Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Re -imagining schools to tap student talents.

I read a quote the other day that said, ‘Every student is an expert in their own life. They therefore are an invaluable resource for providing evidence about their own learning.’

The thing is, who is listening?

The trouble is in our schools the only students who succeed are those who home backgrounds, or cultures, are aligned with achieving success in traditional academic learning. The remaining students leave with their potential talents unrecognized. This situation is understandable as secondary schools were originally established to cater for the academic students; the remainder being absorbed, in earlier times, into the workforce.

Times have changed. All students are now obliged to say at school until they are sixteen and, even if they leave, there are fewer positions available without school qualifications. The trouble is schools haven’t changed to accommodate these less academic students. In the UK such students are in the ‘three D s’: disappeared, disaffected and disappointed. These 'categories' cover up to 40% of all students.

This is a tragedy in the making. Things need to change. As Einstein said, ‘it is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely extinguished the holy spirit of curiosity.’ By ‘modern methods’ he was referring to mass standardized ‘one size fits all’ schooling based on the assembly line.

When one considers the number of successful entrepreneurs who failed school it becomes obvious that schools are unable to build on the full range of native talents. Such individuals were not seen as ‘customers’ at their school with idiosyncratic needs and many felt inadequate throughout their school days.

Imagine, though, if schools were to systematically assess the particular capabilities of every learner and then set about to enhance each student’s capabilities while, at the same time, exposing them to experiences that might uncover hidden interests. To achieve this schools would need to expose their students to a diverse range of adults to act as role models and not just expose students to narrow academic subject bound teaching. During such experience the possibility that a students might have, what some call a ‘crystallizing experience’ that would then become the central purpose of their lives.

If we want our students to be clever, secure , inventive , independent and focused the trick would be to unconditionally accept each learner as he or she is and then giving thoughtful support to help each student be a better person. This means learning with students as well as teaching.

This, perhaps, is what is meant by ‘personalized learning’ and ought to be the focus for school in the 21st Century? Certainly the vision of mass education has failed the masses.

Everybody who leaves school needs to feel capable at something – feelings of failure are corrosive. The failure is that of the school. Those who have some say in education, at any level, ought to question why so many entrepreneurs were not encouraged by schooling and, more importantly why so many students still leave with little to show for their time but a destructive disaffection with learning. How many good people have we lost?

A ‘personalized school’ would need to meet each incoming student at least half way by adapting its curricula and methods to reflect any particular combination of abilities. Schools, according to Howard Gardner (of ‘multiple intelligences’ fame), would need teachers expert in assessing students needs to identify the talents they bring with them; teachers who are expert in brokering courses to suit the needs of their students (while ensuring core requirements are still being covered); and teachers who have expertise in making use of community expertise to match students needs.

The success of each school would be seen by the demonstrations, performances, portfolios and exhibitions created by learners. The process is obviously important but, as the entrepreneurs, scientists, sportspeople and artists know, so is creating, or making, or achieving, something worthwhile.

Such examples, resulting from talent development represents effort, perseverance, dedication and positive learning values no matter what field of endeavor. And student success ought to be judged against each individual’s previous personal best.

School at the very least ought to remove obstacles that block the development of personal talents. The biggest obstacles to achieving success for all learners are the current school structures and the assumptions and beliefs of the teachers themselves.

We can no longer accept a school system that fails so many of its students and rely on those who escaped to become entrepreneurs capable of thinking of new ways of doing things.

Harvard Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter has written that, ‘We change when it hurts too much not to change’ and that, ‘change is inevitable’.

Better to be leading change than to be forced to follow!

Now is the time for fresh thinking in education.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ed Hillary - Tapping enthusiasm

Sir Edmund Hillary :the adventures and good works of a modest New Zealand hero.

A State funeral was held today to celebrate the life and achievements of Sir Edmund Hillary.As one commentator said, it was not what Sir Ed would've wanted but it was what he deserved.

Sir Edmond's life represented what a person with a real enthusiasm, or passion, can achieve if ones mind it put to it. Discovering and amplifying such passions and talents ought to be the focus of any education system.

Unfortunately it is not as the focus on academic success almost blinds us celebrating any other form of human achievement.

Most of our talented citizens, those who make the new trails in any endeavour, all to often have less than fond memories of their secondary schooling. Many, of course, achieve their success in spite of a school experiences which neglected their natural interests but far to many do not with disastrous social consequences.

No country, especially one as small as New Zealand, can afford to sacrifice any of its human talent on the traditional alter of academic achievement.

