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Future focussed issues (liveblogish)

November 4th, 2009

I’m blogging from the Future focussed issues stream: Josie, Rachel, Bob Frame, Stephanie Pride, Billy Matheson,  Fiona Beals
I’m trying to follow in Rachel’s footsteps on this but I have to say that she’s set a really high bar.
Josie is introducing people and letting us know about the ways the future focussed issues are running through the curriculum and asking what they mean:
Sustainability
Citizenship
Enterprise
Globalisation
She wants to know whether these are the most important words-these are the ones found in the curriculum.

Rachel talks about the research project she and Josie are running at NZCER. These future focussed issues aren’t well enough explored in education and so they’re looking outside education at what she calls:
“Self-generating knowledge building networks for knowledge building, learning and change.” Rachel plugs the future-focus issues space on the blog.

How do we describe these four issues—separate? Interlinked, stacked on top of each other? Or with sustainability as the big idea and the other ones all a subset of that?
She quotes Bob Frame who said something like:
In one way, these words are just empty signifiers. They are something which each individual populates with his or her own meaning: Who is using the word and why.

Bob Frame talks about what sustainability means to him from his many years of study.
For him future generations underpin: “Will our institutions act as an anchor or a sail?” Sustainability is a mindset. Critical issues—not just climate change but a perfect storm of other issues too which are interconnected.
Sustainability: of what? Of who? And why?
If we all do a little, we’ll get a little: we need to do something big.

Bob says we need to get some “early adaptation to new equilibriums”.
Now Stephanie Pride is talking about how important the both/and is now: if we want to have skills for sustainability, we all need futures capability. We need to figure futures capability—futuring—into everyone’s world. Needs to be distributed like literacy and numeracy across the whole population. Have to learn by doing, understand complex systems and your own values inside them, how to make decisions with other people. Educators have to be in the front showing how this works.

Can’t take these as content knowledge—we won’t make the changes.
Every day, all the time, every teacher needs to model adaptability and futures capability! Yikes! How will we do this!

But Stephanie says that teachers are already doing this—it’s not a NEW thing. Only connect (great line, from Howards End, I think). Connect to the way you already do all these things and just run them as a stream through everything. I think this idea about future-thinking as a new core competency is really cool. Now we have to figure out how to do it!

Now it’s Billy Matheson’s turn. “Layers of belonging”. Billy says that if you don’t help young people deal with belonging as a central issue of citizenship you’re missing it. Talks about becoming indigenous again: “Indigenous people to the planet” (he’s quoting William McDonough Cradle to Cradle)

Billy will share 4 layered models: from either/or to yes/and
The world can be simple, complicated, or complex: we need all three of these but need to be able to discern between these layers and move from one to the next—and to act on these layers, have simple, complex, and complicated conversation.

Model 2
Layers of time:
Fashion
Commerce
Infrastructure
Governance
Culture
Nature
Billy tells us that the top two are so much more easily accessed than the others.

Also of scale:
Universal
Global
National
Regional
Local
Billy asks: Why is our democracy so stuck at the local level?

How to we shift into a chapter that holds both the individual and a new sense of connectedness (maybe like what Keith was talking about yesterday?). Talks about the “Obama-model” of taking the skills we learn in the community and using them in larger and larger scales.

Then he shows a beautiful “diversity fern” (I’ll try to get a picture of this up at some point). How do we find the learning space necessary to cultivate the genuine experiences of cultural diversity?
Billy asks:
How do we develop “civic hardware and social software that holds this wonderful diversity”

Fiona Beals: Tells us that the thing that blew her away here was running into her biology teacher. She tells her personal story—that by the time she reached high school she was in bad shape. That Biology teacher made a big difference for her. Then later Jane Gilbert helped her get a PhD.  Lots of connections at this conference for Fiona! She understood that what was wrong in her schooling wasn’t the teachers or the people but the way school happened.
In order to be future focussed, I need to be outward focused. Need to grab people’s passions and turn them to good.
Futures focused education started with development education. We can not only learn about these countries but can learn from these countries.
How many of you take technology for granted—how many people actually write code? Or ask: what else can I do with my phone? In the developing world, people go into their cell phones and write code. In Africa they’ve been using cell phones for banking since the 1990s. This is a great example of global education.

