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He Tūrangawaewae – Where do I stand?

April 3rd, 2012

I recently came across this simple and moving video. It explores the concept and practice of Place-Based Education, which links people to place through learning about their present environment – it’s history of settlement, environmental change and how people can connect to the environment, and through this understand themselves.

In New Zealand we’re fortunate to have a resilient indigenous population, tāngata whenua, who have consistently linked their knowledge of self and identity to place and geography. Often this is known as ones tūrangawaewae. I really like this short clip  of the late Wi Kuki Kaa exploring the concept of turangawaewae in contemporary Aotearoa. For me, as a Pākehā  thinking about turangawaewae,  the late Waikato leader Te Puea Herangi and the marae, Tūrangawaewae  in Ngaruawahia spring to mind.

I am a 3rd generation Pākehā, and continue to learn about my family migration to Aotearoa from England, Ireland and France.  I’m connected to this place in my own unique way – the challenge is understanding how to anchor myself through addressing our colonial history and present reality. The work of Paulo Freire and Henry Giroux have helped to shift my thinking about these deeply personal, social and cultural issues.

Our session on Culture and Identity will also look at similar issues: place, knowledge of self, and collective learning  :)  Should be GREAT!

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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

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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.

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Entry point: sharing power and responsibility

April 2nd, 2012

At the last Shifting Thinking conference I was involved in the play Rachel wrote to start day 2. That was the first public drama/theatre experience I’d been part of for a few years. Last week Elizabeth and I planned our 2012 workshop: entry point – Sharing Power and Responsibility. Even though we are friends from way back, we’ve never actually planned or taught drama together. Elizabeth was involved teaching ECE and primary children, I taught secondary students, and we have both taught pres-service and in-service adults in different cities. I thought I might have “forgotten” how to create process drama; Elizabeth’s colleague assured me that “it’s like riding a bicycle, you won’t have forgotten”. She was right. The drama we planned last week is very different from the performance of a play script although it draws on many of the same theatrical devices. Elizabeth made beautiful sketches in pencil; I wrote notes on the i-pad. Elizabeth had found a useful framing from Canadian Brian Edmiston to guide our thinking.  DIAGRAM- desc context – pstn word doc Edmiston_1. We had a number of considerations to juggle – the themes of the conference, the entry point theme, using drama processes. Our biggest concern was that we model sharing. That we planned and ran a workshop that exemplified the sharing of power but that did not compromise the integrity of the experience for all participants. It had to work for 10 people or 100.

Power and responsibility, 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

Why “participating and contributing”?

March 23rd, 2012

The 2012 Shifting Thinking Workshop is based around the overarching theme of “participating and contributing”.

Why?

Those of you from the school sector will recognise “participating and contributing” as one of the key competencies from the New Zealand Curriculum. Here’s what the NZC (p. 13) has to say:

Participating and contributing

This competency is about being actively involved in communities. Communities include family, whānau, and school and those based, for example, on a common interest or culture. They may be drawn together for purposes such as learning, work, celebration, or recreation. They may be local, national, or global. This competency includes a capacity to contribute appropriately as a group member, to make connections with others, and to create opportunities for others in the group.

Students who participate and contribute in communities have a sense of belonging and the confidence to participate within new contexts. They understand the importance of balancing rights, roles, and responsibilities and of contributing to the quality and sustainability of social, cultural, physical, and economic environments.

At the Shifting Thinking Workshop we want to unpack and explore the notion of “participating and contributing”, not only as it applies to students, but also for adults, and for New Zealand as a society. What does it mean to participate and contribute in a 21st century world? To what, with whom, and why? How can we all learn to become better and participating and contributing, and why does it matter? How do we support learners to develop the knowledge, skills, experiences, and inclinations they need to participate and contribute to their worlds right now, and throughout their lives? What are the barriers that we, as a society, have created which limit peoples’ opportunities to fully participate and contribute? How can those change?

There are so many questions we can ask.

There are so many ways to think about participating and contributing!

This is why we (the organising team) have identified five Entry Points to help get us started  (I discuss where those came from in this video). Our entry points certainly aren’t the only ways into thinking about participating and contributing, but we hope that you will find at least some of these entry points hit on areas that you want to think more about.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about participating and contributing in the weeks leading up to the Workshop, so feel free to drop us some comments!

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Shaping your experience with “entry points” – what are they?

March 22nd, 2012

If you’ve been checking in regularly to the Shifting Thinking 2012 Workshop page you’ll have seen us talk about 5 “entry points” into the workshop’s overarching theme of participating and contributing.

In the video below I talk about where these entry points came from, why they matters, and also what I hope that you (our participants) will bring with you as you “enter” into the Shifting Thinking space.

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The challenges of thinking differently (why ST 2012 is a workshop)

March 22nd, 2012

Our first Shifting Thinking gathering in 2009 was called a “conference”, but this year’s gathering is a “Workshop”. What’s the difference? Watch the video below to find out why (according to me) the difference matters! I also say a little bit what you can expect when you come to Shifting Thinking 2012.

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Culture & Identity

March 21st, 2012

Perspectives on Identity & Culture in Aotearoa New Zealand

Exploring how participants can contribute to Aotearoa becoming a nation that values Māori rangatiratanga, while creating positive understandings of our own identities, often leads to some discussion about the relevance of te Tiriti o Waitangi.  In this  interview long-time Pakeha Treaty educator Mitzi Nairn talks about how this work has meant coming to terms with “shifting goalposts”.

Like Mitzi, we’ve found that when addressing te Tiriti and culture and identity questions, the terrain can often change.  With this in mind, how have your goalposts shifted recently?

 

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Shifting Thinking workshop….shifts

July 18th, 2011

We had planned to hold a Shifting Thinking Workshop at the St James Theatre in Wellington on 25-26 August 2011. We have now decided to postpone it until 2012. We felt that we needed more time in order to make it the event we wanted it to be. We want to make Shifting Thinking very different from the more traditional educational conference and this is a complex task. We will hold a Shifting Thinking event in the first half of 2012 but have yet to set a date. We apologise to those of you who had already expressed interest in attending and we hope you will join us next year. We will keep you posted!

Workshop 2012