Schools That Acknowledge ‘It’s About Kids, Not Stuff’

We all need the Educhair 5000X. Or, maybe we don’t ………………………….

I hope you enjoyed that – tongue in cheek, but sadly a bit too close to reality for comfort?

This amusing short video is part of a much bigger set of resources related to the Ashoka Foundation’s Start Empathy’ programme, and particularly videos that highlight a year in the life of Mission Hill School, USA.

The link below doesn’t just give access to the 10 videos for the 10 chapters of the ‘Year at Mission Hill’ documentary series, but as you go to each chapter you get a whole load of additional links for videos and reading resources. I loved these videos, the openness and transparency of the school and the educators, the evidence of the effort they put in to living the mission of the school, effective collaboration and clearly putting the children first. This plainly isn’t a ‘rich’ school in terms of premises or assets. They clearly face many challenges, take students from very diverse backgrounds. However, what shines out from all the videos is the sensitivity, humanity and focus on recognising the individuality in each of the children and working to enable each to fulfil their potential.

These really are worth the time, but I give fair warning, you may spend quite some time getting in to these materials. Enjoy!

A Year in the Life of Mission Hill School
(Click on the link above. Then, click on each Chapter down the right side of the page to access the video and list of other related resources)

I Was Blown Away When I Realized What This Image Really Was – Daily Megabyte

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14 and Wiser Than Most

An amazing insight in to the thinking of a 14 year old boy, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez determined to bring about meaningful change in the way mankind interacts with the environment. He says, quite simply that it's not climate that needs to change, but the mindset of society.

Here's the MIC article about him and the making of the short film:

Mic - Article
(click on the link above to open the article)

And, here is his TED talk and hip-hop performance with his younger brother:

Power to the young Earth Guardian Crews!

Educating the Whole Child

The article linked below says a great deal about where we are in education today and, I believe, what still remains so very wrong in the system (regardless of which country you’re looking at).

The article sets out to share some research that suggests that an emphasis on empathy skills, emotional intelligence, approaches to social skills and understanding one’s own learning process are required in the higher classes in schools, as well as Kindergarten and primary – as though these findings are a big shock!

KQED News – Mindshift Blog Article

I’ve seen this and how it manifests for myself. It represents a kind of schizophrenia in school education. Even many highly regarded educators will reconcile themselves to espousing ‘whole child’ education, holistic education and a nurturing, child-centric approach whilst children are in KG and lower classes. But then, somewhere when the children reach middle school those same supposedly child-centric educators will snatch back the learning ‘power’ from the children and take over, shunning child-centricity for a hard nosed, syllabus based approach where the educators will drive and the children are expected to compliantly accept. So, this begs the question – did we ever really believe in child-centricity and holistic learning, or did we just go along with it because everyone else was talking in those terms? Or, does it come down to a lack of faith in the teenage child to do the right things for themselves? If we leave them to their own devices, let them make choices etc., they might make the wrong ones! better that we take over and drive the learning!

To my mind, among teachers who teach in higher classes in schools there is way too much interest in their subject, the facts and knowledge contained within it and themselves as jugs to fill empty glasses. There is one way in which this is understandable – the secondary teacher who teaches children ‘the stuff’ meticulously, has them memorize the stuff faithfully and reproduce the stuff in an examination gets the simple endorsement and validation represented by their students’ examination scores. (Ironically, of course, all the evidence is we don’t really know what “stuff” will be important in the lives of these children)

To focus on equipping a young person with the skills for life, the emotional intelligence, social and inter-personal skills can’t necessarily be measured and that makes it less comfortable for the educators. Ironically, it’s also less comfortable for the parents and for those in government who want/ need to believe that they can drive education as a driver for economic progress. So, all parties collude in ‘the game’. And all the time they continue to swear allegiance to holistic learning, developing the whole child whilst reliant upon the elementary classroom for the evidence and proof of that commitment.

My belief – plain and simple, educating the whole child and maintaining a focus as much on process as learning outcomes is as right with the 15 year old as it was with the 5 year old.

Leadership and Communication

Here’s a nice little short video (only about 5 minutes), with some interesting thoughts on how leaders can communicate most effectively.

My biggest takeaway: personal, future, story

Bluepoint Leadership Training Video

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Peter Gabriel – Video to Fight Human Rights Abuses

Long admitted the man’s music,  but as time has gone on have come more and more to respect the man.

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Grit and Perseverance

Closely associated to ‘Growth Mindset’ on which i wrote a few days ago, recent months have seen increasing focus on grit and perseverance as qualities that reflect the positive inclination to stick at tasks and to see effort and ‘trying’ as the means to effective learning (as opposed to the fixed mindset belief that intelligence and ability to learn is just innate and shouldn’t require effort).

I was so pleased to find that Edutopia had done a great job of bringing together a wealth of resources on these subjects.

The first link contains a curated collection of articles, websites, videos and other resources related to grit and perseverance:;

Resilience and Grit – Edutopia Resource Rounup
(Click on the link above to access all the resources)

The next is an interesting article about the value and merit of the growth mindset as applied to teachers and professionals, as opposed to thinking of it purely from the perspective of students:

Edutopia – Developing a Growth Mindset for Teachers and Staff

Finally, an article about strengthening and building executive functions – the skills related to controlling one’s own mind, points of focus and ‘mind management’

Edutopia – Strategies for Strengthening Executive Functions

For anyone who wants to know and understand more about these areas, this is a great set of resources with which to begin.

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