151 posts categorized "World of Ewan"

December 08, 2012

Modern schooling: all retch and no vomit?

British Philosopher Alan Watts sums up an attitude that took me years to understand, and which underlines the attitude to life that all my colleagues sign up to. If you want to do something - defend the charged, taxi people through cities, teach children, grow wine, whatever... - then do it.

I'm working at the moment with a group of teachers, engineers and entrepreneurs in Finland, all of whom are passionate about what they do. They'd do it, I'm sure, were money no object. And because they love it, they practice it, they get good at, and so people pay them to do it so well.

Yet I've met educators on my journey who wouldn't do it, were money no object. They should go and find something else they really want to do, and not perpetuate the model in front of our children. Life is already too short to be doing something you don't want to.

The full transcription of Alan Watts' If Money Were No Object:

What do you desire?
What makes you itch?
What sort of a situation would you like?

Let’s suppose, I do this often in vocational guidance of students, they come to me and say, well, we’re getting out of college and we haven’t the faintest idea what we want to do.

So I always ask the question, what would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?

Well, it’s so amazing, as a result of our kind of educational system crowds of students say, well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers, but as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way. Or another person says well, I’d like to live an out-of-doors life and ride horses.

I say, you want to teach in a riding school? Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do? When we finally got down to something which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, you do that — and forget the money, because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time.

You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.

And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is.

So don’t worry too much that everybody is – somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will.

But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach your children to follow in the same track. See what we are doing is we’re bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lifes we are living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing, so it’s all retch and no vomit — it never gets there.

And so, therefore, it’s so important to consider this question: what do I desire?

September 05, 2012

Computer 'web' to change billions of lives (yeah, right)


Through a mutual friend of a friend of a friend on Facebook, in a very interconnected example of how the 'computer "web"' really has changed at least four lives, came this reportage in Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid, The Sun, in the 1990s. But all is not what it seems. It is, in fact, created by The Sun themselves as part of their, wait for it, education site.

September 04, 2012

Is it really OK to steal someone's ideas?

I'm still astonished in this day and age of podcasts, videos, uStreams and Twitter commentaries that professional presenter colleagues feel that it is reasonable to hijack, steal and resell stories or thoughts from others without giving due credit or hat-tips. Jay Cross's post has reignited my distaste of those who think nothing of charging big $s to regurgitate, without credit, what someone else spent time working out.

Each week I have to see some unmistakable McIntoshisms pass over my Twitter feed, with gushing virtual applause and retweeting, and no doubt hoots of enthusiasm in some far flung conference venue, but without the slightest nod of recognition in my direction. Tonight alone I've seen three of them pass under my nose.

I guess I should be flattered. Maybe I should be old enough and ugly enough not to care about such things. After all, ideas are six and half a penny, and it's how they're executed that matters. But when ideas are shared freely on this blog, the only payment required by the creative commons licence being a nod and a mention, it feels a little bit like someone giving a note to the beggar and asking for change. If you ever hear a talk or come to a workshop that my team or I lead, you'll be very aware of the constant verbal "linking" to people, books, videos, websites... That's because we feel it's an important part of being part of this community.

If you make your living out of helping educators, give them a real helping hand by showing them where you get your ideas, so that they can go and find more of the same for themselves. When we don't make every effort to "link" verbally in our talks, workshops and conversations, it's not just theft, it's wholly unhelpful for the learning of our peers.

Picture from FeedMeRobotFood

August 16, 2012

"My results..." Care less about what everyone says

In England and Wales today, and in Scotland last week, youngsters have been receiving their examination results. All those months of hard work, well, work in any case, pay off in about the 10 seconds it takes to open an envelope and take a glance over the final scores. Some people even choose to do it in front of the TV cameras - you'd have never found me wanting to do that!

At that point in time, the effort, the learning that went on, and the lessons to carry on into later life all disappear into distant memory. It might as well not have happened.

But a tweet this morning from London's friendliest entrepreneur Oli Barrett sent me seeking out the pre-envelope-opening tweets, all those people talking about "my results" on Twitter. The search string has been fascinating, particularly in the early morning.

OliBarrett My Results on Twitter


Here's a representative sample of tweets from one small run through the search:
Tweets about my results 1
Tweets about my results 2

Tweets about my results 4
Tweets about my results 5

It feels in my very unscientific way of measuring things that about 80% want to throw themselves under various modes of public transport, most fear mediocrity, most fear what other people will say.
It's the last one that I wish we could teach young people about - care less about what other people say, more about what YOU do.


July 20, 2012

Are you a dawdler or a doer?

