From consumers to co-operative participants

Its good to have a break from thinking … over the past week I have tried to stop thinking about the things that I normally think about and to focus my energies somewhere else.

This refocus took me to the coast of Northumberland and 3 days of fantastic orienteering and one phenomenal day walking on Lindisfarne. The weather throughout was just wonderful and my mind an body concentrated on the sheer pleasure of pitting myself against the planner of my courses and the unforgiving vegetation. My brain had little time to ponder education as it coped with route choice on a truly complex scale from the city centre of Newcastle to the depths ( and I do mean depths) of Kyloe.

Just for the record I did win my class (M60S – the S standing for ‘short’ – usually under the hour). Results – for those who wish to read them can be found here and you could, again if you wished, actually follow my courses here. I ran course 20 on Day 2 and 3.

Monday was spent on Lindisfarne in glorious sunshine and, once away from the crowds, crystal clear skies with only the skylarks for company across the dunes of the nature reserve.

However, the news was never far away, and I read of teacher unions declaring that they would boycott Sats next year … and my mind asked me ‘ Why not this year?’ and on coming home and getting my mind re-focused I noticed that Don Ledingham asks in his blog – Perhaps the time is right to explore alternative delivery models for education where we shift our thinking from people being users or consumers, to being participants? and I know I agree.

For too long education and learning has been ‘done to’ people. It is quite clear that we cannot go on this way. Ownership is everything – it is the thing that makes the difference. Teachers are inspirers and must be given the opportunities necessary to inspire. We are going further and further away from what is needed and, as Don says, our current system – as it has evolved – has been dominated by the tenets of centralised control . We have created dependency on it. Is it because education is a politically driven institution or is it that we simply haven’t allowed it to evolve enough?

The steps forward are not simple … but they do need taking … and the answers will not fit easily into the present climate. I just wonder if the current economic downturn will have taught us anything about what is important.

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