Saturday, 19 November 2016

SingularityU..Disruptions of Mind, Soul and Food.


The following is my summary of SingularityU and what it means to me as an educator in NZ.

After SinglarityUNZ it became apparent that we as a society are on the precipice of disruptive transformations The definition for this type of disruption is the development of new technologies that make previous technologies/systems obsolete.

Peter Diamandis perhaps best explains the driver for this disruption in this simple message.

           “It’s not about scarcity (lack of abundance) but about accessibility-..”



Accessibility is the key to a level of abundance beyond what many have never had. Abundance in energy, health care, prosperity and lifestyle. Moores law in relation to exponential growth is helping us to recognise patterns in the speed of tech advancements and make predictions in regards to price/performance and value.

How might we promote accessibility and value abundance within our learning programs?

An exciting and encouraging factor about disruptive technologies and the NZ education systems is the relevance our NZC has in regards to an uncertain future.

"Preparing our students to secure a sustainable social,cultural,economic and environmental future for our country. "


 Our curriculum document is the official policy relating to teaching and learning in english-medium schools in Aotearoa. Is principal function is to set the direction for student learning and to provide guidance for schools as they design and review their curriculum. With its vision, values and principles the NZC promotes the development of young people;

  • who will be creative, energetic, and enterprising
  • who will seize the opportunities offered by new knowledge and technologies to secure a sustainable social, cultural, economic, and environmental future for our country
  • who will work to create an Aotearoa New Zealand in which Māori and Pākehā recognise each other as full Treaty partners, and in which all cultures are valued for the contributions they bring
  • who, in their school years, will continue to develop the values, knowledge, and competencies that will enable them to live full and satisfying lives
  • who will be confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learn


Sue Sucklings mic dropping statements about the age of qualifications and NZQA about said it all. As we've all recently seen in "Most likely to Succeed," Education as we have known it is under fire. Her and the singularityU presenters were emphasising  the need for this powerful technology to be guided by
  • compassion, 
  • ethics, 
  • empathy, 
  • AQ Adaptability Quotient 
  • multi disciplinary thinking, 
  • initative 
  • communication fluency .
A goal of mine that I aimed for  through attending this summit was to capture the urgency required for this shift in education to occur. Based on Kotter's work in change management, Urgency is the first step and  provides an intrinsic origin for change to occur.


I think it is necessary to understand that the disruption that is expected to occur in the next 5 years is not a result of some new technology that is not yet on the market. This rarely effects a disruptive change., (often these innovative  new technologies are slow in effecting change in society.) The technology that will disrupt our society is already available. It is technology that is experiencing the reduction is barriers in relation to price/performance and converging with other technologies that is resulting in the 6 D's identified in Kaila Colburns presentation. Digitalization, Deception, Disruption, Demonetization, Dematerialization, and Democratization.

The Urgency is real:
When the qualifications authority claims that they themselves are outdated...we must act. When you see industries like Agriculture and Horticulture under serious threat from advancements in biotechnologies...we must get act. When opportunities like abundant energy and integrated technologies are easily accessible and blockchains are ensuring online security and verification of transactions...we must act.
Automation is going to have a huge impact on our region. 885,000 (46% ) jobs in NZ are expected to become automated in the next two decades. We must act.

As research often states we need to better prepare our youth of today with a set of skills that will best prepare them for an uncertain future. Beyond the point of singularity we do not know what society will be like. Dan Roberts said..

"If you are trying to guess what things will be like in 7-10 yrs time..FORGET IT.!  What we have done in the past will no longer prepare us for the future.."

But what  is a certainty is
that information is already ubiquitous and will likely to continue.
Technology will be a powerful presence available to all.

With this is mind what skills will you want your child and grandchildren to have?
(Somehow, the ability to memorise the periodic table doesn't seem to cut it....)

