Australian Learning Lecture: Sir Michael Barber on ‘Joy and Data’.

On Thursday May 21st, the inaugural Australian Learning Lecture was delivered by Sir Michael Barber on the topic of ‘Joy and Data‘. The event was attended by many leading educationalists and has been initiated as a joint project of the Koshland Innovation Fund and the State Library of Victoria. Their aim is “to bring big ideas in education to national attention. The decade long project is designed to strengthen the importance of learning in Australia for all Australians.”

Here’s what Sir Michael said was the intention of his lecture:

“It is very clear that the longer the 21st century goes on, the more education matters,” says Sir Michael. “The debate I’d like the lecture to provoke is about how data, joy and learning combined could lead to much higher performance in education systems. All too often people, especially critics, create a false dichotomy between data and joy. I argue that they go together and – indeed – that only if they go together can we ensure success in future.”
The lecture was recorded and you can view it below. I’ve set the video to start 22mins 16 seconds in, because there’s a lot of waiting on this video before anything happens!
A storify of my tweets and some from others has been collated and can be viewed here: https://storify.com/jennyluca/all-australian-lecture-michael-barber
Michael highlighted what he considered as four misconceptions about data during his lecture.
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I think what Sir Michael did was help us understand how important it is to be informed by the data, but also how we need to apply human judgement to our evaluation. The following tweets (derived from Michael’s words) kind of summed it up for me.
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I think in education there are some who fear data and the evaluations being drawn from it. Provided human judgement is a factor and we do the right thing with the data we have collected, there should be no reason for fear. In education, we are focused on children’s lives – if we keep our compasses set right, then data provides us with the ability to see where to next. And where to next could be the very thing that enables a child to find the joy that learning can bring.
Thank you Ellen Koshland and the State Library of Victoria for your vision and philanthropic generosity to make education an important talking point in Australian society. I truly hope this vision is realised and that this series will elevate discussion around education and its critical importance to the future development of this country.

School’s out Friday

My students are currently enmeshed in the John Green component of our ‘Language of our Times’ class. In the past couple of weeks they have been working in teams and collating research about John, trying to ascertain how he uses the Internet to build community and thus increase his audience.

His success at doing this, in an entirely authentic way, has changed his life. He’s incredibly successful, has had two of his novels made into feature length films and has had YouTube approach him and his brother to host ‘Crash Course‘ – a range of fun educational videos about science, history and literature. But as this video suggests, it’s also changed his life in ways he probably never anticipated. He’s become a recognisable Internet ‘star’ and and this means a life of constant attention. The price you pay for fame I guess.

John says in the end stages of the video that he thinks that some kind of loss is inherent to change. I think he’s right.

I’ll leave you with that, and wish you the best of weekends. Melbourne is promising an almost balmy 19 degrees C this Sunday. If the sun is shining, I’ll be basking in it. Whatever you’re doing, enjoy it. :)

Where do you find the time for you?

I read an article in an education leadership journal today that talked about the need for teachers, and especially those who hold demanding leadership positions, to take time out of each day to step away from the job and do something just for you.

It brought back to me a moment recently that really did make an impact.

The family had been bugging me – nagging me quite frankly – to sign up to Netflix. So after 90 minutes on the phone one evening renegotiating a contract with Telstra and extricating us from some pretty banal Foxtel content, out came the computer and Netflix entered our lives.

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(And yes, I have shamelessly grabbed this image off Google image search – link here –  because it is perfect for this post and none of the CC pics for my search ‘Netflix monster’ pulled in anything worth using. And yes, it is 10.49pm at night, and I’m too tired to spend hours finding a CC image that’s worthy. Sorry Lawrence Lessig.)

You would have thought the Messiah had entered the room, such was their delight when the realisation struck that I had signed up for the four screens deal and everyone could be viewing different content at the same time. Yes, it was that kind of moment – open mouths, devices switched on and the hunt for the perfect program was on.

Now, I’m no longer a television watcher – there’s no time for that. I’m present, but my mind is elsewhere, either tackling work for school or watching the twitter stream with it’s endless links to interesting content roll by. I can keep my head around some reality television offerings, because you can dip in and out and there’s a part of me that likes prying. But for the most part, television represents too big a commitment. I’m too busy to invest in a space that requires me to tune in at specific times and stay the course.

