Friday, February 27, 2015

Education Readings- Personalized learning and 21stC learning.

By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

Four reasons to seriously worry about personalized learning
Alfie Kohn
Another gem from Alfie Kohn - a must read.
Personal learning entails working with each child to create projects of intellectual discovery that reflect his or her unique needs and interests. It requires the presence of a caring teacher who knows each child well.
Personalized learning entails adjusting the difficulty level of prefabricated skills-based exercises based on students test scores.   It requires the purchase of software from one of those companies that can afford full-page ads in Education Week.

Steve Hargadon: Escaping the Education Matrix
What are most kids getting out of 12 years of school?he asks. The honest answer is theyre learning how to follow, and that was the original intent. Public schools were based on the belief that what was needed was a small group of elites who would make the decisions for the country, and many more who would simply follow their directions” — hence a system that produces tremendous intellectual and commercial dependency.

How Learning Artistic Skills Alters the Brain
The art students specifically increased "their ability to think divergently, model systems and
processes, and use imagery," the researchers write. The results suggests that, in a matter of a few months, "prefrontal white matter reorganizes as (art students) become more able to think creatively.”’

The Corruption of Learning
The biggest challenge facing schools is that the modern world amplifies our ability to learn in the classic sense, and increasingly renders the official, school based theory of learning pointless and
Until school begins!
oppressive. While our kids
love of learning can flourish outside of school, its extinguished inside of school as we take away agency, passion, connection, audience, authenticity, and more.

Three lessons from the science of how to teach writing.
So much for teaching by standards
Traditional grammar instruction isnt effective. Period. Six studies with children in grades three to seven showed that writing quality actually deteriorated when kids were taught grammar. That is, graders scored the essays of students whod been taught traditional grammar lower than those of students who had not received the lessons.

What Comes First: the Curriculum or the Technology?
Its important to never force fit technology if its not supplementing whats already happening in the classroom or a teachers goals for the school year, the addition will become more of a barrier to learning than a catalyst.

Why Slowing Down Stimuli to Real Time Helps a Childs Brain
Suggest you read this and reflect.
The pacing of all programs, both adult and child, has sped up considerably. Part of the reason for that is that the more rapidly sequenced the scenes, the more distracting it is. Its taxing to the brain to process things that happen so fast even though were capable of doing it. And theres emerging science now in older children that watching such fast-paced programs diminishes what we call executive functionimmediately afterwards. It tires the mind out and makes it not function as well immediately after viewing it.

False Choices and how to Avoid Them
This came to me from Phil Cullen who found it on an Alfie Kohn tweet
The lesson "accept your children for who they are rather than for who you want them to be" is clear. Loving your kids for who they are is the only real choice.

Is There School Today?
Kindergarten, literally a "children's garden" was traditionally a place focused on playing, singing, and otherwise imagineering. Over the past 20 years, a myopic focus on reading and math has turned the children's garden into a factory, a place where unique beings go for standardization, followed by 12 more years of it. This standardized approach to learning supposedly prepares them for placement in an economy that no longer exists.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Welcome to Concept to Classroom!
Bruces comment: For teachers who want some practical knowledge about :Constructivist
This is a wonderful and practical resource. Take a look!! And free.
Teaching,Multiple Intelligences,Cooperative and Collaborative Learning, Inquiry Learning, Interdisciplinary Learning, Assessment and Evaluation and Web Based Learning,  and practical ways to implement them this is the link for you. Highly recommended.
The site features a series of FREE, self-paced workshops covering a wide variety of hot topics in education. Some of the workshops are based in theory, some are based in methodology - but all of the workshops include plenty of tips and strategies for making classrooms work.

16 Ways Your Brain Is Sabotaging Your Effort To Learn
The human brain is our best friend, and our worst enemy, and unless we keep one eye peeled, it can hijack our learning completely.
In this article Id like to examine some of the trapsthe brain sets for us during the course of our academic careers, and what we can do to avoid them.

