Bill Scott's blog

Thoughts on learning, sustainability and the link between them

The value of fieldwork

📥  Comment, New Publications

I was pleased to see Alan Kinder's blog for NAEE the other day: The contribution of fieldwork to geography education.  As the Chief Executive of The Geographical Association, Alan knows a lot about this subject.  He was arguing against the popular view that  fieldwork is ‘only about skills’.  Unfortunately, as he noted, that view is held by Ofqual, the qualifications regulator.  As such, it has consequences.

I'm going to quote his main argument:

"Rather, I suggest that fieldwork involves and develops the act of observing and asking questions of and in the real world and that this provides a unique and essential learning experience for young people.  It develops investigative skills, careful observation and primary (first-hand) data collection in distinctive and important ways.  But this experience isn’t simply a skill, or a technical procedure.  Fieldwork investigation gives young people experience of the complexity of a real world location and invites them to both appreciate and begin to make sense of its complexity, or ‘messiness’.  Doing so helps them to appreciate that the ‘theoretical’ world of the textbook and their own investigative research is partial and limited.  This seems to me to be a critical insight into the nature of geography, of geographical knowledge and the process of becoming a geographer: we do geography fieldwork because direct observation is an essential, rewarding but challenging part of creating valid knowledge about the world.  I am drawing on a very long tradition of thinking here: in the 13th Century the English philosopher Roger Bacon asserted that both ‘Experimentum’ and ‘Argumentum’ were necessary ingredients to understanding phenomena fully; the 18th Century writer Goethe concluded that understanding also affects observation (‘we only see what we know’) and more recently, Alex Standish of the UCL Institute of Education has suggested that fieldwork helps pupils to understand that their agency is involved in gaining knowledge – that it doesn’t just ‘drop out of a textbook’."

Well said, and the very best fieldwork that I have seen over the years has illustrated this.  I still remember being on Dartmoor with my PGCE students and a school group in the 1980s – we were all in the excellent hands of FSC tutors.  The only quibble I have with Alan Kinder's argument is that it could well have been titled: 'The contribution of fieldwork to a young person's education'.  The contribution of geography is undeniable, but other subjects have a role as well.  It would be good to see these distinctive (and overlapping) contributions laid out.

As a postscript, I should say how very good it was to see these arguments set out without recourse to the increasingly meaningless phrase 'outdoor learning'.

 

Nudge, Nudge

📥  Comment, News and Updates

Do you ever wonder what became of nudge theory; you know, the idea that we can be helped to make the right decisions.  It's alive and thriving, it seems according to a recent Economist article whose full title is:

Nudge comes to shove – Policymakers around the world are embracing behavioural science – An experimental, iterative, data-driven approach is gaining ground

This begins:

IN 2013 thousands of school pupils in England received a letter from a student named Ben at the University of Bristol. The recipients had just gained good marks in their GCSEs, exams normally taken at age 16. But they attended schools where few pupils progressed to university at age 18, and those that did were likely to go to their nearest one. That suggested the schools were poor at nurturing aspiration. In his letter Ben explained that employers cared about the reputation of the university a job applicant has attended. He pointed out that top universities can be a cheaper option for poorer pupils, because they give more financial aid. He added that he had not known these facts at the recipient’s age.

The letters had the effect that was hoped for. A study published in March found that after leaving school, the students who received both Ben’s letter and another, similar one some months later were more likely to be at a prestigious university than those who received just one of the letters, and more likely again than those who received none. For each extra student in a better university, the initiative cost just £45 ($58), much less than universities’ own attempts to broaden their intake. And the approach was less heavy-handed than imposing quotas for poorer pupils, an option previous governments had considered. The education department is considering rolling out the scheme.

It will be a surprise to many that nudging is happening across so many aspects of our lives, although it has to be said that there is still considerable dispute about just how effective some of it is.

