Sunday 23 October 2016

Cuba Day 1

After some delays at Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle due to fog over Paris, we set off this morning on our ten hour flight to Havana. Given the connections with Cuba's innovative literacy campaign, I thought it would be a useful opportunity to re-read Education for Critical Consciousness by Paulo Freire.

In these two essays (Education as the Practice of Freedom and Extension or Communication written in 1965 and 1968 respectively), Freire is concerned with the liberatory potential of education but also the necessity for education to be critical and democratic if it is to realise this potential.

Saturday 22 October 2016

Cuba Day 0

So, I'm sat in the hotel at heathrow airport, ready to board a flight tomorrow to Havana to find out more about education in Cuba, a country which defies all the supposed wisdom of the global education  'reform' movement. Cuba has one of the highest standards of education in the world, despite spending a fraction of the amount the UK or US do, resisting the market reform mania that has gripped the rest of the world, and still being subjet to a comprehensive economic blockade by the world's most powerful country.

What Cuba has achieved is nothing short of a miracle.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

You Can't Test This - Day 3 maths

So today's puzzle looked like this:

It's the first of a series of fraction codes to finish the week. I have to say, the discussion I have had with the children while they work on these problems has given me the most accurate assessment data I have ever had and not a 'test' in sight!

Can you solve it?

Putting Children First

I am sick to the back teeth of the reductionist, box-ticking, curriculum-narrowing, enthusiasm-crushing, soul-destroying, high-stakes Exam Factory culture that hangs, like a dark oppressive cloud of broken dreams, over our schools and our children’s education.

OK. That may seem a little strong but, if like me, you are a primary school teacher, or have a child in primary school, I suspect you know where I am coming from.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to assessment. How could I be? It is at the very heart of what I do as a teacher. I assess children’s learning from the moment they enter my classroom at 8.40am until I finish my marking at 11pm. I assess through targeted questioning during whole class teaching, through in depth discussion during independent and group work. I assess through marking written work, and taking notes of oral work and contributions to discussion. I probe children’s understanding, looking for misconceptions through which to take learning forward. And yes, I assess through setting and marking tests when that is the most effective way of gathering the information I need.

You Can't Test This - Day 2 maths

So here's today's problem. Y5 have cracked the code and are part way through transcribing the message...

Wednesday 5 October 2016

What Kind of Union Democracy Do We Want?

In a recent blog post, I wrote the following about the unity discussions with ATL: Throughout the negotiations, both teams have been committed to the principle of a truly democratic union. Not just the passive democracy of electing the leadership, but the active democracy of involving everyone's voice, experiences and talents in our decision-making.

In this post, I want to explore further what I mean by this and what it might mean for us as a union.