Developing the school of the future today...whilst arguing with yourself

Discussing potential week and term structures is an excellent way to torture one's romantic notions of what a future-focused school could or should be. This is not a bad thing, it simply presents you with a challenge that will ultimately result in A LOT of deep discussion, research, pragmatic problem solving and hopefully a whole lot of creativity.

It is incredibly revealing to go through this process, especially as your deep seated and often deeply repressed notions of what a secondary education should look like is dredged to the surface. Again and again I find myself engaged in an internal debate. The right-on lefty liberal self clashes with the WASPy rather conservative self. The one telling the other that we need to throw out the whole concept of a timetable (weehee - let's just run one big unconference! Now that would be groovy!) whilst the other retorts that this will only end in one thing - chaos.

What is it that drives this internal discourse? Is it the emotional vs. the rational, a fear of the unknown or simply a fear of getting it wrong? I suspect there is an element of all three, combined also with the mind's struggle to conceive and visualise something that has yet be fully realised by others.

This is where looking around is so important. Whilst I do not expect we will find THE answer, I do believe we will get close enough to feel a sense of confidence in what we do create. Maybe if just similar enough to validate doing something different from what has been done before.

One thing I do believe is that we will probably need to err on the side of extreme change. Why is this? Because I suspect that if we were to simply tweak existing models, we will achieve simply achieve that, a tweaked version of the same. If we really believe that the whole educational paradigm needs to shift (and I do think this...I think), tweaking simply won't cut it...and actually tweaking will only too easily allow for retreat. Tweak and retreat. Not sexy. I suspect we will need to be brave and shift our thinking in a BIG way. By this I don't mean scrapping the curriculum, the curriculum is a non-negotiable and will be delivered with love. I don't mean that we will discard traditional assessment, in fact I know we expect excellence for all our learners - in every sense of the word. What we can completely renegotiate is the structure, the traditional mode for delivering curriculum subjects and re-imagining how students might personalise their learning, engage and grow their passions whilst challenging themselves to think beyond themselves and explore how they might serve and support their community. The self-directed schools in Canada (thanks to both Maurie, my Principal and Maurie,from Ormiston for recommending) seem to provide some insight into how this MIGHT be realised. Check out their student handbook here: The structure is different enough to at least challenge and at the same time settle my repressed WASPy self.

I have to admit I am relishing this journey. It is as much a journey of self-discovery as it is school-discovery. I am loving the opportunity to think, learn, research and challenge myself. It is also oddly cathartic to to engage in these internal dialogues, you learn quickly that it is terribly easy to be all liberal and radical from the safety of relatively traditional and highly successful school, it is however really challenging to realise these liberal and radical ideas when you have the license to actually follow through - suddenly deeply repressed conservative ideals start bubbling to the surface. But just because it's bubbling doesn't mean it will stop me being my right-on self. In fact, I think it is actually a real positive to possess these seemingly polarising beliefs, because I suspect, or at least I hope, that this inner "rationalism" will actually enable the radical to be realised in such a way that it won't scare the self...or more importantly, the community.


  1. Sounds like fun. If I didn't already have a new job I'd be applying about now!

  2. your link only links to this article.....

  3. I didn't know you had a WASPy side. Sounds like a very good problem to be working thru. Scary, but I love the thought of school leaders who want to err on the side of extreme change. I agree with the previous comment ... Sounds like heaps of fun


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