Sunday, 6 November 2016

Looking backwards and forwards

The text of my 2016 Senior Prize Giving speech.

Senior Prize Giving 2016

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain
Tihei Mauri Ora!
Ki nga kaumatua me nga kuia, tena koutou
Ki nga mana whenua ki Ngati Moki me Ngati Ruahekeheke ki taumutu, tena koutou
Ki te Kura Te Huruhuru Ao o Horomaka, tena koe
Tēnā koutou katoa

Our Board Deputy Chair, Mr Jonti Ward, fellow Board of Trustees members, Te Taumutu runanga, honoured guests, colleagues, parents and friends, ladies and gentlemen, students of Hornby High School  - welcome every one of you, welcome to this 42nd senior prize giving of Hornby High School. As I begin this my first prize giving address I am mindful that you will most likely be wondering how long you will need to sit and endure my words. When I talk of ‘Achieved ‘ grades you will know that we are almost there.

It was Benjamin Franklyn who said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” To that list someone added “change”, and over this last year  Hornby High School has certainly seen its fair share of change, with plenty more on the horizon.

2016 began in the wake of the departure of Mr Richard Edmundson as Principal. Mr Edmundson is a visionary educator, a remarkable change agent, a man who brought Hornby High School forward by leaps and bounds, a man to whom I am very grateful as together with a wonderful staff team he created the solid platform for our school’s next steps.

I am grateful to the members of the senior leadership team, and to staff generally, as they stepped up during term 1 awaiting my arrival.  Mr Jon Rogers, Mrs Karen Wheeler and Mrs Sue Elley, and Mrs Laurie Tafua, deserve special mention in that regard.

During the year we have experienced some additional changes to staff. Mr Andrew Cooper (TiC History) and Mrs Justine Menzies (SENCO) left us at the end of term 3 to take up positions as establishment staff at the new Rolleston College. Mrs Julia Messenger left us in the middle of term 2, and we are very grateful to Mr Warren Cain who stepped in to fill the breach for the remainder of term 2 and most of term 3, creating a settled learning environment for those children. Late in term three we welcomed back Mrs Diane Alpers as a relieving teacher. Diane has a record of long and faithful service to and support of Hornby High School over many years and she filled a final short term gap for us before the arrival of Ms Marina Shehata who has taken up the permanent position as Year 7 team leader.

Mrs Oonagh Beharrel our guidance counsellor decided that motherhood is simply far too attractive and so tendered her resignation before her planned return from maternity leave. We were thrilled to appoint Mrs Sarah Kavanagh to the permanent position of Guidance Counsellor, the role she had been filling in a relieving role since the beginning of the year.

Mrs Helen Temby from the learning support team left us at the end of October to begin a well earned retirement and we also received the resignation of Mrs Sudha Pandaram, HOD Mathematics as she takes a break from teaching. We wish them all well in these next steps in their life journeys.

We also learned that Mrs Barbara Climo was granted a study leave position for the whole of 2017, and Ms Helen Boothby gained a Royal Society fellowship in science education leadership, absent terms 1 and 2. To both our best wishes as you take up these well deserved opportunities.

Kaye Banks, Jonti Ward and Donna Sutherland were re-elected to the Board of Trustees, and Rochelle Jackson was elected for her first term. Rylu Dequita was elected as the new student representative. Thankyou to you all for putting yourselves forward, this is important work that you do.

I would also like to express our thanks to our outgoing student representative Fatafehi Tongotongo. You have represented your student peers well.

One of the first tasks undertaken by the new Board was to revisit their vision for the school. Every organisation needs a vision, an aspirational statement of what it wants to be in the future. A vision should be bold, audacious and challenging, and our new Board has not stepped back from the challenge.

Their vision for Hornby High School going forward is ‘A centre of creative excellence’. This acknowledges that the world is changing, and that as an educational organisation we must be ready to meet that challenge. Why the focus on creativity?

Consider this: In a 2015 report the NZ Institute of Economic Research predicted that within the next 15-25 years 46% of the jobs that we know today may well cease to exist as technology replaces workers undertaking routine repetitive jobs. One simple illustration close to home was the recent announcement by the Christchurch International Airport Authority that it will begin on road trials of driverless buses in 2017.

Our future lies in developing and exploiting those things that make us human, a message that I have tried to communicate regularly to staff and students (and I apologise now to everyone who has heard me rant about these things already). It includes our ability to empathise, to understand our fellow human beings, and the abilities to think creatively, critically and collaboratively.

Creativity is not limited to what you might traditionally think of as the arts. We mean creativity in every endeavour that we undertake, technology, sport, mathematics, physical and social sciences, administration and governance. Our biggest challenge now is to determine exactly what that looks like for each of us. What for example will creative governance look like? What will creativity on the sports field or in the science lab look like?