Fiona is starting to take out the world “developing” to describe countries and talking about the word “majority” because people living in poverty are actually MORE of the world than not and we should start to understand that.

Rachel and Josie about E4E
The moral issues about E4E very important (some people say it’s E$E). Josie and Rachel have found that peoples’ experience in school is really local and maybe moves beyond a focus on the difference between education for enterprise and education as a social good. Still, they think that distinction is really important to talk about and understand, and they’ll help people do that in their longer session (which I can’t go to—bummer!). These all look SO good! Lots of food for thought here.

(I’ve also learnt that I can’t imagine how Rachel does this!)

Conference: November 2009, Future focussed issues , , ,

Last talk Act II: Jane Gilbert (Live blog)

November 3rd, 2009

Whew! Final speaker of the day is our very own shiftingthinker, Jane Gilbert

jane-03-11-09_1457

My shoulders and neck muscles are strained from a day of live blogging, and I have seen this talk of Jane’s quite a few times, so I’m going to stick to a few key points and grab audience twitters along the way.

A key message from Jane:

21st century issues are NOT going to be solved by 20th century thinking

Jane’s going to talk mainly about new ways of thinking about knowledge, and new ways of thinking about social justice. She thinks we need to take account of these in our thinking about education.

Jane does a quick  Shpiel on what she means when she talks about “21st century learning”

(I don’t have the strength to blog this – have you read her book, Catching the knowledge wave? Or the one we wrote together, Disciplining and drafting or 21st century learning? It’s all in those books – Jane’s  not plugging them in her talk but as a lazy ad tired liveblogger I recommend those as a good way to get deeply into the ideas she’s racing through in this talk)

She argues that many of the ideas we include in the gloss “21st century learning” are not necessarily all new ideas – but she says the challenge is that these just become slogans and nothing actually changes.

Jane’s all about getting us to think deeply below the surface of these ideas to see where they came from. She says a lot of them are tacit, unconscious, and drive what we do without us necessarily recognising it.

Now she’s telling us where these ideas come from. Cue:

  • Plato
  • the Industrial Age
  • the Model T Ford assembly line

(Read Jane’s books and this will all make sense)

Bottom line: we have an Industrial Age mass production model of schooling, and the traditional academic curriculum is the tool we use to sort students into the winners and the losers

(All of this is explained beautifully and with diagrams in our 2008 book, Disciplining and drafting, or 21st Century learning)

Here’s what some people were twittering during Jane’s talk:

@quelayla @shiftingthinkng C21 learning: How about leaving the idea that higher (esp. tertiary) education is the goal!

@muzza299 So the only purpose of teaching latin was to develop the mind? (assuming there’s no purpose to learning it?)

@StephaniePride @shiftingthinkng do we then need 2 go beyond concept/language of knowledge society 2 learning society or collaboration society

Jane thinks we need to pull up all our ideas “by the roots” and look at what lies underneath them

Two ideas she wants to start with (i.e. challenge) are:

  1. equality means “sameness”
  2. knowledge is universal

Jane reckons these are two tenets of modern Western European thought that need to be uprooted and examined. (She’s explaining all this right now but she’s talking quite fast!)

OK, now she’s now offering two recent theoretical developments to offer a way around these:

  1. the knowledge society – new meanings for knowledge (I suggest you read her book Catching the knowledge wave)
  2. postmodern political theory – new forms of political action for social justice

Argghhh Jane, I can’t keep up with your rapid-fire delivery – but I’m sure the audience is getting a lot of power from this punchy presentation! Let’s check in with our twitterers again:

@quelayla@shiftingthinkng Unesco’s four pillars of education are springing to mind.

@PeterDHAllen @shiftingthinkng Looking at mud at bottom of pond- we must all be treated the same – to provide special provision to close gaps

Uh-oh – Jane’s run out of time and just got to the best parts! And my battery is about to die! We’re definitely going to have to try and get Jane’s powerpoint up onto the blog when we can…


Conference: November 2009 , , ,

No longer them and us (Liveblog)

November 3rd, 2009

This liveblog is being written during Keith Johnston’s talk – No longer them and us – it’s all about us.

Hopefully we’ll be able to load his slides up on the blog in the near future – he says he’s going to talk fast so I don’t like my chances of being able to accurately capture all the ideas in this posting….

