Author Archive

Supporting future-oriented learning: A new report

June 12th, 2012

The Ministry of Education has just released a report we prepared for them entitled Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching – a New Zealand perspective.

It’s great to have this work out in the public sphere, and given its focus I think it may be of particular interest to you in our Shifting Thinking community.

The report draws together findings from new data and more than 10 years of research on current practice and futures-thinking in education. It discusses some emerging principles for future learning, how these are currently expressed in New Zealand educational thinking and practice,  and what they could look like in future practice.

We hope that this piece of work can be a platform for continued thinking about the future of learning and teaching in New Zealand and I would be interested to hear from any of you who have a chance to engage with the report (or those of you who might have contributed to the research!)

Future focussed issues, Shifting schooling , ,

Traces… (post-workshop reflections part 1)

May 7th, 2012

It is Monday afternoon after the 2012 Shifting Thinking Workshop and this is my office floor…

Sifting through this eclectic pile of paper reveals fascinating traces of  thoughts and conversations that took place at the Workshop.   The researcher in me is puzzling now about what to do with the traces I have. Can I pull them together into some kind of coherent narrative about what happened, or even just find a way to share them back out as a resource for the people who were there? Should I keep everything? Should I have someone type all these up for me? Should I take photos of everything?

Yet I know that for every thought, question, or idea written down and currently residing on my office floor, are dozens and hundreds of others that exist now only in the memories of those who experience them last week, and even pulling together the best of what’s on my floor right now isn’t going to fully capture that. And that’s just the paper trail… we still have various video footage, photos, and other bits and pieces that record traces of Shifting Thinking in different media and many decisions to make about what to do with it all!

What next? Where to from here? How will you track or measure what difference has this made? These are the kinds of questions people were asking me at the Workshop. I’m not sure yet, I said. I don’t know. Those are a great questions. I wonder that too. What do YOU think? I feel like I should have had better answers, but I don’t yet. I hope you will keep asking me though, and I hope you will keep asking yourselves that too, because these are the questions that will take us towards our next opportunit(ies) for building something together again (maybe in a future Shifting Thinking workshop, or maybe in one of the new spaces that has been created in your own thinking, or in your new connections to ideas or to other people).

There’s more post-match analysis to come; of course. We will be sending out a post-workshop evaluation form, and thinking about how we can stay connected and keep feeding the energy for our work  and of our “shifting thinking”. We’ll have a go at getting a selection of the most interesting and useful  traces from the Workshop up onto this website so they are there for all of the Shifting Thinking community to use. But for now,  I will leave you with a few traces that I have picked up from crumpled-up balls of paper on my floor. Maybe they were your words or the words of someone you sat with or talked to at the Workshop, and perhaps they will inspire you to share more thoughts and reflections about your Workshop experience

Reminded of how thinking can shift when you work with other people.

I’ve been smiling so much my face hurts.

Liberated. Confidence to make the change. Empowered to do so. Opened my mind. Energised.

Being in the room with people who are curious – may not know the answers…. but curious!

Being with people who “get it”!! Who are excited by the process of learning and what that may mean for creating active citizens.

Use the students – consult! They are our resource.

I have had time to listen and space to think about connectoins between ideas – it has been helpful/productive/purposeful.

Risks have to be taken.

Inspiredness about connectedness and possibilities.





Workshop 2012

Countdown to the Shifting Thinking Workshop 2012

April 20th, 2012

Countdown to The Shifting Thinking Workshop, May 3-4 ……

We look forward to seeing you in just under two weeks! (Make sure you don’t forget to register, if you haven’t already)

Below you’ll find some helpful information prior to the Workshop and a small request…

1. Pre-Workshop: Please answer these two questions!

Prior to the Workshop, please take a few minutes to respond to two questions (and a third optional question).
Make sure you scroll down to the bottom and click “submit” when you have completed your answers.

If you can’t see the form below click here.

2. Workshop start times 

Day 1 (Thursday) begins at St James Theatre, 63-95 Courtenay Place.  Tea and coffee will be available from 8 a.m, the registration desk will be open from 8.15 a.m. and all participants should be ready for the welcome at 9am.

Day 2  (Friday) begins with tea and coffee at 8.30 a.m and we kick off with a warmup for our day’s activities at 9.a.m 

3. Coming directly from the airport?

If you are flying into Wellington on Thursday morning and coming directly to the St James Theatre, there will be space to store your bags for the day.

