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Small Steps, Big Reminders

March 17, 2016

I must admit, I rarely get inspired to write a blogpost while on a plane. There are too many other distractions like the latest Star Wars film or sleep. However, I find myself on the plane tonight as I leave Melbourne with about 7 hours to kill on the way back to Jakarta and pretty excited about the ideas that were ‘unleashed’ at the #unleashinglearning conference at Mt. Scopus Memorial College in the last few days.  What IS Unleashing Learning? Check out @whatedsaid reflection post here.

 Ill start with the big takeaways:

  • Learning can be tailored
  • Learning doesn’t have to be ‘bound by timetables’
  • Learners need choice
  • Teachers need to try things out and possess a growth mindset
  • Don’t over plan 
  • Let kids drive the inquiry with guidance as required
  • What world are we leaving behind for the kids?

I may be preaching to the converted……and you’ll go yep, agree, of course.. but do you know what really inspired me? My big aha moment was Sam Sherratt’s Agricultural Model of education.


Im still trying to unpack it, thinking about it and it makes sense. We need to think of learners as a growing thing that blossoms. Nurturing. A community that has a chance to grow and be whatever it wants to be. A community that does not spit out the same product at the end. Ive long been a bit disenchanted with the traditional education model, as a learner, as sometimes as an educator. As a learner I was able to adapt and manipulate the educational model to do well. I had a great memory. I was very successful in high school but I cant recall learning being really meaningful. Maybe thats what has drawn me into education with some glimmer of hope that I may play a part of changing it. I do believe we can change things. Its why Im overseas at least there are perhaps more opportunities, flexibility to serve the learner.

I found it challenging to think in a new way about education and about learning. I had to unlearn how I was taught in school to be an effective educator. And Im still unlearning and relearning. It the unlearning thats hard. Being schooled has not helped me to think critically. I shouldn’t throw my past teachers under the bus here, they were teaching they way they were taught, and it did ‘work’ so Im not saying the system is broken. The education system works just fine, just as its supposed to. However is this best model for learners, communities and is it sustainable?  The industrial model of education works great, it produces workers. Soem argue it is designed to produce shallow thinkers where creativity is devalued. (The old joke when I was in school is that those who didn’t know what to do in Uni was to do an Arts degree).

Its not all gloom though. Changes can start today and these are what Ive chosen to be more mindful of when I get back into my classroom:

  • Let passion, curiosity and learning find a way, give it time and nurture it
  • Be open to possibilities
  • You are prepared to fail along with you students
  • Have a sense of humour and remind yourself about it
  • Know your students and your curriculum (@sherrattsam)

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