In steering the school towards this vision, the Board resolved to adopt three strategic goals:
To provide future focussed individualised learning
To create and sustain an inclusive learning community
To foster inspirational, risk taking and enterprising leadership in all members of our learning community

There is much in what the school has been doing over the past 8 years that is already closely aligned with these goals, but there is also the opportunity to look the new vision squarely in the eye and say ‘come on then, bring it on’.

Perhaps our most pressing and immediate challenge lies with the complete rebuild of our built environment starting in March 2017. Much of the new design matches our new vision and goals. The initial stages of the rebuild have been designed to accommodate a predicted roll of 800 students, and the school has been master planned for roll growth to 1200 students. The rebuild is planned completion by late 2019

As the build progresses we must not forget this:

He aha te mea nui o te ao
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

The buildings will allow us to do great things, but these things do not happen without a dedicated talented and hardworking staff, and our wonderful tamariki. They are our true taonga. Thank you for entrusting their care and development to us.

When all said and done however we are here tonight to celebrate achievement and it is important that we don’t take our eye off the ball and forget that this is our primary purpose. The school’s NCEA results at the end of 2015 were the best yet, with level 1 pass rates higher than the average for all schools regardless of decile rating. This speaks of the enormous dedication, energy and hard work that our staff put in with your tamariki, and I would like to publicly thank them here tonight for their wonderful dedication, their skill and focus.

There is plenty more to be done, and the biggest challenge will be to align the vision, the buildings, the teaching methodology, and student aspiration. Staff continue to put a large amount of effort into their consideration of the changes in teaching practice that our brave new world demands. We are a school of immensely strong relationships, and we should be proud of the resilience that lies behind these relationships. All staff regardless of their jobs provide an amazing degree of wrap around support for our students. We have to remind ourselves that these relationships are necessary for good learning, but in themselves are not sufficient to cause that learning.

Staff continue to develop their skills in using best evidence practice supported by research coming from a wide range of educational organisations.Trials are underway with project based learning in the junior school as staff look for approaches that will make learning more relevant, engaging and challenging for all students. The use of data is increasingly informing decision-making whether it be about class groupings or support for the Ministry’s priority learners.

The school’s journey into the digital era has continued with students in Years 7 to 10 making increasing use of Chromebooks in their learning. There is now a growing body of evidence to support the positive impact of digital learning for students. Hornby High School is a part of the Manaiakalani Education Trust’s Hornby Cluster, the work of which is underpinned by the methodology ‘Learn Create Share’, and there again is the reference to creativity. We are grateful for and excited by the preparation that our partnership schools are giving their students in preparation for their transition to Hornby High School. Let me now publicly acknowledge your contribution and say thank you. The work you do is quite extraordinary. Thank you too to the Manaiakalani Outreach Trust, Dorothy and Russell Burt, and Pat Sneddon, you are truly pioneers and visionaries, people driven by the moral imperative behind what we do.

The Spark Foundation announcement of its new ‘Spark Jump’ programme allowing cheaper access to broadband will be a significant enabler for students to improve their learning using digital tools. Thank you to Spark Foundation for this exciting initiative, and for your generous donation which will be used to help more families access personal devices. From 2017 we will require all students to have a Chromebook with which to undertake their work.

Let us not forget however that learning happens in many ways, and we use what I term a ‘blended learning environment’, that is an environment in which we focus on using the right tool, for the job. There are times when the Chromebook is the right tool, but other times when a pen and paper are the right tool for the job.

Across the entire secondary school network in Christchurch there is a new air of cooperation readily apparent as schools, the Ministry of Education, and the School Trustees Association attempt to coordinate decision making at the strategic level to produce the best quality of education possible across the whole city. A part of this has been formalising mechanisms that promote the sharing of best practice between schools. Our own journey down the path of project based learning has been informed through such sharing. Integral to this coordination will be the introduction of school zones across the city to ensure that all children can access their nearest local school. Our moral imperative is to ensure that all children have access to quality education. This requires an open mind and a willingness to try new things. As one comic once said, insanity is doing the same things and expecting a different result.

There are many people and organisations that need to be acknowledged and thanked at this time of year. First and foremost are my wonderful colleagues. Regardless of whether they are teaching or non teaching staff they all do a wonderful job. Teaching staff deliver the learning, but that is not possible without all of the many support functions that sit alongside them: grounds and maintenance, security, administration and accounts, all completed by wonderful people. Thank you.

