Friday, April 20, 2018

Developing a positive learning identity / developing imagination / importance of play / and some great books

Education Readings

Students exploring the environment
By Allan Alach

Every week Bruce Hammonds and I search out articles worldwide to encourage a creative approach to teaching and learning. I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Letting Students Succeed as Themselves ( about NZ)

An American teacher shares a lesson learned during time he spent in New Zealand schools.

What if this idea were applied to other contexts? What if we in the U.S. worked to provide all of our students with knowledge to succeed and be proud in knowing who they are? School would be a different experience for these young people if they felt a connection to learning. School would be less about fulfilling external requirements and more about investing in a process that would be central to one’s current and future identity.’

Seven reasons people no longer want to be teachers ( from Australia)

How many of these ring bells for you?

‘It’s not surprising, then, that numbers of applicants for teacher education programs have slumped. The programs are long and intense, the creativity and relationships aspect of the vocation has been eroded, there is pervasive negativity in the media, and comparatively poor salary and working conditions.’

How Can We Begin Developing Imagination in Our Older
Imaginary astronauts

'As younger children, play and imagination are at the core of learning. Nevertheless, the truth is that as we get older we imagine less and less. Since we know a creative imagination is more important to learning today than ever, it’s time to reclaim it. How do we make developing imagination a worthwhile goal for all grade levels?’

Why playtime is key to raising successful children

‘One approach to redesigning education systems and equipping children with the right skills is often overlooked. We need to provide opportunities for children to learn in the way most natural and engaging to them: through play. We also need to erase the false dichotomy often drawn between children’s play and their learning of academic content.'

How Kids Learn Better By Taking Frequent Breaks Throughout The Day

‘Once I incorporated these short recesses into our timetable, I no longer saw feet-dragging, zombie-like kids in my classroom. Throughout the school year, my Finnish students would, without fail, enter the classroom with a bounce in their steps after a fifteen-minute break. And most important, they were more focused during lessons.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

To Advance Education, We Must First Reimagine Society

‘Because disaffection with the education system reflects a much deeper societal malaise, it’s imperative that we first figure out what kind of world we really want: a world populated by responsible adults who thrive on interdependence and community, or a world of “customers” who feel dependent on products, services, and authority figures, and don’t take full responsibility for their actions?’

PC pedagogy: How much technology should be used in Kiwi

‘But news that tech-executives in Silicon Valley are choosing to send their children to Waldorf Schools, where there's not a computer in sight, has also got people thinking. These parents are choosing the low-tech or no-tech education that teaches students the innovative thinking skills needed in the workplace. They develop the ability to think independently from a device, without a reliance on it.’

5 Strategies to Demystify the Learning Process for Struggling Students

‘Oakley recognizes that “many educators are not at all comfortable with or trained in neuroscience,” so she breaks down a few key principles that teachers can use in the classroom and share with students to help them demystify the learning process.’ 

Don’t Stress About Coding: Focus Shifts To Teaching Problem Solving Not Computer Skills

‘But many now recognize it’s not enough for students simply to know how to write code. The capacity to build a product or solve a problem requires an entirely different literacy. With this in mind, the focus of coding education is shifting from teaching the specific skill of coding to teaching computational thinking—or the ability to follow a step-by-step process to solve a problem.’

Dawn Picken (NZ): Quit the school caste system

What once was an egalitarian system, where brainiacs sat beside average and struggling children, has developed into a more rigid hierarchy for students at around age 11. Children who pass a rigorous test are separated into one or more gifted and talented classes per school, leaving less-gifted and talented peers in "regular" classrooms.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Bali Haque.The failure of Education Reforms in New Zealand - with an emphasis on secondary schools. NCEA/ NZC and National Standards

Bali  believes that  power of a quality teacher depends on what he calls 'a state of mind' ; the individual teachers 'personal dispositions, attitudes  and assumptions'. This he says is reflected in the New Zealand Curriculum ( Teaching as Inquiry) which asks teachers to constantly ask questions about the effectiveness of what they are doing and be willing to change what isn't working. Such teachers believe all students can learn achieve provided the right conditions and help.’

Educational Books for Creative Teaching - to develop the gifts and talents of all students

‘So if you have time explore some of the links to some of my favourite books below. After reading my ‘review’ you might want to get the book for yourself – or share the blog with other teachers. How many are you aware of?’

