Tuesday, 10 Mar 2009

For immediate release 10 March 2009
Transform schools through powerful learning, urges UK education expert

Everyone agrees that schools should be preparing all young people to be lifelong learners – but, Professor Guy Claxton wants to know, what does lifelong learning mean to a 37-year-old hairdresser in Bacchus Marsh?

UK education expert, professor of learning sciences and co-director of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester, Professor Claxton will bring his brand of “real-world learning” to Australia for a seminar hosted by the Australian Council for Educational Research in March.

The key message, he says, is that all young people, not just the academic successes, must receive an education that will prepare them for life.

“People have talked very glibly about education as preparation for lifelong learning, but if you ask them what lifelong learning means to a 37-year-old hairdresser in Bacchus Marsh, they don’t have a really good answer,” says Professor Claxton.

“It’s not just lifelong consumption of accredited courses; it’s about being open to change, being inquisitive, and being willing to have a go at things.

“To truly prepare all students for lifelong learning, we need to narrow the gap between the antiquated model of schooling which we’re still stuck with in some places, and what would be a really powerful, accurate preparation for complicated living,” he says.

According to Professor Claxton, many thousands of young people are stressed by the challenges of living in the 21st century. Education systems must take responsibility for this, and focus on providing all students with life skills.

“Approximately half of young people leave school without much to show for it, and that’s the fault of our system,” says Professor Claxton.

“To blame family background, community or ethnicity, or to say some kids just aren’t bright enough, is lazy and irresponsible, scientifically false and educationally indefensible,” he says.

In his 13 March seminar for ACER, titled ‘Transforming Schools Through Powerful Learning’, Professor Claxton aims to lead teachers and principals deeper into learning by explaining the thinking behind school transformation. He will show how busy teachers can work on creating small but significant shifts, and will illustrate practical ways for a school to become a more powerful learning community.