 

OECD Education meeting in Lisbon

📥  Comment, News and Updates

Todays guest blog is by Quinn Runkle, the NUS Senior Project Officer for Communities and Curriculum.  Quinn writes:

The recent OECD Education meeting in Lisbon was both fascinating and impactful.  My initial reflections are:

The working group’s focus is Education 2030 and is split into two phases:

  • 2015-2018: developing a “learning and curriculum framework” around a metaphor of a compass
  • 2018-2020: putting this into practice

The NUS work on ESD aligns perfectly with the way the OECD is talking about knowledge, skills, attributes, and values.  The OECD is framing this all under the banner of “individual and collective wellbeing”.  I was really pleasantly surprised by the OECD’s move away from economic growth as a measure of success and they regularly talked about this as a core shift within how they think about education.

The three big themes of discussion were: values in the curriculum, the issue of curriculum overload, and student agency

1. Values

We discussed the difference between attributes/attitudes/values at length – particularly highlighting:

  • Values are perhaps something which is “caught not taught” – e.g. the things you pick up on through the hidden/subliminal curriculum vs being explicitly taught a lesson in X
  • Attitudes can (and should) change with the presentation of compelling facts/life experiences whereas values are deeper set and are more likely to remain unchanged and so education can focus on strengthening/bringing out/fostering those values and strengthening students’ abilities to articulate their own values and why they hold them
  • Around values in the curriculum generally: it is naïve to say that any curriculum is free from values or is neutral so being purposeful about the values we embed in the curriculum is simply good practice
  • Another speaker presented what they called the “Four C's for 21st century education”: Critical thinking   Communication Creativity Collaboration
  • Some examples of values in the curriculum: – Singapore: respect, resilience, responsibility, and harmony.  Scotland: wisdom, justice, compassion, and integrity

I loved this quote from a student from Korea: "Embedding values in the curriculum is easy: just stop lecturing and give us real-world problems to solve, that will make values come true."

2. Curriculum overload

On “curriculum overload” there was a strong consensus that if educators move away from content-heavy, knowledge-focused, and discipline-focused education towards equipping students with the skills, attributes, and values to understand, critique, access, and strive out new knowledge in the future then you are able to tighten the curriculum, rather than pressure educators to include more.  This linked to a wider discussion on the purpose of education – is it to prepare young people to be good citizens of the world, to be employable in an age of AI, or to become a holistic, well-rounded person (all of these at once?).

The OECD line is to “create the future we want” which I find remarkably vague – what does that future look like? I fed this into the discussions.

3. Student Agency

The third big theme was around student agency – specifically looking at how we not only create the structures and spaces for student voice to flourish but also (critically) equipping students with the ability to act with agency (esp. relevant in some cultural/socioeconomic contexts where students/young people speaking up is not the norm nor encouraged).   Great example of this pedagogy in practice coming from School21 – a secondary school in East London which focuses on oracy as a core skills for the 21st century.  The presenter has a great line about students needing to learn the ability to express their views and opinions in the same way that we would teach numeracy or literacy – it’s a non-negotiable skill to learn in education.

Linked to this was an idea of “intelligent disobedience” – teaching students that it’s good to disobey when the impact of being agreeable is immoral/unethical/etc. (especially important for equipping students with the ability to stand up against unethical practices in their future professional roles).  There’s a real commitment to seeing students as co-creators and co-owners of their learning experience and the need for our pedagogy and practices to reflect this.  Interestingly, a theme of educator agency also came through strongly – the need for educators to feel able to take ownership of their classrooms and facilitate learning in new and dynamic ways.

Finally, lots around the importance of experiential, project-based, team-based, problem-solving focused learning as a means of increasing agency of students within the classroom but also enabling the development of the desired knowledge, skills, attributes, and values.

..................................

Quinn can be contacted at: Quinn.Runkle@nus.org.uk

 

 

Work on the Wild Side – a review

📥  Comment, New Publications

Work on the Wild Side: Outdoor Learning and Schools is a notdeadfish report by Tash Niman and Anita Kerwin-Nye, in partnership with the English Outdoor Learning Council, the Institute for Outdoor Learning, the Association of Heads of Outdoor Learning Centres, Learning Away, and the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.  Notdeadfish is a social change consultancy and you can download the report here.