Two very practical books - highly recommended

Friday, April 13, 2018

Developing creativity / students as scientists / Sir Ken Robinson the importance of the arts / the myth of learning styles and Tomorrows Schools

Education Readings

By Allan Alach
It's holiday time in New Zealand so take the time to check out a few readings

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Individual Testing is Killing Teaching

And it lead to each individual child in every class being tested individually. Each child’s strengths can be identified, and the gaps they have can then be specifically targeted. Teachers knew what each child needed, and could pass comment on this first hand to their parents or caregivers, through the wonderful National Standard reports that were sent home twice a year. Great.

Except that it is unmanageable.'

Stop Relying on Teachers to Teach Our Kids to be Good People!

‘I'm a big fan of teachers. Trust me. I am one. So is my wife.

But speaking as a parent, we are asking our teachers to do things we should be doing ourselves. While teachers are glad to help with the development of students, it is not their job to teach our kids to be good citizens. Teachers should be the BENEFICIARIES of us teaching our kids to be good kids.'

'Kids are born scientists' - Siouxsie Wiles talks STEM and sexism

'Kids are born scientists.

What differs between individual kids is whether they see themselves as able to have a career in science, and part of that comes down to whether they have seen people that look like them as scientists.’

What Happens to Student Behavior When Schools Prioritize Art. More wisdom from Sir Ken.

‘The arts classes gave the students fresh enthusiasm for learning, and the walls and corridors were soon covered with displays of their work, which itself created a more stimulating environment and sense of ownership by the children. “Kids do well,” Bott said, “when you design and build a school that they want to be in. Having great arts programs and athletics programs makes school an enjoyable place to be and that’s when you see success.”’

“Another nail in the coffin for learning styles” – students did not benefit from studying according to their supposed learning style

Individual learners
The evidence that debunks learning styles is clear, so why do I keep reading teacher comments that reference learning styles?

‘Their findings, they write – especially when considered in the context of past research – “provide strong evidence that instructors and students should not be promoting the concept of learning styles for studying and/or for teaching interventions. Thus, the adage of ‘I can’t learn subject X because I am a visual learner’ should be put to rest once and for all.”’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The idea that we each have a 'learning style' is bogus -- here's why

Yet another article debunking learning styles. Got the message?

When I was at school, a fair amount of time was put into determining our “learning styles.” Teachers told us that some people learn better visually with pictures, whereas others retained information by reading or making notes. To be honest, I never worked out what mine was.
In a survey, 96% of teachers were found to believe in learning styles. But it turns out this theory is nonsense.’

How can we ignite the STEM spark at primary school

'With the right approach, a teacher can have a positive and lifelong impact on how students think
Dr Maerve  Liston
about science.

That’s why Dr Maeve Liston is on a mission to help teachers and parents to ensure that young students engage with science and technology at primary school, and develop problem-solving skills and scientific literacy that will stand to them no matter what they go on to study later.’

Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Bad Advice

Steve Jobs
In other words, follow your passion. There’s just one problem: “‘Follow your passion’ is dangerous advice.” That’s a troubling claim, but it comes straight from Cal Newport’s investigation into “the details of how passionate people like Steve Jobs really got started”, as well as what scientists say predict happiness and fuel great accomplishment.

Newport’s not alone. In recent years, a host of leaders, academics, and entrepreneurs have all come to the same startling conclusion: nearly everything you’ve been told about following your passion is wrong.’

An Experts View: Sir Ken Robinson

Your new book offers wide-ranging advice for parents as they try to manage their children’s education. If you had to choose one takeaway, what would it be?’

Personalized Learning Isn’t About Tech

The key is giving students the decision-making tools they need to shape their own learning experiences Personalizing learning doesn’t necessitate investing hundreds of dollars per child in expensive hardware or applications—but it does require an investment in people and in fostering relationships between them. This investment can be as minimal as a few simple changes in mindset and practice, ones that move away from personalizing for students and toward personalizing with them.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Together principals can do it

‘It is time they added their collective voices to the debate and this is easiest done by groups of courageous principals, defining what is important, and sharing it with others. And what they decide ought to focus on the needs of their students and communities and not the whims of politicians. Principals are in an ideal position to see the pressures that parents and the wider community have to face up to. They know well that, “it takes a whole village to raise a child.”’

The history of New Zealand's TOMORROWS SCHOOLS and time for fresh thinking?