To our many supporting organisations, thank you. The Hub and Hornby Working Men’s Club, a special mention as long term supporters of our wonderful tamariki. Your actions  demonstrate your understanding of the desirability of investing in your local community. Please be assured that you do make a positive difference.
Thank you also to our many other supporters:

L CERT Trust
Mainland Foundation
OJI Fibre Solutions
Konica Minolta
ISS Facilities Services
Westpac Trust - Hornby Branch
Orica Chemicals

Finally, to our prize winners, well done. Tonight we acknowledge and celebrate your attitude, your persistence and your achievement. The prizes we award acknowledge only one part of the wonderful achievement represented here tonight, and throughout the school. In NCEA terms, an ‘Achieved’ may be a wonderful result for some, but a mediocre performance for others. Everyone who produces a personal best performance is a winner. You owe it to yourselves to accept nothing less than your best. Over the next few weeks many of you face the biggest test of the year as you sit external examinations, some for the first time. Go well, don’t settle for second best, be the best that you can be.

To our 2016 Prefects, thank you for your leadership and your commitment to the school, and to all of our leavers - please know that you take with you our best wishes, and the knowledge that at Hornby High School you have your turangawaewae, your place to stand.

Noreira tena koutou tena koutou tena koutou katoa

R Sutton

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Re-imagining Hornby High School

I recently gave an address to the Hornby Rotary club in which I aimed to update them on happenings at Hornby High School. I realised that I had actually put together a lot of our thinking over the past two terms, and so I thought this was worth sharing with our wider community audience.

We live in exciting times in education, and that is a good thing, contrary to what is supposed to be an ancient Chinese proverb ( I have been able to find no evidence to convince me that it was).

Across the city we are seeing significant Govt investment in the schools network, with several hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in new secondary school facilities. We are also seeing more cooperation than ever before across the secondary network. We are seeing collaboration about everything from enrolments to learning pedagogy (that stuff about how we cause learning).

We are also seeing unprecedented levels of investment in the up-skilling of teachers.


We are living in times of exponential change. Technology is changing at a pace never before experienced in human history. Jobs as we have known them are at the very least changing if not disappearing at a similar rate.

The very meaning of the concept of knowledge is changing. It was once a noun, meaning facts and data. Today it is a 'verb'. That is, the concept of knowledge covers not only the stuff (facts/data) that we need to have in our heads, but also the ability to do something with those facts, that data.

Schools are becoming increasingly aware of the expressed needs of employers who tell us that 'soft skills' are a key factor in determining employability. Employers tell us that if we produce literate and numerate citizens who have the skills to get along with their fellow human beings, who can empathise, collaborate and think, then they will give them many of the technical skills that they need. That statement is certainly open to challenge but you get the idea.

This is driving changes in the way we cause learning, in the pedagogy that we employ in schools.

There is this increasing focus on the ‘soft skills’ that employers are telling us they want - those abilities to collaborate, to empathise, to communicate, to have a set of values to hold fast to.

Schools are always seeking improvements in the levels of engagement of students, and Hornby is no exception. Project Based Learning is well up over the horizon and set to become a normal part of how we engage and motivate learners while developing the knowledge, skills and key competencies that we all need. Enthusiastic staff are planning and trialling approaches that will make this common across the curriculum.

There is a shift to more online learning, although like most schools we hold fast to what we call 'blended learning' where learning is achieved in a wide variety of ways, using a wide variety of tools, and we focus on 'the right tool for the job'. We don't live solely in the digital world.

Hornby High School's participation in Manaiakalani Outreach is yielding growing benefits in improved learning as our learners are empowered with the MKO pedagogy 'Learn Create Share'. Of course to do this learners need to be connected and to have devices. For this reason the recent Spark Foundation announcement of their newest programme Spark Jump, designed to help struggling families 'jump the digital divide', is a huge step forward for New Zealand. Learning any time any where is now available to what has previously been a disenfranchised portion of our society.

This still leaves us with the challenge of how to make sure that every student has a device in her or his hands.

We can increasingly see evidence of the impact of this technology, here for example is commentary from across the fence at Hornby Primary School on the benefits to their children.

Finally we are about to undergo an almost total rebuild of our school. At the heart of the school culturally will be a whare, sitting alongside fantastic new science, technology and visual arts facilities. At the very centre of these facilities will be the creative arts. We believe that creativity is central to what will keep us apart from technology and offer us a future in a world of dramatically different work.

When I first joined the amazing Hornby team I invited my new colleagues to help re-imagine education. Most have taken up the challenge with relish.

Look out for the new Hornby High School, watch the progress and be a part of our re-imagining as we shape education to equip our wonderful Hornby kids for their extraordinary futures.

