Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Reading the Little Prince gave me permission to be childish again. As a young adult it broke me out of the urgent teenage years of self importance and over-philosophising.
To be honest, I can't remember the story too well - I had two copies one in English and one in French, but I lost my English copy. I do remember the point made at the start of the book that children are taught out of drawing - out of being creative by self-imprtant adults - the picture of the hat (or not the hat as the author points out) is a graphic illustration of adults 'not getting it'.
It's a point that Sir Ken Robinson echoes in his well known TED talk of a couple of years ago. Click here, if you haven't seen it.
It's also something I reflect on when I think of my own children's creativity. When my daughter was three she was painting pictures like this one. I predicted that someone at her school would teach her out of painting what she sees and start teaching how to draw an outline. Now I'm no expect on the development of observational art and it may well be that when she was three that was just a step she was going through. But the warnings of both Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Sir Ken Robinson tell me that I need to protect their creativity. I need to keep their learning enoyable, help them work co-constructively with peers and adults, and teach them how to be reflective.
All these are fundamentals to our change school programme at Paganel.
It's only a small tributary on the river, but seems significant today - thank you to Google for marking his 110th anniversary.
As a footnote, the other thing about Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is that I always planned to turn one of his quotes into a song. He said "Aimer, ce n'est pas se regarder l'un l'autre, c'est regarder ensemble dans la même direction." This means (roughly, as my French is not too good) "Love is not looking at each other, it's looking together in the same direction." I have some chords (well 2 of them - G and D) and a tune and also the idea to get people singing the line in different languages. Maybe that could become a Year 6 project for the future...
Saturday, 26 June 2010
I mainly went there to show off our Paganel Scalextric project. 3 children came with me and were able to talk about the process of making their own car, racing the cars and commentating on the races. It was great to see the children commentate on the adult delegates as they raced the cars the children had built. It was also great to have at least 3 schools sign up for the project next year - we can now have a primary school scalextric competition - how FAB will that be?
In my presentation I wanted to say how the national curriculum has been a rigid framework for education over the last 15 years just as the rest of the world has been discovering that the network is more important than the framework.
I started with a slide full of words that Michael Gove had recently spoken. I know it's bad form to use loads of text on a Powerpoint but I wanted to make the point that the curriculum change wanted by the new government are just words at the moment. I highlighted words like 'prune', simplify' and 'over-prescitpive.'
I followed with this picture:
It shows a rigid framework - some scaffolding. It's my picture for the national curriculum of recent years - something that has helped build an educational structure of standards and rigour, but something that has also deskilled teachers from thinking for themselves. You can tell this by the use of the word 'delivery'. Teacher's 'deliver' the national curriculum. That verb really devalues the word 'teach'.
Next I showed this picture. It shows a network - rather a large one. Ewan McIntosh showed a very similar picture at a talk he gave a few months ago - the talk that got me blogging again. I said how teacher's had been deskilled not only from thinking for themselves, but also valuing networks just at the time when we need to be teaching our children how to network effectively.
Then I showed these pipes. I had been reading some stuff about educational theories and how all our education system is based essentially on two theories - behaviourism and constructivism. But a new theory has been developed in recent years called connectionism. This is summed up by the statement "the pipe is more important than the contents of the pipe". I held up my phone and pointed out how easy it is to access information through it and so we need to be teaching children how to use networks accurately and safely.
I then showed pictures of 2 different kinds of coffee cup.
Professer Anne Bamford had used similar images at the Creative Partnerships Conference back in February to illustrate the value of design. One coffee can cost£1.00, the other could cost£5.00. Design makes a 500% mark up - it's worth something.
Just as the processes learned in technology tree through working with business on designing and making somethingare also worth something.
I finished by pointing out the links inherent in technology tree - inspiring witing and maths, developing speaking and listening and also linking between teachers - all things that make more teaching more effective and efficient.
The video is a bit mad really - you obviously can't teach telekinesis to primary phase children - it's more of secondary school job if you ask me.
It also helped to start discovering some well helpful people on the internet who can give advice on technology and the like. Doug Belshaw was one. His blog lives at http://dougbelshaw.com/blog/
Thursday, 24 June 2010
We're a bit slow because we're so busy doing what we think we should be doing that we don't take time to make our lives easier.
If only we spent a few moments finding the things that would make our lives easier, then we'd be less busy and teach better.
The pipe is more important than the contents of the pipe.
Today I made my life a bit easier. I learnt how to do Twitter. It took me 10 minutes. Then I learnt how to e-mail remotely into my blog. I'm doing that now from my phone.
Leaps forward in technology - for me anyway...
Monday, 14 June 2010
Sunday, 13 June 2010
We worked with Craig Stephens from Stan's Cafe to accomplish this. Stan's Cafe had run a 24-hour scalextric commentary event in honour of the 24 hour Le Mans race. I didn't go myself but I heard it was an interactive show with the audience racing the cars while Craig and his colleagues commentated and marshalled the race. I remember seeing Craig on the Monday afterwards and he looked pretty tired, having commentated for 8 hours non-stop during the middle of Saturday night.
Craig came in and worked with the children in small groups to develop their commentary skills. He played them different kinds of commentary, including sports style, nature and commentary of a royal event. What was fantastic about this project was that the childre made huge progress from week to week as they gained in confidence and skill. Thesauri and practice - two great features of a successful commentator I reckon. Here are some of the commentary pieces that led up to the main commentary day itself. As you will hear, they are not about the actual scalextric itslef, but normal day-to-day things that happen around school. I've had to make them into a movie file as I haven't worked out how to successfully upload files that are audio only - I've just stuck some pictures on, but they were originally intended to be audio only, so maybe you could close your eyes or something.
Friday, 4 June 2010
The process of making the bodies took a few weeks, because it involved:
- modelling with clay and allowing it to dry;
- ferrying to and from Frankley City Learning Centre;
- spray painting;
- painting the sprayed cars.
Now, I have loads of pictures to show this process, but instead of taking ages to upload them I thought I'd put them on the video to show the approximate sequence of events.