Options and approximate costs for getting to the St James from the airport are given below:

1.  Airport flyer (bus), $7.50 Timetable. Note that this bus stops directly outside the St James Theatre (Stop #5002). This is the next  stop after the Courtenay Place Paramount stop indicated on the pdf timetable.
2. Green Cab Taxi, $24 estimated cost to St James.
3. Wellington Combined Taxi, $30 estimated cost to St James.
4. Combined Shuttle, $15 plus $5 for each person.
    Minimum of 3 people, Maximum of 11 people.
    Cap at $55 when 8 people in cab.

4. Start thinking about the entry point session options

Details about each of the  entry point session options are  posted on the Shifting Thinking Workshop page. Think about which sessions interest you the most – Yes we know, it’s so hard to choose, they are all so good! You won’t have to decide exactly which sessions you are going to until Thursday morning, when you meet with your learning group.

5. Social interlude and dinner options on Thursday night

On Thursday evening there will be a chance to get together in a relaxed environment to chat and mingle with Workshop facilitators  and participants.  For catering purposes, we’ll check with you at registration on Thursday morning to confirm whether you will be attending. The event starts DOWNSTAIRS from the Workshop at the Jimmy Bar. Nibbles will be provided and a cash bar where you can purchase  a full range of hot and cold drinks.

We will provide a list and map of nearby restaurants  and we encourage you to make some new friends at the Workshop and take them with you as you explore Wellington’s excellent food offerings.

6. Spread the word to peers and colleagues
If you have peers and colleagues who may be interested in attending the Shifting Thinking Workshop, there are still places available – but registrations close in one week. Spread the word so they don’t miss out.

7. Follow us on Twitter, and join the Shifting Thinking online community

If you’re a Twitter user, you might might like to follow us. Remember, our Twittername is @shiftingthinkng (no final “i” in the word “thinkng”). And if you haven’t already, why not register as a member of the Shifting Thinking online community?

8. See you soon!

Workshop 2012

Te Wahanga on culture and identity

April 5th, 2012

Jessica Hutchings and Alex Barnes from Te Wahanga, NZCER, discuss the perspective their session on identity and culture will bring to shifting thinking about participating and contributing.

Culture & Identity, Workshop 2012 , , , ,

Why do we find it difficult to share power with learners?

April 5th, 2012

Why is it often difficult to give up control and share power with our learners, even when we believe this is important? Jenny Whatman says she drew her inspiration from an incident that occurred more than 30 years ago, when she was a drama teacher in an Auckland secondary school. You’ll have a chance to explore these ideas through process drama in the “sharing power and responsibility” entry point session at the 2012 Shifting Thinking Workshop

Power and responsibility, Workshop 2012 , , , ,

What does knowledge-creation look like in the classroom?

April 4th, 2012

In this video NZCER chief researcher Rose Hipkins says getting students to participate in and contribute to the creation of new knowledge is something she has long seen as a dilemma, since she was a classroom teacher. She talks about the entry point session at the 2012 Shifting Thinking Workshop. Read more about this session in Sue McDowall’s previous blogposting.

Knowledge generation, Workshop 2012 , , , , , ,

What do people want from a Workshop?

April 4th, 2012

What do people want from a workshop? We have thought long and hard about this question. Listen as Jennifer Garvey Berger describes how this question has influenced the design of the Shifting Thinking Workshop 2012

You can also hear Rachel talking about the challenges for our team to “think differently” about the Workshop’s design in this video

Workshop 2012 , , ,

Dealing with complexity

April 3rd, 2012

Dr. Jennifer Garvey Berger talks about how we might develop our capabilities to work with complexity, and  what to expect from her session at the 2012 Shifting Thinking Workshop.

You might also like to check out Jennifer’s recent book Changing on the job: Developing leaders for a complex world

Dealing with complexity, Workshop 2012 , , , , , ,

Taking a “future focus” in education

April 2nd, 2012

Last month I twice  gave a presentation called “Taking a future focus in education: What does it mean?”. The first time was for a CORE Education Breakfast Seminar in Wellington (their breakfast seminars are excellent, by the way, and well worth the early morning start), and the second was a repeat session for NZCER’s in-house “Thinking Tuesday” seminar series. I’ve just sat down at my computer to look at those presentations again to try and  re-cut parts of them for the “Local and global participation” entry point session at the upcoming Shifting Thinking Workshop 2012. (May 3-4, are you registered yet?).

