Sunday, 11 March 2018

To Reform or To Transform - that is the question? Mindlab Activity 6

A critical reflection on future trends and their implications on practice (Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M., 2001).

(Insert Video Link:
 Edualert, 2012)


Easy sharing of digital information, contributing to increased migration, has resulted in rapidly changing “ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity” (OECD, 2016) in our learning communities. The challenge is to integrate migrants while maintaining both their unique identities, and ours.

Global challenges like ‘erratic weather patterns, overfishing and conflict’ (OECD, 2016) affect all of humanity, but unifying efforts of global collaboration and problem-solving are evolving as ideas are shared among concerned global citizens.

Education practises devised for the industrial age are now outdated in our knowledge based economy and to remain relevant, educators need to lift NZ's low attainment levels (Buckley, (KPMG), 2015) by developing young people skilled in creativity, innovation and complex problem solving. The value for global languages, advanced digital skills, and social and emotional intelligence also needs to be recognised.

Language trends depicted in Figures 1 & 2, are addressed at my school by offering Chinese and Maori from K-6, then French, Spanish and Japanese from Y7-13. The staff is culturally diverse with most global ethnicities represented.

Figure 1. Top Native Languages (The Washington Post (2015)

Figure 2. Most Common Second Languages (The Washington Post (2015)

So What:

Being a K-6 Visual Art and Digital Media specialist, I am continually investigating global teaching trends in these areas and note strong links to skills identified by Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2007). This has lead me to developing a choice-based programme that is “flexible and reduces barriers to learning while setting high expectations for students.” (National Centre on Universal Design for Learning (UDL), 2009).

Figure 3. Framework for 21st Century Learning (P21, 2007)

In student-directed, choice-based art learning environments, children learn to identify problem, are encouraged to inquire and that leads to insights and conceptual understandings (Gaspardi, 2012). Whether it’s the 5 year old figuring out how to develop friendships or the 10 year old unpacking the dilemma between animal poaching and their ancient cultural beliefs about medicine, it’s the personal connections that drives their response to - How can I communicate ideas I feel passionately about, clearly and effectively to my audience, through a medium of my choosing?

We already know that students come from different places and learn at different rates, which makes differentiation essential. All voices, ideas and problems should be heard equally, yet answered differently (valued), resulting in positive mental well-being.

(Insert Video Link: 
National Centre on Universal Design for learning, 2009)

Now What:

“The goal of education in the 21st century is the mastery of the learning process.” (UDL, 2012). UDL’s 3 learning guidelines aim to develop learners that are:
 1. Resourceful & knowledgeable
2. Strategic & goal-directed
3. Purposeful & motivated.

And Speicher's (2009) wrote 10 Tips For Creating a 21st–Century Classroom Experience in IDEO, including:
Create from relevance - engage the child, making connections
Stop calling them ‘soft skills’ - creativity and collaboration are essential 21C skills
Allow variance - value customization
Be an anthropologist, not an archaeologist - study people to understand their value

(Insert Video Link:  MacFound, 2010)

“Current education dislocates people from their talents” (Robinson, 2015). New Zealand’s National Standards has been enthralled with the idea of ‘linearity, conformity and batching people’, in complete contrast to how life develops - organically and symbiotically. Human talents are diverse and people have different aptitudes. As educators we must create conditions under which these can flourish, by customising and personalising education for our students.

To transform our current education system and compete in the knowledge intensive labour markets, we must recognise that our students need important competencies. Acquiring global languages, navigating aspects of the virtual world as well as the real, and maintaining a healthy social and emotional intelligence are keys. Innovation will challenge what teachers take for granted but we need to rise with the challenge pro-actively. Abraham Lincoln said it best in 1862, when he presented congress with his innovative ideas about emancipation:

Figure 4. Abraham Lincoln as quoted by Sir Ken Robinson (Bring on the Learning Revolution, 2015).

Change is always challenging, it is how we respond to these challenges that matters.


Buckley, R (2015), KPMG. Beyond 2030: Global Megatrends and the Impact on New Zealand's Prosperity. Retrieved from

CAST. (2010, January 6). UDL At A Glance [Video]. Retrieved from

Edualert. (2012, July 24). What is 21st century education? [Video]. Retrieved from

Gaspardi, E. (2012). Teaching for Innovation: Supporting Diverse Learning Communities. In D. Jaquith, & N. Hathaway, (Eds.), The Learner-Directed Classroom (pp. 99-106). New York, United States of America: Teachers College Press.

MacFound. (2010). Rethinking Learning: The 21st Century Learner [Video]. MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from

National Centre on Universal Design for learning, (2009). UDL Guidelines - Version 2.0. Retrieved from

OECD. (2016) Trends Shaping Education 2016, OECD Publishing, Paris. DOI: (this publication can be read online by following its DOI’s hyperlink)

Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). (2007). Framework for 21st Century Learning. Retrieved on 10 March 2018 from

Robinson, K. (2015). Bring on the Learning Revolution! Ken Robinson. TED Talks [Video]. Retrieved on 10 March 2018 from

Rolfe et al.'s reflective model, (2001). Adapted from: Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M. (2001) Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user's guide. Retrieved from

Speicher, S. (2009). IDEO’s 10 tips for creating a 21st century classroom experience. Retrieved from

The Washington Post. (2015). The world’s languages, in 7 maps and charts. Retrieved from

With love,  


Thank you for visiting,


  1. I enjoy reading your posts for the depth of consideration you put into them and I ask myself, can they also apply to tertiary education? IDEO's 10 Tips for creating a 21st century classroom experience(Speicher, 2009) are equally as valid in the business certificate course I teach.

