We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Principal: School Doesn’t Work For Most Kids
Like everyone i have posted plenty on obvious improvements to the education process. Yet we all suffer from our own experience as our primary guide. That is just as obviously not good enough and plenty of kids simply fail to thrive, often because of the impact of emotional baggage.
What this brings home is that the student must take personable responsibility to advance his educational agenda. In truth, my own successes and failures were produced by this personal willingness to go the extra mile and search out additional resources. Teachers need to identify this and to mentor it.
After all that it becomes vastly easier to educate.
Principal: school doesn’t work for most kids
http://theconversation.com/principal-school-doesnt-work-for-most-kids-32733 17 October 2014, 4.18am BST Secondary school, at least, only really works for about a third of students,” according to Templestowe College principal Peter Hutton.
Speaking in Melbourne last week, he also asked how “we made learning,
something that in younger years was so innately pleasurable, get so
bad”. Hutton used the metaphor of schools as a bus, where 30 kids get on
the bus, the teacher sits at the front and, no matter how much the view
is of interest to the child sitting on the bus, we can’t stop. Instead,
we say, “I’m sorry, son, we can’t stop to look at that, we have a
schedule to keep."
But at Templestowe College in Melbourne, Peter Hutton is doing
something different. Not only are students able to take classes outside
their year level, they are actively engaged in the school in hiring and
firing staff, in offering specialised courses based on their own areas
of expertise and in challenging expectations around school days. But why
and how? Students take responsibility for their learning
At this school, students are encouraged to take responsibility for
their own learning. They are able to make decisions about what they
study, in what year level and in what order. This approach, which
mirrors what is done at many democratic schools, is known as student-directed learning.
This style of learning is popular at universities and in schools.
However, it may be vastly different from many of our experiences at
school. This approach involves allowing students to direct the topics of
study, the length of time they study a topic and the way they are
assessed. At Templestowe, the school has partnered with La Trobe
University to meet students' interest in studying computer gaming.
Students whose subject choices are not offered by the school complete
what is known as a Personalised Learning Project (PLP). They set the
objectives of the project, choose a staff mentor and then complete the
Students who are given the ability to plan their own learning are said to improve their achievement and build on their capacity to learn. They work in partnership with their teachers to encourage independence and take charge of their own learning.
Hutton gives the example of a student who was in Year 7, but wanted
to sit in on a Year 12 Physics class. The student was able to do so, but
only if he didn’t interrupt the learning of the Year 12 students. They
found that the student was not only surviving, he was thriving.
When asked about this, his classmates said:
Well it’s a bit weird actually … because he sometimes knows more than we do.
Much like in democratic schools, the school offers students the
chance to control their learning to meet their needs. This chance to
control learning is in line with school improvement practices that empower students to shape and direct the education they experience and the management of the school. Research
has shown that students who are engaged in active inquiry
investigations of different concepts enjoy greater learning gains than
students who are not. They are also more likely to learn more about how
they learn, to meet their learning goals and to experience school as
more pleasurable. Students' learning plans are individualised and flexible
One of the more controversial aspects of Templestowe is its
flexibility. Start times for students vary according to what the
principal describes as research around sleep patterns for adolescents.
They received media coverage for their staggered start times of 7.15am, 9am and 10.15am with finish times of 1.15pm, 3.30pm and 5.15pm.
There is a good deal of research that indicates that adolescents should be able to start later if they feel the need. Some research
has said that teenage moodiness and poor school behaviour could be
mitigated by better sleep patterns, including later sleep and later
rising, with schools factoring that in to their starts. Similarly, a 2010 study concluded that even modest delays in start times improved adolescent moodiness, health, alertness and achievement. What are the problems with this flexibility?
Some of the problems will stem from epistemological differences
between this school’s approach and the established expectations of
parents and education commentators. For example, some parents may not
trust their child to take responsibility for their own learning,
believing that curriculum experts and teachers are better placed to make
Further, they may find it difficult to understand students taking
control of the hiring and firing of staff. Some may struggle with the
idea that it is a students' role to mentor and tutor other students, or
to offer courses and activities to other students. It may be seen as a
conflict of interest to have students working for the school as
receptionists and maintenance staff.
Or it might be difficult to understand why a student of Year 7 age
might want to enrol in Year 12 Physics. Or why, for that matter, the
Year 12 students wouldn’t roundly object to that child being in their
Similarly, when it comes to start times, the idea that children can
choose when they start might be shocking or horrifying for some parents.
If only because they may not like the idea of having to make multiple