Welcome back to a new year of learning!
Discovery Time is the perfect opportunity to excite childrens curiosity, discover their strengths and stand  back and observe how they work together.  Keep your Key Competenciesfocussed on managing selfand relating to othersi.e. looking after equipment, sharing, taking turns, cleaning up when you have finished, trying something new, working with someone you dont know…”

Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching - a New Zealand perspective
Bruces comment: The challenge of developing a 21st C education system. Some NZ thinking about personalising learning. Well worth the read.
It is widely argued that current educational systems, structures and practices are not sufficient to address and support learning needs for all students in the 21st century. Changes are needed, but what kinds of change, and for what reasons? This research project draws together findings from new data and more than 10 years of research on current practice and futures-thinking in education.

Personalisation and Digital Technologies
Bruces comment: Download this document for a UK view of personalising education.
The logic of education systems should be reversed so that it is the system that conforms to the learner, rather than the learner to the system. This is the essence of personalisation. It demands a system capable of offering bespoke support for each individual that recognises and builds upon their diverse strengths, interests, abilities and needs in order to foster engaged and independent learners able to reach their full potential.

Personalising learning what does it mean?
Not to be outdone, heres Bruces take on personalised learning. Bruce mentions a book called ‘In the Early World’ by Elwyn Richardson. All teachers should have this in their library,
Once child centredwas commonly heard phrase but it  now seems dated . Student centredseems more relevant is this personalised learning? If students are helped individually some might call this personalised but , if it is moving through a pre-determined curriculum at the students pace this is simply a more an extreme form of ability grouping than personalising learning.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Personalising learning – what does it mean? How does it relate to Modern Learning Environments?

A stimulating environment
Once ‘child centred’ was commonly heard phrase but it  now seems dated . ‘Student centred’ seems more relevant –is this personalised learning? If students are helped individually some might call this personalised but , if it is moving through a pre-determined curriculum at the students pace this is simply a more an extreme form of ability grouping than personalising learning.

Even the development of ‘modern learning environments’ (flexibleschool structures that allow groups of teachers and students to collaboratewith the aid of modern technology - MLEs) do not automatically result inpersonalised learning. A look at a range of small videos illustrating the advantages of such environments seem to feature no real evidence of in depth inquiry work reminding me of the failure of the open plan schools of the 70s. They however, with the appropriate pedagogy, obviously have great potential.
Valuing kids' theories

Personalised learning is about accepting students for whothey are, what they bring with them and helping them extend and deepen theirinnate abilities.  If this were the case one ought to be more impressed with the quality thinking and presentation of student work across the curriculum to be seen rather than the architecture and the availability of modern information technology. Unfortunately it is far too easy to be impressed with what is superficially to be seen – one really has to look hard at what students are achieving and how their work is showing improvement - all too often the Emperor has no clothes.

John Holt said it best when asked what would  be the one thing that would improve schools(1970) replied, ‘It  would be to let every would 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, and as much help as he Asked for, to decide what it is he is to learn, when he is to learn it, how he is to learn it, and how well he is learning it .It would be to make our schools….a resource for free and independent learning..’

'The young child', Holt writes, 'is continually building what I  like to call a mental model of the world, the universe and then checking it against reality as it presents to him, and then tearing it down and rebuilding it as necessary..' We are Holt continues, 'obliged to live out our lives thinking, acting, judging on the basis of the most fragmentary ,uncertain  and temporary information.' In this respect Holt is expressing a constructivist model of learning - the teachers role is to assist the learners clarify their ideas not replacing them with imposed learning objectives.  Ideally the teacher works alongside the learner in a co-constructivist style respecting each learners  unique thinking. It is evidence  of such thinking that should be seen in  creative classrooms. It is this uniqueness  and individuality that is missing in modern classrooms

The best example available is to be found in the book ‘In theEarly World’ written by pioneer New Zealand teacher Elwyn Richardson in the 1960s. Thankfully is has recently been reprinted by the
NZCER. This book describes one teacher’s effort to develop a curriculum based on the personal concerns, interests of his students and through exploring their immediate environment. Elwyn developed his classroom as a community of scientist and artists – a community focused on developing the individuality and creativity of each learner.