The report aims to demonstrate that those schools (that by any measure are leaders in the education system) place a high value on learning beyond the classroom.  It sets out to be a contribution to the debate about the best approaches to ensuring all children and young people have high quality outdoor learning and residential experiences.  This is what notdeadfish say about the report on their website:

"Work on the Wild Side attempts to debunk the myth that outdoor learning and residentials are not viable teaching mechanisms.  As accountability within schools increases and budgets decrease, it is easy to see how outdoor learning can slip down the agenda.  This notdeadfish report compiles the evidence demonstrating how schools across the country are using outdoor learning to improve children’s academic attainment and emotional well-being.  ...  We found that outdoor learning is valued amongst teachers, pupils, parents and inspectors and that the skills learnt outdoors are transferable to the classroom and across the academic spectrum."

The report begins with four assertions which are probably reasonably widely accepted by those who know about such things, although the 3rd one is obviously not shared by all "teachers, school leaders, parents", as the report clearly demonstrates.  The assertions are:

  1. that children and young people benefit from being outside has almost universal agreement.
  2. that not all children and young people are spending as much time outside as they should is also well evidenced.
  3. teachers, school leaders, parents and others with an interest in education generally support the principle that schools have a key role in ensuring that all children and young people benefit from being outdoors – from outdoor learning, to residentials away from home, to more time outside the classroom.
  4. at a time of restricted curricula, reduced school budget, high accountability frameworks and a context in which school leaders are hyper aware of ‘risk’, in every sense of the word, there is a justified fear that schools might deprioritise outdoor learning.

The approach was a novel one; it was [i] to take those UK primary and secondary schools with the highest Progress 8 scores, and the winners of the Pupil Premium Awards, and summarise what they said about residentials and outdoor learning in their external prospectuses and websites, and [ii] to look at what inspectors said about the same topic in their most recent Ofsted reports on schools they deemed to be outstanding.

The report is a useful summary of recent activity. For example:

"Recent research has found that outdoor learning has a positive impact both academically and personally. The GLA (2011) released findings stating that when children spent time in nature, there was an improvement in both mental health and scientific learning. These findings were replicated by Fuller, Powell and Fox (2016) who conducted a three-year project in which they found that visiting outdoor residential centres led to an increase in pupil’s confidence as well as academic improvement. The benefits are not restricted to individual development: research has found that outdoor learning impacts how pupils work and socialise with peers (Christie, Higgins & McLaughlin, 2014, Learning Away, 2015). Leaving the classroom not only benefits pupils, but teachers as well. Natural England (2016) found that outdoor learning had a positive impact on teaching delivery as well as their personal health and wellbeing.”

There are also extracts from York Consulting’s evaluation of Learning Away's #BrilliantResidentials campaign, recent Ofsted reports from schools it deems outstanding, and the final report from the Natural Connections Demonstration Project.  For example, their comments that Learning Away Residentials:

  •  improve students’ engagement with learning
  •  improve students’ knowledge, skills and understanding
  •  support students’ achievement
  •  foster deeper relationships
  •  improve students’ resilience, self-confidence and well-being
  •  boost cohesion and a sense of belonging
  • widen and develop teachers’ pedagogical skills

“Learning Away has shown that a residential learning experience provides opportunities and benefits/impacts that cannot be achieved in any other educational context or setting. The impact is greater when residentials are fully integrated with a school’s curriculum and ethos.”

In a similar vein, Ofsted reports from schools deemed outstanding contain comments such as:

"An exceptional range of opportunities offered outside of the classroom are all well attended and highly valued by both pupils and parents."
"The curriculum includes numerous opportunities for pupils to learn beyond the school. Pupils participate in a broad range of trips which play a significant part in enriching the curriculum."

Examples of how 2016 premium funding award winners spent their funding on Outdoor Learning are also listed.  For example:

"The Pupil Premium funding has enabled year 5 and 6 pupils to attend an Outward Bound residential. It was noted that ‘The work of the (Outward Bound) Trust is well documented in a number of case-studies showing that for disadvantaged pupils, greater gains are made in academic learning when they are faced with new challenges in adventurous settings. The school applies such learning to the school environment e.g. developing growth mindsets which improves co-constructed learning and outcomes."

