Rhetoric workshop speech by student Taanu Donne, aged 15

Rhetoric workshop speech by student Taanu Donne, aged 15

How do you feel about organ donation? Kidneys. Lungs. A heart. Vital organs that we would be dead without. Many are needed, but few are donated. At this moment in the UK, 6.5 thousand people are waiting for an organ. 6.5 thousand people who are inevitably going to die without a transplant. 6.5 thousand people whose lives could b saved – by your actions. How does it feel to know that, when you pass on, have ceased to be, have kicked the bucket, you could save 8 other lives? To know that a family member or a  close friend is […]

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Launch of Afternoon Programme at SML College

Launch of Afternoon Programme at SML College

After 16 years of great success with our Self Managed Leaning morning programme, we are now launching an afternoon programme which with our first round of admissions in September 2018. Research has shown conclusively that young people tend to have a body clock that is more conducive to afternoon activity. Academics have studied schools that start late in the morning and finish later; they claim that this not only produces better relationships in school but has also improved exam results. Our afternoon programme will run from 1.30 to 4.30pm and this may suit many young people, but this is just one […]

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My internship at SML College

by Hannah Laura Bernard, our colleague from Germany who spent time with us earlier this term   In the context of my bachelor in pedagogy and educational science, I made a five-week-long internship at SML College this autumn. I wanted to know what school might look like when there is no curriculum, no classroom structure and no one who tells students what to do. Even though five weeks is a very short time, I gained various insights into operations at the College. I took part in the community meetings, got involved in the work with the learning groups, participated in the […]

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Why do swastika drawings upset people?

Why do swastika drawings upset people?

A workshop at SML College about symbolism and the ideology of national socialism run by German intern, Laura Bernard.   One morning at SML College, just before our community meeting, one of the older students began drawing swastikas on a flip-chart. Although it was most likely intended to be a provocative joke, myself and the other adults in the community, immediately agreed that using this symbol in any way is completely unacceptable. Although, we clarified that this was a real no-go, I  still felt the need to pursue a deeper discussion on the subject. It seemed that most of the […]

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Heart surgery & other operations

Heart surgery & other operations

Our resident maths & physics tutor Lars also ran two very popular dissection workshops with students this term. The first of these involved dissection of a lamb pluck – lungs, liver, and heart, all connected by the oesophagus – providing an excellent opportunity to satisfy some of the student’s natural curiosity about biology. This process introduces students to a vocabulary of appropriate terminology related to anatomy and physiology of a mammal. Drawing comparisons to human physiology, students investigate and recognise the anatomical structures and explain the physiological functions of these body systems. Learning could then extend to recognising and explaining the interrelationships […]

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Self Managed Learning made difficult

Self Managed Learning made difficult

I appreciate that the title may seem a little strange. So many self-help texts are about things “made easy”. What I want to cover here is the fact that it is quite difficult to get people to understand why we are doing Self Managed Learning. The prevailing paradigm is one where assumptions are that young people go to school to learn. The dominant model is one that I want to challenge here and I want to do that through presenting real evidence. I’m a scientist by background and therefore I tend to be interested in evidence rather than prejudiced opinion. […]

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Career direction

It’s best to know where you’re going – and why Some years ago I was working in a school running a Self Managed Learning project. In the group with which I was working there was a talented 13-year-old girl musician. She said that she would like to have a career as an orchestra musician. We looked at the life of an orchestra musician and also looked at some research on job satisfaction. The results of the research showed that orchestra musicians had a level of job satisfaction on a par with that of a prison warder. The reasons for orchestra […]

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Letter to The Observer Editor

Sonia Sodha in her article “Is the state sometimes wiser than parents?” (6 Nov 2016) goes too far. She proposes banning home education and suggests; “Some may be getting an adequate education – we just don’t know”. The reality is we do know because there has been plenty of research showing that such education is largely very effective. Her stance is mirrored by that of the state in wishing to ignore inconvenient evidence. Let’s take another example. The Government’s own research has shown that every year at least 10,000 children get worse results at GCSE just because they are summer […]

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Taking the long view

Once upon a time there was a boy in Bolton with no interest in his schoolwork. He tended to spend time with his mates or watched comedy VHS tapes that he had recorded. He gained one GCSE then after school did a series of seemingly dead-end jobs such as in the bingo hall and at the local cinema. Because he enjoyed cracking jokes and fooling around he started to do some stand-up comedy gigs in local pubs. Eventually he developed a comedy stand-up act. He was officially entered in the Guinness World Records book for the planet’s biggest-selling stand-up tour. […]

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