Sir Edmund, in his own words, struggled at Auckland Grammar and gained very average marks. One of his physical education teachers despaired of him saying Hilary would not amount to much in his particular area!

Schools, to be fair, have never been good at spotting talent in their students other than in traditional conformist subject areas, and, possibly, rugby. Talent spotting is not their focus as their reputations depend on showing success in narrow academic fields.

Nothing wrong with this as long as an equal emphasis were to be placed on all the various forms of endeavour - the multiple intelligences, for example, of Howard Gardner.

And, even then, they must be careful not to pass premature judgement about their students' future success as was the case of Hillary's physical education teacher.

Hillary represented attributes just as important for future success as good exam marks. As he wrote, 'I was just an enthusiastic mountaineer with modest abilities who was willing to work hard and had the necessary imagination and determination.'

And, more than that, he had an empathy for others unusual in this current 'me first' world. Equally importantly he was able to express this empathy by helping others while still preserving the dignity of those being helped. 'I have never tried to impose projects on people...we responded ( to the expressed needs of the local people'). A lesson here for educationalists, politicians and bureaucrats, who always presume to know better.

Students' interests and talents should determine their educational and life pathways.

As Sir Edmund also wrote, 'It is not hard to find a man who will adventure for the sake of dream or one who who will search for the pleasure of searching and not for what he may find.'

Education ought to be about helping every learner find their own dream, no matter how small, and then to set about help them develop the skills and confidence to 'give it a go'.

Sir Edmund forgave good attempts that failed as part of the learning process - as long as what was learnt was made use of next time. He was a meticulous planner who quickly changed his plans as circumstances demanded.

He had a reputation, one of his friends said, that was, 'based on decency, kindness and a stylish simplicity' . And, as an adventure and trail blazer, one distrustful of unnecessary red tape or protocol.

I could think of no better memorial to Sir Ed than to gather partisan men and woman of similar directness, common sense and integrity to get together and to map out ( responding to peoples concerns as did Sir Edmund) future directions for our country.

It seems to me that we have lost our way socially and environmentally and that we need a new future view so as to blaze new routes for the 21st century if we are to ensure a fair and sustainable planet

What are the challenges we face as a country? The task is far too important to leave to political parties and big business.

We all need to be involved so as to build on the example Sir Edmund has left us.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The power of learning conversations

The discovery of a wasp nest provides ideal inspiration for a focused learning conversation ; one that deepens, in the process, the learner's knowledge and also the teacher's appreciation of the students thinking.

Our current school system is still trapped in the grips of objectivity. When it comes to assessing students personal or research writing predetermined rubrics, or criteria, are used to assess the quality of student efforts.

The trouble is that these rubrics, even if they are negotiated with the students, as they ought to be, can blind teachers to important idiosyncratic or creative features.

Van Gogh never made it into the Academy in his day because his art wasn't up to current expectations! The same could be said for a number of creative thinkers in a range of fields. Stravinsky's Rites of Spring was laughed at in 1914 because it bore no resemblance to the tastes of the day.

Too many students in our school fail to appreciate the power of their own thoughts because of such faulty measurement ideas. This loss of 'voice' leads, for some students, to disillusionment with their school experience and, in some cases, develops into an anti learning identity compounding into social isolation.

Such students, if they were to be asked, would say no one cares about what we really think; teachers don't listen to us a common complaint.

This needn't be so.

Teachers need to treat this so called objectivity ( which distances them from their students) with care and come along side their learner to hear what their students really think and then to interact with them to help them clarify their thoughts.

By doing this they would gain the trust and respect of their students and, in the process, learn a lot about how their students think.More so for students who are showing signs of disengaging themselves from learning process.

Learning is about satisfying curiosity and making meaning by constructing or expressing ideas that make sense to them.

The trouble is that for too long teachers subjectivity has been neglected as the reliance on objective testing has become the norm; this situation is seen at its worst in the United States. As well the simplicity of testing has an unfortunate appeal to politicians and parents.

Teachers need to trust their own perceptions and professionalism ( wisdom) and focus on developing a greater appreciation of how students learn, the dynamics of the creative thinking and their role in the process.

There are still creative teachers about for them to learn from.

Just by including originality into current rubrics would make difference if they want to avoid the blandness that results from rubric overuse. Currently compliant students may score highly because they cover all the criteria but what results may not be inspiring or memorable - and, worse still, like Van Gogh, vice versa.

