Achieving – what’s it really about

Achieving – what’s it really about

Saturday, 16 November 2019. There were two articles in newspapers about one of the world’s top cricketers, Ben Stokes. One was in the Times newspaper. The other was in the Guardian. It’s interesting that each focused on different aspects of what makes him successful. I’ll take each article in turn. Intelligence matters Michael Atherton (a former England captain) commented in the Times: “Observers often confuse academic intelligence – GCSEs, A-levels, university degrees, and the like – with cricketing intelligence, but the two are distinct. You can have both, of course, but one does not automatically confer the other. Stokes told […]

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Young people – take charge of your own learning

Young people – take charge of your own learning

Coco Kirkland joined Self Managed Learning (SML) College aged 13. She had been constantly in trouble in her mainstream school, because the teachers accused her of just doodling all the time. She was also diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. Having been labelled naughty, just because she sees herself as a visual learner, she decided she didn’t want to stay in mainstream school. In her first year at SML College, she did continue her doodling and cartoon drawing and other visual activities as well as chatting to fellow students. To anyone observing her, she seemed to be doing nothing else. However, […]

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Transformation into happy students

Transformation into happy students

As a learning adviser at SML college I have been amazed by some of the personal transformations that have taken place in students since joining. One particular student anxious, low in confidence and motivation has in the space of 8 eight weeks, started their own project, developed a group of friends and had a complete shift in social interactions and body language. Another student, high in energy who struggled to fit into school, has developed tremendously in their confidence to communicate with others and has benefitted from being allowed the freedom to explore their own curiosity. Because the College has […]

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Students following their own interests

Students following their own interests

At SML College because we don’t have a forced curriculum, students are allowed to follow their own interests, which results in wonderful examples of creativity. These have included a range of projects on a variety of subjects such as hedgehogs, wild cats, technological impact in medicine and bughouse making, to name a few. Students have also recently started their own podcast and host a regular debate and discussion club where they bring up topics that are relevant to them. This element of freedom and ownership within the college has a positive impact on student wellbeing. Students have said that: “At […]

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Making a computer game

Making a computer game

SMLG’ (Self Managed League Gaming) is a game creation project that has been supported by learning advisors Louis and Eleanor since March. Its goal is to create a small 2d platform game, made entirely by students on the team. There is a real range of skills between them, and it’s been brilliant to see them working together and filling in one another’s weaknesses. It has been a slow process, but we now have a variety of gameplay experiments and prototypes, as well as a mass of excellent pixel art, sound effects (two things that none of the children had previously […]

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“Machine learning and human intelligence. The future of education for the 21st-century.”

“Machine learning and human intelligence. The future of education for the 21st-century.”

The title of this review is the title of Rose Luckin’s latest book and Rose is delivering our Presidential lecture on July 8 at SML College on this topic. Her chair at UCL Institute of Education is in Learner Centred Design. It’s in that capacity that we have worked together in the past and in her latest book she does make reference to research that she did with our students in SML College. So I can’t suggest that this review is a totally independent and unbiased piece. We have both been totally committed to the notion of learner centred design […]

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A Spanish reaction to SML College

A Spanish reaction to SML College

My name is Esther Russo and I work as a Vocational and Education Training teacher in the CIFP (El Centro Integrado de Formación Profesional) of Lorca in Murcia, Spain. In recent years my interest on new approaches to learning has grown, especially seeing the results that we have in our classrooms: lack of motivation, problems with managing time and goals, stress, abandonment of the courses, lack of social skills. I can see those even among my students, who are over 16 years old and many times over 18 or 20, are supposed to be really engaged, as they have chosen […]

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A discussion about education with comedian Mark Watson

I went to see the comedian Mark Watson doing a stand-up gig at a local club. One thing he likes is interacting with his audience. This time he left cards on tables for us to write on it any opinions we had individually that were seen as odd. I wrote that schooling should be abolished – this was a comedy gig and did need something controversial, even though I don’t hold to this in it’s extreme. Mark comes on stage and picks out cards to read and one of these was mine. He asked who had written this and why […]

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Education, work and learning

It was common in my school, and I believe still is, for teachers to chide pupils who were not working. Working meant working at a prescribed task from the teacher. Also in modern parlance, there is reference to having pupils ‘on task’. If you are not working at a prescribed problem or task, then it is assumed that you were not learning. Recently a parent asked me what we would do if a student is not working. I indicated that we may do nothing since it’s not apparent that it’s a problem. Often when I was criticised in school for […]

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Self Managed League Gaming

An idea came to mind when Louis and I were chatting in the kitchen about game development. In the past couple of years I’ve gotten into ‘modding’ for a few games I play, and for five years Louis has been the go-to tutor for everything programming, with much of that time spent helping several of the children with creating their own games in Unity and Scratch. I asked if he thought it would be possible to bump all our heads together and try to create a finished game as a group and he was very hopeful. We have such a […]

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