Nga mihi nui
Robin Sutton

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

'Learn, Create, Share'

In education you often see the word 'pedagogy' used and it's one of those words that can be quite intimidating. It just means 'how we cause learning to happen'.

Now a device is a device is a device, whether it be a Chromebook, or an iPad, or any other tablet of laptop. It's how we use it that matters. Or more appropriately it's how we use it to cause learning that matters.

Hornby High School, and the Uru Manuka cluster of other local schools with which we are in partnership in an educational sense, are a part of the Manaiakalani Outreach programme. This means that we have agreed to use the 'pedagogy' used in the original Manaiakalani schools set up in east Tamaki to help improve student learning.

That 'pedagogy' that is central to this programme is 'learn, create, share'. The technology (or the devices we refer to) is used to help students to learn content knowledge, to create new 'knowledge or product', and to share that with a real audience.

There has been a lot of debate about how much effect devices have on student learning, and there is certainly evidence around to show that if not used effectively devices can have a negative effect on learning. Distraction alone has a huge negative impact on learning.

But similarly there is a growing body of evidence to support the view that if used effectively devices can have a strong positive effect on learning.

'Learning' is improved in many ways. Evidence suggests that students are better engaged with their learning, they have access to a far wider pool of content knowledge, and the technology can be used to 'flip' the learning (where students review content at home, and then do problem based work in class with teachers) or rewind the learning (look at it again) any time they want.

The technology also promotes better writing, and better thinking. There is a  growing body of evidence in the research literature to support this too.

'Creating' is a much easier process with the right technology. Whether it be creation through writing, the production of video clips, or design of structures, the technology makes this process much much easier, shifting the focus to the thinking that lies behind the creation. That is, it allows students to unleash their true creative powers.

Creation doesn't just have to be done digitally though. We should never forget that creation of objects in a technology workshop or an art studio or a science lab is just as much a part of that as it ever was. The difference is that there are now so many more possibilities with access to 3D printers, or CnC cutters, for example.

Then there is the power of the Google suite of applications that allow students to work together (to collaborate), and to build their understanding of new ideas through that collaboration. Tools such as Google Forms and Google Docs (entry level applications these days) have revolutionised what can be achieved in terms of collaboration, and they are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of applications.

I have previously talked about creativity and the idea of 'reimagining' here.

'Sharing' is perhaps more profoundly affected by the technology than anything else. Access to the world wide web means that students (well, anyone actually) can share their creation with the whole world if they choose. Student blogging is becoming more and more a part of that activity every day. The blog itself is an act of creation but more importantly it acts as a simple way to record and share the results of student creativity with whomever students choose.

This sharing is perhaps most powerful when done with family and whanau. It is an amazing experience for a child in Christchurch to get positive comments on some work she has created from whanau in Kaitaia.

Where does this leave us? Access to devices, and to the internet, are both vital to improving our kids' learning. A strength of the Manaiakalani approach is that by agreeing on common devices we are able to work with suppliers to get better prices for those devices, so giving families easier access. By using a common 'pedagogy' students find their transitions from one school to another that much easier. This is important because there is some learning lost for students every time they make a transition (a shift such as from one school to another). By giving students the same approach to their learning we make that transition less of a problem for them, so reducing the amount of learning lost as they shift from (for example) their primary school Year 6 to their intermediate or secondary school Year 7.

There are great things afoot in New Zealand to allow easier access to the internet.  There is also a lot of work going on behind the scenes to give easier access to Chromebooks. Access needs to be easy for everyone.

We have a saying: "It's not about the devices, it's about the learning".

You can read more about Manaiakalani here.

Nga mihi nui
R Sutton

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Friends and whanau

This week we extended an open invitation to whanau and friends of our Year 7 and 8 students to come and join in with lessons. For our first such day we were gratified to have 20+ whanau and friends join us for an hour of lessons.

Whanau saw their tamariki engaged in their literacy and numeracy learning, many using their Chromebooks to support their learning. The impact of this technology on learning is becoming better documented as time goes by, often resulting in deeper learning and better engagement.

We have to be realistic and acknowledge that the technology can also result in increased distraction, although of course distraction has always been an issue in classes. I suspect most can recall times when they found themselves staring out the window watching a bird, or a cat, or something else of interest at the time. The answer lies in capturing interest, being vigilant, and educating for responsible use of the technology, all of which take time.

As time goes by our tamariki develop better skills and dispositions, included in which are focus and persistence in their learning.

On top of that, we are happy to acknowledge that we operate in a blended learning environment where pen and paper still sit alongside Chromebooks and iPads. We firmly believe that learning requires the 'right tool for the job'. Sometimes it's a Chromebook, sometimes it's a pen and paper, just as it might be in the workplace and in everyday life.

