Change, Learning Technologies, and the future | (Steve Wheeler)

Daniel Susskind – Photo by Steve WheelerAll change! Attending Learning Technologies in a completely new, yet strangely familiar venue was quite an experience. It was akin to welcoming an old friend to live in your own home and watching them struggle to work out where the coffee is stored, and how the dodgy ‘fridge door works. London ExCel has long been the home of the BETT Show, which I have attended on many occasions, but in the last few days it has also been the home of Learning Technologies, which for umpteen years has been hosted at Olympia, on the other side of the city. ExCel is very…

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#3quotes from Holt | (Steve Wheeler)

Image from Wikimedia CommonsIn this series called #3quotes I have been citing directly from the texts of education thinkers, because it is important to apply ideas within context. Too often, writers cite from theorists without delving into the original texts. In this post I feature the American educator John Holt. Holt was best known for his progressive approach to education, and his criticisms of state-funded school systems. I have drawn three quotes from his 1983 classic How Children Learn (first published in 1964) and have added some additional commentary.

Holt sees a steady decline in…

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March of the robots | (Steve Wheeler)

Photo by Steve WheelerAnyone who has ever attended the BETT Show will tell you it is vast, chaotic and very commercial. The latter is inevitable, because BETT is a free-entry event, and someone has to pay to make sure the four day education show happens. BETT was bigger than ever this year, with more vendors and more visitors, overspilling into an additional space across the corridor from the usual trade show venue.

As I wandered around the show this year, skilfully sidestepping the ministrations of a host of staffers dressed up as grizzly bears, transformers and astronauts, all trying to…

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#3quotes from Rogers | (Steve Wheeler)

Image from Wikimedia CommonsAlthough he originally practised as a psychotherapist, Carl Rogers was intensely interested in education. His 1969 publication Freedom to Learn is now considered a classic of education. It was certainly required reading during my own teacher training. Rogers’ approach to both psychotherapy and education was humanistic and thus person-centred. His view on learning was that children needed to be fully engaged rather than passive in the classroom:

“It is most important to me to make learning experiences meaningful and personal by encouraging the children to use their…

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#3quotes from Montessori | (Steve Wheeler)

Maria Montessori is a controversial figure in education. She is considered by many to be a true visionary, while others consider her methods to be detrimental. She was highly critical of formalised education systems and believed they actually obstructed children’s potential to learn. She saw transmission methods of teaching as a great travesty, and worked incessantly to create alternative methods of education that were more child centred and which led to greater levels of engagement with learning. In her widely read and cited book The Montessori Method, she outlines some of the drivers in her…

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#3quotes from Vygotsky | (Steve Wheeler)

Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky is revered as a notable pioneer of research into learning and cognitive development. Although his writings were suppressed in the West for several decades, they eventually emerged in the 70s, representative of a progressive view of constructivism, in which the social was seen as a major influence on learning.

His seminal work Mind in Society (1978) has been widely cited although not widely read, but it is important to draw Vygotsky’s ideas from their origin. Here are three key quotes directly taken from Mind in Society and some of my interpretation of their…

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#3quotes from Dewey | (Steve Wheeler)

One of the most valued books in my personal library was first published over a hundred years ago, in 1916. It’s by John Dewey and is called Democracy and Education. One of the first things I learnt from reading Dewey, is that we don’t teach subjects, we teach people. Dewey opposed the mechanistic methods of education that were prevalent in his day, proposing (then) radical solutions. His thoughts about the nature of education extend to what cannot be taught, but must be experienced:

“There is the standing danger that the material of formal instruction will be merely the subject matter of the…

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