This isn’t just about lazy recycling of work: I’m revisiting some of my prior papers and presentations because I’m convinced that we need to sharpen up our thinking about the future in order to start making better decisions about what we are doing in education today, including how we think about supporting young people to participate and contribute at the local and global levels. Keeping a strong “future focus” angle for the local and global participation session is important to me – as you will find out if you come to the session!

However, the more I think about what it means to take a “future focus” in education, the more I realise just exactly how hard this really is.  At first I thought maybe it was just me – but research is telling me that it’s not just a failure of my own individual imagination. Thinking about the future is actually really hard, and none of us should feel bad about our intellectual capacities if we find this to be the case! (Conversely, if you find thinking about the future is really easy, then…. well I hate to say this but I think you probably aren’t thinking about it as deeply as you could). Oh – and if I’ve convinced you that think that thinking about the future is hard? Here’s the worse news: Thinking about the future in order to change what we’re doing today is – you guessed it – even harder.

So why is it so hard? The neuroscience articles I’ve been reading recently are making me see that it’s partly to do with how our minds work, how they have evolved. And the educational literature suggests it’s also partly to do with how our educational and social systems shape our ways of thinking. I’ll be saying more about this at the Shifting Thinking workshop, so I hope that you are tempted to come and be part of that!

Hopefully I haven’t lost you at this point with all this talk of hardness. Hopefully you, like me, remember that hard things present us with the most exciting opportunities for learning, and that learning is fun.  One thing that has been helpful for my own thinking, and for people I have presented to, has been to map a few different ways about thinking about education and the future on a continuum from “most obvious” to “least obvious”. At the left end of the continuum we have the very “obvious” and “familiar” idea that education is about preparing learners for their future lives. So far, so good. Even if we might not be all that good at really imagining what their future lives might be like (apart from thinking they will probably be somewhat similar to our own lives today), we are at least pretty good at realising that today’s education is part of what ought to set people up to do well in their lives in the future.

The next idea up the continuum is about the future of education itself, and what might need to change to ensure education is fit for our future needs. Over the past couple of decades there’s been a huge amount of international and NZ thinking in this area and I’d be pretty surprised if you haven’t encountered a lot of this already. You may know about UNESCO’s Taskforce on Education for the 21st Century, or the OECD’s “Schooling for Tomorrow” programme, or New Zealand’s Secondary Futures initiative. I hope you will have read or seen videos from educational writers, theorists, and philosophers like Charles Leadbeater or Gunther Kress or Kieran Egan, or Sir Ken Robinson, or my colleague Jane Gilbert, or any number of other TEDtalks that do the rounds talking about the need to transform our educational systems.

Charles Leadbeater who is a pretty well-known British commentator on innovation says there is a growing consensus about the kinds of transformative changes that our education systems need. This consensus is built on a massive amount of research evidence about the current state of education, as well as a lot of research about learning and about the changes that are taking place in our world across social, political, economic, and technological domains. And if you line up what all of these different people are saying, what you see is there is a pretty clear consensus that what we have now isn’t going to cut it in terms of meeting our current and future needs. I could go into a lot more detail about all of this but I’m going to move forward on the assumption that you do know about these ideas, and if you don’t, come and talk to me at the Shifting Thinking Workshop and I can recommend some good readings or TED talks.

Where I’m hoping to take us, though, in our Shifting Thinking Workshop Entry Point session, is right up to the top end of my continuum.This is where we have to think really deeply about the kind of world we might have in the future, the kinds of issues and challenges that people will be facing, and what kinds of learning will be  useful and relevant for those people.

It’s going to be hard. But I think it’s also going to be fun :)

Meanwhile, if you’re interested you can read a little more about futures thinking on this theory page or download my2011 working paper where I was first beginning to pull some of these ideas together.

Future focussed issues, Global and local participation, Workshop 2012 , ,

Global and local participation

April 2nd, 2012

This entry point at the 2012 Shifting Thinking Workshop will explore ideas about what it means to “participate and contribute” as a 21st century learner/citizen. Ambitiously, I’d like to focus on this question in relation to both the present (e.g. how are learner-citizens participating and contributing within their schools, to their communities, and to the world right now?) and the future (e.g. how can learner-citizens be supported to develop the capacities they will need in order to participate and contribute throughout the rest of their lives in this constantly changing world?)

Just as The New Zealand Curriculum includes a vision of young people who are both “members of communities” and “international citizens”, our focus in this entry point encompasses all levels from the local to the global. We will aim to push your thinking about  what education can do to support learner-citizens to develop as full participants in, and contributors to, local and global contexts – and what “citizenship” means for the 21st century.

Global and local participation, Workshop 2012