We were happy to host a small morning tea for whanau, and were able to share preliminary lans for our impending rebuild.

We will be repeating this week's invitation. Whanau are always welcome to come and see what our students are doing with their learning; the power of the trio of student, parent, and school has never been greater.  These are exciting times ahead.

R Sutton

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Digital learning.. it's time

The world of work is changing. Well the world is changing, and it is changing so fast that it can leave us breathless. Who would have thought that within five years we will see driverless cars on the roads of Christchurch, or that the City Council would be installing electric car charge points in parking buildings? This makes it really difficult for schools to know how best to prepare our students for their future. Schools have traditionally been seen as places from which you acquire knowledge. Over the past fifteen years however our very definition of knowledge has changed. Whereas we once thought of knowledge as ‘stuff’, facts, processes etc, now we see it as stuff, and being able to do something WITH that stuff. It has moved from being a noun to a verb. This means that more than ever before schools need to develop skills and dispositions in students rather than simply fill their heads. Our model of learning has shifted: we can no longer see students’ minds as empty vessels to be filled. We hear from employers that we need to provide them with people who are able to learn, and they will give them employment specific facts and skills. This includes those important dispositions like persistence and resilience, the ability to work collaboratively, to think critically and creatively. Digital technology is vital tool. It is no coincidence that this has become a part of the New Zealand curriculum. Hornby High School is a part of the Hornby Manaiakalani Outreach Hornby cluster. Modelled on the Tamaki cluster in Auckland, the programme uses the pedagogy ‘Learn Create Share’ to define work with students, using devices (currently Chromebooks) as the essential digital tool. The Tamaki experience reveals dramatic impact on student learning, engagement and results. Students acquire knowledge, create authentic product with that knowledge and then share it with the world, perhaps as published work, or the solution to a real world problem.

You can read more about this programme here. The learning is powerful, the impact profound, and it requires students to have devices in their hands. The Chromebook is the most affordable solution to that challenge. It’s a big ask for many families, but the return on their investment is huge.

It's time.

Nga mihi
Robin Sutton

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

So what are they meant to learn?

The world is changing at a faster and faster pace.  Experts talk about 'exponential change'. That is, not only is change happen but it is happening at a faster and faster 'rate'. It's like gradually pushing your foot down further and further on a car accelerator as you travel down the road. The question that has confronted education for a long time is therefore what are schools meant to teach?

I have written several times now about the changes that are happening in the workplace, the changes that our current young people will face within the early years of their 'working life' (whatever that might look like).

In 2015 the World Economic Forum (in conjunction with the Boston Consulting Group) prepared a report titled 'New vision for education' in  which it outlined what it thought schools should be doing, where schools should be going.

It's story is the same story I've described with reference to Yong Zhao. For example, WEF present this data on the changes in the types of skills being demanded globally of workers:

So routine skills of the sort that many would have assumed offered good job prospects are simply disappearing. Look at the skills that are increasing in demand. BOTH are non routine, because anything routine can be automated, that is replaced by technology. One is that of interpersonal skills - dealing with other people. The other analytical - making sense of the world. Neither of these is currently easily undertaken by technology.

They go on to describe the types of skills that we will increasingly need as this century progresses. Here is their summary:

The middle (orange) block describes basic competencies, those that we describe within our New Zealand curriculum in part with our key competencies. It is my opinion that creativity is the key. In a previous post I used the term 're-imagining'.

The more immediate and more pressing question is how we will get there. I don't think there is one path, there are many paths. For us at Hornby High School our 'connected curriculum' across years 7-10 is our critical pathway, and that connected curriculum will involve more project or passion based learning and less direct instruction. That is not to say that direct teaching is dead. It isn't. It means that direct teaching is no longer enough.

This is risky ground for any school, but we don't have much choice. Time and the world move on. We can either get on board or lag so far behind that we become irrelevant. Our young people, our precious tamariki, are the ones who will pay the price if we don't.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The importance of re-imagining our world

In 1964 the folk rock duo Simon and Garfunkel released their song 'The sound of silence'. The album on which they released that song was dubbed a 'flop', apparently selling only 2000 copies. The song however went on to become a 'classic'.

In May 2016 'Disturbed' re-imagined and released the song.

Opinions will vary but, while the rest of the 'Disturbed' repertoire isn't to my personal taste, for me this is one of the most profound 're-imaginings' of a song that I have heard. This singer has taken an older song and created something the completely recognisable, yet profoundly different. This takes creativity, it takes imagination.

In the same way this

is a re-imagining of this

And this (a driverless truck)

is a re-imagining of this

which was a re-imagining of this

Or this

is a re-imaging of this

We live in times of rapid technological change, and this is having a profound impact on employment opportunities. Many of the jobs that we currently know may well not exist in 10-20 years time, and similarly there may well be jobs that exist in 20 years time that we can't possibly imagine today.

