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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Touch typing – persistence and patience

Touch typing is the ability to type without looking at the keyboard, and requires a lot of persistence and patience to learn. As someone who was taught touch typing at a young age, and having been terrible at it at the time, I know very well how difficult a skill it is. Many people end up finding their own way to get the job done, but with increasing pressure on competency with technology; it is absolutely vital to know how to do it the most efficient way. Even in education we are seeing change. Those with learning difficulties are allowed […]

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SML College is exactly what “teaching” should be

As a trainee teacher in mainstream education, I found teaching the subject I love, very difficult. The essence of learning is curiosity, expressiveness and freedom and unfortunately, the Science curriculum is being taught at young people instead of being engaged with, in an exciting and critical way.  At SML, young people have the freedom to explore and inquire into a world where a lot of mystery is still to be revealed.  I have the opportunity to help tutor students who want to study GCSE Science, coupled with providing fun workshops that cover a broader range of knowledge than the national curriculum does […]

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Empowerment – from a presentation at the International Democratic Education Conference in Bangalore India

At the end of November I attended the International Democratic Education Conference in Bangalore India. As part of the presentation that I made I explored the notion of empowerment. I used the model shown below which summarises the way in which we think about empowerment in Self Managed Learning College. It uses the idea of traffic lights to highlight the difference between non-negotiable, negotiable and empowered activity. Like any organisation we have some non-negotiable elements. These include that we start the day with our community meeting. However what people say in the community meetings is up to the individual. They […]

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A positive and uplifting community

Earlier this year, I conducted my 8 week block placement at SMLC, whose purpose was two-fold, firstly, I aspired to support the organisation’s work in the role of a volunteer and secondly, I was required to undertake a research project. My researcher role required me to observe and interact with learning advisors (LA) and learning group advisors to create an in-depth understanding of what they do and my role as a volunteer resulted in me helping students and LA’s on a daily basis with activities and workshops. Looking back and writing this, I disgustingly remember counting down days where my placement would be over. […]

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Thoughts from India

I am in Bangalore to attend and run a session at, this year’s International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC). I used the opportunity to arrive early to talk with some teachers and especially to gain insights into the current situation here from Amukta Mahaptra, who runs SchoolScape based in Bangalore. (Amukta is also the convenor of this Conference and is well known in India for her work.) Overall the picture here is very similar to what is happening all over the world. State-run schools are very traditional, classroom-based and totally teacher led. There is minimal room for young people to have […]

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The worst attender in high school…

Nobel Laureate and President of the Royal Society Sir Venki Ramakrishnan was being interviewed on BBC radio recently. Here is someone who is about as respectable as you can get. Yet being questioned about his education he was happy to say that he was a poor attender at school and at university. One trick he explained at university was to sit in lectures by the window so that after the register had been called, and the lecturer had turned his back to write on the board, he could climb out of the window and go off for a coffee. It reminded me […]

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SML COLLEGE – a safe space

Along with 31 other students (aged 9-16) I attend SML College.  I think as there are only a few people, bullying is non-existent. Everybody may not be your best friend, however you still know and respect everyone. Bullying is surprisingly common in regular schools, personally I find that fairly appalling. I think as there are hundreds of students in even the smaller schools, and you don’t really know 90% of everybody, and they will accept everybody, you are bound to have some bullies. As in SMLC, everybody that wants to join has to go through a trial week, and if anyone […]

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A few words about my final Silver Arts Award project

By Ryan White (age 16) I conducted a portrait workshop in late June last term. The main purpose of it was for the final project of my Arts Award, in which I had to conduct and review my own leadership event. The focus of my Arts Award was portraits and so the workshop naturally involved them; personally I really enjoy drawing portraits and trying to create the likeness of a person. Through the workshop I aimed to share that passion with my peers. The workshop included two activities, the main one and a warm up. In the warm up I […]

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