A major and well overdue review of the current provision of education in New Zealand has been announced. Cathy Wylie, one of the review team, researched the so-called “Tomorrow’s Schools’ back in 2012, and Bruce summarises her findings in the article. Prepare for change!

‘Cathy answers the questions: What was the real effect of ‘Tomorrows Schools’? Has the New Zealand Schools system improved as a result? And what changes are needed now to meet our expectations of schools?’

Friday, April 06, 2018

The art of teaching - importance of creativity and the sharing of ideas

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Why Do Some Educators Burn Out While Others Seem to Grow More Passionate?

When you listen to someone who is burned out, they often point to circumstances as the reason for their malaise. There is lack of support, lack of resources, problems with students, parents, administrators, other teachers, lawmakers, the department of education, society, you name it. And all of those things might be true. But others faced with exactly the same circumstances seem to tell themselves a different story.’

What creativity really is - and why schools need it

‘Teachers often have biases against creative students, fearing that creativity in the classroom will be disruptive. They devalue creative personality attributes such as risk taking, impulsivity and independence. They inhibit creativity by focusing on the reproduction of knowledge and obedience in class. Why the disconnect between educators’ official stance toward creativity, and what actually happens in school?’

Are you over-scaffolding?

There are so many experiences and opportunities to learn that are not only happening in your classroom or professional development because you have taught it.  When we limit people to what we know or what we teach, we are limiting countless possibilities of what they know and can do without us.’

Time to leave formulaic conformist teaching
Ownership Through Inquiry

‘Are kids learning because they are intrinsically empowered to or are they compelled to through compliance and conformity?  The former results when learners have a real sense of ownership.  There are many ways to empower kids to own their learning. All the rage as of late is how technology can be such a catalyst. In many cases this is true, but ownership can result if the conditions are established where kids inquire by way of their own observations and questions.’

Who is for teaching?

‘That is, why can’t we firstly attract to, and then retain enough high calibre teachers in the
profession? It’s a long stretch to argue that it is because we have made it too difficult for people in other professions and trades to transition into teaching. It is a theme too common – to seek solutions to teacher shortages and questions of skill levels by dressing up time worn strategies of luring other workers to the teaching profession as something more than quick-fix answers.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

21st-Century Learning Starting in Elementary School

A group of Georgia schools work together to emphasize project-based learning and STEM courses from the elementary years through 12th grade.

‘At White Oak Elementary, teachers build a strong foundation by alternating between PBL and more traditional units, typically doing at least one major project within each nine-week period. Even when teachers are not leading a project, they emphasize inquiry and use the workshop model for reading, math, and writing.’

Sparrows And Penguins

Powerful. Any penguins are in your class?

‘This is why I think labels are important. This is why I think “we’re all birds, let’s focus on our similarities instead of our differences” is harmful. This is how my autism diagnosis was like breathing, after holding my breath for 26 years.’

'We need to admit that the job of the classroom teacher has simply become too big’

New Zealand has the opportunity to escape all this stressful nonsense.

‘If this doesn’t unite the profession in a concerted effort to find the right work-life balance, to hold on to our longer-serving teachers and entice new ones into the fold, then we will continue to see even more classes taught by non-specialists or a chain of supply teachers, with all the adverse outcomes for equality of provision entailed.’


For children to be CURIOUS about the world around them, following their own unique style of learning and to be engaged in the joy of DOING rather than the end result. Too often at this festive time of year, we feel under pressure to create products for the children to take home, cards, gifts & artwork. If WE feel this PRESSURE to get these products complete, spare a moment for the little ones who are sadly on a conveyer belt of activities of handprints and paper plates or as I like to call them “craptivaties”.’

Scrap age-based classes to boost school achievement

Underachievement in schools is commonly attributed to ineffective teaching methods, low expectations, poor student attitudes and behaviour, inadequate school resourcing and a culture that undervalues education. These may all be contributors. But could the explanation also lie in the way schooling itself is organised and delivered?’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Learning to be 'creatively rebellious'. The importance of the Three Ds: being Different, Disruptive and Deviant.

Sir Ken Robinson
Many people were labelled at school as 'students who challenged teachers or their learning processes as being" disruptive' and “rebellious”. As a result such students developed 'compliant behaviours that effectively kept them out of trouble. Others who rebelled often missed out on the chance to benefit from a traditional education.’

Educational change and leadership - bottom up!

