Friday, March 27, 2015

Food for Thought:Schools changing?

Dear all, 
As it’s a long weekend and you have just been doing some professional learning on Thursday, I thought that I might add to this by sharing three articles with you. The first two are related to the concept of change in education and will provoke you to ask questions about a variety of things from your own practice through to what is the future for schools and education. The third article is aimed again at you as an individual and is encouraging you to be mindful of self and find a bit of time for yourself every day. Thanks for all the great things that are going on at ISHCMC at the moment. I feel this holiday is perfectly placed to provide some relief from the increase in temperature that has hit us over the last week. Have a lovely long weekend, YoursAdrian 

#1:    The revolution that could change the way your child is taught

On an October morning last year, I watched Doug Lemov play this video to a room full of teachers in the hall of an inner-London school. Many had brought their copy of Lemov’s book, Teach Like a Champion, which in the last five years has passed through the hands of thousands of teachers and infiltrated hundreds of staffrooms. To my eyes, the video of Hinton’s lesson was a glimpse into the classroom of an energetic and likable teacher, and pleasing enough. After leading a brief discussion, Lemov played it again, and then a third time.
Here is what Lemov sees in the video: he sees Hinton placing herself at the vantage points from which she can best scan the faces of her pupils (“hotspots”). He sees that after she first asks a question, hands that spring up immediately go back down again, in response to an almost imperceptible gesture from Hinton, to give the other children more time to think (“wait time”). He sees her repeat the question so that this pause in the conversation doesn’t slow its rhythm.
He sees Hinton constantly changing the angle of her gaze to check that every pupil is paying attention to whoever in the room is speaking, and silencing anyone who is not doing so with a subtle wave of her hand. He sees her use similar gestures to gently but effectively recall errant students into line without interrupting her own flow or that of the student speaking at the time (“non-verbal corrections”). He sees Hinton venture away from the hotspots to move down the sides of the class, letting her students know, with her movement, that there is always a chance she will be beside their desk in the next few seconds. He sees that in one particular instance she moves toward a particular student while making it look to the rest of the class as if she is simply changing her perspective, so that she can correct his behaviour without embarrassing him – and he sees that she does so with the grace of an elite tennis player delivering a disguised drop shot.”

#2:    Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system

For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy.
Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world – including the UK – have made pilgrimages to Helsinki in the hope of identifying and replicating the secret of its success.
Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic”.
“This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we’re just beginning,” said Liisa Pohjolainen, who is in charge of youth and adult education in Helsinki – the capital city at the forefront of the reform programme.

#3:    Why “Me Time” Matters: 5 Reasons To Treasure

“Life has a habit of passing us by; too many moments slip away without being seized. We spend the majority of our time working stressful jobs (and that’s without even counting how often we check our emails at home). What’s more, we spend a good proportion of our free time worrying about the future or lamenting the past and, all too soon, we’ve forgotten how to live in the here and now. Hours pass like minutes, days go past unnoticed, and weeks undifferentiated.
Living in the present moment is essential for our happiness and well-being. Research shows that when we are completely present – when we really appreciate our current experiences – external worries melt away. In fact, “me time” is so important for our minds, that we’re asking you to put yourself back on to your priority list…
“Me time” is a holiday for the soul and if you’re not already doing it, start learning to create little islands of solitude in your daily life. Not only will it help you to get in touch with yourself, it also has other benefits, like making us better at sleeping through the night, and enjoying the company of others more….”

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Food for Thought is back

Image result for deepak chopra

Dear all,

My Food for thought is early this week because I wanted to let you know that a new Meditation Experience by Deepak Chopra has begun and is worth all of you finding 20 minutes to follow each day. If you do not have the time to partake in meditation then I suggest you spend 5 minutes listening to the inspirational words of Deepak prior to the meditation commencing. His words can only make your life / day brighter and more enlightened.

As there has not been a Food for Thought for a couple of weeks I thought that I would give you three quick articles to think about. The first two focus on how schools are changing and give us the opportunity to reflect upon where we are and where we are going. The third article is taken from Barking Up the Wrong Tree and provides a few suggestions as to how you can make yourself happier.

Hope you enjoy,


14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools

Saying that it has always been this way, doesn’t count as a legitimate justification to why it should stay that way. Teacher and administrators all over the world are doing amazing things, but some of the things we are still doing, despite all the new solutions, research and ideas out there is, to put it mildly, incredible.
I’m not saying we should just make the current system better… we should change it into something else.
I have compiled a list of 14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools and it is my hope that this will inspire lively discussions about the future of education.

