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You are browsing the archive for 2013 January.

Seeing the big picture

January 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Education is never far from the headlines. This week, for example, head teachers have been complaining about the demise of careers services – services which were created to provide expertise for students across schools in local authorities. And added to this are concerns with planned changes to the A-level examination.

And while education hits the headlines, the politicians go round in circles. Political point scoring trumps the fundamentals of education every time.

With this as a backdrop, this week’s podcast looks at the fundamentals of education.

Listen to the podcast:

listen to ‘Education: it’s about seeing the whole picture’ on Audioboo

Related articles:

  • The Initiative’s ‘New Synthesis of Effective Learning’

  • The Search for Expertise
  • To be intelligent (voted one of the four best articles on cognition published in the US in 1997)

We have also added two new audio recordings to our series 99 Theses on shaping a better world.

  • Thesis 4 – Ancestral Influences

  • Thesis 5 – A Gregarious Species

Is Britain’s education system being tested to destruction?

January 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

In a recent article in The Guardian, David Priestland argued that education reforms in the UK are destroying the quality they are supposed to ensure. The UK is trailblazing outcome-based education and the US is not far behind. So, is this approach to education effective?

In this week’s podcast, John Abbott looks at this approach to education and whether or not we are right in thinking this outcome-based approach is good for children and the communities they serve.

Listen to the podcast:

listen to ‘Are we testing the British education system to destruction?’ on Audioboo

Further reading:

  • Survival of the selfless – E.O. Wilson examines the role of group competition in evolution
  • Chapter seven of Overschooled but Undereducated by John Abbott

And finally, a quote from the Right Reverend David Young, the bishop of Leeds.

Education stands in danger of seeing people only as tools for economic progress, unless it is accompanied a vision of individuals as creative, responsible, spiritual and society as the matrix within which genuine fulfilment is the goal for all.

What can Jared Diamond tell us about bringing up children?

January 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

Jared Diamond has just published his latest book, The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies? In our latest podcast, John Abbott takes a look at the book and what it tells us about how to bring up our children.

John connects Jared’s anthropological thinking with evolutionary biology and the fact that our brains were shaped to fit conditions 30,000 years ago. The message is clear: we have brains designed to learn by doing.

John also connects Diamond’s thinking with the ideas of others such as Peter Laslett, author of The World We Have Lost, and his own work based on research of the Hadza people of Tanzania as well as the concept of cognitive apprenticeship as outlined by Allan Collins, Ann Holum and John Seely Brown.

Put together, these materials make a powerful argument for the role of apprenticeship and the role of learning by doing in the way we bring up our children.

Listen to the podcast:

listen to ‘What does Jared Diamond's latest book The World Until Yesterday tell us about bringing up children?’ on Audioboo

Related articles

  • Cognitive Apprenticeship: Making Thinking Visible

  • Adolescence; a critical Evolutionary Adaptation


The year ahead

January 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

In our Wish for Christmas, John asked that society could educate people so that they could feel ‘confident dealing with ambiguity, that they are confident dealing with other people’s arguments’.

As we start 2013 so we are faced with big challenges: fiscal cliffs, obesity epidemics and mounting debt, to name but three. So, how are we to get our heads around this change?

Well, it is worth remembering that big – and ongoing – change has been a part of our lives. Just think of the Reformation 500 years ago. Back then we were trying to make sense of immense change. It was this change that prompted Martin Luther to share his set of ideas – the 95 Theses.

Fast forward a few hundred years and we have produced our very own version of the 95 theses. Inspired by King, John Abbott has produced 99 Theses on Shaping a Better World.

These ideas sit in our archive and as the New Year starts so we are bringing them back to life by creating an audio version of each thesis. The first two are here – you will be able to follow to them here too.

Listen to John’s thoughts on the year ahead:

listen to ‘Looking ahead to 2013’ on Audioboo


Further reading and listening

  • Thesis 1 – Providing Roots and Wings for our Children
  • Thesis 2 – The Excitement of Learning