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Developing the analogy #CfE2.0

In my last post, I suggested that the future of CfE lay in the profession taking hold of it and leading the direction of travel. I titled the post CfE2.0 but never really explained why I did so. I think in my geekiness I had assumed everyone would get the analogy, but apparently that’s not the case…thanks @aileendunbar!

CfE2

I’ve tried to make this clearer with the image above. The analogy I’m using here is the web. In it’s early days, a very small number of people contributed to the web and most people were consumers of this content. We might’ve read the BBC website but most of us would never have actually put anything onto the internet ourselves. Many folks now refer to this as Web 1.0 to distinguish it from our current use of the web. In Web 2.0 most users are producers as well as consumers. Through blogs, twitter, facebook, youtube, flickr and many many other such tools, most people who are online are contributing content to the web as well as reading and watching other people’s content. Web 1.0 is sometimes referred to as the “read” web, whereas web 2.0 is the “read/write” web.

So, what has all this got to do with Curriculum for Excellence? Well we could liken CfE, and all previous curricula, up to now to the early iteration of the internet. A small number of people produce it for a large number of people to “consume” – i.e. deliver to their classes. So, I’m suggesting that the future of CfE lies in becoming a read/write curriculum, or CfE2.0. We should be aiming for teachers, and students, to become collaborators in the development of the curriculum.

But, what would be our tools to achieve this? What would be the equivalent of our twitter? There may be a number of answers to this, but practitioner enquiry seems to be a key one to me. If teachers across the country were engaging in an enquiry approach to developing the curriculum with their classes, based on literature and feeding out into the system, we could begin to make this shift. But what about consistency I hear you ask? Obviously there needs to be some level of consistency and we’ll need to decide where to draw this line. There is a delicate balance to be struck between having a consistent curriculum and one which overly restricts teachers and learners, thus stifling creativity and personalisation. I personally think we possibly need to trim back the experiences and outcomes to allow more freedom…but not bin them altogether. Imagine rather than continuing to moan about this, I was encouraged to research into this with my classes in collaboration with teachers in other schools?

In order for this to happen, there needs to be a few changes in mindset across the system:

  • Considered and thoughtful variation and risk-taking needs to be encouraged in schools.
  • Teachers need to be supported to become enquiring, critical and research-informed professionals through high quality, challenging and masters-level learning opportinities.
  • Teachers need access to academic literature.
  • Processes need to but into place to facilitate the sharing of school-based research with support from academia.
  • Policy-makers need to actively encourage and engage with all of the above with open ears and minds.

I’m aware that in these posts I’m perhaps sounding a little bit idealistic and not plugged into reality…perhaps I am. But I would suggest that many of the above are actually happening already through the implementation of the Donaldson report, the new standards and professional update. All that’s really missing I think is the explicit linking of these professional learning initiatives to a vision for how the curriculum will be developed in the future – however, the principles of the CLTA forums overlap with this view somewhat.

So, in actual fact we could be closer than we might think to this vision of a read/write curriculum…or CfE2.0.


CfE2.0

Curriculum for Excellence will be ten years old this coming November. This is if we count its date of birth as the publication of the report of the Curriculum Review Group in November 2004 which was titled ‘A Curriculum for Excellence‘ – which is as good a time as any to measure its age by I think. There are many interesting issues which arise from this policy process reaching double figures…firstly, for some in Secondaries, CfE is only two months old – i.e. it only really started in May of this year when students sat the new exams for the first time! For others, a ten year old policy would imply that we must surely have got to grips with it by now and it must surely be fully implemented – how though do you ever fully implement excellence? For many however, the growing suspicion might be that a ten year old policy is surely in its dying days. Don’t we do big bang reform every 10-15 years or so?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m pleased to learn that there is an effort being made by SG/ES to avoid further big bang reforms through the new CLTA forums and I really hope these are successful in this endeavour. However, are the winds of change already amongst us? As David Cameron mentioned at #PedagooGlasgow, the focus seems to be shifting back to attainment – which is evident from the theme of this year’s SLF. Also, has anyone else noticed that the term ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ seems to be being slowly played down on the Education Scotland website?