If you were to visit a personalised learning environment (modern learning environment or not) you ought to see on the wails, in the student books, or in their electronic portfolios examples of the unique ‘voice’ of each learner – and it would be obvious how individual students had been helped to deepen their understandings. The teacher’s role in creating the conditions for individual creativity is as important as ever.

In such a creative environment teachers are concerned with the student’s experience – what they bring to any learning situation and what unique talents and interests that can be taken advantage of, amplified, or uncovered. This is not to say that the curriculum is to be totally determined by the students. Teachers need to provide learning opportunities that studentswill want to find out more about. As educationalist Jerome Bruner has written, ‘teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation’. Such a learning environment might feature provocative displays (focussing on, or integrating Learning Areas) to ‘attract’ student’s curiosity. By such means the ‘emergent’ curriculum will expose students to the various strands of the official curriculum.

Teachers in such environments need to appreciate that all students have an innate desire to make meaning of their experiences and, by capitalising on this innate need, all students can develop and extend their learning strategies. Whatever the students choose to do provide opportunities for teachers to capitalise on, to strengthen students’ insight, to develop greater
Goethe - a most important quote about creativity
awareness, to deepen their understanding, and to encourage imagination and, in the process ensure their students learn to value the need for perseverance and effort required if their students are to improve on their personal best.

Teachers, if they are to help all students continually challenge their personal best, need to have the ‘artistry’ to know when to intervene and when to leave students to work on their own. Teachers act, as guides, instructors if required, or merely involved as an interested adult. To do this requires teachers to become expert observers of their students so they can help individuals (or small groups) as needed. They will also have to negotiate with their students work patterns and organisations to provide the space and time so students are able to achieve what they have agreed to do. This is best done at the beginning of the day and planning for tomorrow during an end of day reflective time. In such an environment students will need to appreciate that there will also be times when choices are limited.

It is through the qualities of an artist a scientist,  a writer or a craftsman that students learn the discipline involved in any learning.

Perhaps the most noticeable features of a truly personalisedlearning environment is the absence of ability group in such areas as readingand maths. This is not to suggest such areas are unimportant but more that they need to be ‘reframed’ as ‘foundation skills’ necessary for students to complete their individual, or group, inquiry tasks. Language and maths can also be transformed in research tasks as well as being integrated as and when needed. Reading to learn and Information technology, in this respect, is also another equally important ‘foundation skill’.
Importance of real experinces
learning to read go hand in hand.

Personalised learning places real responsibility on students for their own learning.

How to develop such a personalised environment needs to be seen as an evolving process – the important thing is to keep the ‘end in mind’ of how the class will look in term four. As confidence of both teachers and students grow set routines can be relaxed passing more responsibility over to the students to plan their own tasks. As success is achieved, and as students take more self-responsibility, the vision of personalised learning will be realised.

To help every learner achieve their personal best in this age of fast information creative teachers have found that it is important  to encourage students to ‘slow down the pace’ of their work so as to develop a sense of craftsmanship allowing, in the process, time for teachers to come
Value student 'voice'.
alongside learners to assist those in need. ‘Slowing the pace of work’ also encourages students to develop appreciate the need for perseverance and effort to counteract the need to finish first which all too often  spoils so much of students work.

Such a quality personalised learning approach could well be the basis of learning in a flexible ‘modern learning environment’ but can equally be found in a single classroom.

The concern of a personalised learning is with the experience of each individual learner and content, while still important, is to be seen as a means to the end of each students develop a positive learning identity; it is also about developing the individuals sense of control of his, or her, own learning adventure - for them not only to take responsibility for their lifelong learning but also for the welfare of others in their learning community.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Education Readings - John Dewey/ Charter Schools/ PISA/ Educational technology

By Allan Alach

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

This weeks homework!