The bulk of the report consists of 4 tables showing: [i] the top 20 primary and high schools along with promotion of outdoor learning on school website; [ii] the top high (ie secondary) schools based on their progress 8 scores in 2016; [iii] extracts from 20 recent Ofsted reports on schools deemed outstanding; and [iv] the Pupil Premium Award Winners.

Of course, what all this really shows is that successful schools occasionally let their students escape from school; it does not show that this day-release into the community is why they are successful schools – nor does the report claim this.  It surely is the case, however, that good schools tend to be good for a range of reasons, and so it might be surprising if they didn't embrace outdoor learning, given what we know about its benefits.  It might also be the case that not-so-good schools also tend to be not-so-good for a range of reasons, and so it could be that they neglect outdoor learning, despite what they know about its benefits.  Or it could be that they embrace it just as much as good schools do – or that they embrace it not very successfully.  There are a lot of unknowns here, but this report sheds no light on them.

There are familiar claims in the report that outdoor learning experiences can have positive benefits on student learning and student enjoyment of school.  Well, who can doubt it?  However, as noted above, in a good school where there are so many sources of stimulus, it must be hard to pinpoint what experience is responsible for which bit of improvement.  This is probably why the report is number-free and you will no hard evidence to convince a hard-nosed, sceptical policy-maker who knows the value of statistics.  As such, there is much in here that we already knew about or suspected, but nothing really helpful.

...............................

Afterthought: The collaborators on this project included: the English Outdoor Learning Council, the Institute for Outdoor Learning, Learning Away, and the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.  Isn't is absurd that all these outfits continue to exist as separate entities thereby diluting their effectiveness?  Time for mergers and acquisitions ...

Infinite growth, a finite environment, and the hereafter

📥  Comment, New Publications

Here's a link to a recent Ronald Rovers blog – The Growth Syndrome: a pyramid game.  In this he addresses issues of economic growth and the planet's ability to cope with that growth (and much more).  This is how it begins:

Richard Attenborough summarized it as follows: ”Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist.”  The addiction to profit and money making by economists has simularities with religion fanatics.  They are both afraid of the here and now, to live the life.  With one difference: the one tries to escape reality by exorbitant money making, and neglect the physical borders of the system, and the other, usually less wealthy, by adoring a life after, this way also neglecting the here and now.  The one supporting the other: the less wealthy, the underclass, accepts faith, that reward comes after life, the other forgets about life, while busy exploiting that belief.

However, its the planet that is the given reality, nothing else. In the triple bottom line, known as ‘people planet profit‘, people and profit are only added since both, people and profiteers are afraid to be confronted with the limits of the other, the planet.  They are looking for escapes, to avoid living up to the planets potential, and add profit (-economy) to feel they have the idea that there is something to decide, that there are several ways out.  But there ain’t.  The economy has no relation whatsoever with the physical process in time: Everything depletes, increases entropy, and the only influence/option man has, is to speed it up or to slow it down.  But in the belief that reward is only after life. And economy so far has proved to speed it up. I am sorry but there is no other conclusion.  The ‘holey trinity ‘, is a trinity of PPP , or ‘triple bottom line’, is one in which people are caught between two ‘fires’: Planet and Profit. Burned by the climate or roasted by the profiteers.  As such it can be seen as creating hell on earth, which makes the wish for heaven afterwards more understandable. ...

There's much here to provoke in every sense, particularly in the current dark days.

 

The Paris Discord and Lignite Angst

📥  Comment, News and Updates

I was never much enthused by the Paris Agreement; too much hype and hope as opposed to proper targets and legal enforcement.  It was, of course, the best deal on offer at the time.

