Saturday, July 20, 2013

Singapore's 2005 initiative makes a good poster. Find it here (thanks to Charles Cornelius)

Charles Cornelius pointed to this page -- and I'm posting large pieces because I find it valuable.

Here is some information from that Singapore page.

What is Teach Less, Learn More? 
Teach Less, Learn More is about teaching better, to engage our learners and prepare them for life, rather than teaching more, for tests and examinations.

• TLLM aims to touch the hearts and engage the minds of our learners, to prepare them for life. It reaches into the core of education - why we teach, what we teach and how we teach.

• It is about shifting the focus from “quantity” to “quality” in education. “More quality” in terms of classroom interaction, opportunities for expression, the learning of life-long skills and the building of character through innovative and effective teaching approaches and strategies. “Less quantity” in terms of rote-learning, repetitive tests, and following prescribed answers and set formulae.

• Teachers, school leaders and MOE all have important roles to play to make Teach Less, Learn More happen.

It calls on everyone of us to go back to the basics
• Thinking Schools, Learning Nation (TSLN) was adopted as the vision statement for MOE in 1997. It continues to be the over-arching descriptor of the transformation in the education system, comprising changes in all aspects of education. These changes articulate how MOE would strive toward the Desired Outcomes of Education (DOEs).
• Since 2003, we have focused more on one aspect of our DOEs, i.e. nurturing a spirit of Innovation andEnterprise (I&E). This will build up a core set of life skills and attitudes that we want in our students. It promotes the mindsets that we want to see in our students, teacher, school leaders and beyond.
• TLLM builds on the groundwork laid in place by the systemic and structural improvements under TSLN, and the mindset changes encouraged in our schools under I&E. It continues the TSLN journey toimprove the quality of interaction between teachers and learners, so that our learners can be more engaged in learning and better achieve the desired outcomes of education. The relationship between TSLN, I&E and TLLM is shown in Figure 1 below.

To Remember Why We Teach
• We should keep in mind that we do what we do in education for the learner, his needs, interests and aspirations, and not simply to cover the content.

• We should encourage our students to learn because they are passionate about learning, and less because they are afraid of failure.

• We should teach to help our students achieve understanding of essential concepts and ideas, and not only to dispense information.

• We should teach more to prepare our students for the test of life and less for a life of tests.

To Reflect on What We Teach
• We should focus more on teaching the whole child, in nurturing him holistically across different domains, and less on teaching our subjects per se.

• We should teach our students the values, attitudes and mindsets that will serve him well in life, and not only how to score good grades in exams.

• We should focus more on the process of learning, to build confidence and capacity in our students, and less on the product.

• We should help the students to ask more searching questions, encourage curiosity and critical thinking, and not only to follow prescribed answers.
To Reconsider How We Teach
• We should encourage more active and engaged learning in our students, and depend less on drill and practice and rote learning.

• We should do more guiding, facilitating and modelling, to motivate students to take ownership of their own learning, and do less telling and teacher talk.

• We should recognise and cater better to our students’ differing interests, readiness and modes of learning, through various differentiated pedagogies, and do less of ‘one-size-fits-all’ instruction.

• We should assess our students more qualitatively, through a wider variety of authentic means, over a period of time to help in their own learning and
growth, and less quantitatively through one-off and summative examinations.

• We should teach more to encourage a spirit of innovation and enterprise in our students, to nurture intellectual curiosity, passion, and courage to try new and untested routes, rather than to follow set formulae and standard answers.

It calls on everyone of us to go back to the basics, to

Remember Why We Teach -
For the Learner  
To Rush through the Syllabus 
To Excite Passion 
Out of Fear of Failure 
For Understanding 
To Dispense Information Only 
For the Test of Life 
For a Life of Tests 

Reflect on What We Teach -
The Whole Child
The Subject
Searching Questions
Textbook Answers

Reconsider How We Teach -
Engaged Learning
Drill and Practice
Differentiated Teaching
‘One-size-fits-all’ Instruction
Guiding, Facilitating, Modelling
Formative and Qualitative Assessing
Summative and Quantitative Testing
Spirit of innovation and enterprise
Set Formulae, Standard Answers 


Here’s another blog post that Cornelius made:

