Thursday, 7 July 2016

Heading for the Old World

Woolf Fisher Fellowship Chapter 2

Meeting with David Istance
Senior Analyst, Project Leader,
Directorate for Education and Skills, Innovative Teaching and Learning

Subject: Innovative Pedagogies for Powerful Learning

David connected us with:
Gaelle Chapelle, who has just set up CitaD’el and has worked with teachers and innovation and learning in French Belgium

Val Mendes, who leads the education innovation work at the Jaume Bofill Foundation in Barcelona, – growing a network of schools in low SES communities through a group of foundations with a strong focus on innovative pedagogy

Val has immediately responded and as we work to scale Manaiakalani outreach, may be a valuable ally who is working on very similar challenges in Spain.

Our conversation was illuminating and helpful and was focused around the tension in the developed world, (which can be seen clearly through the OECD lens) between test scores, e.g. PISA which is an OECD product, seriously affecting government decisions, and the necessary focus on the learner, C21 skills and attributes and what will be required for success in our jurisdictions going forward.

This was really an expansion of the bipolar tension we already have in NZ, evidenced in part by the tension between the front and back halves of the NZ Curriculum.
The front half of the New Zealand Curriculum contains a well stated set of descriptors for attributes, skills and understandings we desire our New Zealand learners to have. The back half, necessarily, focuses on the knowledge and core curriculum skills we need our learners to have. Currently, this tension is left for schools to resolve community by community, as the NZC requires that we contextualise our curriculum delivery at the community level.

Similarly, on the one hand our political leaders spout the rhetoric of learner centric C21 skills and attributes and on the other they demand better PISA results, (test scores in core subjects), especially for the Education Long Tail, ( a local name for our struggling Maori and Pasifika kids) .
This desire for improved achievement outcomes is not wrong, indeed I’ve worked hard for it during my 37 years in education. The problem is that increased top down teacher accountability measures related to test scores will not bring the desired outcome, neither will it improve learner performance with or ownership of the important C21 attributes desired by commerce and and our increasingly digital economies. This is not a problem specific to New Zealand but affects the whole of the developed world. Downward pressure around student test scores is exerted on the compulsory sector of education by parents (who remember how school was for them), by politicians (who want to score high on the league table of nations) and by universities (who want their students to arrive with what they deem to be the necessary academic skills).

David has the job of running a department in OECD that gets way less publicity than the PISA stuff as they investigate ways to get innovative pedagogies happening across the developed world. They have a connection with prof. Michael Fullan’s New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning development but he described that as being further advanced than they are presently.

A good thing that is happening is that Andreas Schleicher is steering OECD toward a more learner centric approach, with a greater emphasis on Lateral Learning. The Learning and Change Networks in NZ have been of some influence, and David expressed disappointment that due to political and funding forces it had “died a death”.
Steering OECD toward a more learner centric  approach is not easy as governments find PISA really easy to understand and relate to and they like the way it ranks countries. As Michael Fullan says, it’s really hard to give politicians sound bites about innovative pedagogies and deeper learning.

The western politicians who subscribe most heavily to the “PISA based approach to education” would not actually like their children and grandchildren to live and go to school in the jurisdictions getting the highest scores, (with the exception of Finland), because they actually aspire to different qualities of life for their progeny. Interestingly some of those jurisdictions are now realising their education product is not creative, imaginative and curious enough and are beginning to investigate a more learner centric approach, whilst the pressure still mounts on us to match their PISA scores.

My take on this is that we want our scores to be respectable. The correlation between NCEA Level 2 and later success is enormous. The correlation between having had a tertiary education and being in the top 3rd of western society’s income strata, is inescapable. I do not think, however that we need to sacrifice precious aspects of life-style and culture to be at the top of PISA.