Now that the US government has walked away, this should not mean the end of the US involvement.  This is a chance for American business — I'm calling it InstantSpottyFaceMcGoogleColaTube — to step forward and sign up for good of the planet (and their future revenues).  After all, as Bernie Sanders might have argued, why should the poor American taxpayer stump up when InstantSpottyFaceMcGoogleColaTube already has their money?

The only people to really enjoy the US withdrawal were the EU's 32 presidents.  Did you see them?  They could hardly contain their glee at the chance for another bit of grandstanding and sanctimonious Trump-bashing.  One of the benefits of a hard Brexit (maybe the only one) will be end of having to listen to smug Germans lecturing us about the evils of carbon while they burn mega-tonnes of dirty brown coal (lignite).  This, in 2015, contributed more than solar and wind combined to the country's electricity supply.  See energy-charts.de for the current position.

 

A curriculum for equality?

📥  Comment, Talks and Presentations

Thinking of Ofsted this week, and the lack of a focus on curriculum in the current election, I remembered it was not always like this.  I can recall when discussions on the curriculum in England – in which HMI played a strong hand – were both (to coin a phrase) rich and deep.  And relatively recently, one of Blair's many governments had an interest in such matters.  This, however, did not always have positive outcomes, and HMI played no role, as they'd long been wrapped up in Ofsted's conformity blanket.

I was also reminded of this at the weekend when the BBC website ran a feature on the Finn's attempts to "drag" education into "the digital age" – and maybe also to boost their flagging PISA scores.  There, subjects it seems may be on the wane to be replaced, in part at least, by themes such as climate change,  immigration and the Romans.  The BBC notes:

"Now it is rethinking how it teaches in the digital age - seeking to place skills, as much as subjects, at the heart of what it does ... ."

Oh dear, I thought: skills!  The BBC continued:

"In August 2016 it became compulsory for every Finnish school to teach in a more collaborative way; to allow students to choose a topic relevant to them and base subjects around it.  Making innovative use of technology and sources outside the school, such as experts and museums, is a key part of it.  The aim of this way of teaching - known as project- or phenomenon-based learning (PBL) - is to equip children with skills necessary to flourish in the 21st Century, says Kirsti Lonka, a professor of educational psychology at Helsinki University.  Among the skills she singles out are critical thinking to identify fake news and avoid cyber-bullying, and the technical ability to install anti-virus software and link up to a printer."

As the BBC article makes clear, this isn't a wholesale abandoning of the idea of subjects (so far), and there are plenty of concerned voices saying, for example: [i] might not this disadvantage some students (and teachers)?  and [ii] what's the evidence that this sort of thing works?  The best responses to these questions seem to be: [i] 'of course' and [ii] 'no idea'.

I'll give the last word on this to Anneli Rautiainen of Finland's national agency for education who is quoted as saying:

"We are not too keen on metrics in this country overall so we are not planning to measure the success of it, at least not for now. We are hoping it will show in the learning outcomes of our children as well as in the international tables such as PISA."

This nonsense could have been said in Cardiff or Edinburgh whose similar reliance on wings and prayer is well documented.

All this then took my mind back to 2011, when I wrote the following after being at an event in Keele whose purpose was to address issues relating to effective teaching and learning, with particular reference to the curriculum.

The best talk by far was from Michael Young, whose input was based on a published paper.  His was a scholarly reflection on the idea of the school subject, and its importance from the point of view of equality.  Young argued that, although in a society such as ours, any curriculum is likely to be inequitable because of the nature of society, a curriculum based on concepts (ie, subjects), can be seen as a carrier of equality, as such a curriculum can treat everyone equally, unlike, say, a labour market.  In Young’s view subjects are the only basis we have as a curriculum for all.

Young said that the [then] forthcoming Gove curriculum is likely to be too dismissive of skills because it is, in part, a reaction to the last curriculum review (New Labour: 2008) which was dismissive of subjects and the formal conceptual knowledge they embody, and based too strongly on learner experience and knowledge which was seen as important as any other.  This was, said Young, more an instrument of politics, than of education.  Young stressed that a curriculum has to be about concepts that allow students to abstract from their own experience and personal knowledge and understandings, and argued that a curriculum that only emphasises experience and relevance lets down those who lack access to other knowledge at home; after all, he said, no one goes to schools to learn what they already know.  Young said that, whilst all knowledge is socially constructed, its truth is not dependent on its origins, and his view is that knowledge is best experienced through disciplines with boundary crossings (good teachers know how to do this).  Whilst the curriculum is not a given, and is open to change, an effective curriculum protects schools from passing and powerful social forces.  He reminded us that the subject-based curriculum was an enlightenment project.

