OUR VISION and our STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS: HGHS's PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITY
The consultation we completed with staff and parents in 2004, set the context for 2005 where our professional learning community has been evolving formally. During 2005 we researched and explored what we mean by the term "Learners in the 21st century", and how we should be catering for and working alongside such learners.
We agreed that the " Five competences for the Twenty first century" (Stoll, Fink and Earl - competences listed at end of this section), would underpin and provide us all with our strategic thinking. During the year we have moved into twelve areas of professional interest around this theme. The five competences provide a consistent framework within which we are developing and reporting on our weekly learning conversations to the whole staff from time to time. They also assist us with our recommendations, resources, foci on learning and teaching, and our strategic thinking and planning for our future directions.
At this stage it is important to acknowledge and to recognise the fine learning environment already provided here, as we look towards how we ensure we can move and shift our thinking to meet the competing demands of the knowledge society. "This shift in our thinking has two main parts. One is the change in knowledge's meaning; the other relates to new ways of thinking about individuality, identity and equality. Most discussions treat these two parts separately (Gilbert, p187)". Jane Gilbert in her book "Catching the Knowledge Wave? - The Knowledge Society and the future of education" (NZCER Press 2005) argues that at the same time as society develops "new models of knowledge and learning" it must also "meet the knowledge society's human resource needs" and take into account "education's links with social justice".
Jane Gilbert argues that "many of the tools and resources we need (to meet the requirements of the knowledge age) are already available, they are out there waiting to be used. What we still need, however, are new metaphors - new non-industrialised lenses for looking at the educational landscape. Instead of seeing knowledge as an object we have to master, we need to see it as a process, something that happens in particular contexts and relationships. Instead of seeing thinking and learning as individual activities (and working together as cheating), we need to see thinking and learning as things which happen when people get together. Instead of trying to fill people up with all the knowledge they will ever need, we need to build people's ability to work with others to produce new knowledge that solves authentic real-world problems. Instead of trying to make everyone measure up to pre-set norms (that are actually only normal for a small proportion of the population), we need to encourage diversity and difference. Instead of trying to make everyone the same, we need a system that helps students move easily between discourses, play different roles, and create and perform different identities (some of which may well be ones that no-one has thought of before)" (p190 Gilbert).
What is exciting about the twelve professional learning focus groups (listed below at the end of this commentary) who reported back to us at the end of last year and who also outlined their goals and tasks for this year, is that they demonstrated that at HGHS we are well underway in provoking our own thinking - as Gilbert sets out to, and that we are recognising we will need to view the world and the knowledge age through these "new non-industrialised lenses" (Gilbert). While the structural changes which will be necessary in time will provide challenges and much debate (such as timetables which are relevant in such an environment), the willingness and enthusiasm expressed by staff bode well for us as we continue our conversations and learning within our professional learning community, as we are already implementing strategies and processes which see us aware of our desire to meet the needs of our students as learners in the 21st century.
Commentary written by Mary Ann Baxter, for the 2006 HGHS Staff Manual, Jan 2006
Professional learning focus groups (from December 2005 Professional Development days)
Five Competences for the Twenty first Century
Learning: Understanding how to learn; learning how to think; understanding own creative talents and using them; learning to enjoy and love learning; literacy, numeracy and spatial understanding; handling ICT and understanding underlying processes.
Citizenship: Understanding: ethics and values; society, government and business, and importance of active citizenship; cultural and community diversity; social implications of technology; managing these aspects of life, including own financial affairs.
Relating to people: Understanding how to relate to people in varying contexts; how to operate in teams; how to develop other people. Developing ways of: communicating; managing personal and emotional relationships; managing stress and conflict.
Managing situations: Understanding and developing ways: managing own time; managing change; celebrating success and managing disappointment; being entrepreneurial and initiative taking; managing risk and uncertainty.
Managing information: Developing range of techniques for accessing, evaluating, differentiating, analysing, synthesising and applying information. Understanding importance of reflecting and applying critical judgement, and learning how to do so.
"UNESCO's International Commission identified learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be as the pillars of learning for the future (1996)"
"Our own preferred future envisages a world in which young people possess not only competence and confidence in a broad range of areas, but also the tools to adapt to new knowledge as it comes along - "learning power" or "learnacy" as Patricia Broadfoot, Guy Claxton and colleagues (2001) call it - and the dispositions to function wisely and with civility in a fast-paced and unpredictable world"
(all quotes from pp 45-46 "It's about learning - (and it's about time)": Stoll Fink and Earl)