An independent Primary Review, based at the University of Cambridge, was launched in October 2006 as a wide-ranging enquiry into the condition and future of primary education in England under the direction of Professor Robin Alexander.
One of its focuses was "Primary Curriculum Futures" and in February 2008 the review published a survey into some recent alternatives to the models of curriculum structure and organization since the 1988 Education Reform Act. It was written by James Conroy, Moira Hulme and Ian Menter of the University of Glasgow.
One development that the report writers noted was "a stronger focus on individual capacities and the development of core transferable skills (rather than subject content)".
A curriculum for the 'knowledge economy'
"The modernisation of the curriculum has been a focus of education reform internationally in recent years. Traditional 'grammars of schooling' (Tyack and Tobin 1994) - linear progression by age and stage, fixed conceptions of knowledge, primary emphasis on outcomes measurement - are challenged by the emergence of the new discourses of the 'learning society'. The self-programmable 'knowledge worker' (Castells 2000) of the new work order is ill-served by a prescriptive curriculum driven by credentialism. The shift from 'mode one' to 'mode two' knowledge production (Gibbons, Limoges and Nowotny 1994) requires a reconfiguration of the curriculum: a move away from residual notions of the curriculum as a body of static 'knowledge-content' transmitted by teachers to an emphasis on creative 'application-in-use' (Kress 2000). Transmission models of learning, built on assumptions of learner compliance and passivity, are unlikely to realise either sustained economic success, or the social and civic outcomes pursued through the social justice and inclusion agenda. The curriculum of the future will need to focus on the evolving 'capabilities' needed by learners if they are to develop employability skills, live enriched lives and participate actively in democratic life. A future-oriented curriculum would focus on 'learning for understanding' and require a move away from 'assessment careers' towards 'learning careers' (Ecclestone and Pryor 2003). This implies a difficult shift from 'strongly classified' and 'strongly framed' traditional school subjects (Bernstein 1971) towards greater content integration. In this model the identification of explicit core and cross-curricular themes becomes an important strategy in reducing fragmentation and promoting higher levels of integration. Operationalising curriculum reform in this direction would clearly require expanded opportunities for teacher co-operation and collaboration and an extended view of teacher professionalism." (p.2-3)
The report then goes on to recognise the Futures Curriculum research work of the QCA and National College of School Leadership (NCSL) and the Curriculum for excellence in Scotland.
In summary, even a cursory review of curriculum reform cross-nationally reveals a stronger emphasis on goal-orientation, content integration and the development of transferable skills within curriculum documents and some evidence of a greater willingness to engage with stakeholders in shaping the direction of curriculum reform. Reid (2005: 66), writing from an Australian perspective, describes a movement from "'teaching for subjects' to teaching through subjects for capabilities". The Scottish response to this challenge is found in the articulation of the 'four capacities' in A Curriculum for Excellence (ACfE): successful learners, responsible citizens, effective contributors and confident individuals. Beyond the UK, educational goals are increasingly framed in terms of 'essential learnings' or 'new basics'. This terminology is woven through policy documents relating to curriculum reform in Australia, Canada, Finland and New Zealand (Halinen 2005; Hipkins et al. 2005). Significantly essential learnings in this context extend beyond a 'restorationist' focus on basic skills to embrace new approaches to teaching and learning, particularly the significance of the learning community.
The report then looks at "alternative" curricula that tend to focus more on the development of critical and creative thinking, as well as learner autonomy and collaboration, and favour a more skills-based, rather than outcomes or subject-based, approach. Some of them are add-ons to the existing curriculum.
The move away from teaching for subjects
Reuven Feuerstein's Instrumental Enrichment (IE) programme is a mediated learning approach (the teacher acts as a central mediator) which emphasises adaptable thinking skills over content using problem solving tasks.Philosophy for Children ('P4C') is a systematic thinking skills programme used with children between the ages of six and sixteen. Seven 'novels' are used to promote discussion and problem-solving. Philosophy with Children (PwC) is a similar approach promoted in the UK for primary age children. Standalone thinking courses include those provided by the Cognitive Research Trust (which draws on the work of Edward de Bono), the Somerset Thinking Skills Course and Top Ten Thinking Tactics (Lake and Needham 1993).
The state sector has also introduced some thinking skills initiatives:
·       Assessment for Learning;
·       Learning How to Lear;
·       Activating Children's Thinking Skills;
·       Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education (CASE);
·       Cognitive Acceleration through Mathematics Education (CAME);
·       Cognitive Acceleration through Technology Education (CATE);
·       Thinking Through Geography
An emphasis on thinking skills and learning talk in the classroom "represents a significant challenge to the legacy of 'direct instruction' in UK schools" requiring "a commitment from teachers to a more risky social pedagogy and the confidence and skills to support collaborative problem solving among pupil groups."
The report also discusses the Steiner-Waldorf schools which use project-based work to develop competencies.
Steiner schools have an explicit commitment to helping students become independent thinkers and are attentive to emotional influences on readiness to learn.

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