I do hope Ofsted is aware of all this in its new curriculum review.  And is it too much to hope that the government after next Thursday will note that the effective consideration of issues such as sustainability depend on effective boundary crossings by teachers.

 

Standing at EASE

📥  Comment, News and Updates

SEEd is holding a launch next week of EASE:  the Evidence Alliance for Sustainability Education

So what is this rather contrived acronym all about?  I've pasted, below, what SEEd says.  It's hard to disagree (and I don't want to) with the first part of all this – the diagnosis of the issues and problem, if you like.  It's when it gets onto the meta-review that things less clear.  Not only is there is a lack of clarity about the relationship between EASE (the Alliance) and the meta-review, but it's not clear either what the meta review is setting out to achieve.  I asked the SEEd CEO, about this:

"I’ve been reading about your meta-review but could not see what the proposition is that the review will set out to examine.  Do you have a clear statement of this purpose?"

... and got this response:

"The process is we are setting up an evidence alliance, gathering further evidence and organising along a framework I have created and the the alliance will decide what we need and the terms of the meta review.  I suspect a number of people might be interested in it both in the U.K. And internationally so we will probably do a tender process once we have raised the money to conduct such a review."

This is neither a statement of purpose nor clear, but all this will have to be sorted out if the meta-review is to have direction and coherence.  No doubt it will be.

What bothers me more is the nature of the 100 or so documents that are set to be meta reviewed.  They must be a pretty mixed bunch with different purposes, focuses, sample sizes, approaches, methodologies, etc, and the spread of what they are investigating will likely be huge.  Their quality is likely to vary too: from the distinctly ropey to the very well-executed.  How to put them all together is the question.

It's going to be instructive to see how all this works out.  No doubt it will be a great success.  But will anyone who matters take any notice?

...............................

EASE – The issues:

a) Sustainability and environmental education covers a wide range of approaches, content and settings from in-classroom, to outdoors, to formal or informal.  Different organisations have different foci – e.g. climate change, biodiversity, species, birds, poverty, equality, global citizenship.  In a challenging funding climate they are competing for funding and are often required to evaluate according to the rules of the funder, which can vary considerably.

b) It is hard to even estimate how many schools, for example, are actively and deliberatively focussing on environment or sustainability.  This is especially true since 2015 as it has been removed from the national curriculum and requires schools now to make linkages and look for opportunities that they struggle to find the time and legitimacy to do.

c) All education struggles to tell a story about impact if only SMART objectives are used.  The goal of ESD is to enable young people to develop skills, knowledge and values (i.e. competencies and dispositions to feel they can participate in a sustainable future).

d) Funders and UN agencies (e.g. UNESCO) are becoming more and more interested in embedding and scaling up and moving away from pilots and endless new programmes.

The result is there is no coherent story we can tell yet that shows the impact and effectiveness of environmental education and education for sustainability.  This is despite EE having been around since the 1960’s and ESD since the 1990’s.  The second impact is that as a sector we are not yet ready to understand how to use evidence, or scale up. This is especially true at the grassroots level where the turnover of young staff and lack of professional development means that lessons learned and best practice disappear from each generation involved.

This is where SEEd comes in!