I’m encouraged to hear that Andreas Schleicher is leading PISA to look at broader definitions of success along with Reading, Writing, Mathematics and Science. Serious “ups” to David, who along with others is working to get innovative pedagogies gearing up across the globe in the belief that this will not only deliver learners to the adult community with a desirable graduate profile in respect of C21 attributes but also produce improved outcomes against traditional education metrics.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Manaiakalani Phone Home

From April to July 2016 I have been fortunate enough to be travelling, learning and enjoying some R & R supported by a Woolf Fisher Fellowship

My next few posts will form a summary of that learning journey as Dorothy and I travelled though Hawai'i, Europe and Nth America.

Thanks Woolf Fisher Trust, for this extraordinary learning experience!

Chapter 1, Hawai’i
Monday 25 April
Visit to Hale Kula Elementary on Schofield Military Base (now known as Daniel Inouye Elementary School)
Principal Jan Iwase

7:30 a.m. Denied access as foreigners with no armed services sponsor onto a US Military Base. We were told very firmly that we were unacceptable in our current state. Brendan, our good friend, guide and organiser no doubt found this frustrating and embarrassing as people were waiting for us in the school, but was carefully compliant and immediately began working on “Plan B”

8:00 a.m. Brendan has Plan B organised for us to visit a school down the road, when Jan, (principal from Hale Kula) calls to say she has a military sponsor for us.

8:30 a.m. we make it onto base after displaying our beautiful NZ passports and from there on it’s like being back in Hawai’i. The manaaki is amazing. Gifts of leis, food, drink, -a really warm welcome.

This school is receiving a $33M property upgrade mostly courtesy of Dept of Defence, after President Obama realised as a result of parent pleas that Base Schools were in an embarrassingly shoddy condition.
The state contributes 20%.

As part of a state initiative these kids all got MacBook Airs 2 years ago.
This school has MLE’s in the new build (if the teachers choose to use them that way) and have blended learning going on although they have 1:1 potential. Their key question for us was ‘how did we get all our teachers onboard?’
As in much of the US they are talking about integration rather than fully digital learning.
The teachers in the MLE’s were taking the option of keeping them closed into cells, (much as our some of own teachers did when we first cut holes through the walls to create more flexible spaces.
Here's Liam proudly showing me the comic he's building in Google Draw.
5 kids came out of class to show us their very cool work.
Like Pt England, these people have lived through construction, noise and dust for the last two years. Working hard with incredibly high turn-over of students because they are a military base school.

Principal Dale was absent but kindly allowed us to come, because of the muck-up at the gates of the base earlier in the morning.
We were hosted by Sean, Kat & Barron, -all VP's

Their annual theme for 2016 is Productive Perseverance.
They have 774 students
Like other schools we visited they got $1M for New tech approx 2 years ago.
Kids all have MacBook Airs. Principal insists they are out and available for kids to use at all times. The school owns the devices and this was the case in all the schools we visited.
They described their position in development as “getting our feet wet with blended learning”.
They used phrases we are familiar with like “working for sticky Learning”.
Some of the classes look like ours in the way they are open, kids are mobile and devices are being used.
They are making a real effort to use digital tools to enhance learning.
Using Lucid for School Newsletters
They have nice youtubes in digital newsletters
They have invented and funded a teaching position called “Learning Innovation Specialist” (we really liked this and thought we might “borrow” it!)
Their focused inquiry question is; “how do you go from good to great?” What a great focus!
They are focusing on building an innovation team
Their Tech Cadre has grade level teacher reps
They have a very nice standardised At a Glance Spreadsheet so everyone can see where kids are up to in their assessments
Very cool school. Inside quite a stark external environment, this is what you find.


