Sunday, 27 May 2012
Saturday, 12 May 2012
"I'm looking through a neighbour's eyes"
"how would she see things differently?"
All the research says clearly how important a sense of other is for children. This project helps develop it.
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Monday, 21 March 2011
Friday, 18 March 2011
Sunday, 13 March 2011
Thursday, 3 March 2011
The Pegasus in London's wonderful and iconic Science Museum ran its first program in December 1959 and is still regularly demonstrated. It is the size of a room and the oldest working digital electronic computer in the world.
Visiting to help with a project there I couldn't resist the "face" on the control panel. Back in 1959 I think we wanted our computers to be sentient!
Sunday, 13 February 2011
Saturday, 11 December 2010
Similarly in schools our children have largely stopped programming - they consume with computers or phones but cannot create applications. They don't have ingredients either, any more.
Somewhere in all this we seem to have lost some things including the autonomy that comes from your own efforts, and it just feels wrong...
Saturday, 6 November 2010
...but some of you will know exactly what the pattern is cos you punched and programmed those paper tapes in the very early days of computing. Me too'
Thursday, 7 October 2010
"one of the things I learned from Government was that there is rarely a mechanism for rolling out successful pilots or research that has been commissioned.
The result is that we never really use what has been found to work. The only exception to this I can think of really is the Literacy and Numeracy strategies"
Quite. It will be interesting to see how many of the new Free Schools in the UK emerge looking like this.
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Which led me to think about the chain of teddy boys, mods n rockers, hippies, punk, etc etc. and to wonder where are the protest youth cultures of today? Are today's children now so mature that they have already reached the point the mods and rockers took decades to get to ("too old to be kicking off") - I don't think so, or is it that they no longer clash with the older generations because unlike the previous generations they don't occupy the same space as old folk (previously the beachess, cinema, etc). Perhaps they are away in online social spaces, or texting, where they don't rub shoulders with old folk, maybe? Or are they just amazingly patient...
But as we force them through factory schools reminiscent of the mods and rockers own era back so many years ago, and load them with fees for doing what the nation needs, how long honestly do we think that will patience last. And what next?
Saturday, 18 September 2010
So it was with a particular joy that I found this room in a university near the centre of England which had been set aside for "innovation". Inside it was just another cell with seminar style rectangular desks and dull office chairs. There was another innovation room - seen here - with exactly that room allocation timetable on the door - and even more dull furniture inside!
You could practically hear the conversation: "Innovation? yes we're on top of that - here it is in the spreadsheet, Room 250"
Oh dear, I'm not sure that many universities will make it, are you?
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Is is interesting to see the good impact of encouraging small footprint transport (as Tokyo does in other ways) here in Oslo. In the winter I cycle round London but a tiny battery car alternative would be good too.
Friday, 6 August 2010
Wonderful mix of old and new technologies.
Thursday, 5 August 2010
Last weekend the place where I mostly live, Brightlingsea, held a Music Festival - not quite Glastonbury but great fun. Brightlingsea is blessed with a large village green set on a slope which is a bit useless for cricket but offers such a great natural amphitheatre. You can see here, despite some patchy weather, families and groups of friends gathered for a weekend of everything from Bach to Blues.
Communities need a heartspace: it needs some 3D shape, but in many countries (not too hot or too cold) it doesn't need to be a building.
We can learn so much from small communities with, in some places, a few thousand years of prototyping!
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
It is amazing how much play space can be included within, and like this sports surface on a school roof in Blackpool, on top of, these urban spaces and the sense of a New Urban Campus reinvigorating our decaying retail centres is exciting - and staggeringly affordable.
Thursday, 17 June 2010
a room dedicated to the 21st century in a school. I popped in, but
there was nobody inside...
I het a bit fed up with references to 21stC learning. If you are a
nine year old it's the only place you've ever lived! Now we are a
decade into this century perhaps we can all talk about 3rd Millennium
Saturday, 22 May 2010
this on a school entrance.
I tell my US pals that the Right to Bare Arms was about wearing T
shirts and it had all been a terrible mistake caused by poor spelling...
Friday, 21 May 2010
This glass wall, slightly obscured, is lit by LED lights in colours that reflect the northern lights which occur all year round up in these Northern latitudes and I love that local signature.
