Monday, March 26, 2012

The need for a positive vision for New Zealand

Recently David Shearer , the Leader of the Labour Party, presented  his long awaited vision for a 'new' New Zealand. The Sunday Times ( March 25th) responded saying that 'The Labour Party is finally pushing its new leader to the front of the stage' and continued Shearer 'has to do more' and that 'a Labour Party that genuinely wanted to transform New Zealand could grow a constituency for itself' as 'people are suddenly questioning capitalism and the free market model, they're discussing issues of inequality and there's more hostility towards higher socio-economic groups'. Labour's challenge is 'give a very clear definition of what progressive Labour stands for'. Shearers vision speech was seen as 'reasonable first step' - further speeches need to 'paint a clear picture' - it looked  like Shearer was saying 'I'm not going to scare the horses'.

I wanted to be positive about Shearer's speech but  his sorting out 'good teacher from bad teacher' emphasis put me off. Read what Kelvin Smythe had to say and also his follow up. Kelvin wasn't pleased!

Lets look at Shearer's speech.

Shearer made it clear that we can't just keep on doing what we've been doing.  The 'market forces ideology' which has been centre stage in New Zealand politics for decades ( no matter the party in power) has run its course. The issue now is to develop a  new set of coherent ideas to replace its dominance.

'Anyone who thinks we can make things better here without making big changes is dreaming'  'What is missing', Shearer said, 'was vision'.  People, he said, 'want  leaders to have a clear idea of where we are going, and how we are going to get there, and what we're going to do to make it happen'.

His vision, he said, was straightforward , 'New Zealand should be a place where people know that they can get ahead, a place where the rest of the world wants to live and a place we can all be proud of'.

All a little vague to my mind.

In an attempt to clarify his vision Shearer referred to Finland a country that fought Russia to a standstill in WW2 and since then has transformed itself by appreciating that only 'brains and talent were going to take them forwards'. They had, Shearer said, 'transformed their economy through innovation and talent. They put at the centre of everything they had great teachers and schools and great science research and development'.

At this point I could see a real vision emerging: 'A 'new'  inclusive New Zealand based on realising the talents and gifts of all citizens' - not one valuing only those who  reap the rewards of such gifts - the current world of the rich and growing poor.

The philosophy of one of New Zealand's great thinkers seemed to coming through loud and clear - the late Sir Paul Callaghan. Shearer, echoing Sir Paul, said  we need 'a completely new New Zealand'  not 'a bit of tinkering here and some adjusting there and leaving the rest to the market'. Shearer, reflecting Sir Paul, wants to 'achieve a shift to a new job-rich, high value economy'.

This, he said, 'means looking at everything through new lens.Everything. It means questioning the comfortable assumptions we make'.

We aren't as clean and green as we think we are - we 'fall well behind environmental standards of many European countries. Our environment should be seen as a driver of our economic success rather than a hindrance. We have a smart creative people and a clean , green branding...My aim is make that branding a reality.'

At this point Shearer turned his attention to education:

'I want this new New Zealand to be built on our skills and talents', but then added, 'I frankly doubt the education system we have today can do what we'll be asking of it. Education is everything.We know that. Get that right, and everything flows from it.'

Rather questioning the sorting and classifying aspects of industrial age antiquated system Shearer turns his attention to at best a distraction - the importance of quality teaching rather that the culture of standardized  secondary system which does so poorly in realizing less academic students talents. Of course the  quality of the teachers is important  but to lay blame for lack of achievement on them avoids more important issues and is right wing educational thinking at best. Hardly challenging basic assumptions - only 'tinkering'.

It is a shame Shearer didn't have a conversation with Steve Maharey Minister of education when Labour was last in Government. Maharey was keen on the ideas of personalising learning rather than continuing with the standardised model that is being enforced by the current government. It is also a shame  that Shearer didn't resurrect the 2007 New Zealand National Curriculum  with it philosophy of all students to becoming 'lifelong, connected  learners - all able to 'seek , use, and create their own knowledge'. And it was shame that he didn't talk about what Finland is really doing in education which is the opposite of what is being imposed in New Zealand ( and in the UK, USA and Australia - all counties well behind Finland and New Zealand in International testing,)

No, Mr Shearer it is not about giving our 16 year old students 'training before they drop out' to give them 'a chance of of an entirely different life'.  Shearer is right though in saying that students 'need to be equipped to do the job we're going to ask them to do' but it is not 'training'.. instead what all students need are strong learning identities,  with their talents identified,  and equipped with all the  necessary skills and dispositions in place for them to realise their dreams.

