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Diary

In this blog we are posting news from around the network, reflections on general news items and other broad-ranging items of interest. Current contributors are Sightlines Initiative directors Robin Duckett, Liz Elders, Debi Keyte Hartland and Chris Merrick.

"Children learn best when teaching aligns with their natural exuberance, energy and curiosity."

George Monbiot, author and environmentalist

"When they are allowed to apply their natural creativity and curiosity, children love learning. They learn to walk, to talk, to eat and to play spontaneously, by watching and experimenting. Then they get to school, and we suppress this instinct by sitting them down, force-feeding them with inert facts and testing the life out of them.

There is no single system for teaching children well, but the best ones have this in common: they open up rich worlds that children can explore in their own ways, developing their interests with help rather than indoctrination."

In the midst of organising a presentation day  in which we will be demonstrating just such principles, we've been alerted to this article of today by Mr. Monbiot. 

Do read it, it is a very cogent and pertinent article. He also references Reggio Emilia, as a place to look to as an example.

And - join us on our Networks Showcase Day in London, on 4 March, in which early childhood educators from London and around the Midlands will be presenting their current endeavours to create places really fit for children's learning and curiosity.

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The Leaning Tower of PISA?

Or 'A War of the Worlds' Or 'Compare and Contrast'?

I'm following up Tuesday's Diary item with an illustrative selection from this week's UK news and related papers about current  UK Education policy 'leanings' and plans (with links to sources):

"British (actually English) school children could be guinea pigs for controversial new tests being described as a "pre-school PISA" for five-year-olds, despite other nations rejecting the trials. The move is disclosed in a contract document published quietly earlier this month by the Department for Education. "  The Daily Telegraph 31 January 2017

WHAT IS 'the pre-school PISA', you ask? Here is a briefing paper (extract)  from Prof. Peter Moss:

"Since its first outing in 2000, the Programme for International Student Assessment, widely known as PISA, has become highly influential in the education policy world with its three-yearly assessment of 15-year-olds in a growing number of countries around the world. Now the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and development (OECD) is moving on to new ground, with plans well advanced for an international assessment of early learning outcomes among young children. …

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I can see You and You can see Me

I can see you and you can see me. Aimee, 4

This photograph and reflection of Aimee's is from a project which we'll discuss at our day in March, in which early childhood educators will be introducing some of their struggles, questions and successes in developing  an education which sincerely listens to children's enthusiasms and intelligences.

Suddenly the words of Loris Malaguzzi came to mind: "Children show us that they know how to walk along the path to understanding."

We - grown-up educators and parents - certainly benefit from being reminded of this, and encouraged to keep thinking and working for our children and for education.  

I had earlier today been dumped in spirit, having read a recent  statement on education policy by a UK Chartered Accountant: "It is imperative that pupils are taught a knowledge-rich curriculum. And the body of evidence on effective teaching practice is now overwhelming. The PISA results from last year serve to confirm the ever-growing body of international evidence on this point, that teacher-led instruction is more effective than child-centred, enquiry-based approaches."  Why did this 'dump my spirit'? Because this was not just a 'man in a white-collar pub', this accountant is the current UK Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, in a high profile presentation to the Education World Forum a few days ago.   

Here is Loris Maluguzzi again to remind us educators and parents to work for our children:  "Once children are helped to perceive themselves as authors or inventors, once they are helped to discover the pleasure of enquiry, their motivation and interest explode. To disappoint the children deprives them of possibilities that no exhortation can arouse in late years."

I think we are all trying to 'walk the path of understanding': Aimee, Loris Malaguzzi, all of us who are listening, enquiring, making places of education for enquiry,  joy and knowledge. (Primary educators, do come join us on our discussion day at the 'outstanding' - and creative - Trimdon/Bluebell Meadows school, and meet one such remarkable place, embedded and treasured by children and the community.)

Mr. Gibb, I find your words utterly chilling, dark and even sinister. Would they provide inspiration in Aimee's world, I wonder? I am more than sorry that you are against us. However, I am convinced that you cannot crush the spirit of enquiry. 

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