Change, I suppose, is inevitable and desirable. This can be hard for many teachers to hear after having lived through the last ten years, but it’s the reality of modern life. The real question therefore should probably be about what sort of change we want and for what purpose? The assumption I was alluding to above is that Government at some point in the coming years replaces CfE with something else. My personal fear in this scenario is that it takes the form of a pendulum swing back towards a focus purely on attainment, testing and rote learning. But perhaps this isn’t the way the change needs to happen?

I’ve long felt that CfE was implemented the wrong way round. To put autonomy onto teachers who have not experienced autonomy for years, does not necessarily feel like a good thing! I’ve argued on a few occasions in the past that we should’ve started with skilling up and reprofessionalising the profession before attempting to implement a new curriculum. I always felt that trying to achieve transformational change through giving out folders and subjecting teachers to powerpoints was unlikely to be successful. But we are where we are, so where do we go from here? Well, we now have in place a relatively future-proof set of policies at their core which we’re all relatively familiar with on some level. At the same time, we’re now in the process of implementing some visionary new professional standards from the GTCS which, I think, up the game in terms of what this job of ours involves – particularly in relation to engaging with, and contributing to, research. As a result, we’re beginning to see an increasing engagement with enquiry and research across the profession. This is more like the form of professional learning which is likely to bring about real change in classrooms I think.

Perhaps, therefore, the time is right for us as a profession to shape the direction of the curriculum in the future. As an engaged and researching profession, we can have the confidence to argue the case for change and make sure the curriculum continues to evolve in the way that we think it should and make it what it should be for our young people. I once wrote a fictional history post which suggested that this is the way it should’ve been the first time, which was always a bit far fetched…but perhaps it’s less so this time round?

So rather than fearing possible further changes to the curriculum in the future, let’s engage in enquiry, debate and policy forums and make sure that change does indeed happen for the benefit of our future learners. Perhaps that’s what CfE2.0 could and should be?

EDIT

I’ve expanded on this post here.


Should Pedagoo be more activist?

This is a question which has been on my mind since Saturday’s fab #PedagooGlasgow event. Pedagoo exploded in its first two years and was potentially turning into a million and one things, which I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with. Following a period of illness and relative inactivity on my part, I decided to try and reinvigorate Pedagoo by putting many of these ideas to one side and focusing on our core business – positively sharing classroom practice. This has been, and is being, achieved through our twitter, our blog and our events without the need for any fancy structures, bank accounts, committees, paperwork etc.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really beginning to feel that the community is really returning to its vibrant best. There are loads of fab events across the UK, lots of brilliant blog posts and #PedagooFriday just keeps on growing. But there were a few comments made on Saturday in Glasgow which made me ponder if we could and should perhaps be doing more to more actively fight the forces of negativity…not least David Cameron’s rousing opening speech (and largely unrepeatable closing speech!)

Could we perhaps be getting out there a bit more and making the positive case for progressive reform in education? Part of me is drawn (and terrified) by this idea…which is why it has dominated much of my thoughts these last few days.

Ultimately though I think I’m coming to the conclusion that we keep doing what we’re doing. We’re changing the game here and we don’t need to play by their rules. Fighting fire with fire normally doesn’t achieve much in my experience. Let’s instead continue to focus on developing and sharing our classroom practice positively and professionally and as a by-product perhaps we’ll influence the wider picture. After all, Pedagoo is about showing what’s possible…not saying what’s wrong.

Unless however, you disagree. What do you think? Should Pedagoo be taking a bigger stand in wider educational debates? If so, what exactly is Pedagoo and who would take this stand? I think perhaps we just don’t fit in to the past models of professional associations, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing and if we try and change Pedagoo to make it fit more easily, there’s a chance we might break it…


Pedagoo: Getting stuck in

AQA’s Centre for Education Research and Practice asked me to write a little piece about Pedagoo.org. You can check it out using the link below…

https://cerp.aqa.org.uk/perspectives/pedagoo-getting-stuck


Planning with the Learning Cycle

image

I mentioned this on #PedagooFriday last week. My S1 Learning Skills class are about to plan and deliver lessons in groups using our six part learning cycle. I first asked them to brainstorm ideas for each stage in the cycle based on their experiences in lessons this year. I was blown away by their responses – especially for the ‘Discuss Leanring Outcomes’ stage where they mentioned discussing the learning outcomes in groups, setting targets and agreeing success criteria for the lesson. If they manage all that in their lessons perhaps I’ll even learn a thing or two!


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