The principle of school choice is not as simple as upholding the rights of autonomy of families to make decisions about the education of their children. There are important considerations related to social justice, social cohesion, and so on. Private schools which are permitted to charge tuition are often able to generate large operating budgets, which can enable them to create better educational opportunities for the students there. This effectively allows wealthy parents to give their children an advantage over children from poor families, which undermines the principles of social justice. Charter schools with voucher systems, which allow families to effectively transfer their child's portion of public education funding from one school to the next, attempt to circumvent this issue by providing full public funding without any allowance for additional tuition fees. However, even in these cases, although financial inputs may be equal, there is still a social justice issue, because only the most active and engaged families (often those with the most educated parents) will do the research and leg work to make the best choices for their child's educationRead More
Classroom management refers to the way in which the classroom is structured, managed, and maintained by or with the teacher. It is often understood more narrowly in terms of the management and regulation of student behaviour, but optimally goes beyond this to include other aspects of classroom life, such as the organization and maintenance of the physical environment. Operationally, classroom management is usually carried out through a combination of the following elements: social norms; rules, and consequences for breaking rules; positive expectations; role modelling; good pedagogical relationships; positive peer pressure; routines and procedures for doing things; well designed learning activities that interest and engage students, and so on.Read More
One of the questions people sometimes ask about the Goodwood Deconstruction Blocks is, "What are they for?" I usually respond with something like, "Weren't you listening?" You see, it's part of a bigger conversation, and one which reveals some fairly entrenched assumptions about what play is s'posed to be. We've gotten into this mode where we expect everything to come with instructions, or challenges, or goals. We get uncomfortable with too much freedom. It's like being out in the wilderness! Lions and tigers and bears, right? I'm of the other mind. I'm deeply afraid of what will happen if we let a generation of kids grow up always being told what to do, always working towards someone else's preconceived goals.Read More
Aroundsquare takes play seriously. We see it as an inherent drive to explore and experiment, and as a consequence, we see it as a critical part of how kids learn how the world works. With this as a starting point, we can begin to differentiate the different kinds of play. Most of the toys out there these days are directive. They're designed to either entertain kids while they sit passively, or they tell the kids what to do. Aroundsquare's toys are about the opposite. They are tools. They are platforms for expression. There is no right or wrong way to play, and they leave a lot up to the imagination. This kind of decision-making is critical for the development of fully autonomous adults, able to think for themselves, take initiative, and get things done.Read More
It's easy to talk about why democracy education is important. It's easy to pull together content about democracy.. even stuff for kids. But it's a lot hard to conceptualize what the practice of democracy education should look like. Clearly it doesn't just involve sitting and listening to lectures about democracy. But then what? Building on some of the work I did last year on education for democracy, I have developed a new guidebook for educators on how to put some of the theory into practice, and how to support some of the content with authentic experiences doing democracy.
The guidebook is actually an application of something deeper that I'm working on.. Aroundsquare's social transformation model. I'm exploring how we might, if we really want it, undertake to make some meaningful changes in our societies, in ourRead More
The Basic Idea
In colloquial usage, Bloom's taxonomy refers to a classification scheme for educational objectives. While its original formulation was somewhat more comprehensive, it is characteristically represented as a hierarchy of six cognitive capacities: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Although seldomRead More
The hidden curriculum as a concept was a good starting point, but it's also a dead end. The value is in what it is looking at, and the constraint is how it does that. The hidden curriculum refers to the various things that students learn in school that are not part of the formal or explicit curricula. The idea is almost always presented in a negative or critical light, stressing the way in which tacit aspects of the schooling experience serve to condition students into accepting the status quo and internalizing hegemonic structures.
The important revelation in this idea is that there is a lot being learned in school which is not directly linked to teacher talk and textbooks. The hidden curriculum was called hidden because it is not always easy to spot. It exists somewhere beneath the surface of what we are used to paying attention to in classrooms. It relates to the assumptions weRead More
The Basic Idea
When we say play, we're actually talking about a whole variety of different things. The term encompasses activities which range from manual to mental, from tangible to imaginary, from closed to open, from individual to group, from competitive to cooperative, and from silent all the way to rowdy. Basically, play refers to the enjoyable and purposeful activities of babies, old folks, and everyone in between. Play is often centred around some kind of game, or toy, or scenario—but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a pretty open category.
Play is one of the most natural human behaviours. It is among the precious few innate human functions which are not immediately necessary for survival. Children are bornRead More
The Basic Concept
Curriculum design, at its essence, is social engineering. The concept of curriculum is used in a variety of different ways, but is generally understood to refer to the scope of what is taught and learned in an educational setting. Because this meaning is so broad, distinctions have been drawn, for instance, between the taught curriculum and the learned curriculum, or between the formal curriculum and the informal curriculum. Formal curricula provide the authorized encoding of what the educational institution deems to be important.
In most institutionalized educational settings, the curriculum is defined operationally by some kind of formal body of material, a course syllabus, a set of required readings, a document outlining standards and outcomes of the learning experience etc. WhateverRead More
The Basic Concept
At the fundamental level, school architecture is as simple as it sounds. The basic assumption, of course, is that we need some kind of building to house students. We should not take that for granted because there are plenty of examples around the world where that is not the case, either out of choice or necessity. In addition, online learning is becoming more common, which has the potential to transform the way we understand the concept of school just as it has done with our concept of community. But for the time being, we can acknowledge that most formal education takes place in a building of some sort.
School architecture has a strong functionalist element. First and foremost, we expect thatRead More
The Basic Concept
Student assessment is prominent in most education systems, and its prominence is only increasing in the age of market-based education development, comparative rankings under the guise of accountability, and "scientific" reform. But assessment is implemented in a huge variety of ways.
One fundamental distinction in assessment is that of intent. We can differentiate between assessment for learning, which is formative and ongoing, and assessment of learning, which is usually just summative. Generally, summative assessment will tend towards the formal, whereas formative assessment can include formal testing or be as informal as teacher observation. While most assessment is carried out by some kind of adult authority figure, we should also give consideration to students' involvement as co-assessors, throughRead More
The current preoccupation in educational reform seems to be with trying to do the same things we've always done, but better. I'm thrilled to have been invited to speak in a couple of sessions at the 18th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Mauritius, on the topic of education's role in sustainable development. Below is the text from the first session, a panel presentatation at the Stakeholders' Forum, looking at skills for the future: "Education for Tomorrow's World: For what are we preparing our young people?" My thesis was that we need to adjust our view of education's relationship to the future. We should not think about education as "preparation for" and try to come up with a list of knowledge and skills for the future (which are destined to be obsolete), but rather, to focus on education as the cultivation of more deeply held dispositions which will help students respond toRead More
Students' schooling experiences are some of the strongest forces in their development. These experiences result not only in the learning of explicit subject matter associated with formal curricula, but also in a great deal of informal or tacit learning (Goodlad, 2004; Snyder, 1970). This tacit learning is more a function of cultivation or socialization than teaching in the colloquial sense, and has been described as a hidden curriculum (Jackson, 1968). While such learning is seldom mentioned in explicit goals (Apple, 1990), it has a profound and lasting impact on students (Ghosh, 2008; Posner, 2003), as it helps to conditions students to certain patterns of behavior, manners of thinking, deeply held beliefs, and dispositions (Burbules, 2008; Snyder, 1970), and even their underlying assumptions about the world (Apple, 1990; Bowers, 1993). In short, “Children learn what they live” (Nolte, 1972).Read More