Shearer is right though to  'focus on education because it is fundamental to making the country' - only his answer is wrong!  He is right to  say he has 'chosen education because it's such a good example of something we imagine we're doing right, but where we need to excel and lead the world' but he is wrong in saying it needs overhauling - it needs transformation.

 He lost a great opportunity to revive the 2007 National Curriculum.He lost a chance to push a vision of education of a means to identify  and amplify the talents and gifts of all students from the very first days they enter formal schooling. He lost the  chance to personalise learning - to revive the vision of Peter Fraser  who wanted education to provide every learner the chance to realise their innate gifts.

I think Shearer needs to really study how Finland has developed its education system before sorting out 'best and poor' teachers teaching in an antiquated system.

Maybe a re-read of Sir Paul Callaghan's book 'Wool to Weta' is required by him to clarify his educational vision.

If we want to develop New Zealand as a creative and entrepreneurial country then the place to start this creative culture is in schools. Sir Paul's advice was to 'look to where the talents lie' - what better place than in early education before students dreams are neglected by the desire by schools to prove traditional achievement.

It is in school where young kiwis should see their future - the school culture should focus on ensuring all students can stand tall. The potential  assets of New Zealand lie latent within the heads of our young - that many students leave alienated is our fault not theirs.

Good teachers don't 'teach' or 'train'; they create the conditions for students to take a growing responsibility for their own learning; they provide a stimulating and challenging learning environments; they provide authentic learning projects  to spark their curiosity; and they develop positive and respectful relationships so as to provide timely advice and feedback.

Good teacher build on their  students 'default' dispositions -  their  need to make meaning of their experiences. Schools ought to be about giving real creative opportunities for all students so as to tap into their student's interests;  'to excite kids and to get some passion about what they're learning', writes another contributor.

We need to ensure all students leave the school system with their passion and enthusiasm for learning intact - and with a desire to give things a go, to learn through their mistakes and to continually improve. Entrepreneurs.

Sir Richard Taylor (Weta Workshops)  when asked how do you find the talent you need replied to Sir Paul that it 'bubbles out' in the right environment .The attributes Sir Richards looks for  'in order of importance are, passion, enthusiasm, tenacity and the talent. Talent  of course is a very  important thing ...but without passion and without enthusiasm ,and of course the great New Zealand "stickability"  you have nothing'.

Sound like a good kindergarten class to me. Teachers in such environments are 'shaping young minds' - as another contributor to book says, 'you've got to get kids engaged at seven or eight years of age' - he was referring to science activities and continued 'if you don't it's hard to get them to pursue science type subjects at secondary school.' I would add start from birth and change how science is taught to complete the picture.

I think if David Shearer had outlined a more transformational model of education he would've begun the development of the beginning of a bold  new vision for our future prosperity.

David Skilling ( chief Executive of  New Zealand Institute)  believes we have the 'raw DNA to do it'. 'It is ecosystem you create around that'....'New Zealand has an existing leadership position by virtue of the talent we have or could have prospectively have'. He says 'we don't have a clear sense of what sort of economy we really want to build.'...'We haven't gone beyond the rhetoric'.

Hopefully this is the vision David Shearer has begun to articulate?

Whatever he needs to come up with a vision we can all buy into.

Education is central to such a vision but so far Shearer hasn't seen its true potential.

Sir Paul finishes his book  by saying 'talent is a reource' and that the 'transformative culture shift' will come when New Zealand is seen as the  'most beautiful , stimulating and exciting place to live and work.

That's a dream worth having.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Great blog to read by Tony Gurr

If you want a good read then take the time to read this blog posting by Tony Gurr - and also enjoy the graphics.

  Link : Allthingsunlearning

And read the learning skills students will need from the Committed Sardine blog

And another great article about 21stC fluencies from Ian Jukes of the Committed Sardine.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Another expert on teacher quality? Disruptive or dangerous?

Gabriel Makhlouf  - the new secretary to the Treasury, according to an article in the latest Listener, has 'pounced on teacher quality as the big idea that Treasury will push under his leadership'.

Three out of ten students leave school without NCEA level 2 ( sixth form) and this level , it is believed, is the level of education required to get on in life. So ensuring as many students achieve this level ( one of John Keys's new goals) is linked to the prosperity to the whole country.

The whole issue of failure Makhlouf, along with other right wing ideologues, is one of teacher quality. His answer is to sort out the good teachers from the bad and recognise and reward ( or punish) teachers through performance pay.