Student creative thinking, in any field, should be appreciated holistically before looking for particular attributes. It takes judgement to see the value in what students at first present but by coming alongside the learner, and entering in a respectful conversation, such germs of ideas can be developed into major pieces of creative thinking.

In this process meaning and value 'evolves' through the collaborative relationship that develops between the teacher and the student. What finally 'emerges' may surprise both of them.

By such means assessment is integral to the process. The Latin root of the word assessment is to sit beside. Teachers who make the time to sit down with their students to listen and question, in order to help gain a better view of student needs.

The dialogue is the assessment.

The process used can be seen in positive conversations where perspectives are shared and responded to and in the process the two perspectives are blended often resulting in ideas only dimly appreciated beforehand. Through such conversations new insights are developed and minds literally changed.

This process is in contrast to a strict use of criteria to mark work. It is a 'personalised' subjective approach that depends on the teacher's skill to see value in the half formed ideas of their students.

The teacher's role is just as creative as the students.

The creative thinking that results, whether in science,mathematics art, dance or language, is the 'proof of the pudding' - not ticking off lists of criteria.

This approach symbolizes the 'artistry' of teaching and is not to be reduced to a list of key indicators on a teacher's performance appraisal.

It is about the power respectful relationships of teachers towards their students; teachers' whose challenge is to continually improve their insight in how to respond to their students efforts sympathetically.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Escaping from past thinking.

We have almost completed the best part of the first decade of the 21stC but what has changed - and are we changing fast enough to survive?

The trouble is we are still trapped inside the boxes created by the highly successful industrial age. It is apparent as we move into, what some call the 'information is power age', that industrial type thinking is now holding us back.

The industrial age has had a long run ( a couple of centuries or so replacing the earlier agricultural era) but it is well and truly past is use by date.

The problem is someone forgot to tell the educational establishment - more likely they are too busy protecting their own positions of power to even listen.

To make things worse it seems that most in the world of education have mutually accepted the status quo as all there is.

As a result schools still reflect the factory era in the way they are structured and timetabled - students moving through the assembly line to the sound of bells. This image might have been dented at the early education and primary levels but it is certainly alive and well in all secondary schools worldwide. Well, except for those few heretical pioneers who have realized that the 'one size fits all' fits no one!

Even the recently delivered 'new' New Zealand National Curriculum will be impossible to implement at the secondary level unless there is a giant shift of thinking ( followed by new sympathetic structures). We wait for miracles.

Traditional education is 'fundamentalist' in that it sees the past as the way to the future. What is needed is some courageous heresy from educational leaders so as to provide a diverse range of ideas, some of which may evolve into a future orientated system.

Just as the industrial age put paid to the ways of working and living, when it replaced the agricultural era, so will, what some now call, the 'Age Of Ideas or Creativity', or the 'Second Renaissance'.

Until this occurs our schools will continue to be full of teachers who are paid to mass produce learning and, in the process, marginalize the very competencies and talents that will be needed in the future. This factory approach, premised on a narrow academic diet, has no place in a fast changing global world . Failure is endemic in such a dysfunctional system.

Students sitting in rows facing the chalkboard ( or just as pedagogically dated, an electronic whiteboard) should, no longer, be the main image of learning.

Destroying the traditional transmission 'just in case' you'll need it knowledge approach and replacing it with an emergent ' just in time' learning environments is a priority.

Students and teachers need to escape from their conformist boxes.

New approaches to learning requires the cross pollination of ideas and be based around students solving realistic problems assisted by learning advisers ( a new image for teachers). In the future the teachers main role will be to ensure that every student develops their own successful 'personalised' learning pathway. These approaches will fundamentally change the way students learn and teachers teach and would reflect what is happening in the real world, where the lines between the arts and the sciences are now blurred, as new innovative ideas are being explored.

Teachers will have to learn to get out of their subject boxes so as to collaborate with others to to be able to introduce realistic cross disciplined learning challenges. Only then will the various talents of individual students be recognised and amplified. When this happens learning would move away from the four walls of the restrictive classroom boxes and enter both the local and virtual environments.

By means of such realistic challenges students will begin to acquire the learning 'competencies' and become 'seekers , users and creators of the own knowledge' , ideas which underpin the 'new' New Zealand Curriculum. The future requires students who are able to make informed and ethical choices about the problems that currently face the world.

Most importantly this 'new learning' for a new 'creative age' is premised on all students learning not just those biased towards academic subjects as at present.

