Category Archives: systems thinking

Implications for priorities within values education – process over content.

Stumbled across a brief references in the TES to some research from US that suggests children gain (learn) more from the behaviour of the adults around them than they do from what those same adults might ask them to do.  See https://www.tes.co.uk/news/school-news/breaking-news/pupils-do-teachers-do-not-they-say-research-finds

Although only the briefest of articles and in full admission that I have not followed it further to the original research as yet, this seems to echo one of the findings from our own work and research around learning through values which is that the process is as important, if not more so than the content.

This has implications for those approaches to values education (or character education) that seek to impose values through pre-determined and often highly contrived content that is delivered through specific values/character sessions or interventions. Whilst we know such sessions can be documented and evaluated in then moment to have produced a perhaps desired outcome, there is still far less evidence available about the lasting legacy of such approaches. More to the point if the pedagogy chosen and the relationships employed in the process of learning do not match the content of such sessions then young people are among the first to recognise the hypocrisy and thereby reject the premise of the learning.

A process rich approach whereby educators model approaches to values through carefully selected pedagogies and through opportunities from across the curricula is, I would suggest, far more effective and though tangential and limited, this recent research would appear to suggest that there is something further to explore here.  The implications for CPD and for the shape of current and future values/character initiatives is significant, but the most striking thing for me is the reminder that those with the most work to do in this field are not the learners but the educators and the culture of the systems that they occupy and work within.

I am also reminded of the popular notion that values can not be taught, only caught – a simple way to capture this much more complex reality.

What is your experience? What are the implications for the quick fix responses now emerging for the teaching of “British Values”?

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From Plantation Thinking to Rainforest Thinking

This is precisely the sort of systems thinking that drives our work at http://www.lifeworldslearning.co.uk and through our projects such as http://www.learningthroughvalues.org.

I love the use of metaphor and especially so when drawn from the natural world that I think we have so often overlooked as a source of inspiration and learning. We have had rivers, rice paddies, coral reefs and our own learning through values tree (within the rainforest) and much of this pulls on eco-literacy thinking.
Wonderful to find this and makes useful reading in my current work on resilience and learning for which I had already begun turning to nature and rainforests in particular for some valuable insights.

teacherhead

An analogy I draw upon increasingly to help with my thinking about teaching, learning and school leadership, is the contrast between a plantation and a rainforest.  In general terms I feel that our entire education system is deeply inhibited, shackled and spoiled by Plantation Thinking. This affects government policy, school leadership and the day-to-day of classroom practice. The solution to a lot of our difficulties lies, I believe, in embracing another paradigm: Rainforest Thinking. 

First of all, let’s consider the characteristics of the plantation:

The mono-cultural world of a plantation. The mono-cultural world of a plantation.

The natural environment is heavily managed with interventions of all kinds to protect againsts pests and disease. There is a narrow view of what the desired outcomes are. Anything that grows outside clearly defined parameters is weeded out. It is important for all specimens to reach certain minimum standards but there is little or no room for diversity. This tendency…

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