Gary was someone I was really looking forward to as I had missed his keynote last year to get back to school to host Bob Rogers with a PD workshop. I follow him with eagerness on Twitter and read a lot of his blogs and research. He is the Executive Director of the Constructivist Consortium and a TED talk is here. I find him quite provocative and unafraid to say exactly what he believes in…..and he does ruffle feathers world-wide. By the same token he has a worldwide following of educators who are open to his ideas and stand with him in an attempt to rebel against an education system that is teaching to testing and as a result becoming narrower and less relevant to the real world.
The idea of incorporating ‘making’ into our school is something I am interested in. This incorporates robotics, programming and techno-type tasks where the kids are collaboratively making things with their hands. With the Technology curriculum being implemented next year, many of these ideas are directly relevant to us. I am also very interested in making sure the Digital Technology strand is integrated across and through our current curriculum and that it doesn’t become a separate curriculum area.
My summary of his keynote:
Gary Stager speaks loudly and courageously about school reform and giving kids what they deserve. He speaks scathingly about ‘one size fits all’ education and passionately in regards to the heights students are able to reach if we give them the opportunity.
- Design video games – micro worlds
- Teaching programming – a meaningful context for teaching maths.
- Turtle ART
Key question: Would kids turn up to school if they didn’t have to????
Greg Whitby is also a Twitter follow of mine. He leads a system of Catholic schools in NSW and has been at the helm through a strategic implementation of change and innovation.
He very early made a number of key points in his keynote and said that he would revisit these again and again throughout his presentation.
1. Any learning experience that delivers answers is not worth it.
2. National Curriculum – we should challenge this if it doesn’t suit our teachers or students.
3. Teachers matter.
4. Premise – we need to shift the responsibility of control from the teacher to the student.
5. Schooling has to be about innovation.
6. Do the work by doing the work.
7. Theory of action – we want to improve learning…..we want to provide a rewarding environment for teachers. The focus must always be on the teacher and building the capacity of teachers. There must be an investment in a community of practice and we must look at the evidence.
He talked a little about innovation and made it clear that innovation is NOT experimentation. The work we do must be based on good theory and we have to be confident that we are moving ahead with the research behind us. He mentioned BYO programs with this and said this is what they have done.
I didn’t go and see Ewan this year as it clashed with Gary’s session but his session on Agile Leadership was well received.