Principal Lisa Ann Higa
Immersion Unit Leader; Kumu Kai Mana

This is a real decile 1A school or lower. The Nanakuli valley is a Hawai’ian Homestead and many of the homes are significantly underprivileged.
These people are striving to succeed against the odds.
We had lunch with the principal, Lisa and the co-ordinator of the complex or cluster, Terri. We received beautiful lei (we received lei at all the schools) but at this school they were real and very beautiful. Mine was made from the Tea Plant, Dorothy’s was Frangipani. -The real deal.
Lunch was in polystyrene boxes like when you buy Fiafia food, and was real, made on the day Fiafia food. Pulled pork (fresh from the umu/imu) , rice , poe (pulped taro), jelled, chilled coconut creme, banana cake. Wow.
We visited the immersion unit and were greeted beautifully. The teacher, Kai Mana, loved his kids and they loved him (and said so)
There  was some excitement here because these kids had been involved in the Google Hang-Outs around the Mālama Honua Landing at Pt England.
The kids all gave us hugs like at PES and it felt like home.
The population is 100% polynesian and if you stuck red uniforms on them, you would think you were at Pt England.
This was a very heart warming visit. The way the kids behaved and the manāki we received were just lovely.
This school is getting its best success out of its immersion unit and we could see that some of the rest of it was “still under development.”
Lisa has been there 2 years and is clearly doing a turn around job. These Guys received the same New Tech grant as the other 2 schools we visited, so kids all have 11” MacBook Airs.
The kids talked cheerfully about what they were doing and were engaged and confident, but couldn’t necessarily distinguish their learning from their doing. It was clear they were learning though.
The school gardens are pretty cool.
Kaimana and his kids are really keen to have Hang-Outs with our kids.

Tuesday 26 April

Holoua Stender, Executive Vice President of Education
Phyllis Unebasami, Managing Director, Ho`olaukoa Educational Systems and Strategies
Kamehameha Schools

Kamehameha Schools is in some ways a misleading name in that although this enterprise runs three beautiful K - 12 Campuses, and many pre-schools, it’s actually the name of the Enterprise that holds the land, investments and and businesses that Princess Pauahi left in trust for 5 trustees to administer.

This $11B enterprise has clearly stated purposes:


Kamehameha Schools’ endowment exists to support our educational mission to fulfill Pauahi’s desire of creating educational opportunities in perpetuity to improve the capability and well-being of people of Hawaiian ancestry.


Pauahi’s estate encompasses more than 363,000 acres throughout Hawai‘i — approximately 169,000 acres zoned for agriculture, 189,158 acres in conservation, 15,000 acres in commercial and 3,000 residential acres — and generates income to serve more than 48,000 learners and caregivers per year.
All Kamehameha Schools’ land-based and investment decisions are filtered through a set of five core principles — culture, community, education, economics, and environment. This balanced approach to decision-making ensures the perpetuation of Pauahi’s legacy, her lands and the execution of her will.

We had an absolutely delightful breakfast meeting with Phyllis and Holoua in an engagement that was brought about by Prof Michael Fullan, who we also expect to visit on this trip.
We discovered that we have much in common, with real desire to bring about practice change for better outcomes for Polynesian learners and similar but different struggles in trying to bring this about.
KS have a support type relationship with other ‘native schools’ as their trust deed has set the mission stated above. Consequently they have a relationship with Nanakuli (where we were the day before) and it may be that we could have future involvement in their effort to bring greater success and better outcomes to their indigenous population, many of whom suffer significant disparity.
KS are most like our Integrated Schools, but with a far larger endowment.

Phyllis & Holoua.jpeg
The campuses are beautiful and have everything. Like SHC in NZ, the kids get great facilities, good education and only pay $500 p.a. because the endowment supports the cost of education. The Honolulu campus is on a mountainside above the city and enjoys one of the best views in Hawai’i.

The principal, Earl, has just won a position as Superintendent of Stanford School District and Dorothy thinks I should apply for the job here! I think I’d better make sure I get back to Pt England on time!

Kamehameha Schools View.jpgPhyllis is in charge of all the teacher development for KS and this includes their support for Hawai’ian language and culture schools. We are to work out with her, Holoua and Michael Fullan how Manaiakalani might partner with them in the future. There are very real partnership possibilities here.

Our next education visit was to the Marine Education Training Centre on Sand Island.
This is where our friends from Mālama Honua hang out along with their va’a or waka.
Once we signed in, our 1st visit was over the historic vessel Hawai’iloa along with one of the early navigator companions of Nainoa, “Uncle Billy”.
20160427_175339.jpgWe then had the outstanding privilege of a sunset sail on Hikianalia. This more than made up for missing out on sailing on her in the Waitemata last year! How cool to do this off O’ahu in her home harbour.

