, John Stevens’ Magnum Opus program. Despite a couple of thousand downloads, I have only ever received a handful of comments or solutions.

So. I saw a guy in Costa yesterday, settling down with the Saturday Times Crossword. He’d finished a substantial chunk of it by the time he got up to leave, so I wrote the web address of my most recent puzzle on a receipt and pressed it upon him and asked him to take a look and let me know what he thought. Bless his heart, he did so, posting the magic words, “Enjoyed the crossword…”.

You have no idea how good that made me feel. Click the puzzle if you’d like to try one.