The great news is there is numerous research on pedagogies that show sound development in these key areas.. and we have a guiding policy that identifies the need for these factors to be valued and developed throughout the education system. It requires system wide changes that support such learning opportunities. Education is clearly a tangled web of systems and administration that will need to be rethought by us all. At a school level, we need  to research, select and implement systems that effectively support 21c pedagogies into our school wide curriculum. Re-think Data guided decision making recognising effective assessments of more than just standard criteria, raise tolerance for failure, promote reflective learning practices and transparent & collaborative practices that include everyone involved in the students learning.

In the NZC under effective pedagogies several guidelines emphasises how learning is most effective when ;
  • social and cultural contexts are included, 
  • objective thinking, 
  • when students learn not just the what but also the why they are learning and curiosity is used to drive their own learning.
  • when students engage in shared activities and engage in conversations with other people including whanau and people from the wider community.
  • when students can build new knowledge upon what they already understand
  • Are provided with sufficient opportunities to learn. Especially involving practice and new contexts to transfer new learning. This also means when curriculum coverage and student understanding is in competition the teacher may decide to cover less but to cover it in greater depth.
SingularityU have identified 12 points that they describe as Global Grand Challenges. They believe that leveraging the convergence of exponential technologies will set us on the path to solve our global grand challenges and shift from an era of scarcity to abundance.  In addressing each challenge, we solve for the following three perspectives:
  • Ensuring basic needs are met for all people
  • Sustaining and improving quality of life
  • Mitigating future risks 

I (both professionally and personally) am on board with this. I think these challenges are truly essential challenges and worthy of our time, technology and compassion.  I also believe we often don't give our Ss enough credit in regards to their own awareness of these issues... and their sense of powerlessness.  With optimism, abundance, vision and values I believe we can empower our learners to make amazing changes in tomorrows society. But we must act now.

AND the Food & Free espresso coffee Teachers dream! Yum :-))))

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Moving from Student centred to Ako centred learning.