On the way we learned lots about the va’a from Na’alehu and “Uncle Bob” the navigators, as well as learning about the shoreline and local geographic features. I loved hearing tales of sailing to different tricky destinations like Rapanui & Tahiti.
To say I loved it, is rather mild. Definitely my idea of an extremely great time!

Ke Kula Kaiapuni 'O Ānuenue

Miki Tomita, who spent time at Pt England for the Mālama Honua visit, was our escort for the 2nd day of school visits.
Ānuenue is the equivalent of  a New Zealand Wharekura, i.e. its an immersion school and goes from K-12.
The principal, Glen is a lovely calm elder statesman in the place, where we were shown around by VP Baba.
Their inclusion of traditional crafts, built to honour parents and grandparents, along with their commitment to land and gardening was a real challenge to us.
When it comes to digital pedagogy, we are achieving a great deal, without the $1M grant for technology, most of these folks got.
By and large, our buildings are superior in build quality and design. Something our welfare state and government can be very proud of.
This state has so much money it isn’t funny, but the way property taxes in poor areas have to fund school buildings causes so much inequity.
Never have we seen such run down school facilities in such close proximity (i.e. 3 city blocks) to really rich and fancy ones.
It would be like Pt England built like St. Kentigern College, 4 blocks away from Ruapotaka looking as though it were in Papua New Guinea!
Anuenue Miki, Baba, Glenn, Russell .jpgAnyway, back to Ānuenue, -they are like the days of the early kura movement, making the best of what they have, working in funny old buildings, beautifying the lands around them. Many native Hawai’ians choose to send their kids here and you can see and feel the love all around you.
Like other Hawai’ian schools, the welcome is warm, but in the main the classroom is the domain of the class teacher and people don’t wander in and out like we do.
Pt Englanders will recognise Miki, I’m talking with Glen, Baba waits patiently.

These guys are interested some of our stuff, including the questions we use to run our parent meetings.

Along with other schools we visited, they are also keen to have Google Hang-outs with some of our classes.
Anuenue14 MakerSpace.jpg

All the kids in this class were making different kinds of Mothers’ Day or Grandmothers’ gifts, by tradtional means.

Some were weaving, some were polishing stones, some were sanding and polishing shells.

All of them were to be presented with love to someone special.
Really cool to see.

Like the early days of the kura movement, they have few resources, and a massive problem with assessments not being in the language of instruction.

Like our kura, the kids do poorly in tests till they reach the equivalent of our Y10 and then they just take off and do really well, so the parents have to hold their nerve and not shift them out to mainstream at Y6, (like some of ours do).
And then there’s the gardens………...
Anuenue5 Gardens and Fish Ponds.jpg

Different grade levels are responsible for different parts of the gardening process.

IMAG0257.jpgAfter visiting Ānuenue, Miki handed us off to Tara, (who also visited PES) and we were taken to the College of Ed. at University of Hawai’i. We met quite a few lecturers and noticed they were translating our Sunshine Books into Hawai’ian language for their Kula. So now we have the job of connecting them with Dame Wendy Pye, who owns Sunshine Books and supports Manaiakalani, to see if she would be happy to translate them properly and support their Kula with Sunshine Online.

From there we went on to visit Kaimuku High School where we had another beautiful welcome, were given absolutely gorgeous leis and met more people who watched the Mālama Honua Landing @ Pt England Beach. The kaiako or “kumu” cried when I gave her one of our Hei Matou o Maui, the hooks Donna secured for us from the Carver before we came away. -What a blessing those turned out to be! Hawaiians who received them were particularly moved.


We were taken upstairs through the school to hear the va’a talks. We were honoured guests, seated at the front, as proud young Hawaiian kids ran PLD for teachers, telling them how their lives had been changed by sailing on the va’a. Rather like our Ambassadors. Very real and powerful.
Kaimuki HS7.jpgThe two facilitating teachers then encouraged the 60 or so staff present from around Honolulu, to include or integrate the va’a in their teaching, rather like we would experience at PLD on Te Ao Maori.