Makhlouf's advice to the government is to increase student teacher ratios and spend money saved on improving teacher quality. The issue of the relative unimportance of class size is based on research of John Hattie whose mega research ( of American education!!) indicated smaller class sizes have little effect on progress ; what really boosts achievement is how teachers teach, how they engage with pupils and how much detailed feedback students receive.

However, the Listener article states, that Makhlouf does not have the backing of Hattie on the alleged failure of the New Zealand system. In the forward to his book Hattie says, 'We have a nation of excellent teachers' as shown by New Zealand ranking in the top half dozen nations in reading, mathematics and science. If our scores rose higher, according to Treasury ' pretty powerful research' we could increase our GDP 3-15%.

No one would challenge Makhlouf's assertion that education is the key to economic success but how one defines achievement ( in a narrow literacy / numeracy sense, or the development of student's talent and gifts) needs debating. And as for Makhloufs enthusiasm for performance pay, once again, this depends on what is counted as achievement. Performance pay has had a checkered career in the US. Makhlouf , being an economist, believes it is all about collecting data to measure success. Simplistic stuff - important learning  attributes defy easy measurement.

Makhlouf's image of a good teacher is one , 'who stand up in front of a classrooms and inspire children to do great things'. Now I am all for inspiring teachers but  teachers who inspire students to do their own learning, not to transfer accepted wisdom to large classes of willing listeners.

I think Makhlouf's views on education reflects his British boarding school background. There is no doubt he is a bright individual but one wonders how in touch he is  with the reality of classrooms and modern educational thinking. I wonder if he is as keen for his own children to be taught in a state school in a class with a large numbers of students?

Evidently Makhlouf was appointed to provide some 'disruptive thinking' in the public service - which is to say cost cutting thinking along the lines of the current government.It is  interesting to note that another English import has been appointed Secretary of Education - her expertise is in establishing charter schools ( called academies in the UK). Not that the UK economy, or their educational results, are much to admire. As mentioned  New Zealand  has been at the top of  international surveys for decades.

The socio economic influence on achievement gap is downplayed  by thinkers such as Makhlouf. The Listener article  said that the one question that made Makhlouf uncomfortable was the question of inequality. The Listener article correctly states that  that the Treasury policy direction for the past thirty years, one of promoting market forces in the economy, has been a factor in creating  widening income inequalities and, in turn, the worrying achievement tail.

And Makhlouf is dismissive  of the thesis of the book 'The Spirit Level'  that societies with greater levels of income inequality have poorer social, crime and health outcomes. Such ideas he cavalierly dismisses as 'simplistic'.

Makhloud concludes his interview by saying, 'I'm passionate about organisations having a purpose' - the trouble is that his purpose might not be a positive one for the development of education in our country.

Maybe he should a take a trip to Finland - but that is a country, admired by the author of 'The Spirit Level',  which wouldn't welcome his market forces simplistic approaches to education.

Makhloud may be 'disruptive' but he is also destructive to the inclusive  values we hold ( or used to)  in New Zealand.

A link about teacher evaluation

Monday, March 19, 2012

WOMAD - World of Music Art and Dance

New Plymouth  hosts the 2012 World Festival of  Music Art and Dance.

WOMAD is an international festival of music, arts and dance bringing together artists from all over the world. The aim of WOMAD  is to celebrate the world many forms of music art and dance.

The festival features performance events, educational experiences, workshops all  to develop an awareness of the worth and potential of a multicultural society.

The first festival was held in the UK in 1982 and since then there have been more than 160 festivals held in 27 countries.

New Plymouth's Bowl of Brooklands and surrounds provides an ideal setting and featured five stages, craft and food stall.

Well over 10000 attend on each day and this year the weather was superb.

I attended with members of family and friends and enjoyed experience.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Exploring the immediate environment

Yesterday I was 'invited' to act as a parent helper for a team of three classes walking the Te Henui track which begins near their school  and finishes at End Beach New Plymouth.

It turned out to be a very pleasant day and it was fun just to be helper to watch the three teachers organise a very successful outing. Most of my own teaching career was as a science adviser assisting with such trips and at one point I was deputy principal of nearby school and the Te Henui was a favourite study area for my class. One of the teachers was a good friend of one of my ex pupils!

I was very impressed with the teachers organisation for the trip and the enthusiasm of the students.

The walk begins with a bush track winding along the side of the Te Henui River. The students had photos of plants to recognise and this provide popular activity. Digital cameras make such a simple worksheet  no trouble to prepare.