All of this is the result of that technological change, but it is also a result of human endeavour. At this stage it does seem likely that much of the creative process however may not be replaced by technology (although even that isn't certain). The re-imagining that I am talking about seems more likely to be around in the future than the job of a truck driver, or a builder, or a tax accountant.

The challenge for schools is to place much more emphasis on critical, creative and collaborative thinking. A lot of the development we are witnessing isn't the creation of entirely new ideas, products and processes, but the re-imagining of current ideas. There are always those radical, revolutionary ideas that come to the fore.  This re-imagining is a critical part of creativity.

We need  more 'Disturbed's to re-imagine for us, more critical thinkers who dare to suggest that horse drawn motive power isn't the future, more collaborators who aren't afraid to work with others re-imagine anything and everything in our world.

Inspired by last week's address by Yong Zhao, we need to stop stifling diversity and creativity, and embrace it, encourage it, celebrate it.

A colleague today made one of those comments that has left an indelible mark on my consciousness: 'We are asking kids to run the marae on their own'. We have to foster collaborative work. I recall listening to Eric Mazur, Harvard physics professor, when he told a conference that in his career he had been involved in writing (I think) 80+ academic papers.Yet not one of those had he authored entirely on his own. If collaboration and re-imagining are good enough for a Harvard physics professor, then they should be good enough for our secondary students.

Let's get re-imaging.

R Sutton

Monday, 25 July 2016

The future of our education

There is a lot of talk about the future of work, and therefore of how appropriate our current education model is as our mechanism for preparing young people for that future. I recently had the privilege of attending an address by Young Zhao, a Chinese American education 'futurist'.

His comments were thought provoking and affirming.

Let's start by thinking about the future of work. Many jobs as we know them are fast disappearing, often replaced by technological solutions that were the stuff of science fiction writers 100 years ago.
Jobs that we assumed were traditionally available are less so. These trucks pictured working in the mining industry in western Australia are driverless.

Driverless trucks
This block layer can build a house in two days. It is a robot.

Production and productivity increase while employment declines, all the impact of technology. Look at these figures for the USA (Courtesy Young Zhao).

Yong Zhao's argument is that we have traditionally operated an education system that has been designed to remove difference, to stifle creativity in order to create homogeneous workers for an economy of massed production and industrialisation. Technological change, and it's impact on that demand for industrial workers, now means that we in fact need to enhance diversity, to create more lateral thinkers. We need more divergence in talent and people, we need to foster and nurture creativity and talent. More than this we need to nurture entrepreneurship, we ned enterprising people who are capable of looking at the world's problems in new ways in order to come up wiht new solutions.

Zhao has written a comprehensive blog post titled "A World at Risk: An Imperative for a Paradigm Shift to Cultivate 21st Century Learners[1]". His recommendations are worth quoting in full:

In light of the urgent need for improvement, both immediate and long term, I propose a set of recommendations that policy makers and educators can begin to act on now, that can be implemented over the next several years, and that promise educational excellence for the new age.
  • Stop prescribing and imposing on children a narrow set of content through common curriculum standards and testing.
  • Start personalizing education to support the development of unique, creative, and entrepreneurial talents.
  • Stop fixing solely the teaching force by selecting, training, and retaining better teacher candidates. It takes too long and we cannot wait.
  • Start empowering the children by liberating their potentials, capitalizing on their passion, and supporting their pursuits. Start giving the ownership of learning to the children.
  • Stop constraining children to learning opportunities present in their immediate physical environments by assigning them to classes and teachers.
  • Start engaging them in learning opportunities that exist in the global community, beyond their class and school walls.
  • Stop forcing children to learn what adults think they may need and testing them to what degree they have mastered the required content.
  • Start allowing children the opportunity to engage in creating authentic products and learn what they are interested in, just in time, not just in case.
  • Stop benchmarking to measures of excellence in the past, such as international test scores.
  • Start inventing the excellence of the future. You cannot fix the horse wagon to get the moon. We have to work on rocket science."

Hornby High School is re-creating itself as we re-imagine our own future, a future that promotes and develops the diversity and talent that our community and students all possess. Much of Zhao's commentary and recommendations ring true for us, as it should.

My thanks to Garth Wynn, Executive Principal of Christ;'s College who was instrumental in getting Yong Zhao to talk in Christchurch, and for making the address open to the wider educational community.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Encouraging leadership at Hornby High School

Lots of people in our schools are leaders, whether they want to be or not. Often amongst students leadership develops simply because of age and year group. I spoke to our Year 13 students last week, reinforcing this idea that they are leaders whether they want to be or not. I asked them what sort of leader they might want to be.