And that still wasn’t the end of the day!
The day culminated with a Pau Hana at ʻŌiwiTV, where we got to catch up again with Bryson, & Na’alehu our camera man & producer along with Maui the editor, who we’d never met, and a whole bunch of the others.
Dorothy conned Maui to create the Manaiakalani (starline) opener for the Manaiakalani Film Festival this year. -Good score! His work is beautiful!

Our good friend and fellow Googler Brendan Brennan, who put together much of this itinerary for us, works here at this school as a Maths Teacher.
The morning we visited, he was courageously 360º live-streaming his maths teaching and his learners’ responses. -Way to go Brendan!Brendan's class.jpg

The school was founded on and continues to follow John Dewey’s principles and the original classroom blocks were designed by him. They look rather like NZ 1950’s blocks but with better verandahs and opening french doors where we have push out windows.

Facilities are not flash as the University is unwilling to put more funding into them. Relationships between teacher unions, the Charter school staff and university can be challenging. Charter schools get less funding than state schools, so although this school has very bright learners, the school is not well off. For all this, by following John Dewey’s methods, they get the highest scores in the state once the kids get to Y10. A bit like our kura, the teaching method does not lend itself to good scores in the junior classes, but if everyone holds their nerve and keeps with the programme, it all “comes right” or better than right by Y10. Interesting support for an excellent liberal arts programme. The maths we saw was organised around clever questioning and looked like what the NZ Numeracy Project hoped to achieve but never quite managed. Gotta say though, we only saw it and heard it from Maths Specialists, -so maybe the Herald , supported by Stuart McNaughton during the week, was right!
Lab School preschool.jpg

This is a private K-12 school which is like St Kentigern on steroids.
We went there to see their Maker Space. It is a 4 story purposed designed $20M Maker Space
The ground floor is pure Maker Space meets hard materials meets Auckland Uni Product Accelerator.
It has laser cutters, fabricators, every kind of big expensive doohicky imaginable. Imagine a school with a water powered steel cutter.

Not a place I would go and boast about our 2 tiny 3D printers!

About 150 kids a week go through this building in class sizes of about 15 with 2 teachers around all the time.


The second floor was a space aged Library which also contains the archives.
The Library seating left the Koru Lounge for dead!

IMAG0301.jpgAnd then we visited Tusitala (our Pt England name for the meeting space)…. Wow. The woman in the picture is the equivalent of our Donna. Her full time job is to look after visitors to the school? -No. To just this building. She’s happy because the Tusitala furniture is all on wheels so it’s easy for her to re-configure.
There is a chef who looks after the commestibles.

IMAG0305.jpgThe TV trolleys in their Tusitala will give Garth Screen & Trolley Envy. A bit hard to tell from the pic how large they are. Let’s just settle for enormous.

The 3rd floor is where you take the robots you’ve built to battle it out and has break rooms and lots of space to do things with the things you’ve made.

The 4th floor is robotics central and also has the most amazing hydroponic roof gardens for their garden to table project.


This was our final visit in Hawai’i. We went back to our apartment, packed our bags and headed for Paris via LA. We made heaps of new education friends, re-connected with existing ones, got some really challenging ideas and were able to offer help and connections to some who could benefit from this.
We feel greatly blessed by this experience.