Every learner needs to leave school as a a 'life long learner'. Achieving this is the challenge of future schools.

Once you begin to think of the attributes of creative individuals it soon becomes apparent that our present schools are not healthy places for such people to develop. Creativity needs to replace academic conformity!

It might be easier to start from scratch than to try and change our current schools. This is what happened when the industrial age took over the world changing forever how we lived, worked and thought.

Now is not the time to defend the past!

Now is time to escape the limits of past thinking that has boxed us into a corner and to face up to the solving problems created by industrial aged thinking that are putting humankind at risk.

The best advice is to start listening to the heretics!

Or better still be one!

Monday, January 07, 2008

The power of the creative spirit.

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Two artists,one once a teacher now a full time artist, the other a teacher being creative during his vacation.

Every second year Te Kupenga invite artists to take part in a stone carving symposium along the waterfront of our city.

Over a period of two weeks each artist completes a couple or more pieces of work which are later auctioned.

I am always impressed with the creativity of all involved. The local volcanic andesite stone is very hard and it takes considerable effort, let alone artistic skill, to finally realise whatever each artist eventually creates.

Some artists, no doubt, have a fair idea of what they hope to achieve before they start while others work more intuitively; working in partnership with the stone to let the carving evolve.

It is this magic of creativity which is all too often missing in out modern society where, mass produced thinking, produces mass produced products - and waste. Value is all too often placed on how much one can acquire - the price paid indicating prestige.

If only creativity was the theme underpinning our society we could be more hopeful of developing a sustainable future.

It would seem obvious that if we want to develop the world as a more sustainable and fairer place then what we do need is creative thinking and to achieve this we need to focus on developing the creative talents in every person. Understanding the creative process and valuing the power of imagination would be, at the very least, needed by all if we are to thrive in the future.

The creative process is an elusive one and every artist brings to it their own way of working. Whatever approach is used great satisfaction is there to be gained by those who involve themselves.

If we appreciated the power of creativity in all area of life then we would have less conflict and violence in our society.

Just imagine if we had an education system that was based on recognising, developing, and amplifying the creative potential of every student in whatever area that they were attracted to. This is the very opposite of what happens in our current schools with their genesis in the mass production era of the last century. In our current system only the academic survive while many students leave feeling either a failure or unfulfilled.

It needn't be so.

If the school system valued the innate contributions of every student it would result in developing a positive learning identity for all rather than the academic few. Such a positive identity would contrast with the anti social, and often self destructive, means of expression that many alienated young people currently gain satisfaction from.

Maybe that is the real lesson to be learnt from watching the works of art slowly emerging through the creativity of the artists involved?

All children are born with creative spirit and a need to make and express meaning.

It is a shame that that so few do.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Lose stress get creative

It is now time to leave behind the impossible demands of last century's poorly designed curriculums and and begin to be creative!

Talking to a number of teachers since the school year ended I have sensed a growing feeling of frustration and stress by all of the expectations imposed on them.

This is ironic in many ways because the 'new' New Zealand Curriculum is giving schools the freedom to develop programmes to cater for the real needs of their students. It asks teachers to develop students as 'seekers, users and creators of their own knowledge' and focuses on helping all students develop, what they call, future orientated 'key competencies'.

Teachers seem to be so tired by the unending pressure past demands to notice the new opportunities!

The use of term 'personalised learning' ought to give such teachers some hope. 'Personalised learning' suggests the need to replace the mass eduction vision of the past century. A mass education ( 'one size fits all") system that has become a nightmare for the creative and/or less academic students.

Our current school system is simply dysfunctional.

Even in the most friendly of Junior classrooms learning is determined by teachers not based on the 'emergent' interests and talents of the students. As students move through system their schools resemble what they were based on, the factories of the past century. Only the academic survive.

What is required now is courageous leadership by school principal to inspire teachers and also for them to network up with other schools to share local expertise.

The question to ask is what kind of society do we want to be, and what qualities will future students need to thrive in their future not our past? The challenges of the futures cannot be solved by so called 'experts' telling others what to do, it will depend on releasing the creativity and tapping the energy of every person.

Diversity not standardisation will be required.

Leadership is about creating conditions for ideas to generate and and then spreading positive ideas as they emerge.

Such creative ideas have aways been in our system but all too often they have been ignored or 'standardized' in ways which 'water down' their power.

