Playing with Fire – Mike Fairclough

Extract taken from Foreword by Professor Bill Lucas

This book is expansive in its conception of education of the desired outcomes of a child’s school days.  It is a serious corrective to a risk-adverse world, carefully explaining why it possible to do potentially dangerous things in a character, values and skill-forming way.  It takes learning out of the classroom into the real world where it belongs without compromising the necessary disciplinary progress that students need to make – West Rise is an outstanding school for both Ofsted and for someone with my values.  It reconnects children to the natural world when too many of them have lost any link with the seed to seed cycle, with care for creatures and with the awe that landscapes like this can inspire.  It is an awesome laboratory for the development of character and capability.

Above all Playing with Fire is, for me, about trust. Trust children to set up and run an art studio.  Trust parents that they will let you take risks.  Trust teachers to let go.  Trust us all that we need help from those who understand animals and wetlands and archaeology if we are to be real lifelong learners.  Trust your luck that when the water buffalo get out, the village will understand.  Trust that there are great Ofsted inspectors who see through the ordinary.  Trust that not all health  and safety people are the problem.  And trust that, fortified by this book, you can play with fire in your own backyard.

playing-with-fire

 

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Featured book: The Hungry Mind – Susan Engel

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Despite American education’s recent mania for standardized tests, testing misses what really matters about learning: the desire to learn in the first place. Curiosity is vital, but it remains a surprisingly understudied characteristic. The Hungry Mind” is a deeply researched, highly readable exploration of what curiosity is, how it can be measured, how it develops in childhood, and how it can be fostered in school. Children naturally possess an active interest in knowing more about the world around them. But what begins as a robust trait becomes more fragile over time, and is shaped by experiences with parents, teachers, peers, and the learning environment. Susan Engel highlights the centrality of language and question-asking as crucial tools for expressing curiosity. She also uncovers overlooked forms of curiosity, such as gossip an important way children satisfy their interest in other people. Although curiosity leads to knowledge, it can stir up trouble, and schools too often have an incentive to squelch it in favor of compliance and discipline. Balanced against the interventions of hands-on instructors and hovering parents, Engel stresses the importance of time spent alone, which gives children a chance to tinker, collect, read about the things that interest them, and explore their own thoughts. In addition to providing a theoretical framework for the psychology of curiosity, The Hungry Mind” offers educators practical ways to put curiosity at the center of the classroom and encourage children s natural eagerness to learn.”

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British Journal of Education Studies review of Expansive Education Book

Expansive education: teaching learners for the real world. By Bill Lucas, Guy Claxton9780335247554 (2)
and Ellen Spencer. Pp 240. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. 2013. £22.99 (pbk).
ISBN 978-0335247554.

Values matter in education. From its first pages, Expansive Education reminds us ‘…
education is irreducibly a moral business’ (p. 8). Martin Luther King’s advice that teachers concentrate upon ‘worthy objectives’ for education sets the tone of this book full of challenges to established educational policy dogmas. Outlining what might be involved in ‘expansive’ education, the authors are unapologetic to use the word ‘ought’ to describe the need to teach confidence enhancing and creative mindsets applicable to both personal and global contexts. Dispositions like ‘resilience and resourcefulness’ (p. 12), for example, are argued to be as vital to the mental and intellectual health of those in the ‘best’ universities as they are to the youngest children in our nurseries. Expansive education must also involve values that apply to the ‘real’ world, of rapid communication, burgeoning technologies, widening access to heritage, knowledge, skills and research. The goals, attitudes, environments and leaderships of learning need expansion suggest the writers, and few would disagree.

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Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools Through Student-Engaged Assessment

eedNET book of the month from Ron Beger: 

From Expeditionary Learning Schools comes a proven approach to student assessment Leaders of Their Own Learning offers a new way of thinking about assessment based on the celebrated work of Expeditionary Learning Schools across the country.

 

Student–Engaged Assessment is not a single practice but an approach to teaching and learning that equips and compels students to understand goals for their learning and growth, track their progress toward those goals, and take responsibility for reaching them. This requires a set of interrelated strategies and structures and a whole–school culture in which students are given the respect and responsibility to be meaningfully engaged in their own learning. Includes everything teachers and school leaders need to implement a successful Student–Engaged Assessment system in their schools Outlines the practices that will engage students in making academic progress, improve achievement, and involve families and communities in the life of the school Describes each of the book′s eight key practices, gives advice on how to begin, and explains what teachers and school leaders need to put into practice in their own classrooms Ron Berger is Chief Program Officer for Expeditionary Learning and former public school teacher Leaders of Their Own Learning shows educators how to ignite the capacity of students to take responsibility for their own learning, meet Common Core and state standards, and reach higher levels of achievement.

Available on Amazon