Creating possibilities in learning

For two days, we are being engaged in a trip into the roots of education – an important step of revision and re-visioning our ideas and purposes for learning.

Our task? To begin to understand ways of actualising a new Parramatta Catholic Education Framework.

Our leader in this process is Yoram Harpaz, founding Director of the Community of Thinking programme at the Branco Weiss Institute in Jerusalem.

We are doing this in order to help us draw a new conceptual map of education to define our aims and means of education. Schools are in deep crisis – they no longer work effectively for 21C – but for now we don’t have strong alternatives in place.

We need to ask ourselves some fundamental questions – and the most fundamental is “what is education?” and “what does it mean to prepare students for their lives in the 21st century”?.

Yoram mentioned many times that schooling has been a very successful sociological experiment, but a failure for our students because of our inconsistency in our pedagogical frameworks.

Yoram jokingly says that we operate as if it “Doesn’t matter what you teach so long as it’s boring!”

Essentially we have to find, what Yoram calls, “our pedagogical sentiment”. There are lots of slogans, but what is our real authentic pedagogy or stance? How do we turn our classrooms into a community – a community of thinkers? He wants students to experience knowledge as human creation.

The thing we are investigating is Yoram’s Third Model which is about ‘disruptive intelligence’, about sharing ideas, working together because

thinking is a dialogic and societal process.

Our purpose should be about putting dialectic pressure on students. If we are flexible and sensitive then teaching can support learning. I love the idea of ‘teacher as therapist!’

Yoram is also a strong advocate of ‘story’, and the human narrative, which fits very well with digital story in a Web 2.0 context as well. As he explains, knowledge is created by human beings – it is storytelling which helps put order into our chaotic life and insert some logic into the mystery of life. We want our students to create their own stories, their own interpretation, and original ways to solutions.

Knowledge is not an object – Knowledge is a ‘story that works’

The Department of Education and Children’s Services in South Australia provides a good series of informative links for Dr Yoram Harpaz.

Harpaz & Lefstein: Changing Schools – What sorts of changes in schools should we be putting energy into?

I’ve got more to write about this on another day….

Image from jakedobkin.
  • 7 thoughts on “Creating possibilities in learning

    1. Pingback: » Are You Using Twitter Effectively For Your Personal Learning? Mobile Technology in TAFE

    2. Pingback: John Connell » Blog Archive » Glances Ahead: Lead or be Led! pt.3

    3. Pingback: John Connell » Blog Archive » A Story that Works

    4. it is about constructing incredibly rich and meaningful learning

      This is so incredibly important. At a time when we have the opportunity and the ability to create a change in how schools function, so many are still caught up in demonstrating that, with the right leverage, we can continue to do what we have always done. Instead of seeking out new ways of challenging our students and helping them develop skills for their future, we are stuck focused on how things worked in the past. We continue to try to build communities in schools that function as they did in the past. I look forward to hearing how this progresses and learn from what it is you are doing.

    5. Thanks for the heads up, Judy. I’ve just recently become re-engaged in thinking skills, their importance, cultivation, and use, so these kinds of connections are really important. I can’t say that at Marist we have a radical educational agenda, and I’m not even sure that like the idea of a school or a college locked in to a particular educational ideology (I’m with Robert there.)
      However, assuming that my colleagues are professional and concerned with education, learning, thinking and growing themselves and their student communities, it’s really important to know what strings there are to the educational bow, and what bows there in the educational armoury. I’m an eclectic kind of person, but I can only successfully be so if I have good familiarity with the rages of tools and concepts available. To this end, I’ve started a wiki page on Classroom 2.0 on Critical Thinking Skills (, which would benefit from intelligent input.

    6. Robert, we will be branching into exciting new terrain – and all the better for the robust quality and depth in the thinking processes that we will be engaged in. I hope I have the opportunity to join St Michaels in this wonderful process of discovery ….. and yes, you are right! It is not about jumping on a bandwagon – it is about constructing incredibly rich and meaningful learning in ways that I am finding very exciting and challenging.

    7. Sounds great. I love even just being able to listen in on such conversations (sometimes I feel I don’t have anything worthwhile to add).

      This will be a great post to share with staff at my school. We’re talking about entering into a whole-school dialogue in 2008 about pedagogy. One thing we’ve already discussed within the leadership team, however, is that we’re not a community that’s likely to stand up and say “we’re a multiple intelligences school”, or “we’re a Bloom’s Taxonomy school”. This preliminary discussion is suggesting, I hope, that what we’re really looking for here at St. Michael’s is a pedagogical sentiment rather than the slogan.

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