In the early 1950s Sylvia Ashton Warner realized the importance of connecting with her students lives. She made full use of her Maori students rich out of school experiences to base her language programme on. Sylvia taught us how important it was to make seamless connection between reading, writing, talking, reflecting, thinking and imagination. Sylvia was a controversial figure but her ideas are still valuable. How much of students real lives are reflected in our current classrooms?

Forget following imposed curriculum's. Make use of what exists already in children's minds. As Sylvia wrote: ' there is so much inside already.So much locked in.If only I could get it our and use it as working material.Their first books must be made out of the stuff of the child's mind'.

This message applies to teachers at all levels. We need to respect the ideas of our students, to value their experiences and interests. We need to stop teaching and listen to our students.

Today creative teachers appreciate the power of respectful relationship's and the need to work alongside their students, making use of a 'co- constructive approach', to personalise learning. Such teachers recognise students strengths and prior ideas, value discussion, integrate learning areas, and the value representation of students idea through a range of creative media.

All a little hard to do in schools designed for a mass instruction era! No wonder so many students become 'disengaged'.

in the 50s another important early creative teacher was Elwyn Richardson. Instead of following syllabuses, and sticking to timetables, he turned to the natural environment and the creative arts. Together, he and his children, explored the real world creating in the process their own rich problem solving science, social studies and environmental programmes. They created poems and stories, made poetry, lino cuts and paintings.

How many authentic 'emergent' integrated programmes do we see today?

I wonder how many alienated and anti-social youth would we have today if we had fully developed the promise of such a creative approach to education, particularly as the students reach secondary schooling?

A society, clinging to outdated hierarchical institutions, is the dysfunctional element.

School have an opportunities to take the lead.

A creative eduction system is the key a positive inclusive future.

Being part of such revolution would be exiting -and any stress would be worth the effort. More than can be said for today's compliant schools.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Teaching as a creative act

This book outlines the power of a creative teacher in the 1950s and has been recently reprinted by the NZCER. Inspirational and not a curriculum in sight.

Life is creative; we make it up as we go along.

What we attend to, and the choices we make, are determined by what we choose to notice. This in turn is determined by the prior experiences we have have had. Our learning identity, for better or worse, 'emerges' from the sum of our experiences. And, of course, this includes our school experience. To confuse the issue our views are also effected by the larger culture we live in - a culture that is continually changing.

Traditional cultures can limit exploration. Today the current, but dated world view, blinds us to new opportunities. Until our basic beliefs and assumptions are challenged little will change.

Every few centuries new ideas emerge to challenge previously held assumptions. The discovery that the earth was round and went around the sun, plus the invention of the printing press, challenged the power of previously held religious views. Today we are in the midst of another dramatic shift in consciousness as we move from a scientific mechanical view of the world, based on predictability and the printed word, into one of an continual change amplified by the development of the world wide web.

Changing world views effect all organisations, including education. Our school systems were established in an industrial era of 'top down' hierarchic power. Basic skills, and obedience for the masses, were early requirements that persist to this day.

Successful in their time such 'top down' and fragmented organisations ( both public and private) now are under stress as they are unable to cope with the new challenges of a fast changing interconnected world.

Students live in this new 'emerging' world but their schools are locked into outdated mindsets and structures. This is a recipe for stress We have been wasting too much energy trying to plan and control our students rather than tapping into the inbuilt desire to learn and make sense of their experiences. We need to go 'with the grain' rather than against it!

Schools can no longer prescribe what student need to learn but instead must be willing to to be involved with student led discovery. Students need to engage with real life tasks rather than be asked to cover what they may never use. We need a 'just in time' curriculum rather than a 'just in case' one! This will requires a new creative role for teachers who will need to be skilled, in what Jerome Bruner calls, 'the canny art of intellectual temptation'.

Creative learners begin any endeavour with a desire established by purpose. In most cases such learners don't know how things will turn out and to learn will require an 'enlightened trial and error' approach. Teachers and students will need to develop new powers of attention to notice what is happening so as to make changes as learning unfolds, often in unpredictable directions. Learning in such an environment is less about transmission and more about 'co-contracting knowledge in action' by both teachers and students.

All learners need to be helped to develop powerful learning identities from an early age. Such positive identities are built up from past successes and provide the courage and confidence for learners to accept new challenges with enthusiasm. New capabilities ( competencies and talents) 'emerge' as part of this process. Learning is an act of faith. Developing positive learning identifies for all students is the responsibility of teacher working in tandem with parents or caregivers.

