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Is there a body in the 21st century school? April 27, 2010

Posted by Editor21C in Directions in Education, Primary Education, Secondary Education.
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From Dr. Jorge Knijnik

How should we think about the body in the 21st century? As a PDHPE (personal development, health and physical education) lecturer, my main concern is to encourage teaching-learning practices that recognize the pivotal importance of an active lifestyle for a healthy life in a society that each day is becoming more sedentary. What is the place of the body among an ever-increasing amount of new technology which demands a great amount of time sitting in front of a computer? I certainly do not have the answer; however, I have some insights to start the dialogue.

1 Real relationships     While it is fun to play video and wii games, playing traditional games with classmates is also fun. Although some people think traditional games are old fashioned, children still, for example, love to run after each other. They still love to hide from each other and they still love to throw balls. The key issue here is that children are learning how to live together in the real world through games. How best can we live together? Games can teach us much about this extremely important issue. While playing and having fun, the children are also developing their interpersonal relationships and movement skills, which are fundamental to achieving a healthier lifestyle. However, future PDHPE practices need to take into account a number of important issues which have emerged in recent years – for example, inclusiveness for all students, gender issues and different skill levels and of the obstacles a child can face while playing games. Teachers must be skilled in ways to improve individual confidence as well as cooperation between students to enhance relationships.

2 The body in the new century      How can 21st century bodies be educated? As primary students are no longer expected to simply reproduce movements without thinking but are increasingly required to create their own forms of bodily expression, how can teachers deal with such a challenge? The key feature here for students is learning to be, which means finding themselves through and with their bodies.

3 Let the kids play     It is important that children develop the ability to organize themselves and their games and therefore teachers must be alert to the fact that sometimes is important to give some responsibility to the students. ‘Give games back to the students.’ It may take more time in the beginning stages but students will learn how to organise themselves and how to cooperate with each other. Getting together to set up their own games and to establish the rules is an exercise in democracy, building crucial values for citizenship.

Yes, there is a place for the body in 21st century schooling. This place is there because real students are there. They can enhance their learning through new technology, but they should not hide themselves behind this technology. PDHPE content and activities can ensure that our students will improve their knowledge about themselves, their health and their bodies, as well as their skills in communicating and integrating with others to build a healthier community.

From Dr. Jorge Knijnik – School of Education, University of Western Sydney, April, 2010

Personalised learning in UK Secondary schools April 11, 2010

Posted by Editor21C in Directions in Education, Engaging Learning Environments, Secondary Education.
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From Dr Susanne Gannon

Late last year Dr Robyn Gregson, Dr Susanne Gannon and Secondary Head of Program Allan Morton spent time at two extraordinary schools in northern England that are reimagining the future of secondary schooling. Both Cramlington Community High School, in Northumberland, and Darlington Education Village, near Leeds, are large schools with federated structures. Innovation infuses each of these schools right through from architecture and design to staffing and curriculum. Despite the homogenising effects of the well-established UK National Curriculum and Ofsted inspections, both Cramlington and Darlington have brought personalised learning and interdisciplinary curriculum into their distinctive approaches to 21st century learning. Cramlington has moved away from an “atomised curriculum and timetable” to problem based and applied inquiry learning in all discipline areas, aiming to blend the best of old and new. Cramlington Community High School has a Science focus and has been designated a “Leading Edge” school. Collaboration and technology infuse student learning and teachers plan through the Cramlington cycle. In year 8 content has been refocused as questions to create “transdiciplinary units” such as “Is God a mathematician?” and “What’s the ‘great’ in Great Britain mean?” Year 7 students learn metacognitive and other powerful learning strategies in the Learning to Learn program. Year 9 students complete Humanities projects and Yr 10 and 11 follow the iCitizen program. Darlington Education Village is situated in a disadvantaged urban area where low student aspirations are an ongoing issue. It is a federation of a high school, primary school and special education school and has endeavoured to bring the personalised learning approach of special education into the mainstream, particularly for students at risk. The school specialises in Arts, Technology and Vocational education. All students have opportunities for personalised learning and choice across a wide range of curriculum offerings. Students are actively involved in target setting and tracking their learning progress. In the first year of secondary school, students are with the same teacher for half their time in the subject Opening Minds which combines a variety of subjects for theme-based study. Units develop explicit skills in learning, managing information, relating to people, managing situations and citizenship. The collaboratively designed school buildings are light and open and provide innovative learning spaces that are used by the wider community for a variety of purposes outside school hours. A distributed model of leadership was important for building capacity and sustainability. It was very clear to us the processes of change at each school had been underpinned by transformative models of leadership driven by strong vision and values, sensitive to local environments and conditions, collaborative and collegial relationships and preparedness to be creative and unconventional, and to take risks where required to achieve a shared vision. Teacher quality and development are seen as crucial by both schools and a range of robust professional development and further study opportunities are provided for teachers. Both schools are accredited partners in teacher education provision.

Susanne Gannon, Course Adviser, Master of Education (Leadership), University of Western Sydney

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