Sunday, 16 May 2010
Like many cities, the rediscovery of the river as a focus, a social conduit and a narrative has transformed the shape and flow of the place over time and now new buildings (like this one) are appearing that are sympathetic to - and indeed that add to - those functions: curving, mirroring, colouring.
I'm a great fan of water features in learning designs too - and there is much good research about their impact on calm as well as on air quality.
Anyway... how many styles can you identity in this image?
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
I first saw these mobile "stacked" seating blocks at the thoughtful - and thought provoking - New Line Academy in Kent (see them again here) and again just the other day in the indefatigable Kate Holland's newly opened Imagine Centre in Essex (see elsewhere in this phone blog). But seeing these two blocks here, set at a jaunty angle to each other, I'm reminded of how tiny details really matter...
..ask any comedian and they will tell you they hate to perform in 1970s theatres - with all the seats in a straight row, and "lean-back-comfy" too. The problem with those theatres is that without turning in your seat you don't see the faces of other, are unsure of when to laugh, are socially quite isolated. Performances fall flat. Classrooms today are suddenly (finally!) embracing mutuality, collegiality, collaboration and teachers understand that eye contact is really important. New Line knew that when the built their curved seating (they called them their Bananas!) - students could see each other because of the curve. But many copies of New Line's work seem to completely miss the importance of that curve and the impact of height. The copies of New Line's idea seem good, but the devil as they say is in the detail.
In learning every little detail really matters - and that goes for our furniture too.
Friday, 7 May 2010
The school is staffed by primary specialists (and Dr Minard speaks of how much the secondary folk have learned from working with them). This big multifaceted agile space is roughly equivalent to six classrooms. As you see it is no vast barn; it has nook and corners - open aspect, but easily used for a host of learning approaches. See also this image.
There will be very little furniture for a term -as the children determine just what is needed and where - indeed the constant in the rather playful and enjoyable opening was the students' own voices. Much was made of the much older children's pleasure at helping younger children - reading, mentoring, being great role models, and more.
Note in passing the floods of natural light, plenty of sockets and connexions, and the way the pillars help break up, but without closing in, the space.... fab.
Friday, 30 April 2010
The Imagine Centre has some interesting features: Can you see the spherical monitor?!! Then there is an interactive floor - similar to the one that the new Chesil school will have, it has a huge screen, but that can also show smaller images from other screens - as you can see, hopefully. At the back is a huge interactive table "surface".
To the left is tiered seating - a bit like the seating in Kent's New Line academy (see other photos below) and any laptop or personal device, including phones, will work within this space.
Rather cleverly, all the devices connect to each other - you might see that the globe on the wall is the same globe that is on the spherical monitor - both coming from the same child's computer.
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
It is a hugely green building, but (perhaps unusually) this does not get in the way of the learning inside - the large central space with filtered sunlight, stunning voice acoustics and a host of playful little break-out spaces lends itself to learning for all, from the youngest (who love little details like the jigsaw block floor) to the 200 or so teachers whose company I enjoyed there for two days.
This little detail is indicative: a semi enclosed circualr space, with wrapping projector and screen and great acoistics (sound is beamed firmly down not not outwards) makes a wonderful space to provoke, debate, reflect and learn.
So much more detailing - see http://www.tasbcl.com.au/ for more details.
Saturday, 27 March 2010
Monday, 22 March 2010
Teachers who haven't tried these super-classes wonder how it will all work - it clearly can work remarkably well, but only if the teachers have clearly defined team roles; for example in a three class space there might be a lead teacher, whilst another might focus on differentiation giving width and breadth to those who need it, and the third might be on remedial-repair duty - catching up those who missed a bit, or misunderstood a bit. A classroom assistant might also be sorting out logistics, checking that everything works and so on. The evidence emerging from these schools is compelling when it is done well. There are no hard and fast rules for these roles, but without them it is all too tempting to have three teachers doing a Dick Turpin lesson ("stand and deliver") in three different corners, or just as fatally have one teacher "in charge" while the others nip out for a bit of photocopying.
Children as making remarkable progress though when the "team' re ally sort out what they will each be doing - and with such a resource of other students on hand rules like "ask three then me" take a lot of the pressure off the teachers' shoulders giving them more time to carry out their role professionally.