All too often in recent decades schools are dictated to by the political whim of politicians with their eyes firmly fixed on popular approval - this is certainly the case with the imposition of National Standards. What is required is for schools to begin to share their beliefs about teaching and learning by building on the innate strengths of their students, their teachers, the school principal and finally groups of schools to develop a vision that all can work with in diverse ways.'

Friday, March 30, 2018

Mathematics / authentic learning the beginning of a new era for education/ the end of the corporate influence and educational books for creative teachers

Lets see the end of our financial rulers!

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Mathematics Part 1: The mathematics pendulum

Here’s a two part series by Kelvin Smythe on the teaching of mathematics.

‘I have long wanted to have Charlotte Wilkinson, an independent mathematics consultant, set out her ideas on mathematics but, in the previous education environment, any association with me would have been dangerous for her work. With that changed, I am delighted to present two writings from her which are an overview of nearly everything in mathematics.’ 

Mathematics Part 2: Producing literate and numerate children
‘An increasing amount of information is shared in a digital format, therefore there is an ever increasing need for people to be numerate, not just able to carry out set procedures. Being numerate requires an understanding of basic arithmetic, the properties and
manipulation of whole numbers, and rational numbers. It requires using number sense to reason whether answers are correct. When a point is reached in solving a problem, knowing which operation or formula is required is still essential, but completing the procedure has been superseded in reality by technology.’

Authentic Learning Begins With Student-Designed Curriculum

‘But then I fought my obsessive need for control and took a giant step closer to my ultimate end goal of a fully authentic learning environment by empowering my students to generate our curriculum.’

Constructivism vs. Constructivism vs. Constructionism

Valuing students views
I’d like to offer my take on the meaning of these words. I hear them used in so many ways that I often get confused what others mean by them.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

We are at the beginning of a new educational era. The challenge now is to reimagining the school day to ensue all students’ gifts and talents are identified, amplified and valued.

Another gem from Bruce:

Lester Flockton
Lester wrote that 30 years later we have wasted excessive amounts of time and resources replacing approaches of the past that weren’t broken and didn’t need fixing.
It’s time, says Lester “to put the shine back on teaching’ to create a nurturing environment for both teachers and students. For too long our system has suffered from those who mistakenly think they know better.”’

So what is the ‘end in mind’ for teachers in the 21stC?

Yes, Project-Based Learning Gets Kids Ready for the Test (and so much more)

I was worried the first time I tried a project-based learning unit with
my students. As a young teacher, I had prided myself on running a challenging class and had focused much of my attention on getting my students prepared for what we were both going to be assessed on: the test.

I was not doing test prep. I didn’t believe that giving students sample test questions would make them do any better on our state standardized scores (and still don’t).'

Occupying Their Brains With Our Stupid Questions

'They say there's no such thing as a stupid question, but I beg to differ. We hear stupid questions almost every time adults and young children are together.’

44 Practices That Are "Fixing" Education Today

Here is a list of at least 44 different positive practices (in no specific order - just the way they flowed out of my head) unfolding in education today that I have seen with my very own eyes…’

'We must stop trying to apply a sticking plaster to the gaping wound that is teacher workload’

We need a root-and-branch review of the professionalism, accountability and expectations placed upon the teacher workforce. Anything less is a waste of time. A UK article but applicable to NZ?‘But
it is not just teacher recruitment that is the government’s problem. Teacher retention is even more serious as wastage rates (teachers putting down their whiteboard markers and leaving the profession) are rising at every career stage – and most worryingly right at the start of teachers’ careers, after three to five years.’

Embracing the Whole Child

Fully engaging students can include using their interests in lessons, checking in on them emotionally, and being ourselves.

‘In embracing a more whole-child, humanizing approach to teaching and learning, Salazar
proposes specific ways educators can express care and engage students in a more humanizing pedagogy. Among her suggestions, I’d like to explore the following four, offering suggestions for each, as I have found them particularly useful to establishing a harmonious community of learners in the classroom.'

When “Big Data” Goes to School

Alfie Kohn:

‘The data in question typically are just standardized test scores — even though that’s not the only reason to be disturbed by this datamongering. But here’s today’s question: If collecting and sorting through data about students makes us uneasy, how should we feel about the growing role of Big Data?’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The corporate takeover of society and education.

