dvflowersA wonderful day today – shopping at Borough Market in Southwark, looking at the fantastic anti-Nazi satirical photomontages of John Heartfield at the Tate Modern with friends, and being amazed again by the bas-reliefs of Assyrian court life from the friezes in the British Museum. Lots of learning to do, lots of artistic challenge to stimulate towards excellence.

All of that, topped off with the chance to listen this evening to Ken Robinson’s most recent education talk at TED which arrived in my inbox this afternoon – I was alerted to it by a friend yesterday. It doesn’t contain a huge amount of stuff that is new (for him) but it is funny and perceptive and lays out the grounds of the argument for humanity being diverse, imaginative and creative, and thus the requirement that our teachers be the same. It builds on his earlier work. This quote (at about 14.47 in the video) sums up much of the argument he makes. I’m interested that he uses the same sort of language that I have found useful to describe US and UK education policy – industrial, mechanistic. And he makes the point again that it is possible to teach and yet children not learn – something we easily forget – which places on us the requirement to be facilitators, leaders, of learning. Teachers have to grasp this.

Do watch the video. It’s only 19 minutes long. He takes the conditions for human flourishing as his theme, and uses as a metaphor the amazing transformation of Death Valley in California in spring 2005 after rains the previous autumn awakened billions of flowers to bloom – that’s the picture above. Not dead, dormant; rich potential, awaiting watering.

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About Huw Humphreys

I am a headteacher in the city of Milton Keynes, where I have been since April 2011, looking to make education effective for the whole child and keeping a distant relationship with the powers that be and their narrowing approach to education... but most of all I am looking to find out what it means to be both a follower of Jesus Christ and a passionate educator in the midst of an unsettled community. I am also a part time musician, part time linguist and lover of history and literature...committed both to freedom to learn and depth of learning for all our children. The views on this blog are all my own, and not in any way those of the school I lead!

4 responses »

  1. kayetkm says:

    I have recently started reading your blog, thanks for the interesting insights. I’m looking forward to watching Ken Robinson’s talk, thanks.

    • Thanks, Kaye. It’s a funny old world on this side of the planet, and trying to make sense of what we believe, why we believe it and how it blesses children is a continual struggle. I am more fortunate than most, being at least in a position to help change things. Not all get the chance, and there are some pretty discouraged teachers in England at the moment.

  2. Glad you got to see the video, Huw. To me as a parent, the ‘industrial’ and ‘mechanistic’ approach seems grounded in OFSTED’s approach that the only things worth commenting on are the ‘countable’ pieces of data. I find that dismaying, even as someone who was a mathematician, and whose son excels in that field. The current school our children attend is only graded ‘Satisfactory’, thanks to a blip in the SATS two years ago, whereas the school we sadly had to withdraw them from is ludicrously rated ‘Good’, even though our children – especially our son – were manifestly under-valued as people and as students there. It surely has to be a Christian vision of education that values the flourishing of the whole person, and the fact that you clearly see that is one reason I appreciate your blog.

    • Dave, it’s a genuinely crazy world. I had cause on Friday to say thank you to a LA adviser who had come to last year’s debriefing from our inspection team, and because she did, she formed the LA’s official opinion of the school. Given that the daleks in the OFSTED writing team then squeezed out all the positive language from the lead inspector, I am just grateful that all the great things the inspectors actually said to us were recorded for posterity. And being “satisfactory” is no fun – they may well re-appear this term, before the numbers have had much chance to move upwards. We can defend a position, show them the progress, but whether we can get to “good” or not (which I am not fussed about, but my teachers and governors naturally are!) seems to be a source of mystery to everyone.

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