The Pupil in the Middle of Your Eye
This article by former Queensland Director of Primary Education Phil Cullen is a must read for all teachers.
Sosince learning is institutionalised in schools, pupils need to know why they are at school and
what sort of relationship is intended during the schooling efforts. Too often do we overlook this. Children believe that they go to school only because someone says that they have to go. The excitement of learning has been understated. We teach in the schools because we are more expert at the teaching act than other people in the community and we want to honour the contract of helping children to learn how to learn.

Chiles Charter School Experiment is Almost Over
This week Chile ended the education sector experiment started in the 1980s by dictator Pinochet that had led to, by 2014, around 60% of the nations schools becoming charter schools. Like Thatcher and Reagan, Pinochet was a devotee of Milton Friedmans free market ideology (one that the National Party of New Zealand follows, too), and deregulating schools is key to that ideology.

What Do We Really Mean When We Say Personalized Learning?
Good points made here - what teachers mean by personalized learning is different from what Pearson Group, et al, mean.
‘“We often say we want creativity and innovation personalization but every mechanism we use to measure it is through control and compliance,Laufenberg said. Those things never come together as long as that is the overriding moment.She cautions educators who may be excited about the progressive educational implications for personalized learningto make sure everyone they work with is on the same page about what that phrase means.

Home readers for school kids often wasted learning opportunity, expert warns
Food for thought
Lecturer in literacy education at the University of Canberra Ryan Spencer told 666 ABC Canberra the home reader routine was a wasted learning opportunity if the student was disengaged.
"If they don't have interest or excitement, or if there's no motivation to read that book, it just becomes an onerous task," he said.
"Reluctant readers take [their readers] home because they have to and the teacher has chosen it.
"But by the time they get home, the last thing they want to do is read this book that they've already read at school that day.”’

Ten things you need to know about international assessments
Lots of information here, with this quote being very pertinent.
These assessments were never intended to line up and rank nations against each other like baseball standings.
Thats right. The statisticians and psychometricians who dreamed up these assessments 50 years ago stated explicitly that the question of whether the children of country X [are] better educated that those of country Ywas a false questiondue to the innumerable social, cultural, and economic differences among nations. But, hey, thats just a detail.

One-Size-Fits-All Testing Isn't What Our Kids Need To Succeed
The message is slowly disseminating.
What are the skill sets that we as a society see as necessary for the future success of our children? What kind of future do we want to be shaping? Do we want well-rounded children who grow up with exposure to the arts, culture, and music? Or do we want over-tested, over-stressed children who see only the importance of achieving academic growth? Are we looking to provide our children with the skills that are necessary to instill a sense of morals, coping skills, and human compassion? Or do we continue to narrow down the focus of academics to what can be measured on a standardized test, and use that as a predictor for future success?

The Heavy Hitters Behind a Fund Focused on K-12 Blended Learning
For all you ……….. (insert descriptor of choice) who are buying into the propaganda about blended learning, I suggest you read this blog by Susan Ohanian to see who is behind it.
Surprise. Surprise. Look at who's behind Blended Learning."Blended" is, of course, a diversionary term to distract from the fact that this system of computer-directed instruction should actually be termed, at best, teacher-lite--and, at worst, teacher dumped.

Why technology will never replace teachers
Heres a gem from Steve Wheeler:
When children act unexpectedly, or demand support that requires intuition, only a human teacher who knows that child can support them effectively. Comparatively, the human brain is highly complex, while the computer is a very simple tool. We are only just beginning to understand some aspects of the human brain, whereas computers are fully understandable, because they have been designed by human ingenuity.

You have made us the enemy. This is personal.
Seven New York State teachers write an open letter to Governor Cuomo.
We are teachers. We have given our hearts and souls to this noble profession. We have pursued intellectual rigor. We have fed students who were hungry. We have celebrated at student weddings and wept at student funerals. Education is our life. For this, you have made us the enemy. This is personal.