OK so he’s put up 5 different goals for education. The five choices are:

  1. Winning
  2. Knowledge
  3. Adaptability
  4. Inclusion
  5. Balance

He asks us to show by a vote of hands:

1 – which one represents our current experience of the schooling system?

2 – which one best reflects your aspiration for education?

It seems that the most hands for the first question go up for “knowledge” and the most for the second question go for “adaptability”.

Keith says he’ll return to these ideas again later.

Now he’s talking about research that has looked at safe limits for human development, measured across seven dimensions (including: Climate change, Nitrogen cycle, Change in land use, Biodiversity loss, etc).

@shiftingthinkng the Nitrogen cycle people!! Keep this in the forefront of your minds, you’ll see why TOMORROW (all will be revealed)

Now he is showing a graph of population growth over the last few million years. between this and the prebious slides, it isn’t a pretty picture….

But what does all this mean for us????

Keith says we’ve had ten thousand years of stability – the Holocene period (that’s the geological name for this time period, folks!). But we have developed the capability to alter this stability – some suggest we need to call this era the “Anthropocene” – meaning human-affected.

It’s claimed that human activity could push the Earth system outside the stable environmental state of the Holocene….

OK now he’s moved onto a new theme: “Them ‘n’ Us”

He tells an interesting family anecdote from the American South that raises into high relief “Us and Them” thinking. Not to mention: The Capulets and Montagues, The Sharks and the Jets, the Bloodz and the Cripz… etc. He says, we think about ourselves in terms of our tribalism…

I think we need to move to a different sense of “us”. We have to find something of a new horizon

He says our conference theme – of moving to 21st century thinking – isn’t enough. It’s too modest. It won’t help us to grapple with these big challenges we face. He says we have three big needs (he explains them in more detail – we’ll add his powerpoints later if we can!):

  • Get serious about sustainability
  • Make the communications revolution a social revolution
  • Continue to press for emancipation

Keith says that making these 3 big needs can make Us bigger (he has a slide that explains why)

He says we need:

  • whole-of-globe thinking
  • multi-generational thinking
  • capacity to deal with high levels of uncertainty
  • capacity to “be here now”

Keith introduces a new goal for education:

WISDOM [he has a slide to explain what he means here]

How do we accelerate the development of wisdom? (a great question for us to all think about!)

He asks three or four other equally big and open questions, wraps up, and opens up the floor for discussion.

Someone asks: How do you prevent kids from becoming overwhelmed by these huge challenges?

Keith answers with an anecdote about what it’s like to wait for the bus in a third world country (ha, you need to be here to  appreciate this story I think).

Someone else asks: How do we have wisdom at all the levels of decision-making?

Keith talks about his experiences working at DOC, supporting change management (in a very line-management organisation) etc, and his other experiences with other institutions that are much more non-linear, chaotic etc. He thinks structure is important, but we need to think more about how to support learning and leadership within organisations. He thinks the answer is continual reflection – always thinking about what we’re learning in the moment, in order to become wiser.

Someone else asks: How could we break down the walls between schools and other organisations etc – without looking like social engineering?

Keith says – it probably will look like social engineering, and why shouldn’t it? We can own up to this – a critical, careful, considered, open, curious approach to social engineering.

[Hearty applause]

Conference: November 2009 , , , ,

Thinking tool 3: Getting on the balcony (liveblog)

November 3rd, 2009

@sarahdalt0n whitebait for lunch shifted my thinking about conference food…

We’re all in our post-prandial dip, filled with lunch and good conversation, as Jennifer Garvey Berger introduces Thinking Tool 3.

Last year J and her family went walking in the Grand Canyon. J notes that there are no guardrails on the trail…

For a mother of a small child, the dropoff felt terrifying, so I spent much of the walk keeping an eye on [my young son] Aiden – keeping him away form the edge. But every now and then I would remember to look up [she shows us an amazing vista photograph of the grand canyon panorama]

This is a segue into the third thinking tool. Jennifer suggests we all tend to fall into this thinking – to be focussed in on the here and now, the immediate threat/issue/need, so much so that we often “forget to look up”. She discusses what this means for us in the context of ourselves within our organisations.

