Tag Archives: reflection

The fountain of character

A very useful contribution to the debate around character and values.  Many of the points resonate strongly with evidence emerging from our own work, and in particular around providing the space and opportunity for young people to critically engage with a wide range of values, to process these through experiential and meaningful learning and to filter, refine these to inform and shape their own character.  With regards the key question as to whether character can be taught, I find myself reminded of the phrase ‘character can not be taught, only caught’

If this is so then as is pointed out in this piece, the role of the educator is vital.  Whether they are consciously trying to impart character or not – they are.  This is why we have focus so much on ensuring educators are given the time and space to explore values  – their own, how they work, how they play out in schools and learning etc – for their own professional benefit ahead of pursuing poorly through through government mandates on values and character.  This is important stuff, but is in danger of going the way of other important stuff and being overly regimented into ill-conceived and poorly understood tick boxes.

It is great to know others are asking important critical questions about this.

The fountain of character.

via The fountain of character.

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A caricature of character education? Morgan needs a broader vision

Another contribution to the wider narrative – including some very useful comments. Let’s keep the discussion alive.

IOE LONDON BLOG

John White

The Department for Education has just invited schools and other bodies to bid for money to support projects in character education. Since her appointment last July, Nicky Morgan has shown an especial interest in this area. In a recent talk at Birmingham University, she spoke of “ensuring that young people not only grow academically, but also build character, resilience and grit”.

She went on: “We want to ensure that young people leave school with the perseverance to strive to win…. We want pupils to revel in the achievement of victory, but honour the principles of fair play, to win with grace and to learn the lessons of defeat with acceptance and humility.” These values are reflected in the bidding invitation. Pride of place is given to perseverance, resilience, grit, confidence,

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A still burning question: what is the purpose of education?

I was today sent a link to a blog (http://jkfairclough.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/what-is-the-point-of-education/) by a former colleague at Tide in Birmingham relating to the question ‘what is the purpose of education?’  It was asked as part of a new international project Tide are partners in and funded by the EU and it is a great question to ask.

It jogged my mind back to our last international study visit to Kerala in South India where a group of educators from the UK asked a related question ‘What is learning for?’ and worked on this for around a year, including a visit to India to learn from others.  The debates, ideas, moments of joy, fear and enlightenment that made that experience all came flooding back as I reflected on the question posed in the blog.

This is a vital question, however framed, and one that is pertinent to the work around values that Values Soup and the projects it is linked to are trying to engage with.  I was minded that we are far from alone in asking this question however and indeed there was a great challenge a year or so ago from Purpose Ed to respond to that very question ‘what is the purpose of education?’ in a maximum of 500 words.  I took up the challenge and had my day to express my own views and share them with the wider audience.  It was great to engage with different perspectives from so many different fields and from around the world and across cultures.  It makes me think there is still much to do here though and I may even need to disagree with myself now as my thinking, as it should has moved on.  To see the entries in the 500 words visit http://web.archive.org/web/20130501070429/http://purposed.org.uk/page/2/ and in case you’re wondering what I said at the time (May 2012) I have posted it below for ease, all 498 words of it.  What would you say?

An ever moving feast (purpose of education)

My immediate response to ‘what is the purpose of education?’ is that it is ‘to enable people to engage with, learn from, and form a considered opinion’ to exactly that type of question.

The circularity of my response comes from a deeply rooted belief in the power of reflective action-learning.  I have time and again witnessed the transformational impact of this type of learning on young people, adults, and organisations alike.  My recent involvement in a number of inspiring opportunities provides the ingredients for my current engagement and learning around the purpose of education, but as with all action-learning the final picture remains an ever moving feast.  Each of the following provides a nuance of what I believe education to be about, but none provides an answer.

What is Learning For? was a year’s exploration with eight inspiring educators into why we learn, how we learn, and what is learning for?  We looked at this from the UK, but more significantly from Kerala in South India – a state with phenomenal educational attainment and insight.  A lasting imprint for me is the dissonance between a UK-based debate over what makes an ‘outstanding lesson’ and the words of a Keralan state official informing us that ‘teachers are the real dreamers in society, because politicians can only dream in 5 year periods’
Education is about: risk, ambition, people, dreaming, creativity, self-belief

Time 2 Think emerges from work around critical literacy and in particular heightened awareness of self, others and the wider world, in shaping our lifeworlds.  This work has reminded me of the significance of dialogic learning and of the incredibly restrictive limits of time that dominate our education system.
Education is about: listening, conversing, contesting, thinking, perspectives, diversity

Learning through Values has provided me with an opportunity to dig deep into my own lifeworld and to support others to do the same.  Building on the work of Common Cause, a number of educators are now combining to consider the centrality of values to our own sense of being and belonging.  How are values aired, shared and prepared by our education system and how aware of this are we?
Education is about: values, understanding, responsibility, connections, living together, change

Learning co-operatively brings a group of disparate organisations and individuals together to explore the power of co-operative learning.  I feel at home in this world of education as co-constructed, inclusive and fair and so too, it would seem, do the young people who benefit. There is something in this…
Education is about: participation, respect, collaboration, equity, ownership, trust, choice

As befits my own moveable feast I do not wish to impose a closing statement as to the purpose of education, but rather invite you to assimilate these vignettes of my recent experience with your own experiences and insight.  However in true circular fashion, I will risk to posit that perhaps a purpose of education is to give us the confidence and ability to do so?

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Learning Through Values – reflections on the longest day…and the longest journey.

21st June 2014 and it is three years to the day since we held our first ‘Festival of Learning’.  The festival was titled ‘Transforming Education, Transforming Ourselves: inspirational spaces for learning and change’ and in some ways it was the first public outing for our work on Learning Through Values.  The event brought together a diverse range of educationalists from a range of subject areas and agendas as well as from across different organisations and phases of schooling.

What held the space was a shared concern with the changes about to come in education in England (the impact of the new coalition government was just starting to become clear at this point) and in particular about the values (though we weren’t explicitly using this yet) that were inherent to those changes. It was a transformational event for many of those there and certainly for me and for my organisation, Lifeworlds Learning, that had organised the festival as its first major community event.  It led to the first conversations around values and in turn this led to the formation of the Leading Through Values pilot project working alongside several partners who had been involved in the Festival and a follow up event in November 2012.

So much has happened in 3 years – the establishment of a new Learning Through Values community and website, the completion of the Leading Through Values pilot project, the development of new values professional learning opportunities, the emergence of new values work and connections in China, fledgling values partnerships with new organisations and authorities, and several new publications and resources for release in 2014-15 school year – and yet it sometimes feels we have gone nowhere!

The announcements just a week or so ago about the expectation for schools in England to actively promote ‘British values’ suggests that Learning Through Values as we perceive it has barely got off the starting blocks and that there is a long journey ahead.  Reassuringly, I believe we are now better equipped for that journey than we have been, and that we have some incredibly supportive and wonderfully challenging traveling companions.  It is not a done deal though.  We have a long way to go and the road ahead will be bumpy, will have its crossroads and dead ends, but the meandering and progress (no matter how gradual), will I believe continue to open up new and exciting avenues for learning and teaching and to inspire the resilient communities necessary to embrace and resolve the issues that will come their way.

If you’re new to this area of thinking and learning, then I warmly invite you to get involved and add your voice to the growing dialogue that has become the soundtrack for our individual and collective journey’s.  Now to enjoy a full 12 hours + of daylight!

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