I've been in formal leadership roles of some sort or another for three decades. When we are put into those roles we tend to adopt a 'leadership style' that perhaps suits our personality; I certainly have. I remember 'teaching' some of the theory that lies behind leadership some time ago at tertiary level, and at that stage the theory suggested that the best approach to leadership was what the textbooks describe as situational or contingency leadership. The style should shift to suit the situation.

At the time of the Canterbury earthquakes for example authoritarian leadership was often the instant and necessary response as many fell into shock and others (at times not the 'formal leaders'), stepped up to 'take control' because lives were at stake. On the other hand when trying for longer term cultural change in an organisation a far slower and more participatory approach is more suitable.

Underpinning all of this there should in my opinion be a set of values that drive those in leadership positions, and those values might best be described with the words 'servant leadership'. Servant leadership is an idea that has been around for millennia. There is reference to it in Indian and Chinese writings from over two thousand years ago. It made a grand entrance to our western management literature in 1970 with the book 'The servant as leader' by Robert K Greenleaf.

The concept is simple: leaders are servants of those whom they 'lead'. Great leaders in history have often taken this path. Consider the leaders of the world's great religions and reforming movements. Whether it's Islam, Christianity or Buddhism, Mahatma Ghandi, or Christ, or Mohammed, the prime figures have seen themselves as servants of their people.

We would produce better outcomes for our world if we were to encourage out students to model themselves around this idea of servant leadership. A quick Google search will take you to a Wikipedia entry (not everything on Wikipedia is bad) which says this:
Larry Spears identified ten characteristic of servant leaders in the writings of Greenleaf. The ten characteristics are listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of others, and building community. Leadership experts such as Bolman, Deal, Covey, Fullan, Sergiovanni, and Heifitz also reference these characteristics as essential components of effective leadership.
The Center for Servant Leadership at the Pastoral Institute in Georgia defines servant leadership as a lifelong journey that includes discovery of one’s self, a desire to serve others, and a commitment to lead. Servant-leaders continually strive to be trustworthy, self-aware, humble, caring, visionary, empowering, relational, competent, good stewards, and community builders.

You'll find these values described in part at the front of New Zealand's national curriculum; they are a critical part of those concepts whanaungatanga, manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga. At Hornby High School we wrap our values up in these four words: Commitment, Achievement, Resilience, and Respect (our CARR values).

I have already challenged our Hornby High School students to see for themselves what is wrong with our world, to get excited, or get angry, to go out and make a change. There are some big issues out there. We have nearly 340000 children who live in poverty in New Zealand. Is that the sort of world we want to live in? This is a challenge I will continue to lay at their feet.

I am encouraging our students not to wait for someone to GIVE them a leadership role. I am encouraging them to TAKE leadership roles, to get out there and make the changes they think our world needs. This is the true test of their character, of their values.

Nga mihi
Robin Sutton

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Disappearing jobs and changing education

This week I read the following from 'The Main Report', a New Zealand business commentary newzine:

Robot Trucks Soon For US Roads. US developers say autonomous big rigs will be the next big thing on the road to a safer transportation system. US start-up Otto is equipping trucks with software, sensors, lasers and cameras so they will eventually be able to navigate 500,000km of US highways on their own, while a human driver naps in the back of the cab or handles other tasks. Initially the autonomous part would just be on the big highways or freeways leaving humans to navigate though city streets. The idea is similar to commercial jetliner autopilots, which fly the aircraft at high altitudes while leaving the takeoffs and landings to humans. There is a precedent – so far Google’s selfdriving cars have logged about 2m km in autonomous mode without being involved in a serious or fatal accident. Of the more than 20 accidents involving its self-driving cars Google has accepted the blame for only one. Otto already has installed its automated technology in three heavy rigs and completed its first extended test of the system on public highways in Nevada. It hopes to eventually retrofit all US trucks - more than 4.7m vehicles. It says the new technology will help alleviate a severe driver shortage in the US - last year, there were 47,500 too few, and this will rise to nearly 175,000 by 2024.
It follows hard on the heels of the recently reported transit of a driverless convoy travelling from Spain to Sweden. I also recently shared with staff an article featuring a robotic block laying machine that was faster and more accurate than any human block layer (and I've seen some absolute masters in my time).

Increasingly, the jobs that we have taken for granted throughout our lives are disappearing. I recently read a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report that predicted that 46% of jobs as we know them today may disappear in the next 10-20 years.

