Entries in education (13)


Sir Ken Robinson

On March 16th, 2011 Sir Ken Robinson presented a talk to the Learning Without Frontiers community followed by an audience discussion where he was joined by Mick Waters, Curriculum Foundation and Keri Facer, Professor of Education, MMU.

Here are the edited highlights of that talk:


And the discussion panel

Be part of the conversation and post your comments below

Get this video on iTunes, Blip.TV or YouTube

Pictures from the evening.


What should be taught in our schools?

On March 3rd 2011, an informal evening of discussion and debate took place featuring Katharine Birbalsingh (teacher and author), Toby Young (journalist and author), Dr Ralph Townsend (Headmaster Winchester College), Dawn Hallybone (senior teacher), Tristram Shepard (online educational publisher and former Oftsed inspector) and Donald Clark (e-learning entrepreneur).

The occassion marked both an exchange of views as related to England's National Curriculum Review and the launch of Katharine Birbalisingh's book "To Miss with Love".

Each speaker presented a 5 minute position statement which was followed for a discussion with the 175 people in attendance.

The evening was supported by LWF, BESA and Penguin.

Here is the audio recording from the evening.

What should be taught in our schools? by learningwithoutfrontiers





I'm a celebrity, let me fix education

Can Jamie Oliver and Joanna Lumley fix our schools or has celebrity culture gone too far?

In 2009, LWF invited the artist and agent provocateur, Malcolm McLaren, to present a keynote talk about learning. What pray-tell could this “célébrité terrible” tell us about learning and education?

This was the last public speech that Malcolm gave before he passed away early in 2010 and he used this opportunity not to tell us what he thought was wrong with education, he admitted upfront that he was not qualified to do so, but to tell us what was wrong with the culture of celebrity.

Prescient as ever, Malcolm lamented the challenge of schools forced to operate in a culture of stupidity driven by the rise of the talent show and popular culture.

He summed it up simply in his opening statement “all popular culture today from Hollywood, television and media, even politics, accepts and goes to great lengths to promote the idea that it’s cool to be stupid and for that it’s a huge problem whatever anybody says about education in the Western world”.

Yet as if celebrity culture knows no bounds we now have Jamie Oliver and friends, Joanna Lumley too, all pronouncing their views on the ill’s of modern education and how they would “fix” it. They are celebrities so surely they must know.

Can Jamie & Joanna save education?Now don’t misunderstand me, I think it’s about time that the priesthood of the education profession opens up and engages with the general public in a full and frank dialogue. The consumers and clients of learning should rightly be informed and be participants in the discussion about what should be taught in our schools and how our schools might function.

But having been relentlessly fed a media diet of celebrity trivia, karaoke talent shows and a general decline in editorial quality across the board is it a surprise that the gullible public would be suckered into this latest wave of celebrity punditry?

Actually this isn’t a particularly recent phenomenon. Our politicians and royals have always been enamoured by the glitz of shiny celebrity. No sooner does a new UK Prime Minister enter No.10 than a series of parties and gatherings are hosted to show the starlets of past and present entering the hallowed doorway for a photo opportunity with our leaders. Make the right noises and a mention in the Queen’s Birthday or New Years Honours list is a certainty after all.

Some have suggested that this is an “upper middle class” conspiracy. But I would posit another suggestion. What we have is the emergence of the “Editorial Classes”. Predominantly based in London this chattering, self-reverential group are determining the popular agenda and rather than informing the public they seek to influence opinion or as Noam Chomsky would have it, “manufacture consent”.

At the risk of losing future invitations to attend swanky dinner parties, or “supper” as we call it in polite society, I must point out that regardless of which newspaper or media channel the members of the editorial class represent they all dine at the same tables, sharing anecdotes and reveling in their moral high-ground for the benefit of our poor learners and the decline of Western society.

I propose that a new association is formed for these willing actors and celebrities who are clearly on the way to rescue us from our wicked ways. Perhaps they could call this society “Actors Really Supporting Education” and then use the #arse hashtag on Twitter so we know where they are speaking from.

Seriously though, I believe that the public should be engaged in an informed, accessible debate about the future of learning that takes us beyond the soundbite nonsense that you typically hear in the back of a London taxi or the mouth of a celebrity selling a book or TV show. Educational supplements in the Guardian, tradeshows open only to education professionals, the TES, etc are understandably targeted at a specific audience whereas learning is the ultimate consumer product. So how does the consumer make an informed choice?

How can, to quote Stephen Heppell, the “stellar” examples of radically improved learning that are happening up and down the country cross-over into the mainstream media and engage the public with something other than the dangerous stereotypes that are being presented in todays popular press?

Some of the fault lies at the feet of the education profession itself. It is an insular profession that appears unwilling to enter into discussion in public forum with those who it believes do not merit response. Like many professions it uses an impenetrable language that woe betide you should you get it wrong. Those in the profession that speak out are quickly shouted down. Yet it’s the public who are doing the voting and the media who are influencing the public whilst all the time our editorial and political classes perform their courtship rituals.

My guess is that this won’t bring about the reforms for education that our learners need and we don’t have the benefit of time. The smart suppliers of learning are already looking at new models of supply and this is likely to happen outside of the classroom. Perhaps this is the disruption that Lord Puttnam was alluding to at the last LWF.


Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia, LWF Talk, London 2011

Knowledge, collaboration, freedom & learning

Jimmy Wales is the US Internet entrepreneur and wiki pioneer best known as the founder of Wikipedia. "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge" Jimmy asks us in this talk and discusses how Wikipedia has grown, the impact it has made and the people who contribute to its creation.

Jimmy discusses future directions for Wikipedia and Wikia, Inc


Dawn Hallybone, LWF Talk, London 2011

My name is Dawn Hallybone & I am a gamer.

Teaching with video games in primary education.

Award-winning teacher, Dawn Hallybone, Oakdale Junior School, presents her work where she has integrated gaming and commercial video game technology within her teaching practice which is shared amongst other practitioners through a network of schools. Dawn presents evidence of how the use of gaming technology is motivating learners and improving outcomes.