(Her powerpoints will be added to this blog in the future so you can experience this session vicariously through her slides!)

Jennifer gives us questions to discuss:

What are the norms which need challenging?

What is the conflict that needs discussing?

What are the roles which need redefining?

What is the pressure we should harness?

Some tweets:

@shiftingthinkng hmm, these are some good questions we could think about at NZCER – next staff meeting?

@StephaniePride@shiftingthinkng we all need 2 b leaders so we all need 2 have futures competencies & futures literacy

@whakaritorito Need to challenge norms that make us feel most comfortable

@Muzza007 But there is a MAJOR difference between the role of a manager and the role of a Leader…these roles cannot afford to be confused

There are some comments and discussion from the floor…..

And Jennifer hands over to the next speaker, Keith Johnston.

Conference: November 2009 , ,

Jennifer GB on competing commitments (liveblog)

November 3rd, 2009

It’s after morning tea, and JGB is introducing the second thinking tool. It’s about competing commitments.

Jennifer says we talk about people who say one thing and do another as “hypocrites” – she suggests we need to rethink this. The thing is, we ALL disagree with ourselves. We all SAY we will do certain things, or be certain ways, and yet we dont always DO them!

JGB introduces the theory of Robert (Bob) Kegan who talks about competing commitments. She asks the audience:

“What is the change to 21st century education you’re most committed to seeing in your own practice?”

She invites us to talk to our neighbour about the thing we have written.  There is a BUZZ of discussion in the room!

Wrestling back control of the floor, Jennifer asks us to recognise that while we are probably genuinely being committed to whatever we have written, that none of us acts in this way all the time. Her next question is:

“what do YOU do that gets in the way of this change in your own work?”.

Again, there is a buzz!

Jennifer asks – what was the difference between the two conversations you’ve just had?

Cmments include – the first conversation was easier and more fun. There was more energy in the room during the first discussion. The second conversation was harder, the energy in the room didn’t feel as good. One person said “for me the two conversations were very entwined”.

Jennifer says – we often talk about our commitments, because it FEELS GOOD – but we don’t tend to talk about the “shadows” – we don’t talk about the things we are disappointed in about ourselves, the things that hold us back, etc.

Kegan says the reason we “get in our own way” is probably because we are also committed to something that is UNDERMINED by our first commitment. For example, you might be committed to 21st century ways, but you are also committed to having control. You might be committed to being confused all the time, but also committed to knowing what’s going on.

Jennifer asks:

What might be the thing that is getting in your way? What is it protecting you from? What might I be trying to keep from happening in the world?

some tweets along the way:

@virago1mary JGB: Is being PRESENT (Senge)key to navigating the neutral zone?

@ rachlovestheweb @shiftingthinkng mine is for EVERY1 to have the chutzpah to thnk we can try anything and the humility to know we’ll often be wrong n its OK!

@rachlovestheweb @shiftingthinkng what I do that smtimes gets in th way: Looking 4 external approval/endorsement and losing heart if it’s not there…

@rachlovestheweb@shiftingthinkng: Mine is, if I totally own all my ideas (good and bad) – then I am totally responsible for them if they’re dumb!! :)

@virago1mary acknowledging ur shadows adds authenticity! Enriches learning. YAY!

@ ditto16 What a great start! The shift is building momentum

@jupitergreen The vibes are bubbling over and out the door!!!!!

@quelayla @shiftingthinkng Jennifer just stated that “competing commitments are a part of the fabric of being human” *like*

Jennifer sums up by asking us what we can gain by examining our own shadows, and how can we take this new knowledge and way of seeing ourselves and use it to help us as we enter periods of change – how we move from an old self to the new self we want to become.

Conference: November 2009 , ,

Michael Young’s keynote (Liveblog!)

November 3rd, 2009

Michael Young introduces himself and offers himself as an example of a living “shift in thinking” – saying that his own thinking about knowledge has changed over time.

He talks about how his understanding of the relationship between schooling and social justice, particularly in relation to the curriculum, has changed a lot. Since the 1970s he has written about curriculum. Why did he start to change his own thinking?

1) from criticisms of his early work

2) by reading others’ ideas

3) by getting involved in trying to influence policy

4) through becoming a parent.