There is evidence – SEEd has gathered 100 documents and there are plenty more!  A meta- review needs to be conducted and the capacity of the EE and ESD sector needs to be built.  Finally understanding how to use evidence to influence and persuade is required.  This project will be unique in that the focus is the grass roots but with academic and expert partners to ensure rigour.  The Output is not primarily academic papers but accessible and trusted evidence, policy documents and capacity building

A specific example:

SEEd has been at the forefront of promoting whole school approaches.  SEEd leads an alliance, the Sustainable Schools Alliance (SSA) to support the work currently and have enabled (through dissemination or workshops) other countries to adapt their own whole school frameworks e.g. Canada, Australia, Mexico, Columbia, Cyprus, Japan, Brazil, and Greece.  The evidence shows whole school approaches to sustainability deliver increased student engagement, better learning outcomes across all subjects, more motivated students, support for the school from the wider community, and a sustained programme.

EASE – Evidence Alliance for Sustainability Education

This Alliance will build on the success of the SSA and we will invite organisations to join SEEd and pay a premium to be part of EASE. We are looking for 60 EASEE [sic] members all at £100 each (this pays for coordination, meetings and newsletters at £6000/pa). The EASE members will be divided into interest groups based on age and approaches, with local networks for peer-to-peer learning (e.g. London Environmental Educators Forum – LEEF)

The cost:

In addition to the cost of running the alliance (£6K), which eventually will be self-sustaining through collaboration and membership fees, we will need to conduct an initial meta-review of evaluations conducted so far.  SEEd has begun this work through gathering reports and evidence documents and creating a framework to categorise. We have also run events (training and a policy forum) to test the need and framework.  Our estimation of the cost of a meta-review would be £50,000 as it will probably involve a university.  The goal would be to continue to add evidence as they are generated or found by the alliance and then every 5 years or so add to the meta-review.

Can we think like 21st century economists?

📥  Comment, New Publications

I wrote the other day about Kate Haworth's Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think like a 21st Century Economist.  These are Raworth's seven ways in which she believes we can all start to think like 21st century economists:

1. Change the goal: from GDP growth to the Doughnut.

2. See the big picture: from self-contained market to embedded economy.

3. Nurture human nature: from rational economic man to social adaptable humans.

4. Get savvy with systems: from mechanical equilibrium to dynamic complexity.

5. Design to distribute: from ‘growth will even it up again’ to distributive by design.

6. Create to regenerate: from ‘growth will clean it up again’ to regenerative by design.

7. Be Agnostic about Growth: from growth-addicted to growth-agnostic.

The influence of the circular economy is plain to see here, as is the attempt to change the framing, and the open-mindedness of the approach.  I say this despite my reservations about the doughnut model.

 

Ofsted confirms that deep means depth

📥  Comment, News and Updates

I have had a response from Ofsted to my query about a curriculum that was balanced / rich / deep.  It was from Sean Hartford HMI, National Director for Education.

He confirmed that a balanced curriculum is still a necessity, even though the Chief Inspector didn't mention it in her first speech earlier this year.  I was relieved to hear this, but hardly surprised; it is, after all, a requirement of the legislation.  That said, no one really knows what balanced means – or, more accurately, perhaps, it can mean what you want it to mean because there is no theory of curriculum (or organising framework, if you like) in operation to guide its determination.  I must stop saying this as, surely, everyone knows by now!

Hartford then wrote:

"In your second question, you ask: 'what do "rich" and "deep" mean to Ofsted in relation to the curriculum?'  The context for what the Chief Inspector is referring to here is the concern, also referenced in the speech, about schools that are narrowing the curriculum and using qualifications inappropriately, resulting in statutory tests and examinations driving the curriculum.  In these cases, the curriculum might arguably still be broad and balanced, but is lacking in depth and quality due to the focus on tests and examinations."

What to make of this?  Well, to start with, it's hard to see how a curriculum that has been narrowed in this way, can then still be broad.  Of course, broad isn't well-defined either.  Then, you have to note that "rich" has morphed into "quality".  This is also undefined in curriculum terms, but I'm resisting the temptation to ask Ofsted what it means.

He adds:

"As you may have seen, the curriculum will now be the focus of an Ofsted thematic review, which will explore the intent, implementation and impact of the curriculum at national, school and classroom levels.  We will also look at problems, including curriculum narrowing ... ."

I hadn't, and I wonder if this is something we can all contribute to.  I shall ask.