3 Subjects Every School Should Teach to Change the World!

As a former teacher who spent 7 years in the system, one of the things that really bugs me about today’s schools is the undercurrent of fear and control-based social conditioning that they subject our children to. Yes, our children do learn valuable skills and information, but often at the cost of their overall health and prosperity. Our schools, while they do indeed try, ultimately fail to fully harness the power of today’s young minds because they emphasize routine, discipline and testing over exploration, compassion and innovation.
Another problem today in education is that we simply aren’t teaching kids what they really need to know to be successful in life. While it is important to learn basic math, science, and reading to survive in today’s world, it is also important to teach kids how to thrive.
With some slight adjustments, we could quickly start to improve education by adding a few new subjects aimed at helping kids become healthy and successful adults. By teaching students information that will truly benefit them, we could start to transform education (and the world!) in a positive way.


The 5 Daily Rituals That Will Make You Happy

“Here’s Christine’s five step formula:
1.      Take Recess: Going two days without anything fun creates anxiety. Take breaks.
2.      Switch Autopilot On: Make unpleasant tasks into habits. Tie them to things you already do.
3.      Unshackle Yourself: Decide your five priorities for the day and say NO to everything else. Does it have to be done? Do you have to do it? Does it have to be done perfectly? Does it have to be done now? Probably not.
4.      Cultivate Relationships: They are the single biggest happiness booster. Celebrate the successes of those you love.
5.      Tolerate Some Discomfort: Push to keep getting better. Mastery brings joy. Striving creates smiles.

One of the secrets of the happiest people isn’t merely that their brains are wired that way, but they also engage in activities on a daily basis that keep them flourishing.
Try the above five things on a daily basis for a few weeks and see if they can make you happy. As Aristotle said:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Food for Thought: In case you missed this Upworthy post

Everyone waited for it to be taken down. 150 million views later, it's still up. Watch it here.

 As usual, I was awoken by one of my children crawling into our bed. It was my older daughter, who brought a book and curled up under the covers. Being the digital addict that I am, I groggily turned on my phone, and something strange was happening — a bunch of people were talking about a documentary, "Under the Dome," that had just been released in China.
Within 24 hours of its release, it had over 100 million views online. Over the weekend, it had over 150 million views.

But here's the really crazy thing — it might have just changed the game when it comes to China's relationship with the environment.

Everyone in China, from government officials to concerned parents, was watching it.

I emailed a friend of mine in China. He wrote back: "[I'm] in Beijing now. Woman next to me in Starbucks is watching it. It's huge here."

In a country where government censorship shuts down critical voices, how did former journalist Chai Jing break through to reach over 100 million people?

She brought the story home with a message any parent can relate to.

For Jing, the story started in Shanxi, where my paternal grandfather is also from. Growing up in Taiwan, I'd heard a few stories about Shanxi from him, but mostly I just knew of it as a place that was famous for its vinegar. These days, Shanxi is famous for something else: It's considered one of the most polluted places in the world, a result of its massive coal mining operations. But people in China aren't as surprised to hear about the effects of pollution there anymore.

At one point, early in the documentary, Jing plays a clip from an interview she conducted a decade earlier with a toddler in that province:

Absolutely heartbreaking.

But even back then, she never thought her own daughter would suffer the same thing.

When she became pregnant almost a decade later, Jing was happy to learn she was having a little girl — but her joy was threatened by terrible news:

Her unborn daughter already had a tumor.

Before she could even hold her newborn baby, the infant was whisked away for anoperation. Luckily, the surgery was a success, but it left Jing shaken. And it made her even more determined to truly understand the world she was bringing her daughter into. Jing's daughter would grow up in a place with some of the most polluted air in the world.
The cleanliness of air is measured by the number of small particles (or "particulate matter") per cubic meter. According to the EPA, "small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream."

These fine particles, 1/30th as wide as the average human hair (2.5 micrometers), are the main cause of haze and reduced visibility.

They're also dangerous.

"Under the Dome" is real. Many children in China live most of their days stuck indoors to keep them safe from the polluted air.

During the year that Jing was working on the documentary, only 190 days were safeenough for her to take her daughter outside. The other 175 days were too smoggy to go outside.

Many people in China have been told the "haze" is just part of a bad weather pattern, like fog.

To demolish that myth, Jing carried around an air quality "sampling film" for 24 hours to measure the air in her life and sent it to Dr. Qiu Xinghua at Peking University for analysis.
They found 14 times the acceptable level of a carcinogen, Benzo(a)pyrene, in the sample.
But when it came to looking at particulate matter, even the scientist who analyzed the sample didn't believe his results. He double-checked his math, and the numbers were right:
At one point, Jing tried to go to a lab and subject herself to these levels of toxins so she could test the side effects. And, get this: The lab wouldn't let her do so because it was TOO DANGEROUS. That's right. It was TOO DANGEROUS AND UNETHICAL TO RE-CREATEINSIDE THE LAB the same conditions that millions of people live with every day in China.

