Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Is Minister Goldilocks going to reform education in Luxembourg?

First I wanted to entitle this post : The Goldilocks Zone of pedagogical innovation and educational reform. But then I liked the idea of having a Minister of Education called Goldilocks.

But let's be serious for a moment. Do you know what the Goldilocks Zone is?

The Goldilocks Zone is the zone where life is possible, where it is neither too hot nor too cold but just right so that water won't boil and evaporate or freeze, but where it will remain most of the time in a liquid state.

This concept can easily be applied to pedagogical innovation or educational reform. In effect, to be accepted at a given time in a given socio-cultural and economic system, change in education (on a larger scale) usually only happens in Goldilocks Zone.

Reform is accepted when there are differences enough to the standards in use, innovative enough to be noticed as such, intentionally new but not threatening or too challenging. And change has to be conservative enough to be accepeted by stakeholders that emphasize the benefits of a traditional system in place.

Every person taken alone operates in such a zone if he wants to nourish his image as an innovator without taking the risk to be evaporated or frozen. For some people this zone is very large, for others - less courageous or should I say blessed with more political intelligence - it is very narrow.

When more stakeholders are involved - and usually, it is not one person alone who takes all the decisions (at least not in democracies - although our Prime Minister is sometimes suspected to take all the decisions alone) the Zone is obviously small. The acceptable change has to take place in the limits of the intersection of all stakeholders depending on their relative importance, status or power : The Ministry of Education, the Government, the Teacher Union etc. The more stakeholders involved, the smaller the intersection area will be where a consensus is possible, and of course the slower change will happen, resulting in a kind of Darwinian evolution of the educational system. And we all know how slow such an evolution operates, don't we? Only very long-term observation could reveal change - if there is change. (So far nobody has seen the giraffe's neck grow longer. Or could it be that it is shortening?).

But there is also different concept of evolution - one which is not slow and continuous but rather jumps from a certain stage in a very short period to a very different stage. According to this scenario educational reform could be experienced during a teacher's working life, or even a child's school career

I am curious to see, if the new school law will be followed by an evolutionary jump or if educational reform will take place in the shared and very narrow Goldilocks Zone of all the stakeholders involved.

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Some Reading Milestones

  • Towards reflexive method in archaeology : the example at Çatalhöyük (edited by Ian Hodder) 2000

  • The Book of Learning and Forgetting (Frank Smith) 1998

  • Points of Viewing Children's Thinking: A Digital Ethnographer's Journey (Ricki Goldman-Segall) 1997

  • Verstehen lehren (Martin Wagenschein) 1997

  • Computer im Schreibatelier (Gérard Gretsch) 1992

  • The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter. Uses of Storytelling in the Classroom (Vivian Gussin Paley) 1991

  • La cause des adolescents (Françoise Dolto) 1988

  • Scuola di Barbiana. Die Schülerschule. Brief an eine Lehrerin. (Edition of 1980) / read in German 1982
    Letter to Teacher by the Schoolboys of Barbiana (1970)
    Lettre à une maîtresse de'école, par les enfants de Barbiana (1968)
    Lettera à una professoressa (Original Edition) 1967

  • Vers une pédagogie institutionnelle (Aïda Vasquez, Fernand Oury) 1967

Documentary Films on Education

  • Eine Schule, die gelingt (by Reinhard Kahl) 2008

  • Les temps des enfants (Jacques Duez) 2007

  • Klassenleben (by Bernd Friedmann und Hubertus Siegert) 2006

  • Lernen - Die Entdeckung des Selbstverständlichen
    (Ein Vortrag von Manfred Spitzer) 2006

  • Die Entdeckung der frühen Jahre
    Die Initiative "McKinsey bildet" zur frühkindlichen Bildung (by Reinhard Kahl) 2006

  • Treibhäuser der Zukunft - Wie in Deutschland Schulen gelingen (by Reinhard Kahl) 2004

  • Treibhäuser der Zukunft / Incubators of the future / Les serres de l'avenir; International Edition (by Reinhard Kahl) 2004

  • Journal de classe, 1ères audaces (1), Les échappés (2), Sexe, amour et vidéo (3), L'enfant nomade (4), Remue-méninges (5) (by Wilbur Leguebe, Jacques Duez, Agnès Lejeune) 2004

  • Spitze - Schulen am Wendekreis der Pädagogik (by Reinhard Kahl) 2003

  • Journal de classe, (by Wilbur Leguebe and Agnès Lejeune; Jacques Duez) 2002

  • Etre et Avoir (by Nicolas Philibert) 2002

  • The Stolen Eye (by Jane Elliott) 2002

  • The Angry Eye (by Jane Elliott) 2001

  • A l'école de la providence (by Gérard Preszow) 2000

  • Blue-Eyed (by Jane Elliott) 1996

  • A Class Divided (by Jane Elliott) 1984

  • Eye of The Storm (with Jane Elliott) 1970

Past quotes of the day

For every problem, there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong. Henry Louis Mencken

Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.
Antonio Machado

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Immanuel Kant

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. Albert Einstein

To paraphrase a famous quotation, all that is necessary for the triumph of damaging educational policies is that good educators keep silent. Alfie Kohn

We used to have lots of questions to which there were no answers. Now, with the computer, there are lots of answers to which we haven't thought up the questions. Peter Ustinov

I had a terrible education. I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers. Woody Allen

A professor is someone who talks in someone else's sleep. W. H. Auden

When I was an inspector of schools I visited one classroom and looked at a boys book. He'd written, 'Yesterday, Yesterday, Yesterday, Sorrow, Sorrow, Sorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Love, Love, Love.' I said, 'That's a lovely poem.' He said, 'Those are my spelling corrections.' Gervase Phinn

Real thinking never starts until the learner fails. Roger Schank

If what is wanted is a reexamination of schooling in terms of purpose, structure and process, then testing programmes are the wrong vehicle (...) Caroline V. Gipps

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. Albert Einstein

Act always so as to increase the number of choices. Heinz von Foerster

Another way of avoiding teaching is by relying exclusively on a textbook, workbooks, and other commercially packaged learning materials. Teaching is reduced to administering a set curriculum without giving any thought to the substance of what the students area learning or to their particular needs. H. Kohl

The right to ignore anything that doesn't make sense is a crucial element of any child's learning - and the first right children are likely to lose when they get to the controlled learning environment of school. F. Smith

Learning is the human activity which least needs manipulation by others. Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful activity. - Ivan Illich

Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. - Roger Lewin

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain