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Nigel Coutts

A culture of innovation requires trust and resilience - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    Two quotes by Albert Einstein point to the importance of creating a culture within our schools (and organisations) that encourages experimentation, innovation, tinkering and indeed failure. If we are serious about embracing change, exploring new approaches, maximising the possibilities of new technologies, applying lessons from new research and truly seek to prepare our students for a new work order, we must become organisations that encourage learning from failure
Nigel Coutts

Change and why we all see it differently - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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     If the young people of today are to thrive beyond the walls of the classroom they will need to be able to cope with a world characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. The children of todays Kindergarten will enter the workplace in the fourth-decade of the 21st Century. We debate the merits of teaching 21st Century Skills and what they might be while teaching children who have lived their entire lives in that very century. The challenge is how will schools and individual teachers respond to this drive for urgent change.
Nigel Coutts

Starting the year on the right foot - The Learner's Way - 0 views

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    Across Australia students are returning to school. Armed with fresh stationery, new books full of promise, shoes that are not yet comfortable and uniforms washed and ready to go, students will be heading off for the first day of a new year. What do they hope to find and how might we make sure their first day back sets them up for a successful year of learning?
Nigel Coutts

Becoming Learners: Making time for OUR Learning - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    At the heart of all that we do as teachers lies the act of learning. Our hope is that our actions inspire our students to engage in a process that results in their acquisition of new knowledge, mastery of new skills and the development of capacities and dispositions which will prepare them for life beyond our classrooms. Increasingly our focus is on developing the skills and dispositions our students require to become life-long learners. We recognise that in a rapidly changing world, the capacity to take charge of your personal learning journey, to become self-navigating learners is essential. 
Nigel Coutts

Learning with the New Science & Technology Curriculum - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    In the final weeks of 2017 a new Science & Technology Curriculum for Kindergarten to Year Six slipped into the schools of New South Wales. What does this new curriculum bring and what does it reveal about the nature of learning as we approach the year 2020?
Nigel Coutts

Culture, Change and the Individual - The Learner's Way - 0 views

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    A recent post by George Couros (author of The innovators Mindset) posed an interesting question about the role that culture plays in shaping the trajectory of an organisation. The traditional wisdom is that culture trumps all but George points to the role that individuals play in shaping and changing culture itself. Is culture perhaps less resilient than we are led to imagine and is it just a consequence of the individuals with the greatest influence? Or, is something else at play here?
Nigel Coutts

A Question of Scale: Meeting a Global Need - The Learner's Way - 0 views

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    I recently spent ten days in Cambodia accompanying students on a service trip where they developed their cultural understanding and spent time improving the environment of a local school. While laying pavers and digging a ditch I had a chance to reflect on the difficulties facing education in a country like this. I came away with questions, wondering and few answers. 
Nigel Coutts

Inquiry vs Direct Instruction - The Great Debate and How it Went Wrong - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    There is a debate taking place in the world of education. It is not a new debate but recently it has gathered new energy and the boundary between polite discussion of opposing views and hostility has been stretched. The debate is that between those who are advocates of inquiry based learning and those who believe direct instruction produces the best outcomes. - This article explore how the debate has gone wrong and fails to serve the needs of learners.
Nigel Coutts

What truly drives change in Education? - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    You do not need to look very hard to find a report claiming that schools and education needs to change. But real change needs more than teacher blaming and increased accountability. What will drive real change is . . .
Nigel Coutts

Educational Disadvantage - Socio-economic Status and Education Pt 3 - The Learner's Way - 0 views

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    Pedagogy and curriculum that engages students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds and is deemed personally relevant to the lives they live, are seen as important factors towards equality of outcome by Wrench, Hammond, McCallum and Price (2012). Their research involved designing a curriculum and pedagogy that would be highly engaging to students of low-socioeconomic status. 'The interventions involved curriculum redesigns that set meaningful, challenging learning task(s) (culminating in high quality learning products); strong connection to student life-worlds; and a performative expectation for student learning.' (Wrench et al 2012 p934)
Nigel Coutts

Educational Disadvantage - Socio-economic Status and Education Pt 2 - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    An unavoidable element of the discourse around educational disadvantage or equality is how we define and assess equality. One definition will see this as being in equality of access to education, funding for education and/or resources. Such an approach has largely been seen in government funding models however subtle variations on this theme have resulted in significant differences in resulting policies.
Nigel Coutts

Educational Disadvantage - Socio-economic Status & Education Pt 1 - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    The role that education plays in issues of social equity and justice cannot be undervalued. It is acknowledged by the United Nations as a human right, 'Everyone has the right to education' (United Nations, 1948) and as outlined in the Melbourne Declaration on the Educational Goals for Young Australians 'As a nation Australia values the central role of education in building a democratic, equitable and just society- a society that is prosperous, cohesive and culturally diverse, and that values Australia's Indigenous cultures as a key part of the nation's history, present and future.' (Barr et al, 2008). Such lofty assertions of the importance of education as a right and national value should be sufficient to ensure that all Australians have access to an education of the highest standard with equitable outcomes for all, the reality is that this is not the case.
Nigel Coutts

Project Zero Turns 50 - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    This year is the fiftieth birthday of Harvard's Project Zero, a research project designed to explore the nature of thinking and learning and from this suggest pedagogies which align with what we know about the mind. For its birthday celebration Project Zero shared insights from its five decades of research with presentations from Howard Gardner, David Perkins, Shari Tasman, Steve Seidel and Daniel Wilson. The presentations revealed the changing nature of the work of Project Zero from its early days and focus on arts education to its current position as a research organisation with broad interests across education but with a focus on thinking, understanding and the workings of the mind.
Nigel Coutts

What if? Reflections from the ACSA Conference - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    Last week I spent three days thinking about curriculum and all that it means to teaching and learning thanks to the Australian Curriculum Studies Association's biannual conference. It was three days of deeply thoughtful conversation and learning with just the right mix of academic research and ideas for grounded practice straight out of innovative classrooms and schools. With keynotes by Alan Reid, Dan Haesler, Bob Lingard, Robert Randall and Jan Owen combined with Masterclasses from some of Australia's leading educators there was much on offer. The biggest challenge was deciding which workshop you would attend when every session offered such outstanding opportunities.
Nigel Coutts

Destinationitis - Preparing for tomorrow while missing today - The Learner's Way - 0 views

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    Destinationitis is the tendency to focus more on where you are going than where you are. You will frequently see groups of trekkers suffering from destinationitis. So focused are they on making it to the end of the trek or the next rest stop that they storm through the wilderness oblivious to the beauty that surrounds them. Destinationitis similarly afflicts educators but here the consequences are borne by the students.
Nigel Coutts

Making Time for Quiet Contemplation - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    In our busy and highly connected lives it can be difficult to find time to slow down, to deliberately and mindfully engage in reflective contemplation. Taking the time to do so can be significant for success, creativity, mental well-being and learning and yet we seem to struggle to commit time to this valuable practice. Schools, in particular seem to offer little time for students to slow down and think, and with the busy lives students lead such time is often entirely absent.
Nigel Coutts

Contemplating the consequences of Constructivism - The Learner's Way - 0 views

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    Constructivism is one of those ideas we throw around in educational circles without stopping to think about what we mean by it. They are the terms that have multiple meanings, are at once highly technical and common usage and are likely to cause debate and disagreements. Constructivism in particular carries a quantity of baggage with it. It is a term that is appropriated by supporters of educational approaches that are in stark contrast to the opposing view; constructivism vs didactic methods or direct instruction. The question is what are the origins of constructivism and does a belief in this as an approach to understanding learning necessitate an abandonment of direct instruction or is this a false dichotomy?
Nigel Coutts

Sharing our Puzzles of Practice - The Learner's Way - 0 views

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    Einstein is often quoted as having said "If I have an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes." Clearly Einstein understood how to attack puzzling problems. As teachers we face a host of puzzles on a daily basis. Every student we teach, thanks to their idiosyncrasies presents a unique puzzle. The interactions between students further complicates things. Our goals for our learners, their learning needs, the demands of the curriculum, pressures from beyond the classroom all result in puzzles for us to manage and to solve.
Nigel Coutts

Asking Why and Why and Why - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    As children, we ask "Why?" a lot. It is a part of childhood, that special time when the many forces acting upon our cognitive development converge around a singular desire to ask "Why". It becomes the central focus of our conversational style, an incessant exclamation into the void which tests the patience of any nearby adult. But asking "Why" offers so much more.
Nigel Coutts

Taking risks outside our comfort zone - The Learner's Way - 0 views

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    Possibly the most dangerous place to spend too much time is inside your comfort zone. Only when we take a risk and step away from the safety of the familiar and the ways we have always done things do we expose ourselves to new ideas and become open to the possibility of learning and discovery. The trouble is having the confidence to take that first step, to embrace discomfort and become open to the risks that come with trying something new.
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