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Keeping alive the spirit of John Dewey
Bruces latest blog article which includes this sobering comment: The student centred ideas of John Dewey have, it seems, all been lost in the country of his birth. Thats a tragic state of affairs.
John Dewey believed that the need to learn, to make sense of ones experience was the inborn innate way humans learn - until they reach formal schooling. One of his key phrases was that 'children are people, they grow into tomorrow only as they live today'. Culture counts - for better or worse.

Using Old Tech (Not Edtech) to Teach Thinking Skills
Bruces comment: Making full use of old techthinking skills with modern technology
I've viewed classroom technology as the means to sharing knowledge, in addition to acquiring or manipulating it. Yet I find that not only has the computer itself become something of a distraction, but the students aren't making enough use of the techs "share-ability" -- that is, they struggle to work effectively together on it, and to have their ideas cohere in an intelligible way. It occurred to me that co-editing in a Google Doc is a skill that itself needs to be taught and practiced before it can become effective in the classroom.

Perspectives / Five Myths About School Improvement
Bruces comment: Many schools subscribe to the  ASCD magazine Educational Leadership this latest editorial will give you a taste. There are some good links to explore.
Indeed, even those who advocate disparate visions about "what works" most likely would concur that there is no panacea that will help all schools all the time. David Berliner and Gene Glass tell why contexts matter in the social sciences. They describe the problems with replicability, transfer, and fading effects of single reforms, but they do not conclude that the reform process is a waste of time.

How We Make Progress
Bruces comment: Too much of our teaching is based on linear thinking but it seems our learning is not as simple. Well worth the read. I have aways thought that learning was spiral shaped  , ever upwards,  but at times regressing. Another great read from Anne Murphy.

This is not an orderly ascension up an ever-rising set of steps. Its something more like waves on a beach, where one wave overtakes another and then pulls back, overtaken in turn by another advancing and then receding wave. Overlapping wavesis, in fact, the name of a theory of intellectual development proposed by Robert Siegler, a professor of cognitive psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.

From Bruce's oldies but goodiesfile:

Dysfunctional Schools
Bruces observations on Kirsten Olsens book 'Wounded by School-recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing up to the Old School Culture
I don't think teachers like to face up to the fact that schooling actually harms many of their students but it is clear , reading Kirsten's Olsen book, it does. Obviously this harming is not done intentionally but it is all too easy to blame failure on dysfunctional students. Certainly too few students leave school with their joy of learning alive and their unique gifts and talents strengthened - not even the so called successful students.

On Knowing - Jerome Bruner
Bruces comment: My favourite quote from Bruner is teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation.Today we  have those (usually politicians) who wish to test for learning ignoring, according to Bruner, that 'it is difficult to catch and record, no less understand, the swift flight of man's mind operating at its best.The themes Jerome Bruner covers in his book concern the process of knowing, how knowing is shaped and how it in turn gives form to language science, literature and art. The symbolism of the left hand is that of the dreamer - the right that of the practical doer.The areas of hunches and intuition, Bruner writes, has been all too often overwhelmed by an 'imposed fetish of objectivity’…’"

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Keeping alive the spirit of John Dewey -enuf of Henry Ford!

The student centred ideas of John Dewey have, it seems ,all  but been lost in the country of his birth - the USA, except for the few schools who still follow a progressive view of education. 

(Follow this link to check out Dewey's beliefs about education)

Maybe it is time to return to Dewey to  if we are to escape the domination of those outside schooling who currently determine education. In New Zealand the imposition of National Standards is a case in point along with the move to obsessive testing and data to compare schools..

All more to do with Henry Ford
Develop talents of all

Ability grouping, streaming and a narrow focus on literacy and numeracy are  all part of the problem no matter how friendly and colourful primary classrooms are.

