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What Inspired You This Year?

In response to the PLN Challenge that is going around at the moment, +Peter DeWitt broke with the traditional by simply posing one question, "What inspired you this year?" and an open invitation for anyone to answer. So here is my response:
Do Extraordinary ThingsI think that the first thing to consider is what it actually means to be 'inspired'. The Oxford Dictionary definesinspired as: "of extraordinary quality, as if arising from some external creative impulse." I think trying to capture what is 'extraordinary quality' is a very personal thing. It makes more sense though by reasserting it in Peter's original question: "What encouraged you to do extraordinary things this year?" In many respects, I think that 'being inspired' and doing 'extraordinary things' is a way of viewing the world. A lens to look through to reflect on everything around us. Here then are some of things that encouraged me to try and do extraordinar…

The Worst Thing That We Can Do In Life is Forget About the Past: a Reflection on Kate Grenville's The Secret River

Even though originally I thought that my blog would include a lot of 'reviews' and 'reflections' of various stories and novels, it hasn't really happened that way, but here is a first... 
The Secret River by Kate Grenville tells the story of William Thornhill, a boatman who was caught stealing a load of wood and was subsequently deported, along with his wife Sal, to the New South Wales. Set at the turn of the 18th century, the novel provides a frank portrayal of life in the new colony and out in the frontier country.
Unlike other writers, such as Patrick White's Voss, Peter Carey's The True History of the Kelly Gang and the various poems and stories of Barbara Baynton, Joseph Furphy and Henry Lawson, that have tried to capture a particular 18th century life in the Australian bush, Grenville brings a certain dirtiness to the story. We are taken in on every part of the the lives of Thornhills. Although there is clearly a high point in the novel, the story is…

Tribes are Good, But Do They Really Evolve the Conversation?

As I have written about elsewhere, a small amount of furore erupted on Twitter last Saturday in response to Johanna O'Farrell's tirade against 21st century learning habits in The Age titled 'Splashing Cash won't Fix Australia's Broken Education System'. One of the things that I really notice whilst following the conversations through a medium like Twitter is that moments like this really draw a line in the sand and bring the tribe together. Three questions that arose out of the ashes was:  Do moments like this further the wider conversation in anyway? What is the role of the connected tribe in regards to continuing this wider conversation? What does it take to move an idea from a point of change to evolution?


Connected LearningAt the heart of all our connections, whether online or not, is our PLN. There are many different definitions for PLN's including: personal learning network, professional learning network or personalised learning network. Kate Klingensm…

Are Our Teachers Failing Themselves?

Johanna O'Farrell started it. She wrote an article for The Age titled 'Splashing Cash won't Fix Australia's Broken Education System'. The piece was basically a tirade against 21st century learning from the point of view of a secondary teacher. There have already been a few responses written including +Mel Cashen's 'Why our schools are NOT failing your children' and +Celia Coffa's 'Why Our Schools Are Not Failing Your Children - Another Teacher Tells'. Both of which shared their passion about why schools are not failing. Leaving the hyperbole and exclusive language aside, I would like to add my own response by unpacking a few of O'Farrell's arguments a bit further.
Reading ... Books?O'Farrell states: Instead, the strategy is that children will simply learn to read and write ''by osmosis''. This is all well and good for children from families where reading is habitual. However, those from households where television a…

Is the Act of Giving Outdated?

In a recent post responding to the act of giving so prevalent in this festive season, +Aubrey Daniels International suggested that maybe it is not such a good idea to buy the boss a holiday gift. In the same vein as David Letterman, Daniels provides ten reasons to support his argument:
10. If you do it because others do it, you are doing it for the wrong reason and you will probably resent it
9. If the boss expects it, s/he is a bad boss to begin with and a gift may act as a positive reinforcer for bad boss behavior 8. If a gift affects the boss’ behaviour toward you, it is not a healthy work situation for you or the boss 7. It puts pressure on the boss to reciprocate and it is not a good idea to put pressure on the boss 6. It gets expensive for the boss if there are a number of direct or indirect reports who need reciprocating 5. It is the economy, stupid 4. It may cause the boss to question your motive 3. It is a good time to break this bad habit 2. A card with a hand written note is …

Tinkering, Passion and the Wildfire that is Learning

In a post I wrote a few months ago I spoke about what I called the 'hidden professional development'. That informal learning that occurs unplanned and on the fly, whether it be at lunchtime, while photocopying or even when swapping over on yard duty. Basically anywhere, anytime, simply where two or more passionate learners meet. The big question then and the question now is how do we encourage this? What structured opportunities do we provide for this?



Tinkering TeachersIn a fantastic discussion as a part of +Ed Tech Crew Episode 240 focusing on what it takes to be an IT co-ordinator, +Ashley Proud spoke about the demise in tinkering amongst students. Although +Mel Cashen and +Roland Gesthuizen mentioned about taking things a part, giving the conversation a more mechanical theme, I feel that tinkering is best understood as a wider curiosity into the way things work. 

I believe that one of the reasons for such a drop-off belongs with teachers. Although this criticism does not be…

I Was Just Appointed ICT Co-ordinator, Now What?

The other day I received an invite from +Darrel Branson to participate in an episode of the +Ed Tech Crew . The question up for discussion is: what advice would you give a new teacher just appointed as an ICT coordinator? I know that the medium is more about the meeting of the minds, I decided to clarify my own thoughts on the matter. I am sure that there are things that I may have missed, but here is my start to the discussion ... There is No 'I' in Team. The first thing that any co-ordinator in any position should do is to build a team. I am of the belief that one person has the power to bring about change, swapping one thing for another, it is through the power of a team that evolution occurs. Develop your team by engaging with those people who have some skills and expertise, find out who has some passion that you can utilise. This may not be a formal group that say meets at 8:00am every Thursday morning, rather it needs to be thought of as a group of people who you consult…

21st Century Learning is More Than Just Technology, But It's a Big Part of It

A colleague queried me the other day about the differences between a 21st century learner and someone who is really good with technology. This is a bit of an age old problem about what comes first, the device or the doing done with the device, the tool for working or the actual ways of working? As I have discussed elsewhere, I believe that something is misunderstood in this argument, for in many respects, they are inseparable.
In an insightful post debunking the na├»ve myth that "it's not about the tool", +Peter Skillen makes two key points. First, that computers are a form of media through which we can think about problems in a deeper way, and secondly, tools and technology shape our society in both intended and unintended ways. Often one of the arguments made about 21st century learning is that many of the attributes are possible without the use of technology. Surely you don't need a computer to help you think? Although this may be true, I would argue that they are s…

Can You Really Find Wisdom in One-line?

In a provocative post, 'Another Brick in the Wall', Peter Skillen wrote about six 'bricks' that he considers are combining to prevent the evolution of education into the 21st century. The bricks are that: There is an inability for leaders and administrators to practise the same things that they preach and also become learners.Too many educators are living on a diet of abstracts, one-line wisdoms from Twitter and drive-by professional development.We need education for our students and ALSO for our teachers – not subjugation.Rather than overload teachers with initiatives, administration needs to help teachers to understand the ‘essence’ residing in all these practices and out of the distilled essence, teachers could then ‘construct their own knowledge and practice’.If we want the culture and context of the classroom to change, we need to embrace technology and how it might bring about this change.we need to educate the public about the changes that are needed.
Peter's …