First Five Days: Day 3 from Alas Media on Vimeo.

I've spent the week back at Building Learning Communities in Boston, working alongside my colleague Tom Barrett and hanging out with great friends old and new. AlasMedia, my LA pals with whom I spend far too much time into the wee small hours talking about film, education, music and life, produced this clip to sum up the urgency with which we need to take what we learn from intensive weeks like this and put it into action in our classrooms.

What are you going to do on the First Five Days of school to make that dent in the status quo? Tell us using the Twitter hashtag #1st5days

June 29, 2012

Five Things I've Learned


Yesterday the Pearson Foundation launched its new site, Five Things I've Learned, and I was honoured to be amongst the first educators to contribute five key things I've learned in my career so far about learning, teaching, life and the universe.

I've still got plenty of dues to pay in my career, so it is incredibly flattering to be amongst such august company, from Jeb Bush to Stephen Heppell - it's quite a mix! More Five Things are due to appear in the weeks and months to come.

You can read my five things on the site, in full:

  1. The people making the decisions are no smarter than you are.
  2. The harder I work the luckier I get.
  3. Vision is a process, not an away-day, a statement, or a project.
  4. The world moves faster through projects.
  5. Teaching needs learning, not the other way around.

February 14, 2012

A competence-based curriculum: RSA Opening Minds workshops

RSA OM 2012
RSA Opening Minds promotes innovative and integrated ways of thinking about teaching and learning. It helps students to develop the skills they need to be creative, resilient learners, citizens and employees of the 21st century by making its starting point not school subjects, but competences students require to find their place in society.

To help teachers and principals find out more about the curriculum, and how to get involved, the RSA are holding an event this March 3rd, covering off the key questions and offered a chance to see how a competence-based curriculum works in practice.

As well as some motivating keynotes, the day is largely made up of schools leading practical workshops and discussions about how to move to a competence-based curriculum. It's a cheap day's worth of inspiration and expertise (and as a member of the Board of Trustees I encourage you to go or follow the @rsaopeningminds Twitter account; you can also download the Opening Minds Conference 2012 brochure):

  • Kingsbridge Community College, Devon, will explain the competence framework and ethos of Opening Minds, how to develop and implement a curriculum and the outcomes and impacts it has had for one designated Training School.
  • Cardinal Heenan High School, Liverpool will explain why one school decided to apply to become an RSA Opening Minds accredited school, their experiences of developing a curriculum and how they have been supported by a Training School.
  • Whitley Academy, Coventry will deliver a practical session about how to develop and implement an Opening Minds curriculum. The session will cover top tips based on lessons learned and about the outcomes and impacts for the school, teachers and pupils.
  • Wood End Park School, Hillingdon, will share the experience of a primary school who are developing and delivering an Opening Minds curriculum and their plans for the future.
  • St John’s School, and Easton Royal Community Primary School, Marlborough will focus on the ways Opening Minds is being used to support pupils through the transition from primary to secondary school.
  • Oasis Academy, Enfield, reveal the challenges for developing Opening Minds and how can these be overcome to ensure schools deliver high quality teaching and learning.
  • You can find out about the benefits of action research and how the Opening Minds schools are harnessing these to share learning and best practice.
  • The RSA Academy and Capital City Academy will ask: how do you assess competence development and what are the challenges? Also hear how schools are working together to identify the most effective means of assessment.
  • The RSA Academy will also explain the Opening Minds curriculum and practice that the RSA Academy use at KS4 and you can find out about the Diploma they are developing.

December 28, 2011

For all the social networks, people still want us to jump on planes

138000 Miles 2
Every year that passes, I like to see what my toll on the planet has been in order to make some carbon amends and try to better understand this curious equation: for every year that social networks grow, the amount of travel to see people face-to-face increases. We were all promised something different, I'm sure, but the fact remains that our little business needs to jump on planes to continue to grow:

That means that this year I've had to go around the world just over 5 times. Two of those times were actually around the world, as our growing base of Design Thinking Schools in Australia hits tipping point (more news on that in 2012). But that means the other three times around the world has been spread between a growing desire of Nordic countries to make their high quality learning ever more inspiring, and the beginnings of United States schools seeing that there are ideas elsewhere that might help mend some of the damage done to their system over the past decade.