But I did wonder about this Netflix thing, so into the world I entered.

I could feel the pull as soon as the personalised suggestions started scrolling across the screen. There was ‘Rainman’ a film I haven’t seen for more than 20 years, but one I’d really enjoyed and have wanted to see again. In the next view, a bunch of series I’ve heard people talk about were tempting me, drawing me in, promising me hours of quality immersion into worlds far removed from mine. I succumbed.

I watched the first episode of ‘Call the Midwife’, and I knew this was a relationship I needed to sever. I had to cut the umbilical cord connecting me to Netflix and the temptations within. You see, I really don’t think I can let myself loose in a space like that, where entertainment flows at the command of your fingertips. It comes at a cost, and the cost to me is time spent learning, time spent feeding the information junkie part of me that is sustained on a diet of content that feeds my mind and sets the synapses into overdrive. ‘Call the Midwife’ would entertain me, but would it feed my soul and set the synapses spinning?

Somehow, I think maybe I need to find the nice middle ground in all of this, and the article I referred to earlier made that pretty clear. Netflix isn’t the answer, as I discovered when my husband tuned into ‘The Killing’ and I lost four hours one afternoon before I threw my hands in the air and declared that I really couldn’t do this. He could, and devoted large swathes of his life over the next week to unravelling plot twists until he finally declared freedom from Netflix’s tangled web when all four seasons had been consumed.

Maybe it’s walking, maybe it’s reading novels, maybe it’s writing. Maybe it’s none of this, and maybe I need to come to terms with the fact that maybe it doesn’t matter, because I enjoy immersion in spaces that other people think replicate work.

Maybe I just need to be at peace with me.

 

School’s out Friday

I saw this last week on Facebook and thought it was something to share here as a School’s out Friday post. I find it really interesting when you meet people who bear an uncanny resemblance to people you know, or they remind you of characters you’ve seen in movies. The idea that there is someone in the world who is your ‘doppelganger’ is an intriguing one.

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I’ve always wondered what it would be like to meet your ‘doppelganger’. I remember being at a market when my son was little, and he’d grabbed the pants of a woman he was sure was me. Was I delighted when I saw the woman he’d thought was his mother? Not particularly. It seems our perception of what we look like might not fit with reality!

Have a great weekend. Scan the crowds. They’re out there!

 

The Evolution of the Employee – do schools understand this?

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If there’s something I’m pretty sure of, it’s that the structure of school is difficult to change. Hopefully we will see some shifts in how we organise the day for our students, providing opportunities for our older students to learn in anytime, anywhere, virtual scenarios and giving them greater autonomy over their learning to prepare them well for university and working life. But for our younger students, I don’t see the organisational framework of school changing anytime soon. Let’s face it, people need to send their children somewhere during the day, and schools are the best fit and will continue to be that for some time to come.

What’s different is the kind of workplaces the students we teach will find themselves in at the end of their school or university lives. This is happening already, and the infographic above* outlines the changing scenario well. Just because the environment we work in as teachers is one that finds it more difficult to morph to this model, doesn’t mean that it is an unlikely notion for the students sitting in our classrooms right now.

We need to understand this. We need to comprehend the workplace of the future (in some cases, the workplace of the now) and help our students develop skills that will enable them to adjust to this when they branch out and try to make a living for themselves. I see people on Twitter question whether or not it is our responsibility to help our students become ‘job ready’. I contend that it is. While we may not be priming them for specific careers, we do need to be thinking seriously about the skills we can be fostering in classrooms today that will be beneficial for a working life scenario like that proposed above for the future employee.

* Infographic from Jacob Morgan’s book, ” The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization.

School’s out Friday

Here’s a great discussion starter for class next week.

What door would you walk through? What does it say about our society that people (and let’s qualify that – people of the female persuasion) are put in positions where they are confronted with doorways like this and filmed making decisions based on their perceptions of themselves?

Here’s the behind the scenes video.

What door would I walk through?

Beautiful. Damn right.

Have a great weekend. Choose beautiful.