Time to ditch the corporate influence

'Since the early 90s society has been reshaped by a neo liberal corporate ideology. An emphasis on private enterprise and self-centered individualism has replaced an earlier concern for collective good of all members of society.   As a result of this ideological shift a wider gap has been created between the rich and poor causing a number of social concerns. Schools as part of this shift have been transformed from a community orientation to being part of a competitive cut throat ideology.

Educational Books for Creative Teaching - to develop the gifts and talents of all students

‘Over the years I have a lot of feedback from teachers thanking me for drawing their attention to
books that I have written about on my blog. With this in mind I have searched through my postings for some of the best books that provide courage for teachers to make stand against the current anti educational approaches of a market forces competitive ideology.’

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

We are at the beginning of a new educational era. The challenge now is to reimagine the school day to ensure all students’ gifts and talents are identified, amplified and valued.

In the latest Principals’ magazine the National President of the NZ Principal Federation Whetu
Whetu Cormack
writes that we are at the ‘start of a new educational era’. ‘Standardisation has gone along with the competition it engendered, the narrowed curriculum, the obsession with data, and the endless comparison.’

Business ‘guru’ Steven Covey’s advice, writing about habits of effective leadership, was to ‘begin with end in mind’. What do we want our schools to achieve for their students? What do we need to change to ensure the unique range of gifts and talents of our students?
 Lester Flockton , in the same principals’ magazine, makes the point that New Zealand’s rankings in international tests have been falling commenting ironically that this is at a time of considerable literacy
Lester Flockton
and  numeracy intensification.  In the 70s New Zealand was a world leader in literacy – now, it seems, we are 32nd Tomorrow’sSchools (1986), Flockton reflects was implemented by the then Labour Prime Minister David Lange on the grounds ‘good people poor system’.
Lester write that 30 years later we have wasted excessive amounts of time and resources replacing approaches of the past that weren’t broken and didn’t need fixing. It time, says Lester ‘to put the shine back on teaching’ to create a nurturing environment for both teachers and students. ‘For too long our system has suffered from those who mistakenly think they know better’.

So what is the ‘end in mind’ for teachers in the 21stC?

 A respected educationalist Sir Ken Robinson, who has recentlypresented in New Zealand. Says that creativity is as important as literacy and numeracy’. Another educationalist, well known to many New Zealand teachers, Guy Claxton writes that learnacy is more important that literacy and numeracy.’

 New Zealand pioneer creative teacher Elwyn Richardson proves inspiration forteachers today.

His book ‘In the Early World’ should be in every primary classroom and thankfully has been reprinted by the NZCER 2012. Elwyn saw his class 'functioning as a community of artists-scientists- each person counted and was expected to make a contribution to the class community'. Elwyn Richardson gave his students 'the opportunity to
Elwyn Richardson
reach their full height as artist, as craftsmen, as scientists, and as students, through the establishment of a community based on mutual self-respect'.

The last three decades have compromised the unique child centred approach that was highly respected world-wide up until the introduction of Tomorrows Schools followed by technocratic curriculum and National Standards and the associated assessment requirements.

If schools were to focus on developing their classrooms as communities of learning based on developing the gifts and talents of all students what would need to change?

A brief visit to most classrooms will illustrate that literacy and numeracy rule supreme. As one commentator has written ‘the evil twins of literacy and numeracy have gobbled up the entire day’. The shape of the daily programme provides a message of what is seen to be important and this is reinforced by the narrow scope of achievement data collected.

John Holt
n the 1970s progressive educator John Holt wrote
, ‘school must become communities in which children learn, not by being preached at, but by living and doing, to become aware of the needs of other people.’ There is a need to make schools, 'a place in which a child has so much respect for his own work that he will respect the work of others and will be naturally concerned to make the school a place where everyone can do best at whatever kind of work he wants to do.

 John Holt was once asked a question. 'If schools were to take one giant step forward this year towards a better tomorrow, what would it be?

'Holt replied, ' it would be to let every child be the planner, director and assessor of his own education, to allow and encourage him, with the inspiration and guidance of more experienced and expert people, an as much help as he asked for, to decide what he is to learn, when he is to learn it, and how well he is learning. It would make our schools....a resource for free and independent learning’.

Guy Claxton
The writings of Sir Ken, Guy Claxton, Elwyn Richardson, John Holt and many others ask for a transformation of our classrooms. 