Finding a student centred school is difficult in  New Zealand - ironic as  a few decades ago  primary education was well on the way to being a world leader.  Even the Modern Learning Environments ( MLE) -   a reincarnation of the open plan schools of the 70s are more about architectural features and wireless environments than pedagogy. 'Temples of vacuity' as Kelvin Smythe calls them. ICT is being seen as the ultimate 'silver bullet' but as one writer summed up the situation 'pedagogy before i-pads'.

The above begs the question what is a student centred philosophy - or holistic learning as some refer to it?

Purpose or pedagogy first

Schools who follow the Emilia Reggio approach will know but this approach is limited to early education centres. Schools that follow James Beane's  democratic education ideas ( mainly middle schools ) will also have a good idea. Or secondary schools that are utilizing the ideas of the the Big Picture Company.

Sadly you will find student centred learning  most often used by teachers working with students who have given up on formal traditional schooling. And of course home-schoolers.  Such people have realized the transformation power of tapping students interests.

 John Holt, a leading progressive educator of the 60/70s ,finally gave up on schools ever changing but his early books are still as relevant as ever. Sir Ken Robinson is leading the charge to transform schools today as are people like Guy Claxton whose book 'What's the Point of School' sums up the situation.  New Zealand educator  David Hood's book is even more blunt 'Our Secondary Schools Don't Work Anymore'.

There are no shortage of ideas and educators to inspire transformation but schools are slow to face up to the challenges of the 21st C . The most inspirational book is In the Early World' written in the 60s by pioneer New Zealand educator Elwyn Richardson who saw his classroom as a 'community of scientists and artists' exploring the environment  and issues that concerned them.
Elwyn Richardson

And today we have the move towards personalized learning  an antidote to the  industrial aged standardized learning that  has infected our schooling. A phrase that covers tailor made student centred learning  but so far I do not know of a school that makes this central to all they do.

So like John Holt I am on the verge of giving up on schools ever changing. Maybe modern information technology will make schools obsolete - that is unless they change.

John Dewey believed that the need to learn, to make sense of ones experience, was the inborn innate way humans learn - until they reach formal schooling. One of his key phrases was that 'children are people, they grow into tomorrow only as they live today'. Culture counts - for better or worse.

To create a learning culture teachers need to provide the widest range of experiences for students to respond to. This does not leave determining learning over to the students ( this was a failure of early progressive movements).  The teachers is still possibly the most important influence in any learning environment.  Jerome Bruner ( a  recent follower of Dewey ) has written 'teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation'.   Another source of ideas is David Perkins

Another tenant of progressive learning is that teachers should look carefully at the individual child as he/she is, and not as they would like him, or her, to be, or as they think he/she should be at a certain age.
Value student's ideas
Teachers need to value the ideas, questions and concerns students bring with them  and not impose their planned curriculum on them. 

Valuing student voice and identity as learners are central.

Learning through experience is an active process. Students bring with them their prior ideas, questions and naive theories and teachers need to be aware of these. In this respect young learners are true scientists working at the 'edge of their competence' ( Bruner).  Students are constantly reaching out for understanding of what interests them and in the process their ideas change.If teachers ignore student ideas, or push them to far, students 'turn off' learning. Far too easily done.

We had in New Zealand some of the best research is this approach to learning  - the Learning in  Science Project based on constructivist learning. The work of Lev Vygotsky introduced the idea of co-contructivism - his phrase 'what a learner can do with help today he can do by himself tomorrow' emphasizing the role of teachers and others in the learning process.

The task is to build on the individual students way of learning in the process providing them with further option in future situations.

Problem solving

Progressive education is about learning through practical problem solving, essentially using scientific thinking or ,in today's terms, inquiry, or problem based  learning. Scientific thinking however is not as straight forward as is often thought  - it is more 'enlightened trial an error'. True learners/scientists are excited about not knowing - it is this that drives them to explore further.