To be honest I don't think many of the students could recognise many plants but by the time they had reached their destination I am sure they could identify quite a few -  but most of all I think that they had become very aware of the range of native plants that grow along side the track.

Studying the plants was just one of the activities undertaken.The main aim of their walk was to discover the potential of the Te Henui as a tourist walk and to think of ways to make the walk more popular but there is no doubt that, later, the classes could follow up on their introduction to plant life. The walk included excellent areas of coastal rain forest as well areas of introduced trees planted by friends of the Te Henui  as part of ongoing Arbor day plantings. Another area of interest was an awareness of the range of weed plants that had colonised the bush areas.

To add  greater understanding of the plant life  Ms Valda Polletti, from the Friends of the Te Henui, provided insight into the development of the Te Henui and the ongoing problem of weed control. The students were very attentive and asked good questions -a study of garden escapee plants ( now seen as weeds) could be another future study?

During a morning tea break one of the teachers gave a potted history of the meaning of Te Henui. Students acted out a small battle scene of an unfortunate incident when local Maori were involved in repulsing invading Waikatos. Evidently a friendly local tribe  decided to join the defender in the night and were mistaken as the enemy. Te Henui means the big mistake! The Te Henui has a number of important Maori pa sites - once again another possible future study?

The  walk  finished at the river mouth where  pizzas were delivered for lunch.

After lunch, my assistance  no longer required, I walked back to school.

In the afternoon the students were to make Maori pas in the sand and to go roller skating at the rink before returning to school by bus.

The weather was fine  and we all enjoyed our day. It was great to see how involved the students were in learning outside their classrooms.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Garden plants gone wild!!

'Teaching', wrote Jerome Bruner, 'is the canny art of intellectual temptation.'   A creative teacher is aways on the alert for ideas to introduce to his or her class to 'temp' students into learning about things they may not other wise notice.

I  recently picked up a copy of the New Zealand Gardener (April 2008)  and an article on New Zealand's  20 worst weeds caught my attention. If I was a teacher  it would make an interesting inquiry/research/integrated study for my class.

The article set out to 'name and shame' 20 of the worst weeds in the nation - most of which were introduced originally as popular garden plants. That they have 'escaped' to now be seen as weeds is in itself is a good lesson to the students about unintended consequences.

I wonder if students were asked how many weeds of any sort  they could name? Their answers would show the 'prior' knowledge they would bring to such a study. I doubt if very many students could think of more than a few -even if they worked as  group to pool ideas!

These days strict bio security and  quarantine regulations  do their best to keep unwanted plants out of the country.  The students might think of how early weeds were brought to New Zealand. Some were garden plants that thrived too much in our climate while others were introduced by accident. Why does New Zealand have such strict bio security rules?

It is interesting to know that New Zealand natives can turn into weeds in other countries - the Karaka tree is seen as a weed plant in Hawaii as an aggressive coloniser suppressing the growth of Hawaiian natives. Manuka is another coloniser in Hawaii. Native flax is seen as an invasive plant on the Atlantic islands of St Helena Tristan da Cuna - it was originally introduced as a plant to make rope from. Even our Pohutakawa is a nuisance in South Africa and is seen as an alien!

Students only have to visit any waste area , or neglected garden, to see how weeds soon take over.

It would be worth thinking of a definition of a weed -a  very successful plant that has way of growing where it is not wanted. Research would show how individual weed plants are adapted for success. 75% of our weeds are escaped garden plants.

If I were a teacher I might bring a few weed plants along to school to research. In earlier days this was called a 'single plant study'. Students would observe, draw, measure and describe  and do their best find out common and scientific names. Most of all they would consider why the plants was successful - and how it ensured its survival.

The work of Darwin and early naturalists like Sir Joseph Banks could be introduced.  Using the Internet other famous naturalist, international and New Zealand  based, could also be researched.

Gardening parents could be called on to suggest weed plants - or help with identification.Digital or phone cameras are excellent for gathering images. Local councils,  conservation or garden centres could assist with identification and where  plants originated from.

All weed plants are highly successful in ensuring their spreading and surviving

Some of the plants mentioned in the article that had escaped form our gardens were:

Moth plant - a banned plant also known as kapok plant,  milk vine, cruel plant, or wild choko.
Montbretia  - bright orange flowers.
Blue morning glory - a smothering convulvulus.
Mexican daisy -  a pretty daisy flower that crowds out other plants.
Jasmine vine- grows rapidly up native  trees
Ivy - one of the worst threats to native bush
Honeysuckle - another smothering vine.
Aapanthus -  now regarded as an invasive weed in many areas.
Ginger plant -  -  from India  - wild ginger is another smothering plant.
Wandering Jew -from South America. Forms dense smothering mats.
Periwinkle  another scrambler .
Pampas grass ( not to be mistaken by smaller native toi  toi)
Arum Lily - also called death lily. Poisonous.
Old Man's Beard -  introduced clematis that smothers native bush.