So is it hopeless? Jing doesn't think so.

She points out that it wasn't that long ago that places like Pittsburgh and London had similar air pollution problems, and overcame them.
Credit: University of Pittsburgh, Smoke Control Lantern Slide Collection

In 1952, the combination of coal smoke and a windless weather pattern killed an estimated 12,000 people and injured 100,000 in London. 


If these cities can change, it's not too late for China. 

It's impossible not to look at this reporter, this fiercely protective mother, who has taken all of her passion and bravely stood up to her government and to business interests, and respect her bold decision to do her part to make a difference in the world.

This is a riveting and important documentary that comes at a tipping point in China's history. It could have a profound effect on the course that China charts.

And China is listening.

We at Upworthy thought it was so important for English-speaking audiences to understand the power of this groundbreaking documentary, we are providing an English language translation of the first and last 10 minutes of the video.

I highly recommend reading along with the beginning and end, and reading along in English by clicking the "Transcript" button below the video. 

Watch the first 10 minutes here:

You can watch the last 8 minutes here, or for the full documentary experience without having to watch it, you can also read Upworthy's exclusive fully translated summary of the documentary here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Food for Thought

Dear all,

As you know Simon and I were away last week in Singapore working with other Cognita Heads on compliance and child protection programmes for schools and the region. the meetings were very productive. They took place at the new multi-million dollar Stamford campus. The trip reminded me of something that I have learned from doing accreditation and evaluation visits across the world; that very often trips away make you appreciate what you have back home even more. And this was very much how I felt on returning to ISHCMC on Friday, hearing, seeing and feeling the enthusiasm and passion for learning that you are generating across our school. It is something very special and we should not underestimate how powerful the work we are doing is for our students and families.

On a similar theme this week's Food for Thought returns to one of my favourite sources for sharing educational thought, Mind/Shift. This article is useful for reminding us about our Learning Principles and in particular:

·    All learners are capable of achieving their goals in a guided environment where there is an appropriate balance of standards, challenge and support.
It is expected that all students will make the effort to progress in their learning and achieve their goals. Clear learning goals and performance objectives will be set for and by students. These objectives and goals involve meaningful performance criteria and answer genuine questions that challenge students to make an effort to attain their goal.  A growth mindset will be purposefully developed by teachers in the classroom as they nurture curiosity and higher order thinking in their students. Students will be provided with exemplars, models and formative rubrics to support their learning.  

·  Learning builds on prior knowledge and experiences and is contextual, meaningful and social.
Students do not learn isolated facts and theories in an abstract state of being separated from the rest of their lives: they learn in relationship to what else they know, what they believe, their prejudices and their fears. Learning should be purposeful, age appropriate and personal to the students, drawing on and valuing their prior knowledge and experiences. The more students know, the more they can learn. Prior learning provides a context to new learning whilst at the same time providing a degree of ownership of the learning process.  It is expected that students use what they already know to construct new meanings. Teachers will model effective questioning routines for and with students to construct meaningful, trans-disciplinary learning experiences in order to guide the student to see the value of what they are learning in the wider world and ask students to demonstrate their understanding through “real world” applications that genuinely use the knowledge and skills that have been acquired in an authentic setting.

Although we will not be taking on Deeper Learning as a whole school project it is something that through our Learning Principles we should all be reflecting upon for our classroom pedagogy and planning.



Steps to Create the Conditions for Deep, Rigorous, Applied Learning

Many school administrators, teachers and parents want the education provided to children to be high quality, rigorous and connected to the world outside the classroom. Teachers are trying to provide these elements in various ways, but a group of schools calling itself the “Deeper Learning Network” has codified some of what its members believe are essential qualities of deep learning (check out how students lead parent teacher conferences in this model). Some of the goals include learning designated content, critical thinking, communication skills, collaborating effectively and connecting learning to real-world experiences.
To better understand what schools in the Deeper Learning Network were doing differently, Monica Martinez and Dennis McGrath visited several schools and wrote a book about what they found: “Deeper Learning How Eight Innovative Public Schools Are Transforming Education in the Twenty-First Century.” They’ve also put together a guide to help interested educators create the conditions necessary to make this model thrive. As the infographic below shows, the model requires a big shift from traditional school and rests on positive school culture and collaborative professional teams of teachers who are committed to the vision of the school.
The introduction to the guide makes the immensity of the task clear: “The Guide offers a framework for planning that addresses the reality that school transformation is an incredibly challenging task that will not work as a top-down mandate and requires time, collective effort, and a shared focus on vision and goals.” The authors hope it will be a resource for educators looking to start this type of transformation, but who are uncertain how to get started.