There have been some inspiring moments this past year, too many to count, but I've particularly enjoyed:

  • chilling with my adopted homies Alas Media and Alan November in Boston;
  • finding the clarity for a forthcoming book on Alan's veranda overlooking the Atlantic in Marblehead;
  • exploring an in-revolution Cairo and relaxing with my family at the end of the hectic year on the Red Sea;
  • hearing from Brisbane teachers on how their teaching lives have been transformed by the Design Thinking Schools we're kicking off there;
  • letting my daughters giggle nervously on their first gondola expedition in Venice;
  • sitting alongside the Vice President of the European Union in an expansive chamber at the Commission to work out how we get 650m Europeans better connected;
  • staying at home in my own city for most of the late Winter and early Spring to help return my Government to power through our direction of their digital campaign, and pave the way for a vote on independence from the UK in four years time.

I'd love to say that there will be less travel in 2012, but we've already got three turns around the world booked between here and August, with more UK and European work beginning to develop. The little enterprise I started two years ago has flourished this year, with more excitement to come in 2012 with my not-so-new-now colleague Tom Barrett, and other new faces likely to appear in the New Year.

We're busy to bursting point, and in these times that is a Good Thing.

We're also making an effort in our company to travel with more efficient airlines who run more green aircraft, meaning that despite the extra 22,000 miles we've emitted 3,000 tons less carbon into the environment. We'll just have to continue working as hard on mending the damage we're doing to the planet as we are on creating excitement and change in schools around the world.

Happy New Year, fellow travellers, virtual or alongside us on Seat 53F.

July 24, 2011

Coming up at #BLC11 from Ewan

Ewan's BLC
This week is, ahem, a busy one at Building Learning Communities (#BLC11) in Boston, MA. I'm getting a chance to hear plenty of other talks, seminars and keynotes and will do that now seemingly old-fashioned thing of live blogging each session as it happens, as is my wont.

I'm also offering up a fair few sessions in this packed week:

Most of these, including the keynote, are real hands on, brains on workshops, and I want to be aiming, in fact, to be talking as little as possible, providing some great frameworks for people to play and learn something new for themselves, with prompts and support to take them further beyond the often brief sessions we have together.

I can't wait to catch up with so many people, including the chaps and chapesses at AlasMedia, with whom I first sailed up the Charles River four years ago as they toyed with the idea of setting up a film, media and education company. They're a roaring success and steal the show every time they come to BLC. Their FlickSchool is a delightful place to learn how to make some great films and shoot super photos. Above all, their friendship over all those miles means  a lot to me, and the connection I feel always makes me stop off in LA when I'm off to New Zealand or Oz to say hi, eat some (too much!) great food and trade stories. They also caught on camera the first time Catriona was ever really scared of something (it was a microphone windshield).

And that's what BLC is about - connections. I'm grateful to Alan November for his invite which, after a three year break, I'm finally able to take again. He's the only person I jump onto American Airlines for, in the hope that I might catch even just one fish off the shore at Marblehead. And I'm grateful beyond words to Jennfier Beine who took over the task of organising the event, sorting me out for tickets, hotels, round tables for my pre-conference in a room that shouldn't really have them, and introducing me to the world of Kinko's. 

Enough of the politesse, and on with the show! Fasten your seatbelts, fire up the aggregator and get ready for some good, old fashioned reflection and reportage on the blog.

April 11, 2011

In a classroom near you soon: Tom Barrett joins NoTosh

Tom Barrett
The company I founded 15 months ago is growing, and who else better could I have asked for as a partner in this than Tom Barrett, teacher, inspirer (through his blog, his talks and workshops) and insanely communicative Twitterer? Since announcing yesterday we've had a slew of wishes from across t'interwebs.

Far from 'leaving the classroom', Tom will be continuing to grow the work we've been undertaking in classrooms around the world, making a difference to more educators, face-to-face, as well as developing some cutting edge research into what we might be using and how we might be using it next in our classrooms. If you want to work with Tom and me in your own school, district or State, just drop us a line and be part of the action.

Merlin John broke the news on his education news site, MJO, with these remarks:

"Two of the UK's best innovators of learning with technology are joining forces to develop projects and services for schools...

"With its two principal figures so steeped in pedagogy, NoTosh appears to be defining a new breed of education companies – ones that start out with the learning and pedagogy, and partner in the technology. Education is more used to working with technology companies that buy in the learning, and that has produced some rather difficult fits...

"With two key education practitioners at its heart, the potential of NoTosh in a UK education landscape where national interventions and policy are disappearing is obvious. There will be no shortage of schools and organisations wanting to make their learning more engaging for young people. And the same applies overseas."

Tom will continue to be based in Nottinghamshire, England, and like all our work will be in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Asia and the Middle East on request. As a rule, we don't charge extra travel or accommodation to work with us, so regardless of where you are you can work with us closely.

The full news is over on the NoTosh website.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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