Hunt or be hunted; The (UKIP) Boy in the Bush

A Labour shadow minister was left gobsmacked after a primary school pupil told him he supported Ukip – because he wanted to get ‘all the foreigners out the country’ (Mail Online)

From Huffington Post:

Labour’s shadow education secretary was speaking to children at a primary school in Derbyshire yesterday. “Do you know who you’d vote for?” he asked one boy.

“Ukip,” the child replied.

“You’d vote Ukip?” a surprised Hunt replied. “Very good. Why’s that?”

The boy explained: “It might get all the foreigners out.”

 

 

A photo safari gone wrong: Mr Hunt in the bush

 

Well, what leaves me gobsmacked is that Mr Hunt does not take the child seriously. Saying “Very good” to something he obviously disagrees with is condescending, as if he was talking to a cooing baby. He should have calmly and politely disagreed from the onset and entered into a respectful discussion which would have given this boy not only an insight into the other side of the foreigner argument , but taught him how opposing viewpoints can be intelligently negotiated. This video might have gone viral for entirely different reasons.

The British education system needs to start integrating negotiation, critical thinking and self-reflection in every subject, and do so now.

However, as the current drive for attainment leaves core subjects out of the picture, I personally don’t see where else to go to start the process but in RE. Where else can you find an excuse for teaching something as worthless as philosophy, logic, rhetoric, dialectic …. It’s not a matter of what RE teachers believe to be their subject, and don’t want it swamped by community cohesion and what-not. It’s becoming  a matter of civic duty, as no-one else seems currently able.

 

Here is a higher level thinking task for you:

Please finish this sentence: “Lion cubs are cute.

Unfortunately, they ____________________________________________.”

 

 

Further related reading:

“Islam in RE…”; UKIP in RE? Dealing with non-PC views

Deradicalisation; it’s not about what you do, it’s about who you are

What comes out of the Birmingham “Trojan Horse”?

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Healing Fractures II #1: Staging an enquiry outside the box

Akin to last year’s Healing Fractures educators’ workshop, the following posts describe some of the activities during this years session: Healing Fractures II – Beyond Birmingham. (See “Healing Fractures II – Beyond Birmingham?” – video introduction).

When one opens a student-centred philosophical enquiry into controversial subjects, which possibly have  emotional or other personal import, it is vital to ensure to break up the usual lines of thinking and activate in each individual student thoughts and feelings they may not usually associate with the subject.

Education: It’s all about emotions and connecting, you see?

What Mr Lawson and I were looking for was to move outside the scope of professional rote answers, and dig out personal resources. However, such an activity demands a level of safety and should not be the first thing one does on a Monday morning. Also, as Healing Fractures II had some quite specific aims, we did not want the the out-of-the-box to be overwhelming, resulting in either a negative or over-positive response sending participants to far out on a creative spin.

For these reasons, the morning session opened with a protracted Catch1Partner with leading questions, such as:

Is culture produced by communities or does culture produce communities?

Think about events in Birmingham. How different can you be before you become a problem?

What are the potential positive and negative consequences of making “humanism” a Religious Education subject, because  “[pupils] have the right to study a way of life that reflects their own.” (M. Beech, quoted in Telegraph,by D. Ashton 12.12.2014)

Very long, frank and engaging discussions ensued, participants being free to take all the time they needed with each partner. For me my own professional development, there were great benefits of working with a man as profoundly British as Mr Lawson; most notably the Fundamental British Value of “muddling along”.

From working with children, and often challenged children, I tend to be three steps ahead of every move and very tightly manage interaction to ensure support for LAPs, that friends don’t have much time to go off-task, etc. Here I consciously worked to let go of the Scandinavian OCD, and put away my inner micro-manager. (A couple of former participants had a good laugh at this one).

The movement from the topic-relevant lead-in to the out-of-the-box-questions was to seat participants in highly heterogeneous groups based not only on profession and faith, but to age and gender as well. Seated in these small 4-man home teams, which would support the brunt of the session, students were then asked to pick a picture from a huge stack of random prints.

The task was to pick an image which would reveal something about “What is education to me?”  And as Mr Lawson phrased it: “Don’t overthink it, find an image that speaks to you.” Videos of the staging of the second session is found here.

These are some of the choices made. Good riddance to the new Education Secretary.

Participants actually did explain in a rational way how this related to their understanding of education. Give it a try!

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Enquiry & Immersion; Thank you too!

We have successfully concluded the pilot of the “Enquiry & Immersion” field trips for primary and are very grateful to have received this pupil feedback.

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On Wednesday and Thursday of Islam Awareness Week 100+ Year 6 pupils from our local Avenue Junior School visited Ihsan Mosque in Norwich to participate in the new school visits programme. What makes the programme so special is that it has and is being organically developed in collaboration with the local school community.

In Enquiry & Immersion, pupils are introduced to Islam through an enquiry exercise, and are given the opportunity to informally engage with community members over lunch, see the prayer, and tour the mosque with one of our experienced guides. The issue here is precisely that the children walk away with the experience that they were not being sat down and talked at, but were given room to explore and reflect on both factual knowledge and through lived experience of eating together and just “being.”

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Thank you to the headteacher for committing her RE coordinators and to all the teachers and TAs who participated, helped and gave valuable feedback.  And especially a big thank you to the children for coming and being to open and engaged from Hajja Fatimah, Hajj Tariq Amin and myself.
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As for the pupils, responses were overwhelmingly positive, and I was very pleased to receive these letters written after the event.
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Avenue feedback

Please click the image to view full size.

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“I learnt so much I think it would have taken a week at school to learn the same amount of knowledge…”

“I was blown away… really made me think. Thanks again for hosting such a wonderful trip.”

– Avenue Junior School pupils, Y6

More samples are found in this gallery.  All videos found here.
Interested schools should contact ihsan.mosque.school.visits@werdelin.co.uk for more information.
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Enquiry lesson: LOs & summary
The basic plan was to use structural Cooperative Learning to:
  1. activate schemata and generate interest through a series of relevant open questions through an icebreaker. See staging of this CLIP here.
  2. allow individual teams to investigate our materials,
  3. present a finished product to other teams (Day One in the form of a spider diagramme, Day Two in the form of individual papers).
  4. final written self-assessment of learning and feedback.
  • Two assessment units were slotted in on Day One, only one on day two, to provide us with concrete evidence of learning and feedback, and to provide children with a chance to reflect on their own learning and inspire future interest.

More on Cooperative Learning, please see this presentation, including video, to RE teachers on the previous day.

(I have duly noted their suggestions for improvement, and have some reflections to share about the reliability of using specific cooperative learning interaction to ensure honest comments – the acute reader who compared the thank you letters written later will notice the teacher’s modeling, which undercuts its validity as autentic feedback – Get notifications of related posts on twitter).

In summary, Day one was kept relatively open and exploratory. Day Two then integrated feedback from children and my own observations. Main aims here to provide initial narrative framework, tighten individual accountability, and assure all information was fed back to hosts, and  (which was an issue for some children on day one, where visitors had been allowed to choose which tables to visit based on interest).

“I learnt so much about the religion through the game and the mind map…”

– Avenue Junior School pupil, Y6, Day One

(Islam in RE participants, take note! :)

Finally, once again, I cannot express how grateful the community is to Avenue being the first school to commit time and energy for this pilot. These days, with media storms and everything else, it really matters, and makes us, as Muslims, feel we are valued as equal citizens. Thank you so much.
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“I had so much fun, the games and tasks were brilliant. I learnt so much!”

– Avenue Junior School pupil, Y6

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More samples are found in gallery.
Interested schools should contact ihsan.mosque.school.visits@werdelin.co.uk
Get notifications of related posts on twitter.
werdelin.co.uk is the business end of cooperativelearning.works.

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Filed under community building, Cooperative Learning, events, Islam, Multiculturalism, RE, Religious Education, Religious studies, RS, videos

Why Cooperative Learning? What it will do for you and what you don’t need to do…

This video deals with some of the knee-jerk reactions to “student-centred learning” as being unmanageable, ineffective and demanding for teachers. (From the introduction to “Islam in RE: Religious Literacy & Controversy through Enquiry” 17 March 2014 in Norwich).
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Jakob Werdelin - Why Cooperative Learning
Open this video in new window
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Structural Cooperative Learning consists of students in small hand-picked teams or pairs working in fixed Cooperative Learning interaction patterns (or CLIPs) selected and timed by teachers to achieve very specific aims – while affording students endless variation and excitement through the changing materials and tasks. 

While equally highly efficient and engaging for rote learning, Cooperative Learning is excellent for approaching complex, controversial and/or toxic subjects.

The full-day CPD course Islam in RE: Religious Literacy & Controversy Through Enquiry  has been developed to demonstrate how this might be done, and is in many ways the dialectic opposite of the attainment-focused Skills & Mastery now being delivered to a number of Norfolk schools.
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Attendees of both courses instantly recognise how the same CLIPs are deployed in different subject with different aims, proving Cooperative Learning is instantly applicable to all materials across all subjects and integrates with any other didactic method. This is one of the main reasons for its cost-effectiveness in relation to training investment.
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In the words of Emma Smithson, who attended Skills & Mastery in at Stalham, “I can go back an share the new CLIPs with my already converted school. I can’t see any challenges at all.” Videos with Stalham staff and management found here.  For further references to the Sutton Trust at Cooperative Learning & the Sutton Trust on Pupil Premium.
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The first pilot of this course was run at the School of Education and Lifelong Learning at the University of East Anglia in June 2014, attended by Secondary School teachers, academic researchers and members of Norfolk SACRE and Norfolk County Council Social Services.
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“Fascinated by CL as a driver for improved progress and SMSC.

Keen to try approach with my class.

– Alex Bowles, KS2 leader, Tuckswood Primary
Islam in RE, Islam Awareness Week special event, Norwich, March 17 2015
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“HUGE potential to raise engagement.

– Kimberly Clarke, Norwich Primary Academy
Islam in RE, Islam Awareness Week special event, Norwich, March 17 2015
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werdelin.co.uk is the business end of cooperativelearning.works.

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“Healing Fractures II – Beyond Birmingham?” – video introduction

The first video from the educators’ workshop Healing Fractures II – Beyond Birmingham? during Islam Awareness Week 2015 now online.

http://videos.werdelin.co.uk/#!album-5-3

Opens video in new window.

Also see Cooperative Learning & the Knowledge Café format: student-centred enquiry for adults

“Healing Fractures II” video library here. Also see more on the Mona Siddiqui anecdote:

Learning Wisely – Living Virtuously: From the mountain to the valley

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A post on the day’s outline to come up later. Get notifications of related posts on twitter.

The workshop enquired into various themes, including:

  • systemic issues and the purpose of ‘modern’ education in secular post-modernity
  • community building boundaries; Birmingham, et al.
  • the new role of religion and Religious Education:  SMSC, PHSE, Citizenship & British values
  • student-centred paradigms; renegotiated power relationships or egotism?
  • social constructivism as a democratic skill set; British values as an example
  • beyond now; P4C, the Trivium and the Islamic connection in English educational history
  • Islam and Muslim alternative education; problem for whom or solution to what?
werdelin.co.uk is the business end of cooperativelearning.works.

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eCL#4: Questions about Islam; a ready-to-use 37-card set

Of general interest to any RE teacher in KS2+ dealing with Islam, and especially to attendees at the CPD course Islam in RE: Religious Literacy & Controversy Through Enquiry and the Ihsan Mosque Enquiry & Immersion field trips, now finally available to primary schools after the Islam Awareness Week pilot. 

The latest edition of cooperativelearning.works newsletter,  eCL,  is a 37 card class set of Questions about Islam designed to activate schemata and generate subject interest when teaching  Islam in RE. Also useful throughout and after a lesson or series of lessons to check understanding in relation to assessment and next steps.

The questions cover a range of areas relating to specific LOs such as religious rules and festivals; others facilitate thinking about oneself, life and religion in general. The set may be used in any way, but was originally designed for the Cooperative Learning Interaction Pattern called Catch-1-Partner.

Catch-1-Partner gets the most timid students engaged as pupils mingle and answer questions from various partners; excellent for sharing thoughts and ideas, or to retain or explain knowledge and thinking.

Download the Catch-1-Partner : Questions about Islam card set from the resource page.

Also see Catch1Partner instruction video on Potential realised? Celebrating Ofsted Report’s 1st Birthday…

Enquiry & Immersion

Interested in Enquiry & Immersion field trips? Prices and booking for primary & secondary at schools.outreach@muslimsofnorwich.org.uk

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Cooperative Learning & the Knowledge Café format: student-centred enquiry for adults

Last week saw a select group of educationalists and researchers from disparate backgrounds engaging the burning conundrum of education, community building, religion, identity, attainment and social cohesion in multicultural Britain.

The workshop enquired into various themes, including:

  • systemic issues and the purpose of ‘modern’ education in secular post-modernity
  • community building boundaries; Birmingham, et al.
  • the new role of religion and Religious Education:  SMSC, PHSE, Citizenship & British values
  • student-centred paradigms; renegotiated power relationships or egotism?
  • social constructivism as a democratic skill set; British values as an example
  • beyond now; P4C, the Trivium and the Islamic connection in English educational history
  • Islam and Muslim alternative education; problem for whom or solution to what?

The Knowledge Café format: student-centred enquiry

In a traditional Knowledge Café, participants break into small groups to discuss one or more central questions, ending with an open class summary.

The aim of fusing this very open format with the tight control of structural Cooperative Learning, Healing Fractures II was to afford a sharper and more focused enquiry, which would integrate personal encounters, practical tasks and subject knowledge with debating, negotiation and collaboration.

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M. Vince, RE teacher, discusses the use of Cooperative Learning in "Healing Fractures II"

VIDEO: M. Vince, RE teacher, discusses the use of Cooperative Learning in “Healing Fractures II”

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Participants working with each other across boundaries of faiths, professions and politics to collaboratively discover possible future roles for education. As to the importance of these issues, a vicious circle –  isolation to secure religious/cultural values versus government demands to conform – is pushing marginalised communities beyond breaking point, feeding extremism at both ends of the spectrum.

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“I found the insight of the Muslim headteacher particularly helpful when she said it was essentially about belonging….”

– Garry Swinton, Chaplain of The Grey Coat Hospital and Westminster City School.

In presenting Healing Fractures, we wished to demonstrate that British Muslims educators are willing and able to act as a unique and valuable resource in this debate.

Ensuing posts will provide more videos, reflections and a detailed breakdown of the workshop.


Related posts:

Learning Wisely – Living Virtuously: From the mountain to the valley – High-level cohesion, pulling values from the vacuum, or simply “Why Tertiary should pick up on child-centred learning”.

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P4C? No, P4U! – Mr Lawson on enframing.

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What comes out of the Birmingham “Trojan Horse”? – Critical thinking to go.
Empowering communities through Student-Centred Learning – The Palestinians seem to get it…

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Transcript of “The Student- Centred Classroom & The Self-Centred Student…” – Paper presented at the BRAIS  inaugural conference, Edinburgh University, 11 April 2014.
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Filed under Education policy, Enquiry, events, integration, Islam, Multiculturalism