Observing is a essential element in learning. Encouraging students to closely observe what is happening, in any learning area, is all too often overlooked. Students are all too often encouraged to rush through learning and not given time to notice what is really happening; they look but do not see. Slowing the pace of work to encourage a reflective mindset pays off.

In any learning situation it is the student's questions that are most significant and as students dig into what has attracted them their questions deepen.  Teachers need to learn the follow the the lines
What questions and concern do student's have
of inquiry arising out of student's questions helping students refine their idea and work out ways to solve their problems;'learning conversation'. Some call this an 'emergent' curriculum

At this point even the friendliest primary schools fall short with their current obsession on formulaic predetermined  teaching intentions -WALTS, successes criteria and the like let alone their use of ability grouping and their focus on literacy and numeracy at the expense of other equally important areas of learning..

As students become involved in their inquiry studies they will want to express  and share their ideas providing further opportunities for teacher to assist and suggest . Ideas can be expressed scientifically and also , if appropriate, creatively. - another area for teachers to introduce ideas and media for  students to choose  from. By such means students develop informative displays, demonstrations and exhibitions, and  in the process build up  portfolios of their achievements providing teachers ( and themselves) the best means to assess their progress.

In such an approach  literacy  and numeracy are integrated as required. Such areas are still as important as ever but need to be 'reframed' so as to contribute to inquiry studies - or become inquiry studies in themselves. They need to be seen ( along with modern information technology) as
An opportunity
'foundation skills'  - a means to an end.

The range of experiences covered will ( with teachers expertise) cover the strands of a modern curriculum. Every experience will provide opportunities to introduce a range of relevant curriculum areas and will also provide opportunities for students to makes use of, or develop, individual talents.

The New Zealand Curriculum provides inspiration for such progressive approaches with its emphasis on developing students as 'life long learners' able to 'seek, use and create their own knowledge' and  with the need for students to develop the attitudes and competencies  necessary to be able to thrive  in the challenges  ahead of them.

Unfortunately  this curriculum has been somewhat sidelined by the pressure to introduce National Standards, a growing emphasis on standardized assessment, and the traditional emphasis on literacy and numeracy above real inquiry.  At the secondary level assessment requirements and fragmented subject teaching provide a real challenge for teachers.

That their are still educators doing their best, against overwhelming odds, shows all is not lost.

To sum up;

Schools need to be seen as providing learning opportunities/experiences to challenge  ('attract')students

Students learn best through solving  open ended practical problems appreciating that the problems of greatest significance are those the
How many ways can you explore abridge
learners 'own'
. Learning how to learn - an innate need - is the ultimate result of positive learning. It is important to do fewer things well to encourage in depth learning.

As far as knowledge is concerned  students will call on traditional subject areas as required - and also modern information technology. Literacy and numeracy need to be 'reframed' so as to contribute to in depth learning

Students as part of their exploration have a need to communicate their finding both scientifically and creatively. This provides the best way to assess progress.

The teachers role is to: create a learning culture ( a culture of inquiry); to provide 'tempting' experiences; to build on
what students bring with them; and  do everything to assist individual students gain the skills to achieve personal success.

Teachers need to create  conditions for all students to engage in productive learning and as part of this to  negotiate benign organisational structures to contribute to a positive learning culture. 

The move  from traditional or formal situations needs to be seen as an organic process - one that gains success through the success of students. How to 'tempt' students, particularly those that hove been 'turned off' learning, will become a key challenge for educators at all levels. Making changes gradually but with keeping 'the end in mind' will be good advice.

Teaching in such a learning environment will be more of an art than the science ( unless it is 'enlightened trial and error') as it is often portrayed. 

The approach schools currently use to develop exhibits for Science, Maths and Technology fairs provide some inspiration, as do the various sports and art performances that most school are involved in.

Personalisation of learning may yet be on the horizon; John Dewey's philosophy might  yet replace Henry Ford standardization

Let's hope so.