The Living Curriculum at the DoMM. An Open Discussion Facilitated by Steve Barnett

Last evening 20 people engaged in spirited conversation about radically

different ways to manage learning. Not so radical if you teach on a high

school YES programme already, but radical for most secondary and tertiary


Thanks to Rob Ayres (Te Puna Ako) and Yong Liu (Tech wiz & camera operator)

the conversation was webcast live on and the

almost 2 hr video is available in the Video Library on that site (you will

need extension speakers to crank up the volume because the sound levels are



Special guest Arran Caza reported that quantitative research (to be

published soon) into the results of wide ranging application of Roger

Putzel’s XB model of classroom management conclusively show the benefits for

Organisational Behaviour students. The only aspect of performance that they

don’t outclass conventionally educated students is in conventional exams.

There they equal the conventionally educated students’ performance.


We heard of valiant experiments in alternative methods by others in the

room: stories of successes, failures and barriers. Stories of how student

collaboration and teacher “absence” produce extraordinary learning.


There were stories from business of how shifting control and discretion from

manager to managed is radically effective in other learning contexts such as

within firms and supply chains operating in uncertain commercial



Then the conversation focused on the main issues for change leaders: There

seem to be four main ones


1. The assessment system is designed for synchronised,

standardised performance and administrative transparency.


2. Peer pressure from most teachers believing (or at least

accepting) that student conversation (noise) and diverse activity (chaos)

indicate professional incompetence and are counterproductive to learning.


3. Schools management metrics assume and expect straight line

learning progress rather than exponential learning curves typical of

learning through high-performing teams. Managers judge their reports on that

basis (and they in turn are so judged)


4. Students’ (and their parents) expectations and perceptions

around “work” and “learning”: it is stuff that you are made to do. Learning

is about receiving instruction and successfully replicating technique or

recounting information.



When conversation moved to action, there was discussion about just how much

and how fast change could be achieved in the bureaucratic, administratively

dominated “system”; and what the “mavericks” need to lead and achieve the

change that is increasingly widely acknowledged as imperative.


The main thing needed seemed to be support of a community of like-minded,

like-impassioned teachers who each risk being different, risk change; who

strengthen each other and build resilience through regularly, openly sharing

their stories of successes and failures, with each other. In other words,

collaborate to create room and build courage to initiate and achieve the


The loose consensus was that there in the room were 20 people already who

could collaborate. There are another 20 -30 that we know of who weren’t in

the room. . . . . . . . . . . . .some in other nations.


What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: