Bill Gates on “Why everyone needs a coach”

Teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world.  But as Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft points out, teachers hardly get feedback. 
 
Speaking specifically about the education system Bill details why we all need feedback to improve.
 
Australia currently ranks 9th in the world when it comes to reading proficiency.   Shanghai ranks in 1st place.  Although it is problematic to compare such different systems there are things worth reflecting on.
 
Shanghai has a formal system to help teachers constantly improve their craft by:

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How to escape education’s death valley

I thought you might be interested in this talk by Sir Ken Robinson on “How to escape education’s death valley”.

Sir Ken outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish and how current education culture works against them. In his engaging and amusing way he describes how to get out of the educational “death valley” we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.

http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_how_to_escape_education_s_death_valley.html

Enjoy.

The “computer in the wall experiment”

You have probably heard of the ‘computer in the wall’ experiments in India.  I don’t know if you’ve heard of Sugata Mitra who is the person behind them. I hadn’t until recently when I heard an interview on Radio National.

Sugata just won the TED prize for 2013 for his work in education and the talk is, frankly, one of the most interesting I’ve seen.

This is from Wikipedia.

Sugata Mitra (born 12 February 1952) is Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, England. He is best known for his “Hole in the Wall” experiment, and widely cited in works on literacy and education. He is Chief Scientist, Emeritus, at NIIT. He is also the winner of the TED Prize 2013.

This is from the page on the TED site:

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Interview about The Success Zone on ABC Gippsland

ABC Gippsland

Interview about The Success Zone and its application on ABC Gippsland: extract of an interview with presenter Celine Foenander.

Some thoughts about insights and visions

I am writing this on a plane between England and Australia.

I have been in England doing a mix of work and marketing, essentially talking with a lot of people about our work and testing new ways of both articulating what we do and delivering it. As this was happening I began to get an inkling of some major new insights stirring in my mind. I emailed my partners and said what was happening and that I was confident that on the flight home these insights would crystallise. I wrote this because my experience over at least 15 such flights in the last 3 years is that this always happens, insights crystallise on long haul trips. I am writing this now after some of the biggest insights of the last 5 years have appeared, fully formed in my mind.

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Attention Priority: your brain is like a lava lamp

Given the limits to our attention and the high competition for that attention by many things in our day to day life, the brain has a process whereby it cycles through high demand priorities. We call this attention priority, a mind process where the most pressing attentional needs rise to the top, much like the way blobs of lava rise and fall in a lava lamp. Once the demand decreases, that issue ‘cools’ and falls out of our attention awareness. If left to its own device, the mind will be cycling through a range of attention priorities depending on you habits, needs and desires.

There is a high energy cost to holding things out of this natural cycle – like paying attention to a speaker for more than thirty minutes – and the attention priority cycle will sneak back in whenever it can. We notice, in presenting workshops for instance, that if the temperature of the room becomes uncomfortably cool, the need of being comfortable rises above attending to us in terms of attention.

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Teachers as leaders

Our research shows clearly that leadership skills are learnable, this has very important ramifications.

The most recent definitions of leadership describe leaders as people who create the conditions for others to succeed. The example par excellence of this ought to be teachers – as parents we want their whole focus to be on creating the conditions in which our children can succeed and to succeed our children need to learn to be leaders.

Like many types of leaders this is not where teachers originated in the modern era, rather teachers were employees of the state charged with creating conforming and well-schooled children who would fit into the industrial (and military) needs of the state. It was the prohibition on corporal punishment (in the 1980’s in Australia, for example) that signalled society’s desire to radically change the purpose of schooling. This change in purpose demanded, and still demands, a different type of leader, a different type of teacher.

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Decision-making and organisation

Jonah Lehrer’s book the Decisive Moment gives strong insight into how we make decisions. Insight that helps to explain why we are at a turning point in human and societal development.

The instinctive decisions related to survival come out of our reptilian brain and are reasonably obvious. If we are about to be hit by a bus the decision to move out of the way is taken rapidly and instinctively. This part of our brain has had hundreds of millions of years of evolution and is very, very fast and efficient. From a conscious perspective these decisions just happen.

Our mammalian brain has had 65 million years to evolve an effective means of learning from experience. Many of our decisions come from this part of our brain and appear as feelings – something feels like the right thing to do (we also call this intuition).

This covers a surprisingly large range of decisions.

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Like/dislike and successful organisations

A successful leader creates the conditions for others to succeed. People are most able to succeed – and acquire the skills they need to succeed – when they are in a mind state of optimism, collaboration, creativity and growth. Of course, organisations can be successful with only a proportion of their people being successful (an 80:20 rule comes to mind – 20% of the people account for 80% of the success). Organisations are more successful, and perhaps more importantly, more resilient, the higher the proportion of people within them who are successful.

Leaders are critical in creating this successful mind state in their employees and they do so by how they engage with each one, some directly but most indirectly. An employee moves into this mind state when they are accepted, believed in and listened to by others, and critically by their leaders.

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