Its all about Ako
In te ao Māori, the concept of ako means both to teach and to learn. It recognises the knowledge that both teachers and learners bring to learning interactions, and it acknowledges the way that new knowledge and understandings can grow out of shared learning experiences. This powerful concept has been supported by educational research showing that when teachers facilitate reciprocal teaching and learning roles in their classrooms, students’ achievement improves (Alton-Lee, 2003).
Practicing 21st century learning is requiring paradigm shifts in every level of education. Recently I've found myself thinking more and more about the transformation of a school from 20th century learning systems to 21st century systems. I'm naturally curious about this because I've worked both in a kura that was purposely designed for modern learning practices and also currently work in a school that is committed towards transforming itself from the conventional model into a modern 21st century school. 
What does it take for staff to embrace new pedagogies and commit towards not stepping back into the model that they have used for their entire professional career? How does the motivation move from being extrinsic into intrinsic?
I don't really know the answer to this but I was interested in an idea that has been floating around in my head for a while. When we talk about  leadership strategies used by effective senior management towards teachers, these practices are similar to strategies used by effective teachers towards the learner. Initially it appears to be not really related to the above question, but bear with me.
Micheal Fullan recently spoke at #Ulearn16, (this is an educational conference held in NZ annually.) He referred to a blog about 10 surefire ways to fail when using deep learning.  Number one is pasted below; 
1. If you haven't experienced deep or powerful learning yourself. This seems obvious but is frequently ignored. I remember once showing a video in a class at HGSE of a constructivist math class in which students were having a fairly animated discussion about the relationship between area and perimeter. One of the students in my class said, "Oh--that's what they were trying to show us in my school last year when we were moving towards Common Core math." One of the things I've learned in my own journey in trying to teach people about deeper learning is that the most powerful things you can do is give adults models and experiences that mirror what you are hoping they will do for students. We also call this "symmetry" in our work--that if, as a system level leader, you want teachers to teach students in a particular way, you have to give teachers opportunities to have those same kinds of learning experiences.
This reading provided a real "Aha!" moment for me. Symmetry could be an important factor to encourage teachers to embrace new pedagogies and deliver them from an intrinsic origin. 
Providing an opportunity for teachers to experience deeper learning and connect again with the attributes associated with deep learning may enable teachers to use them more effectively in the classroom. Teachers reconnecting with their own passions through curiosity, courage and empathy may result in these dispositions becoming more prevalent in their own teaching practices. 
How could we do this best? Will it require taking time out of the regular timetable to support teachers deep learning programs? Is this what they mean by personalised PD? 
Im interested to hear from any readers on this idea. 
This thought pattern also lead towards some discussions Ive had recently with peers. Some have made comments that are really concerning. Many of these teachers were sharing the same feelings, of feeling used in a system that no longer recognises their own needs. In my opinion they appear to feel subservient in a student-centred approach. I chose to explore this message further, (although in doing this I felt as if I was challenging a deeply valued stone in the foundation for my teaching philosophy.) Is student centred learning a barrier for teachers towards delivering 21st century learning experiences that fulfil the needs of our rangatahi? 
In a conversation with my wife, Cleo (who is also a relatively new teacher,) we explored this idea. What is it that we mean when we say student centred? As you're reading this what are your thoughts?
  • Education is based on student interests
  • Authentic contexts for learning
  • Localised curriculum relevant to the learner
  • Potentially Passion based determined by student voice
  • Meeting individualised learning needs
  • Student voice
We started talking about what was it that resulted in teachers feeling like they had become subservient in our Ed system. If we look at this from a perspective of power then we may see a reason. In the industrial based educational model teachers had a significant portion of the power in a classroom. In the 21st century model students have a much stronger share (if not then the majority) of power. This is evident in the initial bulleted list above which in my opinion is the major difference between the two models.
I begun to think perhaps the problem in itself is the term 'student-centred' learning. From a perspective of power this either accurately or inaccurately communicates where the power is and this in itself may be threatening to teachers. Perhaps its just semantics, but I'd be interested in noting peoples opinions about trying to reduce this power inferred term by replacing it with the terminology Ako centred learning. 
To me I immediately saw that this removed the emphasis on students and focused the practice on the reciprocity of learning. I saw that both the teacher and the learner shared responsibilities in this learning relationship. The learner brings their contexts (culture, community and or passion) and the teacher brings their expertise/experience (conceptual knowledge.) The power is shared in the reliance between both learner and teacher for learning to occur.

The second point is  more focused on the school that I work in Lytton High. We are currently establishing new 3 school wide values. These are Aroha (Love), Ako and Aspire. Choosing to use the term Ako centred learning matches well with these values. Especially in relation to the symbol I have developed to represent these values. (Please note: this is my personal symbol and not necessarily the one that will be adopted by Lytton High to represent the values.)


In here Ako is the target, the focal or balance point in our Lytton High learning programs. 

So in wrapping this piece up, I would really appreciate some feedback from any readers regarding these thoughts. Has symmetry become evident in your school? Is using Ako centred to describe our program risking any of the positive gains made through the student centred approach? What are any other negative connotations that the term student centred may suggest?



As I said at the beginning I am very interested in learning more about schools that have taken on the journey of transforming from the traditional 20th century model towards the 21st century model. Have you got any information about this?  I'd love to hear if you do. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Arohanui.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Inspiring Māori Leadership in Education.

He aha te kai ō te rangatira? He Kōrero, he kōrero, he kōrero.

(What is the food of the leader. It is knowledge. It is communication.)

Last week Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou hosted an inaugural seminar called Inspiring Māori Leadership in Education.  Never before in our region has a gathering occurred. Iwi representatives, education providers from all levels, health agencies, local industries and even a member of the council came together to share knowledge, insights and resources with the purpose of developing māori leadership in our regions education system.
The first point I am will make is that this meeting was insightful and inspiring. Insightful for providing a glimpse towards the aspirations our iwi leaders have for our rangatahi. Inspiring because in my opinion most where not asking for more of the same. Mark Ngata from Ngati Porou Seafoods Ltd completed his presentation by saying..."We cannot solve the problems we face today with the same consciousness that we used to create the problem."


Ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi.

(The old net is cast aside, while the new net goes a-catching.)

I entered this hui with the hope that the aspirations shared with provide us educators with a clearer understanding of the type of dispositions and knowledge our iwi wanted our graduates to have. Although no-one explicitly said these are the skills we want, as the hui progressed a common theme formed. This list was emphasised by Hayden Swann from Makaraka primary.
  • Te Reo,
  • Whanau,  
  • Whakapapa,
  • Whanaungatanga. 
I'm putting it out to any readers to explore and share as a comment the dispositions that you feel capture these aspects best.

Students needing a sense of identity was often discussed. Knowledge & use of te reo in learning was identified as essential for the Ss identity to be explored as a māori. A sense of belonging through whakapapa and whanaungatanga was also emphasised. This was emphasised powerfully through the korero delivered by Tahua Pihema. Her sense of identity was challenged throughout her life because of misinformation and misunderstanding of the Turanga-nui a Kiwa land wars. Her new learning provided her with insight, empathy and healing and as a result she has developed an action to promote that these land wars become part of our regional curriculum. 

Laurayne Tafa from Cognition Education emphasised several points that provided significant links to criteria that I can use when planning and evaluating my practices.
These were; 
                                                  Recognise distractors (physical or non)
Stay connected and relevant- Apply what works in your context.
Interrogate the conditions for success
Talk from evidence and demonstrate impact.

Laurayne Tafa
Each of these messages demand time, effort and reflection to develop them into our teaching practices effectively. I see them as essential criteria to ensure that the new pedagogies that i am attempting are as effective as they can be for the learners. These are in my opinion the best critical thinking prompts I have found so far. Talk from evidence and demonstrate impact in particular is a succinct yet powerful message that I feel i must focus on in my teaching. Its the kind of statement that I could easily refer bak to in my reflections, when I'm planning and my personal favourite..even have it written on a t-shirt.

Additional messages shared in Tafa's presentation made me reflect on my own practices.
  • Effective pedagogies...Stop the doing the things that make no difference. Begin focusing on the things that make a difference.
  • No more disempowerment by design. 
To find out more about whanaungatanga  I found  a blog by Tahu Paki (Core Education). Both these statements appeared clearly relevant to the insights that I gained from the hui.

Me hui kanohi ki te kanohi kia rongo i te mauri o te tangata!’ It is important to meet face to face, eye to eye, breath to breath to get a full understanding of the people we are working with.
Learning is a human experience... the dynamics that occur when people interact kanohi ki te kanohi is exciting Stories can be shared in a way that best captures the learners message and genuine connections are formed.

‘He mauri tō te tangata, he whakapapa tōna, he mana motuhake.’ Everyone has mana. Everyone has a whakapapa, a genealogy, heritage and identity that makes that person no more and no less important than the next person. When we learn to treat everyone with care and respect,  there are fewer barriers to establishing and maintaining relationships. Address the issues and not the tangata.

Honour the journey each learner has.. they all have a taonga to share..(something they are proud of.) I was captured by a performance from Te Puna Reo o Puni Kaiti. 





How many of these tamariki will hold onto this experience as a foundation for their on going learning success? And how many teachers in the future will take time to learn about these amazing achievements to further support their learning success? This must be our focus when planning our practice.. the standards and other administrative requirements must fit in around this as a secondary priority.  The key is to ensure that the planning allows you to capture the criteria identified by Laurayne Tafa and talk from evidence and demonstrate impact. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Who will be tomorrows misfits?