There are those who believe that this might be beyond the capabilities of teachers whose only experience is post Tomorrow’s Schools (1986) but, in contrast, there are others who believe that many teachers are teachers are looking for a ‘new direction’, one that really values their professional involvement.
Jerome Bruner, another resected educationalist, wrote many years ago that teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation bringing up the question how can we ‘tempt’ our students so that they can realise the ideas expressed by John Holt. This would be an ideal topic for a school Teacher Only Day.
Transferring this ideal of a community of learners to the daily programme is the challenge.
Jerome Bruner
n the60/70s many teachers (mostly in junior classes) were experimenting with whatwas called developmental programmes in an attempt to extend the way young children learnt before formal schooling. Classrooms were set up with stimulating activities for students to become involved with. Later in the morning the day morphed into language arts activities and maths tasks. Centres of interest studies provided motivation and natural involved language, creative arts, maths.

Such organisations still form the basis of many junior classrooms and align well with modern ‘play based’ programmes.

Developmental education forms the basis of Kelvin Smythe’s writings.

Kelvin is an ex Senior Inspector of Schools and shares his ideas through his Netkonnect Website.  Kelvin sees learning as a holistic or integrated experience and has dedicated much of his efforts sharing the ideas of Elwyn Richardson, Sylvia Ashton Warner and creative teachers he has worked with. He believes that it is the sharing of the 
deas of creative that is the best way to move forward. He worries that in past decades we have sacrificed the affective side of learning by overemphasizing cognitive achievement.

Link to Kelvin's Attack documents mentioned below
See Attack 6 for Sylvia Ashton Warner's approach.
For developmental junior classroom programme Attack 71 72 73 74 75 76 77
For senior room developmental programmes see Attack 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85
Threshold timetables are described in Attack 87 88 89 90
.The transition to a community of learners
It’s obvious that developing a classroom as a community of learners along developmental /holistic lines is difficult to define as it depends on a number of factors, the teacher’s confidence in various learning areas, the independent learning skills of the students and, most importantly the leadership of the school. Programmes will necessarily be evolutionary and it is good advice to proceed slowly – as Steven Covey says to keep the end in mind’
Some good advice about class programmes
Creative class management is the art, or craft, of creating the conditions that provide students with enough security and structure for them to take the learning risks required to develop personalised learning. Too much chaos leads to disorder - too much structure reduces the learner’s ability to
Class management
make decisions and choices. Most current classroom management procedures are determined by unquestioned routines and habits that reflect a past age.
'If there is any other situations fraught with danger for mental health as that of a class held rigid by fear, it is a class exposed to the anxieties engendered by unlimited freedom. There is nothing as terrifying to the immature human being as a completely unstructured situation. Without a recognisable structure they feel the teacher has abandoned them - and so he has- to their own impulses, all of which are by no means always constructive.' B Morris
'I would caution student teachers to always be flexible with kids, but not to leave them with no structure, because many times we are the only structure these kids have.' Kouzes and Postner 
'It is significant to realise that the most creative environments in our society are not the ever-changing ones. The artist's studio, the researcher's laboratory, the scholar's library are each kept deliberately simple so as to support the complexities of the work in progress. They are deliberately
kept predictable so the unpredictable can happen.' Lucy Calkins

'Without containment, spontaneity, exhalation and freedom of the mind could seep into license and anarchy, where all day has no shape. A benign routine helps our child to gain responsibility and our school to stability.' Sylvia Ashton Warner  
'The word 'freedom' can never be uttered unless accompanied hand in hand with the word responsibility. It is kinder to keep the lid on the school for a start, lifting it little by little, simultaneously teaching responsibility, until the time comes when the lid can be cast entirely aside and only two conditions remain - freedom and responsibility'. Sylvia Ashton Warner
The need to ‘reframe’ literacy and numeracy.
One easy step to take would be integrate literacy and numeracy (renamed language arts and
Creativity as important as literacy
mathematics?) into the current class research study. Ability grouping is counterproductive to the development of a learning community and students need to be helped at point of need individually or in small groups as required.  Many language and maths tasks can themselves be research based but, sounding heretical, if maths is activity based it is better to do fewer things well.
The key role of the inquiry programme.
In a learning community the main source of intellectual energy is provided by the studies the class undertakes. Such studies need to cover the main strands of the Learning Areas – many studies will integrate a number of strands from different subject areas. 
In line with a developmental approach inquires might need to be, at first, determined by the teachers, but as teachers confidence develops more choice and responsibility can be passed on to the students.
The New Zealand Curriculum (2007) asks teachers to help their students become ‘seekers, users and creators of their own knowledge’ which is in line with the thoughts of John Holt expressed
earlier.  This problem solving approach underlines the requirements of all the NZC Learning Areas.
There are a range of inquiry models for schools to make use of.