    Much of the tranformation of the weekly lessons I'm currently undertaking involve:
    * creating from relevance - learners now pursuing their own inquiry into areas of business that interest them.
    * be an anthropologist, not an archaeologist - this particularly resonates with the work students are undertaking at the moment, 'knowing myself in order to know others'. Previously, learners would have investigated a specific career path but now they're investigating their values, experiences, skills and capabilities.
    * Change the discourse - in this course we're also making greater use of Onenote Class to offer more timely and richer formative feedback. But perhaps that's where our learner age groups differ as some tertiary level students are reluctant to engage in tasks without extrinsic rewards, grades. As suggested by Speicher (2009) "we need formative assessments that are just as important as numeric ones" and "we actually have to value them". The next challenge.

    Speicher, S. (2009). IDEO's ten tips for creating a 21st century classroom experience. Retrieved from

    1. Hi Rona, thank you for your comment. I battle the extrinsic motivation fairies at my school who flit around with stickers, lollies and certificates. It is more challenging to pull with intrinsic than to push with extrinsic motivation but I prefer to look at the long game, and I can because I teach my students for up to 7 years in a row. So my perspective is different.
      And I simply couldn't afford to extrinsically be motivating 450 kids a year for their entire primary school experience. One oldie but a goodie is the if/when..then strategy that works wonders for my age group, e.g. When the collage table is tidied up, then we can share our creations to the class, or if I am not happy with the paint clean up then the painting centre will be closed until further notice. Cause & effect - works every time :P With adults I would defer to the great Sir Ken in his video "Robinson, K. (2015). Bring on the Learning Revolution! Ken Robinson. TED Talks [Video]. Retrieved on 10 March 2018 from" where he talks about how the greater majority of people don't even know that they have specific talents of aptitudes. They are going through the motions of tertiary education with specific goals, but not personal ones. I like how you are using the anthropologist tip to help your students to uncover theirs.
      Best wishes

  2. In reading your reflection, I am reminded of the challenge of - Where to after the national standards? I am hearing from others sounding a little confused with a sense of being a little directionless. Could our Education decision makers “disenthrall” themselves and think anew, act anew? It would be ideal if we were able to create guidelines based on a type of graduate profile that included the 21st Century skills, digital literacy and cyber citizenship along with the student’s level of attainment. Assessment could be an e-portfolio where the nature of the presentation of the content was at the discretion of the learner to show mastery. Hopefully all of this could lead to reconnecting people with their talents. In reading your reflection, I get a sense that your students are afforded choices in their approach to exploring content, therefore raising engagement and ownership of their learning. I found myself nodding in agreement with many of your points, including intrinsic motivation and your Speicher (2009) reference. Thank you, I found this thought provoking and in places affirming.

    1. Hi Shona, thank you for commenting. I am dismayed at how our Department of Education is linked directly to politics in New Zealand. Shouldn't it be an independent organisation that explores and best practices from around the world and extrapolates those across current and future trends, no matter what the political climate might be?
      If the department of education is broken or outdated, what hope is there for us educators or for our students?
      The education profession needs to be given a reboot and I don't know if being a political football will allow that to happen. Those directing education should be doing so because of their expertise, not because they are a list MP who will be rotated in the near future. That being said, yes I am following the ideas of Diane Jaquith, Clyde Caw and others in the TAB movement and find that they translate into all aspects of learning. This TED talk was a wake up call me, and you might enjoy it too :)

    2. Hi Timea, Thank you for the link, I will have a look at this.

  3. Thank you both for your collegial discussion which helps give me faith that the hours I'm currently spending on making my lessons more authentic, more centred on the individual and more supported by digital technology where it is transformative or augmentative, is worthwhile.

  4. Hi Timea,
    For an old laggard like myself, I think this post is your best yet. The superb use of video to convey your feelings and your stance is quite inspiring. Your students are very fortunate to have you for their next 7 years. Back home not all schools were Yrs 7 - 13 but, nearly all the good ones were. Continuity is definitely the key and reading your reflections not only stirs up the passion for teaching but it shows how well informed your opinion is. A few of your stats were quite scary.
    Very well done.

    Andy D

    1. Thank you Andy :)I do feel passionate about these inquiries and could write so much more than the word limit. However, this is the stuff I live and breathe in my practise. As a teacher of kiddies from aged 4-11, I see so much change in these little people first hand, not always for the best when it comes to 'soft skills'. I do have a unique viewpoint compared to single level classroom teachers and impact around 450 lives in a year (then across 7 years). That's a responsibility I can't take lightly. All the best for your submissions :)