Some immediate conclusions or thoughts
Having watched the way some our kids ‘lifted their heads’ during Fiafia, and seeing some schools in Hawai’i really focusing on cultural integration, it has me thinking hard about what we could do at home. They are doing it against difficulty and of necessity to regain what has been lost. We could do it easily by including older people from our community.
I like the way they are using gardens for so much more than gardening or growing food. I like the ‘cultural makerspace’ idea and wonder how you could integrate this with a modern makerspace.
I loved the waka training and began dreaming of foundation funding for a Manaiakalani waka to be stored in a shed @ Pt England next to the Caretaker’s shed, a wider gate in the fence, and the council providing us with a grassy swale down to the beach. Add a Quad to tow it with, a chase boat to keep it safe and we’d be in business. We already own the life jackets. I wonder if the Woolf Fisher Trust would be interested? After all they supplied a white man’s boat to the city of Auckland!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Problem with Predictive Search

I want to say right at the beginning of this post, that our partnership with Google is extremely valuable and that they have been invariably helpful and generous toward us.
I also want to say that this is not just a Google problem. This seems to be a problem with algorithms that support predictive search. They’re an unintended result of people trying to make our internet searching for service, content and information faster and more successful.
I also need to tell you that when I brought this matter to attention of Google, I got a same day response along with the promise to try and see what was going wrong and to “fix the issue”.

So where did all this come from?
Last week, my attention was grabbed by the concern that rippled around the world, about the differential in results when one Google searches “3 Black Teenagers v 3 White Teenagers”

As a concerned New Zealand Educator who campaigns for equity, access and success for Maori & Pasifika, I decided to conduct the same test but change the terms. I selected “Maori" as the first term and decided not to use “White” as the second term as it would be likely to return the same result as the viral one, so changed that term to “Pakeha” (the Maori word for White or European)
So... my 1st search was <3 Maori Teenagers>, my 2nd search was <3 Pakeha Teenagers>
I used Google Images as the input medium.

Here are the results:


I’m very disconcerted by the results of the search.
As the search did with the original terms (White v Black) the return showed mostly less than salutary images of Maori.
Just like the <White> search the <Pakeha> search returned groups of well dressed kids, in this case all in school uniform and in each case, in front of schools. Some of the kids in the <Pakeha> search are in fact Maori and Pasifika, but are portrayed respectful, beautifully dressed and in front of schools as Pakeha.

Here’s what I’m so disconcerted about:
Just like Pakeha, Maori kids go to school. In our country, unlike the US, Maori kids wear uniform just like Pakeha kids.
How is this weird differentiation occurring, that portrays Maori as not wearing uniform, not associated with school, when we work in and love a community where Maori kids go to school and all wear uniform.
The search could even have returned Maori kids in Kapa Haka uniforms, Rugby or Netball uniforms, or doing waka ama.
This is seriously weird.

I’ve been told that Google searches are informed by the typical content interests of the searcher over time.
Not sure if this is the case with Images, but what jangled my nerves even more is that my account <> is associated directly with Pt. England School, where Maori kids wear uniform and go to school! Even more surprising is a Google Apps for Education Domain as is As most of the delightful learners associated with these domains are Maori and Pasifika, one would expect that the predictive search, knowing who I am (and on my phone, where I am) would dish me up some top 10 images that showed me some of what I expected. Unfortunately what the search showed me was what the media dishes up at 6:00 p.m. in its attempt to get ratings.

It appears to be the word <teenager> that dominates the search expectation, as though to be Maori and a teen has an inbuilt negative expectation.

Here is the search result of <Maori Pt England>
it generates a very different picture

I’ve become very interested and concerned about what the juxtaposition of the word <Maori> with the word <Teenager> does.
It seems to do something very wrong

I concluded this informal research by searching Images under the search term <Maori Tamaki College) as Tamaki is our Manaiakalani High School
The return was as I hoped for

Here’s the thing: What you see above are Maori Teenagers!

I know I’ve laboured the point, but I feel it’s important
I have no idea what can be done about it, but I hope something can as I know this is not what Google intends at all and I’m sure it poses a problem for other companies and developers who are refining predictive search as part of what they bring to market place.

Of course, the implications of the issue I've raised here, go far beyond this simple test associating ethnicity with age bracket. This has implications for what we and our learners have presented to us when we search about religion, politics, and contemporary issues to name just a few.

We need to know that along with freedom of speech, we are experiencing freedom of access to information, service and content where the information set is filtered by us not controlled by others.

Thanks for listening/looking
We do still love our partnership with Google!