Friday, February 19, 2016

Most Likely To Succeed.. A Review...A Reflection.. A Renewal of Possibilities

CORE's introduction said....

"Most Likely to Succeed is the best film ever done on the topic of school- both its past and its future. The film inspires its audiences with a sense of purpose and possibility, and is bringing school communities together in re-imagining what ur students and teacher are capable of doing. Run, don't walk. to bing this film to your school. After seeing this film, you'll never look at school the same way again."

This movie was definitely inspiring and affirming. I think it should be compulsory viewing for all in education. While aimed at secondary schooling, it has many parallel messages for both primary and tertiary learning.

I loved seeing the story evolve through the year and to be able to witness the emerging understanding of both young people and the adults working alongside them of the true inter-disciplinary nature of learning. Seeing young people do far more than adults assume they can, and seeing them learn so much more than they often do in an adult driven class by class subject driven culture was fantastic.

The power of exhibiting learning for the public, and learners being accountable to this rather than to summative testing, or random assessments by a teacher,  is inspiring for learners and teachers alike. I know many years ago working in Wellington with Yr 7-8 learners in a very self managed collaborative integrated learning environment we used to run a learning exhibition at the end of each term. When visitors to our learning environment came they often wanted to know how to deal with the learners who just didn't get things done on time, and we used to say that it rarely happens. I don't think we were really believed, but that concept of accountability to the real-life real-world exhibition truly meant it very rarely if ever happened. Learners- and these were 10-12 years olds in the early 2000's- had such an accountability to that exhibition each term that if they weren't going to get something finished in time they made arrangements to come in out of school time to get it done. WE never asked them to to. They had an accountability to something bigger than getting an exercise completed in an exercise book.

So excellent to see this movie with our new team whose heads are fully into thinking about setting up a new school, and about what teaching and learning practices we want to evolve so that all of our learners needs are not only fully met but possibilities are opened to them in many ways.

Themes the movie affirmed for me:

Learning needs to relate to real life, it needs to be authentic. The time for focusing solely on context without context to support it is gone, and to bridge that gap teachers have often contribnved contexts to try to engage students in deeper learning. Get rid of contrived contexts and engage our learners with the real word and with real world problems.

Learning needs to relate to individuals- it needs to be personal. If our young people get what's in the learning for them and what they will get out of it they will engage with it so much more. if they have a stake in the learning they will be involved in it.

Connections are really important. The ability to collaborate, to work in teams, to led and to take direction, to articulate and to converse, to dicisuss nd have dialogue are ver increasingly irpotnat in the world our young people are going to live in. The student who has always achieved real success in th school system by themselves often struggles with this change when it is introduced in schools. However this is the same young person who will struggle to survive in the world of work if they aren't scaffolded though developing these skills. Most companies would now say they don't want "heroes" who can do the job by themselves. They want team players who will work with others. Who know when to step up and when to be led. Who know how to contribute to a project rather than wanting to do it all themselves in their own way.

Learners in todays world need to have agency- having a real voice in actual decision making. This includes the concept of them developing a degree of self regulation and accountability to the purpose and outcome of the learning.

For me the movie was summed up by a quote on the CORE presentation before the movie began:

 "....what's possible when you give kids more responsibility than you think they can handle and ask them to bring all of their knowledge to bear on a single task." 

My mind has been blown away over the last fifteen years by what I've seen young people produce when adults get out of the way of dictating and instead support learning. When adults let go of the vision of the "perfect" outcome, and hand it over to young people and support them. When collaboration is seen as the new normal- for young people and for adults in classroom environments. It takes courage for teachers to give up that 'power" and to directly teach according to situational need. But the learning that can happen and the outcomes that can be produced are simply outstanding- as Most Likely to Succeed demonstrates for us.

The posisbiitis for learning are endless. Hopefully we will begin seeing some NZ versions of this movie created in the next couple of years.

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