The acceptance of such a personalised creative approach would make life more exciting for teachers and their students. Schools and teachers would be judged on what their students can do

This creative approach needs to replace the current fragmented teacher determined programmes with their endless, and impossible, accountability requirements and increasingly failing students

All we see today are stressed teachers trying to make sense of demands made by a system that has well past its 'use by date'.

We all need to escape from the shadows of our old thinking and, when we do, a different world will appear. A world that is continually evolving' a world that will welcome our endeavours to take advantage of whatever learning opportunities come our way.

We need to replace control with creativity. We need 'new minds for a new millennium'.

Just watch a two year old in action. They are creative; making it up as they go along. All they need are the conditions conducive to growth, and experiences to choose from, to let them grow.

The opportunity for creative education has aways been there for the taking.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Looking back

Dr Beeby.Director General of Education in the first Labour Government.

I came across an old magazine in my shed which had an address given by Dr Beeby in 1983 to mark one hundred years of the primary teachers union.

I couldn't resist a quick read. Having some sort of insight into the past can put the present into perspective and better still give ideas for future directions.

All too often we can get so mired in the present that we are unable to see beyond whatever is taking our attention. Teachers, trying to interpret what is currently expected of them, are in such a position. All it causes is stress and confusion.

Paul Gauguin was in this position in the 1890s when he was depressed and painted what he intended to be his last painting. He called his painting:'Where are we coming from? Where are we now? Where are we going? His creativity must have worked because he continued to paint.

Education is also about creation - the creation of positive learning identities for all students.

This is what teachers should be focusing on. Educationalist Guy Claxton calls this 'learnacy' and considers it more important than either literacy or numeracy. It is about preserving ( and amplifying) the love of learning that we are all born with.

Currently we have not achieved this.

Dr Beeby's address was about looking back as well as looking forward but, he said, that he had always been more interested in the future but that you have to look back to see where you have come from to see where you are going.

Today teachers need to look back to ideas that have been sidelined by the imposition of the current technocratic curriculum's of the 90s and to appreciate that it is these curriculums that have caused our current confusion and distress.

Dr Beeby believed in a creative role for education. He reminded those present in 1983 that the most important thing realized about education in the previous decades had been the discovery of the individual child. It is not that individuality wasn't appreciated earlier but that the school system was based on a mass education vision which made realizing such an idea impossible. A system, developed in the 1870s, couldn't conceive of individualising learning. This view persisted right up to the thirties when some felt schooling should only be for the select few after standard four. Mass education, large classes, prescribed standards were the order of the day. School was a devise for, 'selecting bright kids and for discarding the failures'.

Today, he reminded his audience, things have changed. Junior classes, in particular, reflect new 'child centred' understandings.

Dr Beeby an take credit for this development and, in particular, for placing importance on developing each child's creativity and individuality. Unfortunately it did not infiltrate the more traditional exam orientated secondary schools.

Developing all students 'learnacy',talents, and their creativity, by 'personalising' learning is where we need to go in the future.

Every child, Dr Beeby said, 'should leave with a sense of achievement'. We need teachers who refuse to accept that the failure of any child is inevitable. Teachers, to achieve this, need to be sensitive to the needs of every learner. If you can turn failure around, he said, 'you might get a glimpse of of the school of the future'. He wondered whether the very structure of school is the failure.

Dr Beeby questioned why we still segregate children by ages as it is not the kind of group human beings, or animals, normally form.

Dr Beeby concluded his presentation with few thoughts about the future.

'Every child should finish school with a sense of achievement, a knowledge of his own worth, and a generous acceptance of the worth of others. Every one should experience a deep sense of doing better that they had done the day before, better than they had ever expected. If a kid doesn't get that by 12 or 13, the chances are that he'll never get it.' 'Teach them the three Rs, but essentially they must get this sense of their own worth'.'A school for everyone'. A school, he said, should be centre for the community where, 'people would bring their children to the creche and kindergarten, come back as teacher aides..or to continue their own education- I am not talking about just the primary school.'

Such a school would realize his forty year old dream of a school system in which, 'every New Zealander, whether his or her level of academic ability, whether she be rich or poor, whether she lives in the town or the country, will at last, have a free education best fitted to the fullest extent of her powers'.

'What would such a school look like', he challenged.

We would be well advised to rediscover the creativity of earlier days and develop schools as places where all students are able to develop the innate gifts in caring and democratic communities.

We have long way to go but it is worth thinking about.

Be more fun that trying to do what others in their ivory towers suggest. And more creative and, as a result, more satisfying as Gauguin found out all those years ago.