The wider the range of content explored the more opportunity to tap into, uncover, or amplify students’ unique gifts and talents.
It is good advice to do fewer things well and in depth than to cover lightly many areas and it is also good advice to ‘slow the pace of students work’ to give you time to come alongside them to assist then to challenge them  dig deeper as needed. Much work is spoiled because many students have internalised the idea that first finished is best. Process is important but so then is the quality of the finished product.
John Dewey wrote about his experimental school  early last century, 'every child in some sense was turned into a researcher whose duty was to discover and satisfy his or her own capacities and needs and then, also to discover how this had been done.'
The need to reimagine group work.

Ability grouping needs to be replaced with more focussed group work – each group requiring different requirements. Four groups seem a sensible arrangement. One group working with a teachers doing an introductory activity – perhaps a science experiment relating to the current study; a following group writing up their findings; a group researching using computers; and another doing a creative activity based on the study.

Two great practical books

Some classes have experimented with four groups rotating through the day: language arts group; a maths group; a group completing work for presentation; and a group doing creative work.  Group
More than literacy and numeracy
tasks will depend on what is currently being studied. 

With expertise some teachers might, for brief times when independent learning skills are in place, move into a free choice integrated day.
It is good advice to move into experimental organisation in the last weeks of a term giving time to assess progress over the holidays!
Teacher displays and room environments.
Part of the tempting learners (Jerome Bruner) can be achieved by setting up a range of displays to capture students’ curiosity. Every Learning Area provide ideas for displays.  From such displays students’ questions arise and can be added to the display. As students computer tasks these questions (and later researched answers) can be added to the displays to inform visitors of class
I see the a modern school as an amalgam of an artist’s studio, a media centre, a science laboratory, an art gallery;  an educational Te Papa with students being the researcher planning and developing displays
John Dewey wrote early in the 20thC  The only way in which adults consciously control the kind of education the immature get is by controlling the environment in which they act and feel. We never
educate directly, but indirectly by means of the environment. Whether we permit chance environments to do the work, or whether we design environments to the purpose makes a great difference.’

Guy Claxton’s ‘learnacy’ and the New Zealand Curriculum’s competencies

The New Zealand Curriculum emphasizes the need to develop in all students the key competencies to become lifelong learners. In a class undertaking a community of learners’ model such competencies are implicit but students’ attention needs to be drawn to them when appropriate.
Claxton’s message is that schools must change. ‘We ought not to put up with students enduring a passive depersonalised assembly line experience’. 'We now know enough that no student need fail if we' , as Claxton says, 'attend more successfully to cultivating the qualities of character and mind that modern life demands; curiosity, imagination, disciplined thinking, a love of genuine debate, scepticism. These are the learning dispositions that students can use their whole lives’.

If education has lost the plot', Claxton writes, ‘we need 'a narrative for education that can engage and inspire children and their families - a tale of trials and adventure, of learning derring-do and learning heroism. Let's fire the kids up with the deep satisfaction of discovery and exploration. They are born with learning zeal; let us recognise, celebrate and protect it, but also stretch, strengthen and diversify it’
 Jerry Starratt, an expert on school leadership, has written. 'In a very real sense...human being create themselves and school can be stage on which children work through the plot, rehearse their roles, learn the cues, create social functions, try out their 'ideal selves' for size, play hero parts which demonstrate their capability for greatness.' This is the essence of personalised education
Final words to American business ‘guru’ Tom Peters (who has holiday home in Golden Bay) from his book ‘Re-Imagine.
'I imagine a school system that recognizes learning is natural, that a love of learning is normal, and that real learning is passionate learning. A school curriculum that values questions above answers…creativity above fact regurgitation…individuality above conformity... and excellence above standardized performance….. And we must reject all notions of 'reform' that serve up more of the same: more testing, more 'standards', more uniformity, more conformity, and more bureaucracy’.

How do you imagine the shape of education system able to ensure all students thrive in an ever changing, uncertain but potentially exciting future?