Learning from “The Dot”

I love this story. I hadn’t seen it before and it immediately struck me as a great encouragement to teachers. How do we manage the “little” moments that present themselves. It struck me that;

  • The teacher has this conversation “after class”.
  • The teacher asks Vashti to “own” her work by signing it.
  • The work is privileged for what the student is able to achieve “at the moment”.
  • Vashti mis-reads the teacher’s cues … is this from her experience with other teachers (e.g. Vashti’s reaction to “Polar bear in snow storm).
  • Vashti’s teacher invested in her “after class” – by framing the first picture.
  • Vashti had resources at her disposal to “explore” (her “never before opened paint box”)
  • Reflection is CRUCIAL to the next step of learning … AND teaching.
  • Most of Vashti’s learning happens without the teacher; her teacher is merely the CATALYST.
  • This teacher only has Vashti once a week. 🙂
  • The school “Art Show” … an opportunity for an authentic AUDIENCE.
  • Vashti honours her experience (and her teacher) by mentoring another.


Notes From AFR “Teach Skills, Not Subjects”


AFR bossI really enjoyed Brett Rolfe’s article “We need to teach children skills, not subjects” in this weekend’s Australian Financial Review Boss Magazine. For those interested, here was the source statement to Brett’s questions on the subject.

The current revolution in education is in the shifting priority to the learner, learning; rather than a single focus on what needs to be taught. It is clear to me that fear of non-compliance to curriculum standards is driving much of the educational agenda in Australia. Our focus on meeting the requirements of a broad curriculum is robbing educators of the ability to invest in the depths and directions which our children are interested in exploring and the “push down” of educational expectation into early childhood is robbing our children of the emotional and interpersonal foundations for long-term success.

There is no question that schools must develop student’s mastery of multi-disciplinary substance in literacy, numeracy, sciences and the arts; but our approach should focus more on the cohesive nature of these fields; a marriage and integration of width and depth in our investigations and studies.

I recently visited a beautiful school in Perth but after walking around the immaculate grounds for 10 minutes I had not seen a single student. I asked my host “Where are the children?” to which they cheerfully replied, “This is the NAPLAN term.” … I don’t really know what that means anymore; I live in a bubble where permission abounds for children to explore, play, experiment, challenge, debate and reflect; the longer I operate within this learning environment, the more acclimatised I become to the benefits but more ignorant to the truth that these possibilities are not the norm.

Our school’s Founder; Gillian McAuliffe, has been a passionate advocate for getting the “word out” and has championed the education-of-educators in this arena (long before it was popular to do so). I do believe that successful schools; schools who are connected and listening to the broad range of international research and best-practice, have a responsibility to reach out to other educators and offer pathways within their own contexts. Our school has been a model of excellence in responding to the needs of our own student body and we are constantly looking for ways to improve and extend our successes.

The foundations of our approach to learning are focused on developing Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration and Communication – these do not need to be elusive skills – whilst there are finer nuances; the crux of developing and mastering these skills is in providing time and opportunity. At Bold Park Community School;it is embedded in our environments, our policies, our approach to the disciplines, our questioning techniques and the provocational opportunities we develop for and with children.


International Mud Day

A Day for Kids to PLAY IN MUD? Is this just too KOOKY?

I promise after listening to Tim Vidler speak on ABC Radio – You’ll … “Get It”

6a00e0097e4e68883301a511d5b9d7970c-320wiBold Park Community School (BPCS), founder of the inaugural International Mud Day, were excited to join other schools and organisations to partner in an initiative to link with schools around the globe in enjoying the benefits and pleasure of playing in mud!
The intention of this event is to provide children with a symbolic opportunity to join with others around the world in connecting through the catalyst of mud.
This year BPCS “amped it up” with a dirty-big mud obstacle course (the Mudsticle Course); where children from ages 3 to 18 (and adults) interconnect with like-spirited children around the world by playing in mud together on Friday the 27th June, 2014.
Grown from its inception in 2009 with the connection of 80 Nepalese orphans and the children of Bold Park Community School, with the support of the Nature Action Collaborative for Children (NACC), this inspirational initiative has flourished into a multi-continental annual celebration.
As the participants of Bold Park Community School Mud Day since 2009 have discovered, there are children like our friends in Nepal who are prevented from enjoying nature-based play because they only have one set of clothes. One of the aims of International Mud Day is to raise global awareness of this sad reality and provide funds to meet this need to enable children to delight in the joys of mud play, and in the mean time, encouraging our own children (and parents) to overcome our fear of getting dirty!
Mud gratifies one of our first and basic instincts. We will be playing in and connecting in the same earth. “Mud – It’s universal”.
For more information, visit the World Forum Mud Day site at:


A Case for Motivation 2

I heard this gentleman speak a couple of years ago. It is a message that we really need to hear as leaders, as educators, as employers and… someone please give Julia Gillard and Peter Garrett this link before they go too far down the ‘pay for performance’ pathway.

Another FANTASTIC Animation – Thank you, RSA!

What’s Eating You? … A Case for Intrinsic Motivation

We’ve all been on awesome PDs,  Camps, Incursion where we have left feeling reignited about our teaching (or other aspect of our lives). After a while it seems to ‘wear off’ and for those of us who are over thirty (OK! forty!)  it would be easy to surrender to the cynic inside saying, “Motivation is just hype and it doesn’t last very long.”

The truth is, our inner-cynic is RIGHT – that’s why we need motivation ALL the time.

I don’t know how far you are into the year when you are reading this but as I write we are about to commence Week 5 of Term 1. The honeymoon is over, some students have had a cry in your classes, the staff are getting niggly again, you have a wad of marking, programs are due in, you are reminded again that the administrators really HAVE spent too much time out of the lower-school classroom and your family are back to being your part-time interest… Clearly, my inner-cynic is alive and well!   

I know I need to seek out the inspiration needed to keep me firing from day-to-day and to gauge when I’m heading for the rocks and reignite my lighthouse! Many of you would have tremendous sources for inspiration and I would love to hear them. I’m certain they aren’t all web-based but they are the easiest to share.

My recent bank of mental turkish delights has come from TED but I have only recently stumbled up STUMBLE UPON (couldn’t help myself), EDTALKS and a ripper TOP 100 MOTIVATIONAL stories site.  What are your sources of inspiration right now? What gets you through the rough days?

For many, the reality of our motivations can based in pay, fear, looking ‘solid’, performing ‘crack-free’, work conditions or competition. I sincerely believe that teachers, more than any other occupation, need to be on the front line of being intrinsically motivated; of being positive, energetic and committed individuals,  because our actions and attitudes duplicate in the students we teach.

Now to go into my week like I really believe that.