Saturday, 20 March 2010
As we strive for a better and more 21st century sense of "us-ness" in our learning organisations maybe we can learn a little from the mix of personalisation and belonging on display here at Melbourne as the Victory go head to head with Sydney in their end of season final.
In this century I'm never quite clear what use we would have for uniform children, but children who can belong and work together as a team, bring individual strengths to that team, are scarce and valuable. The signification of colour, badge and more on offer here seems to offer a uniform that is not uniform... and that is very helpful.
Friday, 19 March 2010
Flight back was a bit delayed when a tractor parked in front of the plane for a while... By the way, this is a Life Saver Rescue plane - they use it to rush along the wonderful beaches and spot dangers - swimmers in difficulty, sharks, etc. But the service is being phased out to be replaced by a helicopter service - much more expensive to run. With the plane the pilot simply talked to the Lifesavers, who quickly took action. Sometimes systems find it really hard to cope with effective collaboration between folk and build autonomous solutions controlled by a hierarchy - exactly the polar opposite of where this people's century with it's collaborative mutuality is headed. I liked the little plane and its radio...
* thanks to Muartin Luevins for pointing out how to spell Qantas correctly - I'd initially added a U. His comment explains, below.
It is only when you get up close that you realise the wonderful way that it seems to reflect daylight is a function of the many ceramic tiles that coat it from top to bottom. Iconic building don't get much better than this...
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Friday, 26 February 2010
Rogers building so interesting as a design - and we'd had a good meeting - I like
Ch4 - but on leaving it tipped down with proper British London rain (cold and wet) and I needed to shelter, Where better, i thought, than under a huge installation of umbrellas forming the Ch4 logo. Perfect?
Well, no. Sadly despite HUNDREDS of brollies I still got drenched. Nice
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
The vast section pictured is only the sailing shelves (you'll know why this made me happy...) and the place is quirkily chaotic with whole floors devoted to things like SF and fantasy - a whole wall in there just dedicated to armageddon and post apocalyptic stuff! Lots of support for local authors, vast swathes of poetry... and all enriched by a mass of little annotations along the shelves as staff (and others!) leave thoughts and recommendations.
It's way more than a bookstore it is a community of folk who care about the printed word (oh, swathes of graphic novels too - whole section) and obviously does coffee too.
I won't repeat why I care about community here - short version is, it matters. Great store - in both senses.
Friday, 5 February 2010
I also rather enjoyed the national and regional "old" media cameras arriving to film what was a quite wired and connected conference - and then pointing camaeras the many delegates who themselves were filming for twitcam, blogs, YouTube, whatever. Old media filming new media... Hmmm. I smiled, but not all the press did - I wonder what message their brains had translated that image into...
Monday, 18 January 2010
I was SO delighted that at the annual BETT Show in London's Olympia this january (2010) amongst the Lampton School students who were on my Playful Learning stand (and who were wowing the BETT guests and various Ministers of Education with their thoughts about the importance of Play in learning) were these four who were the winners of the competition!
Here they are making their acceptance presentation to an audience of some very senior and important folk upstairs in a presentation lounge at BETT. The four of them - Dharmbir (left), Ejiro, Yayra (speaking to the hand held microphone) and Steffan (at the rostrum) - are shown here as they make their school very proud of them indeed - not the least because the £££ prize is: enough funding to actually build their dream learning space, complete with chill out zone, astro turf floor, cognitive colouring, great tech and bean bags!
I thought their presentation was well paced and highly articulate, but also the way they fielded and answered some really tricky questions from the senior folk there was even more impressive, as a host of folk have made a point of mentioning to me since.
Well done students - and well done Tony Peaty at Feltham CLC for putting the competition on in the first place. "I dream of learning"... fab.
here is their Powerpoint from the competition presentation earlier in the year.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
I think everyone remembers, or already knew, how important play is in learning, but it took the children to show and remind them how easily technology can re-inject play back into important classroom tasks without being a distraction. In the end, engagement is a key variable in performance isn't it?
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
But, as guests arrived they were presented by this choice of 2 events, to much laughter. But it starkly shows the choices we face in changing the world: conflict or learning?. The yearly cost of one soldier posted to Iraq would support 20 school, perhaps more, at local prices... In Afghanistan it would BUILD 20! I type this as I listen to a senior Iraqi policymaker describing the challenges in taking learning forward today - and saying just how hard it was before with
www, phones etc banned (with a potential lifetime in prison for using them he reported).
No simple choices are there? But it seems to me that learning has a better chance of mending the world than the alternatives...
We are at that crossroads right now.
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
with a large learning space, etc. And these big spaces lend themselves
to "installation" size objects that also do a remarkable job in
deadening noise. Most recently I was suggesting to teachers from
Knowsley's new learning spaces (where technology ans science together
need some careful sound engineering) that a pterodactyl in the roof
would be a useful sound control device and an enjoyable science /
technology project. Anyway, here up a mountain in France skiing and I
find the same solution - and the same powerful sense of motif. Not
sure what our Health and Safety folk would make of the rusty chains
holding it up though...
Thursday, 10 December 2009
This huge hall was built in 1097, which is going back a fair bit! The famous hammerbeam roof was put up in Richard II's reign. It is the largest clearspan medieval roof in England - no pillars, huge floor. It has housed a few important trials to say the least: Charles I at the end of the English Civil War, Sir William Wallace, Sir Thomas More, Guy Fawkes...
And it has housed coronation banquest - last one was for George !V in 1821.
So, you don't really need me to spell this out do you?: large open multifacted, agile building, still valuable almost 1,000 years on...
Thursday, 19 November 2009
The Summit was very helpful - so many useful conversations and Twittchats! It also provided a fascinating contrast between the World Economic Forum typeview - "let's build system on systems, make big admin even bigger..."; and my (+others') view that this is a bottom up people's century / self organising communities / mutuality kind of time.
My favourite question from floor to illustrate the gap was "how do you systematise bottom up change"; lol. Favourite moment was a four-on-stage panel. One speaker, a nice chap from the WEF was chatting on about the need for systems and big gov and other last century stuff; also on stage - looking very bored indeed - was Biz Stone (of Twitter) and Professor Mitra (of Hole in the Wall, and other projects). Aftwer a while Biz and the prof started chatting in a whisper, then business cards were exchanged and rather nicely, as the WEF speaker embraced Systems, these other two were illustrating the 21st century's core process of "helping people to help each other" right there - hopefully with Twitter throwing a bit of support to Prof Mitra's fab projects. Fun to see real change happen in front of our eyes...
WISE is going to be a significant annual event - not the least because Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser al Missned opened with a real call to action to everyone - get on with it!
...and that is what is needed, isn't it?
Monday, 16 November 2009
It's only when you look close up at Islamic texts - I was enjoying the blue Qur'an from the 9th century - that you see how important the rhythm of the caligraphy is - a little like looking at Labanotation describing dance (is that Kinetography? I think so).
Inside, the Museum does a remarkable job of displaying the collected works. Since I am now excitedly involved in building a new school from stone in the Portland Stone quarry in Dorset i was very interested in the use of stone everywhere inside - and to see the British Museum's relationship with MIA - Brit Mus is built from Portland stone too. Small world.
In the heart of old Dohar, the Souk Waqif boasts a mass of tiny shops with hand blended perfumes, tailors and much, much more. The passageways between these shops are so narrow that deliveries of goods will always be problematic - or rather would be if it wasn't for the small army of bespokely quilted wheelbarrows that provide that service.
A "barrow rank" so to speak is seen here - and you can see one of the many narrow passage ways beyond. Each barrow is carefully owner-secured by a padlock and chain by the way, although Dohar is one of the safest places I've ever been. You can see from the flat worn on each tyre (solid rather than pneumatic, by the way) that these barrows to a fair old mileage!
Thursday, 12 November 2009
We took them to see Hellerup School in Denmark, connected them to Sheree Vertigan in Reece High School in Tasmania - pioneers of Home Base learning, showed them ideas and designs from all over. A wonderful local authority were ambitious enough for their children that they sought to replace some 11 comprehensives with 7 Learning Centres, against much controversy and, what was in my view, a backward looking, "alternative" plan by the then existing headteachers.