He mentions some of the big dilemmas he has seen in education in many countries – for example – how can we have both equity and excellence?Encountering these issues in other countries, he sees that they have a universal character of education tension…

Michael talks about some of the critiques of his 1970s book about Curriculum [he reads out some examples of critiques of the "Trotskyist" political implications of his books, for example, and by contrast,  how he was recently accused of being a "right-wing elitist"]. The emotional content of these reactions against his ideas interests him and he believes signals something important.

He tells three stories of phases of his life.

The first was himself as a young chemistry teacher. “I took the whole curriculum knowledge thing for granted. Chemistry for me, English for someone else, Mathematics for someone else”.

Second, as a young teacher educator. Now saw curriculum as an issue of power, whose knowledge? A political struggle. Wanted to see a “fairer” curriculum – though he didn’t know what this would look like.

Third, starting about a decade ago, he started to think that neither of his first two ways of thinking was quite right. He talks about some of his current views about knowledge, curriculum, learning.

The remainder of Michael’s talk are an exposition of these changes in his thinking over time, particularly about knowledge and curriculum,  illustrated by stories form his experience and career.

This liveblogger, unfortunately, is not quite fast enough to capture all of these ideas as they unfolded in Michael’s talk – here’s hoping that theShifting Thinking media team will grab him for a short video interview after the talk so we can share with the world some of the main points covered in this talk!

Blogreaders, what are some of the main ideas, messages, conclusions, questions, and challenges raised for you by Michael’s talk?

Conference: November 2009 , ,

Act II begins! (Liveblog)

November 3rd, 2009

Here we are sitting in Circa theatre as Act II of Shifting Thinking begins.

We are welcomed by students from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Nga Mokopuna

Next, Robyn Baker explains how the thinking for the Shifting Thinking Conference has evolved over the past year. She describes this conference as “participatory theatre” – yes indeed! (Do you hear that, friends? We are calling on you to take on a role in this somewhat planned, but somewhat improvised performance in the next two days!)

After a few “housekeeping” notices, Robyn passes over to Jane Gilbert to explain some of the context for this conference. Jane describes this conference as….

“A big experiment”

“Trying newways of running a conference”

and notes (with a smile)

“Some of them might not work”

Jane explains that we have travelled a long journey with our thinking and planning for this conference. We began with the idea of holding a traditional academic conference, and now we are seeking to model what we think 21st century learning might look like (particularly on day 2). She explains the purpose of the thinking tools that will be interspersed with the talks on Day 1

“designed to get you to think about how your thinking has shifted during these two days of the conference”

Jane  explains that Day 2 will be emergent and complex. At the end of the day, we will all be given a list of quandaries from which we will select the one which we are most interested in. Based on our selection, we will be put into groups on Day 2 and our task for the day will be to think through these ideas drawing on the input and inspiration from the menu of breakout sessions.

Jane hands over to Jennifer Garvey-Berger who introduces herself the first Thinking Tool.  She asks how many people read this blog – many hands are raised – (awesome!!).  Jennifer explains that the key challenge we have is in thinking how to translate all the new ideas that we blog about into shifted practice.  She invites us to talk to the person next to us -then a few moments later tries to recapture our attention [with limited success]- laughing that the tension of 21st century education – as soon as you let people start talking to each other, you lose control!

Jennifer asks – how do our brains understand change? A photo of a straight garden path – is this how our brain thinks of change – linear? predictable? The next slide shows a tangle of woods – aha. This is what change is really like, isn’t it?  She says, have we been too focussed on getting things “exactly right” in education (and hoping that this will bring the change we desire) – instead of recognising the chaos, and complexity, non-linearity of real-world change.

Oscillation

Chaos

Complexity

Instability

“STRANGE ATTRACTORS”

How do we tip over from one stable state (20th century thinking) through a place of chaos, instability, before we finally “tip over” into a new stable state (a 21st century system of thinking)?

Now Jennifer introduces the thinking tool based on Bridges’ theory of Transitions . After a cogent explanation of Bridges’ theory, she invites us to think about a time that we have made a shift in our thinking. When did it happen, what did we have to give up, what happened to us when we were in the “neutral zone”? How did we come to make a new beginning? Talk to your neighbour…..

[NB Jennifer's powerpoint slide will be put up on Shifting Thinking soon :) ]

Conference: November 2009 , ,