Book Considerations via @tim_jumpclarke: @EducatingRuby by @GuyClaxton & @LucasLearn

Reflections from the Educating Ruby book

A thought-provoking and empassioned book from Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas about what our children really need to learn. I have enjoyed having time over this summer holiday to read and consider the points they make, some of which follow on from their ideas in books such as “The Learning Powered School”. There is very little that anyone working with children in education would disagree with, but they strongly make the point about the continued need for strong voices in the profession to make sure views and evidence are heard by those in the DfE.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Tim Clarke and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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Below are a series of quotes from the book. I have tried to be strict and limit myself, but found it extremely difficult. As with other posts about books I have read, I would recommend reading the book for yourself to gain the full perspective. 

“The obsession with measuring our schools through testing their pupils means that too many children are on a relentless treadmill which is self-defeating…they need an education with all its richness, with teachers who bring learning alive and supported by parents who play their full part.” (Mick Waters)

“We can have happy, positive young people with skills, attitudes and ‘habits of mind’; who are knowledgeable and capable of passing examinations” (Sue Williamson)

Schools should foster a love of learning and enquiry, a thirst to discover and uncover, a sense of fun and creativity, whether learning about the past or developing ideas for the future.

Educations system is “too much a conveyor belt – it moves children along at a certain pace, but does not deal well with individual needs.” (CBIs First Steps)

It is perfectly possible for schools to systematically cultivate the habits of mind that enable young people to face all kinds of difficulty and uncertainty calmly, confidently and creatively.

To thrive in the 21st century…learn how to be tenacious and resourceful, imaginative and logical, self-disciplined and self-aware, collaborative and inquisitive.

The effect of parental engagement over a student’s school career is equivalent to adding an extra 2 to 3 years to that student’s education.” (John Hattie)

A new future of demanding project work and self-expression, collaboration and problem-solving, continuous assessment and portfolios.

Romantics: innate goodness of children, allow them to express themselves and discover their own talents and interests.

Traditionalists: lots of chalk and talk, strong discipline, conventional exams and teachers as respected sources of culturally important tried and tested factual knowledge.

Mods: (modest or moderate): that education is complex and hard to define, quick fixes and appeals to nostalgia won’t work, tinker and explore, think carefully, debate respectfully, experiment slowly and review honestly.

Give learners accurate specific feedback on inns they have done. We learn most when we are pushing ourselves, not merely staying within our comfort zone.

Both understanding and skill grow precisely by working at the limit of what you currently can do or know.

If you create fear in a culture, people will do what the people above them tell them to do – nothing else.

Conversations about education abound with false dichotomies and absolutist views, that must be transcended

If school is meant to offer young people a powerful preparation for a successful life (and not just for university), why isn’t it more like real life?

Real world learning is often collaborative…the hallmark of success is usually practical…is about getting things done…we learn because we want to or need to…often accomplished with a whole array of tools and resources…is often physical.

The broader relevance and utility of what you are learning has to be discovered.

They discuss the crucial importance of the 7 Cs, which they believe are what children really need to learn:

Confidence: developing and using a growth mindset and being a can-do person.

Curiosity: at the heart of all learning, noticing things, reading avidly and asking good questions.

Collaboration: listen empathetically, show kindness and give / receive feedback well. Feedback is one of the most effective mean by which we learn and grow.

Communication: learning how to listen to and offer opinions and being able to talk about feelings.

Creativity: having new ideas, having good ideas, dealing with uncertainty through tolerating feelings of confusion or inadequacy, and being able to make links and see patterns.

Commitment: trying many things to find their true passion.

Craftsmanship: showing pride, learning from mistakes, practising the hard bits

At Google intelligence means being able to think, question and learn in the face of unprecedented problems for which there are no right answers. To grapple with the future.

Education is a vision of what it is our children will need if they are going to flourish in the world as we predict it will be…What knowledge and skills, attitudes and values will stand them in good stead as they embark on a life in a globalised and digitalised future?

School, on the other hand, is a particular system that societies have invented for ‘doing education’.

Self-regulation: concentrate despite distractions, stay engaged, short term sacrifices for long term gains, deal with frustrations and disappointments.

Good person: kind, friendly, generous, tolerant, empathetic, forgiving, trustworthy, honest, moral courage and integrity.

Good learner: knowledge critics, ready willing and able to struggle and persist, give feedback and take criticism.

Children need interesting, engaging and important things to learn about. But there is more to school than knowledge. Attitudes and beliefs will be formed there that will influence, for good or ill, the rest of young people’s lives.

The purpose of school is to give people the tools and skills to think for themselves, and to engage with the people and ideas around them.

EYFS: serious play.

KS1: growth mindsets for success and collaborative learning.

KS2: projects driven by interest.

KS3: real world enquiries & possible selves.

KS4: sustained engagement with bodies of knowledge & research.

KS5: deep scholarship & extended making.

Learners using their maths and English in meaningful ways that deepen their competence.

Knowledge deepens and broadens at the same time as the capacities to think, learn and be creative are being cultivated.

In too many lessons learners comply but aren’t encouraged to enjoy the struggle of learning which assures progress and engagement. Learners are not always required to think sufficiently for themselves. Teachers do too much of the thinking for them.

Expansive Education Network: expand the goals of education beyond traditional success criteria; expand young people’s capacity to deal with a lifetime of tricky things; expand their compass beyond the school gates.

“When teachers become learners again their teaching improves” (John Hattie)

We need to facilitate systematically the professional development and lifelong learning of existing teachers.

Maximise the life chances of all young people by making them work-ready, life-ready and ready for further learning.

Mastery is born of effort, patience an d a tolerance for frustration.

OECD Dimensions and challenges for a 21st century curriculum:

Knowledge: Balance conceptual and practical and connect the content to real-world relevance.

Skills: High-order skills such as: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.

Character: Nurturing behaviours for a changing and challenging world: adaptability, persistence, resilience, integrity, justice and empathy.

Meta-layer: Learning how to learn, interdisciplinary and systems thinking.

“The principal goal of education…creating people…who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify.” (Jean Piaget)

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About Tim Jump Clarke 20 Articles
HT at Cornerstone CE Primary (Hampshire).

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