Almost half the jobs in New Zealand may be done by computers and robots in the future, researchers say.
A study by the NZ Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) has found that 46 per cent of current jobs are at "high risk" of disappearing in the next decade or two.
Most that go will be relatively low-skilled and low-wage jobs. The study found that 78 per cent of labourers and 74 per cent of machine operators, drivers and clerical workers are at high risk.

 The advance of technology has a clear message for us in education: the things we have traditionally done will increasingly become irrelevant. If we don't change we will increasingly disadvantage our kids. The jobs they thought would be there for them simply won't be. What do we do?

No-one has THE definitive answer, but one thing is clear. Knowledge on its own is no longer enough. Schools must produce people who are critical, creative thinkers, people who can communicate and collaborate. We talk about these 'four Cs'. They represent the thinking curriculum. Of course you can't learn these things in a vacuum, you have to have something to think about, so knowledge still matters, although the nature or definition of knowledge has changed. It now means knowing stuff and being able to do something with what you know. (Jane Gilbert 'Catching the knowledge wave').

The days of the teacher standing at the front of the room delivering knowledge are fast coming to a close (if they aren't finished already). We can find almost any knowledge we want on the internet somewhere. Of course we all have to be able to think critically in order to evaluate what we find, determining whether it is valid or not. But it's the act of creation using that 'stuff' that we have to focus on in schools. That said, we all still need to be literate and numerate. After all, communication is impossible of we don't have at least one language with which to communicate, and some basic maths with which to make sense of the world.

Hornby High School has for 3 or 4 years planned to re-imagine the curriculum. We call it our 'connected curriculum' in which we literally connect ideas, and in which we create. And this isn't just a science and technology thing. Creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication are all equally developed in the arts and social sciences. The catch phrase in some quarters is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), but I prefer the mnemonic STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths)

The old jobs are disappearing. We have to find new ways of creating value, and doing stuff the old way simply isn't going to be an option.

We are confronting the age of disruptive innovation. Let's get disrupting.

Monday, 23 May 2016

The benefit of persistence

I remember just prior to Christmas 2013 I was in the car listening to ‘Afternoons with Jim Mora’ on National Radio. Mora interviewed Ginny Blackmore, an up and coming young New Zealand singer songwriter. Aside from the quality of her music, I was particularly struck by her description of her journey to 2013. All she wanted to do was write music, and so she left school early, her parents giving their permission on the proviso that she wrote music full time (quite an act of faith from the parents, I thought). Her ‘overnight success’ took over three years and there she was (at the time of the interview) having just secured a recording deal with a major record company in Los Angeles.

This is something I often see. Success is most often found when we follow our passions. I have seen it with my own children and I see it often with teenagers more generally. When asked to give advice on subject choices, we go through the usual issues of aligning subject choices to possible future career choices, but we should also ask what there is in our children's mix of subject choices that ‘spins her/his wheels’? It is a long day at school if there is nothing in the day about which you could be enthusiastic.

Art Costa, an American writer, established what he described as the 'Habits of Mind', a set of 16 habits of 'dispositions' that seem to be common to successful people regardless of culture or age, and regardless of the activity they pursue in life. One of these is persistence, the ability to stick with a task until complete, until you find success. Art Costa’s ‘Persistence’ is perhaps no better illustrated than in Blackmore’s example. Ginny Blackmore knew what she wanted to do, and stuck at it. She sat in her bedroom day after day, working an eight hour day by all accounts, building a body of material that she could take to the world.

You can find Jim Mora’s interview here:

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Be bold be brave

I feel truly privileged to have the opportunity to once more be a part of the Hornby community. It is a great community filled with amazing people. It won't be my normal habit to use this blog to repeat what I say in assemblies, but my first senior assembly contained the essential message that I hope will be the hallmark of my time at Hornby High School.

In my mihi on Monday 2 May I included the following saying:
Korihi te manu  
Takiri mai i te ata  
Ka ao, ka ao, ka awatea  
Tihei  Mauri Ora! 

Which translates as:

The bird sings
The morning has dawned
The day has broken
Behold there is Life!

I want to read you one of my favourite poems.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Why did I choose to read that? 

The thing that many of us fear is not that we are powerless, but that we are powerful beyond our wildest imaginings. 

Know that you have the power to make any change that this world needs and that the only way that you will make the changes the world needs is by taking that path less travelled. Dare to be different, dare to challenge everything around you. Ask why why why!!

I am challenging you to be bold, be brave, be amazing.  They say that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. To change the world for the better you have to do things differently, to take the path less travelled. 

If I had any criticism of you at all it is that you don’t see how truly talented and powerful you are. Aspire to big things, know that you have the talent. Find something in the world that excites you, or something that makes you angry, and set out to change it. Don’t accept no, don’t accept second best, strive for excellence.