Greetings from Australia!! Many thanks to Scott McLeod for the invitation to post to this blog. We had an Australian writer who spoke of “The tyranny of distance.” Now, over a decade into a fully graphic web history, I have the opportunity to participate in global conversations, and, for anyone in any doubt about the pervasiveness of the internet, our Prime Minister, at 68 years of age, has taken to making announcements via YouTube, following the CNN experiment with your candidate hopefuls recently.
Global conversations like this provide a look at some interesting dichotomies between macro and micro cultures. Contrast the strength of culture of a rural village: a history of centuries and practices unchanging; with the global internet vernacular, with its set of common protocols and entrée to a rapidly shifting world. There is much within our culture here in Australia which has been borrowed from yours. I just finished watching, for example, Australian Idol! Yep, just like your version but with Aussie accents. Then again, they sound just normal to us.
For at least forty thousand years, Australian Aboriginal people have been the custodians of hundreds of lands throughout the continent we know as Australia. Within many countries, different languages and customs grew up with relationships being clear in the reciprocity which was integral to the community.
A small matter of a War of Independence being waged by you guys against England was one of the reasons why somewhere else needed to be found to send convicted felons. (There were, of course the plethora of other reasons, strategic naval reprovisioning etc) So. Enter the First Fleet in 1788 and the growth of a colony with strong British roots. Queen Elizabeth II is still our queen too.
It was not until quite recently that our law formally recognised that the land to which the British crown laid claim was not, in fact, terra nullius, or land of nobody, but land which held clear relationships with traditional custodians. This year, in 2007, we are only now seeing forty years since a national referendum decided that Aboriginal people would be counted in the Census.
Since World War Two in particular, the US influence in Australia has been enormous. And so, we stare across the Pacific with the opportunity to see from afar and try to learn. I am hopeful that this experience will be part of that journey: a trip to find out.
I’m a keen user of ICT to support learning and pretty much anything else.
I believe that school leaders need to be modelling effective use of ICT to support all aspects of what a school does. It is about creating a mood where people begin to accept as the default, that a solution will usually be available, if you are curious enough and creative enough to seek it out.
In other words, it is not so much the possession of the piece of knowledge itself which is the critical issue, but rather the ability to extract the learning objects from exponentially growing streams of knowledge, and reassemble them to express understanding.
It is not what we teach so much as what we teach about learning, and the vast horizon of possibility it creates.
So I always get saddened when I see our popular culture perpetuating the same view of ‘school’ as that place where the reluctant scholar is held to learn in isolation from a world of tree climbing and good natured frog catching. Or, as a place where the coolest kid is always the one who is best able to model mediocrity, or to create anger in the teacher, frustration from the Principal and then get the girl or sing a stunning solo at the end of year concert.
We have all been to school and have a view about what it is.
We have always worked toward getting better and better at School Planning. Spirals of continuous improvement and aspirational targets allow us to create improvement to what we currently do.
We have all been to school and have a clear view of exactly what School Planning means.
It becomes interesting to swap the order of these two words around. We then begin to talk about Planning Schools. Now you’re talking! If we’re planning schools, who are we planning them for? What do we want them to learn? How will we know that what we do has a positive affect in the lives of these people? How do we demonstrate to our people that what we have planned has assisted in the creation of great futures for our young people? By what measure can we quantify this benefit? Does this school have to look like anything which we might now see as a school? And the list could go on.
How do we get the popular paradigm about what schools might be to shift closer to that of a place where there is an opportunity to learn the dynamic of being an interactive participant in the multiplication of human knowledge? And the joy which that can bring?
When young people are introduced to the idea of school as something which is not a ‘rite’ but rather a ‘right’ of access to education: a divergent and powerful opportunity, then there must be a much greater commitment from all parties to the value of learning.
We will have to continue to do our bit and to remain optimistic. To do otherwise is to condemn, without the opportunity for their input, the future of our children. And for those of us still lucky enough to have something to do with our young people, and their amazing talents and abilities to recycle and create, we realise just how poor the future would be without them.
I look forward to being part of this community of educators.