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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.
We have a Library View (see left column) to help you find past articles.

"This is not OK anymore ..."

Today many parents in the UK, particularly in England, are standing up in support of 'the joy of learning for learning' and against the persistent drive to turn schools into places of test-driven instruction. This is a genuine grassroots expression, which has created a groundswell where decades and decades of other informed voices have hit brick walls. Well done, and may it shift sands in the political foundations.

No, children do not need testing "in order to ensure that they learn", as some politicians these past few days have repeated. Dear politicians, that is a miserable mindset which damages children – yes high quality education is vital, but some of you are getting in the way. 'This is not ok anymore' to equate 'testing' with high quality. Stop investing in the grindstone; invest in your children, or if you don't have children yourselves, at least have the decency to listen to those who have and - listen to children. It is not hard, and We will All benefit.

Invest in an education which listens to children – you will get your economic value, don't worry about that. But more importantly, you will be investing in decency and humanity.

Today is a good day to share something of the delights and deep learning which it is possible for us to offer to children in our schools today. Here is a celebratory snapshot of children – and their teachers - learning in intensity and joy in some of our recent projects:

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Viviana Fiorentino
Loved the video. Some days ago a politician knocked on the door for giving us his flyer. When I asked him what his, and his party... Read More
Tuesday, 03 May 2016 21:38
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Planetary Messages: global visions of children

After an'amazing' week in Reggio Emilia, the 41 UK participants, amongst the 400 strong international group from 41 countries are taking last-minute time to pack and buy presents for their families, returning with determination, often overwhelming thoughts , questions and also commitments of all kinds.

We have just closed the week, viewing the strong, observant and delicate collection of work from the children of the city of Reggio. They had prepared it as, not only a gift to the city but also a message to the planet:

"Planetary Messages are children's thoughts, questions, dialogues on the world, on the planet."

We thought you would like to see it too - 

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Viviana Fiorentino
how amazing! Thanks for sharing!
Tuesday, 26 April 2016 12:04
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listening connects ...

whale song: Torgeir Husevaag 2010

Last week, the UK government's March 2016  budget announced that it would promote education by dedicating money to  'free schools from local authority control',  as if this is self-evidently a good thing, and will result in better situations for our children. At least we presume this is the reasoning; perhaps there could be other reasons.

Having just had some delightful discussions with Canadian colleague Dr. Patricia Tarr who introduced me to new and extremely thoughtful guidelines being developed  by a regional authority, Alberta, I was yet again appalled by  current political thinking, and left struggling to contemplate if our government could ever understand, or care about, the worlds of children and learning.

Here is something from Play, Participation, and Possibilities: An Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework for Alberta: "[We are] inspired by a vision of strong, active, and energetic childhood communities—places of vitality—that welcome and invite the participation of children and their families. It is a framework of possibilities situated in the social and cultural experiences of families in local communities. Each child's care, play, learning, and development are nurtured as educators work within a practice of relationships, appreciating family, social, and cultural practices and traditions and embracing a strong capable image of the child, as a mighty learner and citizen.  ...  We view the child as a mighty learner and citizen—strong, resourceful, and capable. This image affirms each child's right to be listened to, to be treated with respect, and to participate in daily decisions that affect him or her. This understanding of each child as a citizen and as a strong, resourceful, and capable learner shifts the intention of our interactions from "doing to" a child toward "participating with" each child. This image of the child—a mighty learner and citizen—calls on us to continually re-examine our own practices, our interactions, and our assumptions about children, childhood, learning, and play. "

I highly recommend it to both educators and politicians (and Mr. Osborne, you will see that it is not a matter of 'control' but also of care, cohesion and connection. ) Click on the link - it's free.

Very much thrown by this massive gulf in comprehension by political leaders who are nevertheless keen to wield power over children and education, and wondering if things could ever be different, I heard radio interviewer Libby Purves yesterday ask:  "Was there a definite moment [in the history of whaling] when people thought 'these are wonderful, intelligent, extra-ordinary animals and we must save them?" - the answer gave a powerful direction:

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