Some students may like to research how to kill/ control plants but should not be involved in handling sprays.

The March 2007 magazine featured another 20 lawn and garden weeds including:

onion weed, dandelions, fennel, oxalis, lawn diasies, groundsel. plantains, fathen , thistles, buttercups, milkweed, cleavers,  dock,  grass weeds.

So if someone calls you a 'weed' - say thanks it's a compliment - a plant that can survive.

At the end of such a study it would be interesting to know how many plants students could name -and why such plants are so successful.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Do we have the wrong schools for an age based on connections? Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a well respected American business consultant - recently he posted a manifesto on the need for a rethink of the present  education system - one more suited to the past demands of a past industrial age. ( see previous blog).

I did enjoy reading Seth's manifesto because aligned so well with my thoughts -  coming from the business world made it even more pertinent. I have chosen some of Godin's ideas to share.

Seth sees schools reflecting the needs of a past factory based  industrial age - one that provides workers who were compliant, schools where productivity can be defined and measured.The development of such factory like schools, he believes,  is not a coincidence.

Now,  he writes, is the time for a new set of questions and demands  and to consider how schools need to change to develop the new dispositions young workers need in a connected age.

Current schools are based on fragmentation, transmission, conformity, control,  fear of failure and measurable standardised achievement.To make things worse, he writes, current schools actually stamp out the very attitudes needed and, worse still, contributeto the killing of the American economy.

In contrast the business world is moving into mass customisation to cater for the diverse needs of individual consumers. Business as usual is not an option for schools.

The flip side of such a approach is that passion for learning is destroyed. There is no room for the nonconformist whose learning requirements don't fit the system.

Seth believes we can create schools  where students can be taught to desire life long learning, to express themselves, to innovate and make personal learning commitments.

And just important, he writes, we can teach bravery and creativity and initiative - the very things our industrialized, competitive,  measurable orientated schools destroy.

What he is writing about is the creation of  a learning culture where school play a key role. The only way forward  is to ask new questions - to develop schools where dreams ( rather than compliance) can be realised.

The dreams we need are self reliant dreams base on what might be. Students who can learn how to learn, who can discover how to push themselves and are generous enough and honest enough to engage with the outside world to make those dreams happen.

Amplified by the web and the connection revolution, human beings are no longer rewarded most for work as compliant cogs. Instead our world is open to the work of passionate individuals, intent on carving their own paths.That's the new job of schools.

The connection revolution is upon us. It marks the end of the industrial age and the beginning of something new that is ultimately about connection.As the industrial age amplified work the connection age amplifies connections to one another, to data, to organisations and to disparate groups of like minded individuals.

And yet we isolate students instead of connecting them. Virtually all work done in school is done solo, Group projects are the exception when they should be the norm. Levering the power of the group is at the heart of how we are productive today. Schools relentlessly down plays group work.It breaks tasks down to measurable units.It does nothing to coordinate teaching across subjects.It often isolates teachers into compartments. Most of all it measure relentlessly at the individual level and reprocesses those who don't meet the performance standards.

This is 'scientific schooling' which use the same techniques as 'scientific management. It is a mistake to say scientific schooling doesn't work - it does work.It creates what we test! Unfortunately it is not possible to measure things we desperately need - creative individuals.

The role of the teachers in this connection age  is to inspire, to notice and amplify students gifts,  to intervene, and to raise up the motivated but stuck student; to jump start students who start a bit behind. Students need teachers not to deliver information so much as to sell kids on wanting to find out.

Failure is no longer an option -  it is is a choice made by individuals who choose not to learn.If you do not know what you need to know that fixable.But first you have to want to fix it. Creative teachers communicate emotion by engaging with their students - learning from the students in the process. Students need teachers who care about their students. Instead of punishing great teachers with precise instructions we need to give then the freedom to teach.Teachers needs to ensure students participate - to get them to learn for reasons that make sense to them.

All people who have excelled in life have made a commitment - have made choices. In contrast current schools ask students to fit in and do as they are told! School push for sameness and fear of standing out. Obedient students are turned out by obedient teachers - 'we are wired for this stuff'. And it is all too easy to enforce.