Fast forward, and it was a joy to be there today and see how well the new designs - this one is the Halewood Centre for Learning - are working: chatting to students they reported the remarkable changes in behaviour and motivation, the open, agile home base spaces were being used exactly as intended, the huge "amphitheatre" in the heart that doubles as a staircase (shown here) is now the premier cultural performance facility in the area, with the Liverpool Philharmonic playing there shortly. This has been the experience in Knowsley, where the council has taken the bold move of closing all of its 11 secondary schools, transferring them to 7 new Centres for Learning, using £150 million of government money.
A big 1,000+ school would be impersonal - too easy to coast or be lost. Like so many schools I'm associated with this one is designed around several ‘homebases’, with unique-colour carpeting, and their own designated toilets, study rooms, and a Commons for meeting friends and tutors.
I asked the articulate and thoughtful students who showed me round what was best about the places: the community sharing the space? the sense of intimacy in the home bases? the teachers' open areas adjacent to the home bases? the cathedral like hugely high ceiling?. "No", he said, "it is just that here, you have space to think".
Friday, 6 November 2009
To take one example converstion: Swedish children: "how do you organise your learning days?" UK children were puzzled "we have a timetable, someone else organises it". Swedish children surprised.
UK children "how many exams do you do?" Swedish children - we do four at 16, but mostly we have teacher assessment. UK children "How do you get a job with only 4 exams?!!" and so on.
On the other hand, the overseas children were much taken by the collegiality of the Harris Children's Commission and the sense of "belonging" that they all shared although they came from multiple academies. So much to learn from each other, but we need to really break this sense that this only one way to do learning - it is so unfair on our learners.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
But also (3) the Christmas lights (turned on this week) set me thinking about cues and clues and signification again. There are very few markers left in our lives of the passage from childhood to adulthood. They really matter, but we seem to be left with only these two: (a) you get a phone at about 9 or 10 ready for "big" school, and (b) you get a High School prom at the end of compulsory exit exams.
Somehow that doesn't seem like enough - cue frantic reading on anthropological texts. Folk in Oxford Street tonight (as they watched the diagonal crossers collide) were remembering being old enough to come up to see the lights etc., and I have reflected elsewhere on how education should be central in devising these markers in the newly secular world that we now inhabit. In UK schools, where uniform is prevalent, the "moving out of uniform into "work standard' clothes might be one such marker...
Fresh ideas for what learning related rites of passage to adulthood might be effective are welcome...
But the Millbank studio was not where the interviewer was - so i sat facing this camera, noone else around, no technicians (huge contrast with the 28 folk in the room when I did Newsnight live!) - and the monitor on the camera was off (broken?). So staring at a disembodied voice of the interviewer, chatting to a lens alone (through a glass darkly?)... and yet it all felt so straightforward after all those podcasts, twitcams and other USG stuff.
For a sense of audience you only need an imagination....
Sunday, 25 October 2009
So there's a winter project - I'd better make it a case.
When we started exploring Nano Nagel's convent in Cork (the Presentation Sisters were exploring making it into a community learning resource - a great project), I couldn't resist winding and starting the old grandfather clock on the landing. It ws a mesmeric moment, as though the whole building's heart had been restarted. Clockwork clocks can do that, not everything digital is perfect!
Friday, 23 October 2009
The evening that I arrived I visited Hans-Jørn Riis' lovely house and was captivated by his complex, brick, traditional fire and stove right at the centre of his family home (not the least because of the tasty pizza which came out of the oven bit!). It has a complex flue which powers the oven too, and gives the home a warm heart. Hans-Jørn mentioned that their new primary school Lansgøskolen also had an oven of this traditional brick design, and here it is - it gives the school community a warm heart, but also serves as a focal point - you can imagine on a cold morning the youngsters gravitating to the centre, and to the embracing warmth.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
so many of the 21st century schools that I have seen leaping forwards in ambition and performance have a certain "wow factor" when you walk in - it is part of the self esteem growth that you always see in the students. A big part of that "wow factor" comes from an absence of what the US calls "cells and bells" - the old boxes and corridoors of the factory school era.
However, not only are the tiny boxes missing (Leigh Technology Academy teaches a lot of classes in groups of 60 in big spaces, but with three or sometimes four adults present) but one design feature that stands out is the complete lack of right angles! It seems like a small thing in design terms but the impression it gives is of a series of interlinking agile spaces that are a very long way from boxes.
And watching the teaching and learning that results, reading the research too, it clearly works.