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." Alvin Toffler

Recently I read this article regarding education and meeting the needs of our rangatahi, (Frances Valentine speaks to the Herald about bravery, business and education.) It got me thinking...

By neglecting to truly value competencies for learning over content in schools are we turning todays conformists into tomorrows misfits?

Lidia Yuknavitch gave a great Tedtalk on misfits. In it she defines a misfit as a person that missed fitting in or a person that is poorly adapted to new situations.

Ive always enjoyed the stories of yesterdays rebel (misfit) becoming an innovative problem solver and leader because of their ability to challenge the status quo found in society. But what does that say about a society that is expected to increasingly need innovative leaders and problem solvers? 

  • Will the Ss that are great at conforming to expectations and rules be ill prepared for tomorrows challenges? Will they be innovative enough?
  • Will conformists be the most vulnerable towards new technology entering the work place? 

This reframing of Toffler's insight gives me the shivers. These conformists are often the Ss that teachers see as good people, deserving of a life that rewards their self-control and amicability. I think of the line in the educational documentary "Most likely to Succeed," that says..

"In the past these people were likely to live a perfectly average life all the way to the perfectly average funeral...These assurances no longer exist."

This idea really affects me. I feel an urgency...This urgency needs to be expressed. Perhaps in doing so we will see how failing to explicitly raise the value of effective lifelong learning skills as of more importance than subject based content we will not place todays good Ss into such a vulnerable place in the near future. As I read this I so grateful of the NZ curriculum and its vision, principles and values and especially of the statement that emphasises prioritising depth of understanding over content coverage. (see providing sufficient opportunities to learn) I feel that teachers are not to date truly grasping the importance of these wonderful future focused features yet.



    This sense of urgency is significant... it is what I will use to ensure that I am prioritising research based effective learning practices into my daily pedagogies. Its funny how sometimes it just a rephrasing of a statement to attain that "oh shit" sense of urgency.

    Sunday, 11 September 2016

    Why TairāwitiED?

    Why TairāwhitiED?




    The following is an introductory statement from our recently established TairāwhitiED facebook page.

    In recent years educationally focused groups have begun forming around Aotearoa with the purpose of increasing high quality, collaboration between teachers,schools and communities. One such group is called WellyED
    A group of people passionate about education in Tairāwhiti have spoken about the need for a group like this being created. So here it is..at the very early stages..Its really exciting to get #tairāwhitiED up and running and based on recent discussions there is plenty to look forward to.

    It is essential that our community knows that this is an open group for any people that are interested in our education system here in Tairāwhiti. So please share with others that are truly interested in our rangatahi and their education here in Tairāwhiti. The more diverse our members are (in terms of culture, experience and background) the more valuable our contribution towards improving our youths learning experience will be.
    As part of our launch we were able to screen the educational documentary "Most Likely to Succeed." MLTS was a chance to initiate a discussion regarding the need to how challenge the status quo in our education system. Under this TairāwhitiED aims to invite dialogue across all our community, professionals, entrepreneurs, home makers, and learners both young and old.

    Reflection on the screening...The turn out for this screening was far more than we anticipated totalling 80! It was exciting to see so many people curious about how education needs to change and how this might look like here in for our rangatahi in Tairāwhiti.  