New schools teach students to lead - to tackle interesting problems -to step up and begin to start driving without a clear map; individuals who can draw a new map, who can solve problems that didn't even exist yesterday.

An interesting idea Godin writes about  is that it is the room, the environment, that needs to be 'smart' -  fully equipped with the available networks that join people and ideas with those in the room. Our task is to learn how to make 'smart rooms' - to build networks that make students smarter. Such 'smart' rooms encourage the personalisation of learning in contrast to current standardisation of industrial aged schools.

Successful dreamers need will power to succeed. After all willpower is the foundation of every dream. Dreams fade because we can't tolerate the short term pain necessary to achieve long term goals. The good news is that willpower can be taught by parents and schools.

Passion  Godin writes, that arrives from success. Do something well, get feedback on it and perhaps you'd like to do it again. Schools need to reward students wiling to be singled out - who learn to survive such moments - and be compelled to experience them again.

The future challenge is is develop students as creative, independent and innovative artists and scientists. It is passion that fuels dreams and creates changes - not compliance.

The industrial age demanded that we teach things for certain. Testable and measurable  things but the new civic, scientific and professional life is all about doubt. About questioning the status quo, questioning marketing or political claims, and, most of all, questioning what's next'. The obligation of the new school is to teach reasonable doubt - the evidence based doubt of scientist and the reason based doubt of the skilled debater.

The challenge of developing creative, independent and innovative artists is new to us. We can't use old tools. The essence of the connection revolution is that it rewards those who connect, stand out, and take what feels like a chance.

Godin believes that risk taking can be taught - all great mentors do exactly this but bravery in schools punished, not rewarded. Most people who became brave became brave in spite of schools.

All too often individuals learn to deny their talents -  if you deny your talents you are off the hook. If you do as is expected, and you fail, it isn't your fault. To amplify your talents is is to claim responsibility for what happens next. In our current schools it is easier to act like sheep - to simply play the game.

Jobs of the future ,Godin  writes, are in two categories: the downtrodden assemblers of cheap mass goods and the respected creators of the unexpected. Virtually every company is moving to places where there are cheaper workers. The other route is for the few who figure out how to be innovate and creative.

Sadly most such successful individuals have learnt their skills despite school, not because of it.The only way out is going to be mapped by those who able to dream.

Judgement, skill and attitude are the new replacements for obedience. Schools need to teach students to care enough about their dreams that they will care enough to develop the judgement, skill, and attitude to make them come true.

The current emphasis on competence is seen by Godin as a problem. Competent people have a reliable process for solving a particular set of problems. As such competent people are quite proud of the status quo and the success they get out of being competent. Competence is the enemy of change. Competent people resist change. They are not in a hurry to 'rock the boat'. Such people are propping up the industrial economy.

What is required are people who work at the edge of their competence - ones who break rules and find something no one else can. Fast flexible people are embraced in the networked era.

Students have to learn to be usefully wrong before they can be right. Learners need to be comfortable being wrong - to be with people who challenge each other to until 'right' is found.

Exposing students to the arts is vital so they can experience the passion of seeing progress, the hard work of practice, the joy and fear of public performance - these are critical skills of the future. Real learning happens when the student wants( insists) on acquiring a skill in order to accomplish a goal.If we can give students the foundations to dream, they'll figure out what is required to reach their goals and make a difference.

We need, Godin writes, more artists, more leaders and people passionate enough about their cause to speak up and go through the discomfort to accomplish something. Give students a chance to dream and, with the open access to resources, help them find exactly what she needs to know to go beyond competence.

Schools need to be different -once we start doing something different we'll start to get something different. We already have a surplus of unemployable workers. On the other hand creative schools lead to creative jobs developed by self starting, self reliant initiative taking individuals.

New dreams are required.When we let out students dream , encourage them to contribute, and push themselves to do work that matters, we open doors for them that will lead to places that are difficult for us to imagine.When we turn school into more than just a finishing school for a factory job we enable a new generation to achieve things that we were ill- prepared for.

Our job, Godin writes, is obvious, we need to get out of the way, shine a light, and empower a new generation to teach itself and to go further and faster than any generation ever has.

If school is worth the effort , and Godin thinks it is, we must put the effort into developing the attributes that matter and stop burning our resources in a futile attempt to create or reinforce mass compliance.

And we don't need permission from bureaucrats.

If enough of us do this schools will have no choice but to listen, emulate , and rush to catch up.