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You are browsing the archive for 2012 January.

Eduction in 2012 (part one) – time to rethink the structure

January 27, 2012 in Born to Learn, Uncategorized

Earlier this month we thought it would be fitting to have a think about what we would like to see for UK education in 2012. What we ended up with is two five-minute clips of president of the 21st Century Learning Initiative John Abbott sharing his wish list.

In this first part, John reflects on the fact that the UK has slipped in international league tables for educational attainment at a time when we are spending more than we have ever done before on education.

So what are the factors that have the biggest impact on improving education? There are three:

  1. The quality of the teachers
  2. The quality of the buildings
  3. The administrative structures that control the above


The reality, however, is that the UK government is rewriting the way education should be structured. The 1944 Education Act set out the partnership between central and local government that would provide the structure for the education system to flourish.

Central government defined the general structure and local government sorted out what John calls ‘the bits on the ground’. This meant schools working together to provide a really good solution to how education was delivered.

What we have now, says John, is schools being supported directly by the state so they can compete directly with other schools. But the problem is that the quality of the schools is related to where they are located. More well off areas have better schools and less well off areas have worse.

The 1944 Education Act tried to balance out resources between these different schools. But in 2012, the focus is on more competition. The result, says John, is that nobody is planning the relationship between local and central government.

Working together to build a better system is the way forward so that all children have the opportunity to flourish, says John.

The strength of any country is people pulling together, not people pulling apart.


British Columbia

January 24, 2012 in Born to Learn, Uncategorized

The ideas of the Initiative are capturing ever-increasing interest around the world, especially in the Canadian Province of British Columbia. Careful observers of educational reform in many countries note the difference between those places that steadily and systematically invest in building up a system, and those which most obviously set out to ‘beat-up’ an old system prior to imposing a new structure on the ruins of the old. Read this Paper in that light.


John Abbott on the thinking behind the Born to Learn animations

January 18, 2012 in Born to Learn, Uncategorized

After years of researching and writing about the subject of how we learn John Abbott – the man behind the 21st Century Learning Initiative and Born to Learn – was inspired by the Story of Stuff and how a 500-page book was so successfully condensed into a 20-minute animation.

So, the challenge was how to best explain the concepts he has been talking about for the last 20 to 30 years.  A common reaction to his lectures – and he has given plenty all around the world – is that the issues are fascinating but hard to pass on. It is a difficult story to tell.

This was the cue to turn some of what are complex issues into stories that can be shared.

So far, the animations have been very well received – downloaded tens of thousands of times across 197 countries with requests to translate it into a variety of different languages.

John says the success has been to share a simple message and use key phrases to get the concepts across.

Born to Learn plans to make 15 animations in total covering the main themes of John’s book Overschooled but Undereducated.

Although the topics are serious, John says  the guiding principle behind the animations is that they have to be both fun and fascinating.