    The following points are a list I made while watching MLTS. 
    • Structure for High Tech High projects appered to be focused around Plan>>Process>>Presentation 
    • Schools are all actioning personalised learning in different ways
    • Requires faith in this new pedagogy
    • Accountability promoted through exhibition
    • Project based learning was the key towards authenticity and engagement.
    • Team teaching allowed for integrated curriculum and expertise was supported 
    • Learner evaluation included Qs asking Ss to reflect on learning skills/muscles
    • Curriculum coverage is likely to be reduced even as much as by 50% but Ss develop understanding and skill sets to a deeper level.
    I am of the mindset that Most likely to succeed was a great way to share the interest we all have in education, as it was for us as students and how it is now.  It provided an exciting example of how education can be shaped to meet the needs of our learners in ways that were previously impossible. We emphasised how this isn't a case of modelling what High tech high have done, but to see this as an example of what might be possible when we choose to re-vision our education system and act upon our vision. 
    The following week we ran our very first TairāwhitiED workshop. We explored the groups aspirations and expectations relating to education here. We achieved this through using a design thinking process, (expertly facilitated by Mindlab Gisborne educator Tim Gander.) This process enabled us to both introduce ourselves and work alongside community members to explore this amazing topic. There was a real overarching theme through the group. Relationship building and personalised learning programs was often communicated as the key aim for engagement. One member spoke about connecting with learners in a way that sparks their innate talents and passions. As a teacher I felt the discussions I have only just begun are going to continue and develop in ways I could never have predicted prior. It is truly exciting to see TairāwhitiED up and running and feel that much will be gained through this wonderful group of people. 

    Thursday, 9 June 2016

    Learning maps: capturing the essence of our learners

    Becoming an effective future focused educator is a deeply human experience. That's how i have grown to see education. Imagine a curriculum that is focused on students learning more about themselves than subjects. A curriculum that enables our schooling systems to nurture learner identity, thinkers, community. I see this as a very real possibility considering the first half or our current NZC. However how can we ensure that our teaching practices are focusing on our learners needs in a manner that effectively captures their learning progression?

    I am interested in how our education system is becoming more personalised. One area that is intriguing is assessment. In my experience to personalise assessment of learning we need to design assessments that capture more than the easy measurable quantitative data but also the more qualitative learning progressions.

    For the last month I've been learning about learning maps with Brian Annan and Mary Wootton from Infinity Learn
    • Low tech (easy and effective with pens & paper) 
    • Enables educators and learners to explore learning experiences as a narrative 
    • Student advocacy is promoted
    • Encourages Ss to talk about their own learning in relation to people,places,tools and interactions
    • Promotes personalised learning, networking & constructivist concepts
    • Provides a holistic view of learners
    • Learners self identify areas that could be altered for increasing learning success
    • It promotes student centred decision making regarding their learning 
    • Learning maps are positive focused
    I have chosen to implement learning maps into my learning advisory,(my LA is a vertical home room class with students from yr 9-13), as a result I feel that i have already developed a stronger sense of advocacy. This is really helpful considering this is still my first term here at Lytton High.

    Im excited by the opportunities that this kind of assessment provides for our students. The discussions that I have already experienced in my LA are more focused on personalised learning, student ownership of learning and sharing experiences. Points of interest that i thought about during last night workshop relate to identifying when learning is seen as isolated occurrences, passive vs active learning and sustainability of learning. 


    Isolated experiences:

    Many of my learners saw interactions between them and others,places,tools P,P orT as separate events. They drew themselves in several places around the map instead of having the P,P or T surrounding them in a mindmap style. I wonder if this reveals how the learner sees these interactions as separate events and not as a part of a network of learning?
    Passive vs Active:
    Arrows showing interactions were mostly pointing towards the learner therefore they saw themselves as passive in their learning. 
    Sustainability
    How embedded is the P,P or T in the learners network? If this is a node with several interactions then for me this might indicate that this aspect is significant for the learners experiences and more likely to remain so in the future. People,Places or Tools that are nodes with fewer connections might be more tentative in the learners current experience.. these may need to be analysed further to explore if this can be used more or worth reducing. In what I know about Mason Durie's Tapa Whā model, I see as opportunity to explore the information to gain an insight into our students hauora or essence. This is another aspect that relates to the sustainability of our learners learning practices.

    I wonder which digital technology will best capture these narratives and images? This will be something i will explore no doubt as i continue on with these maps. 

    Overall learning can be difficult to capture at anytime , but i feel that using Learning maps are a strong step in the right direction if we are to develop truly effective assessments for a more personalised education system.