Once upon a time the world changed…

I started to write a book in a different life, and it said lots, but my world changed, our world changed, and I found so many thoughts that enriched my voice, and I found new freedoms that I felt a need to enter chrysalis phase and let them transform.

I’ve learnt so much about liminal spaces in the last year. Those spaces in between. How often do we look at the stuff and fail to notice. what the opportunities are for growth around it? We have all been caught up in the business of survival and negotiating relationships. Connection and disconnection amidst organisation and disorganisation.

I was inspired by a headteacher I spoke to recently who said they’d taken time to roll out their face to face on-line learning. They made space to consider what this should look like in relation to their vision and values, and refused to subscribe to a worksheet culture in their hurry to answer the call, as they didn’t use worksheets in class and weren’t about to start now.

She acknowledged this took more thinking and effort, but ultimately her team wanted to create meaningful, supportive experiences, with families in mind. Printing would cause stress, and also the need to complete, get things right. We all know life isn’t like that, learning certainly isn’t.

She centred provision on what she knew her children needed and what she knew her staff did best. Courage, integrity and relationships come to mind in this experience.

So I come to my writing anew, with courage to share my voice, integrity to give you what’s in my heart and mind, and in the spirit of engaging in a relationship of inquiry. This is about risk-taking, trying things out, igniting passion and creativity and inspiring joy.

I’ve always believed that empowering learners-whether they are children or adults should be about lighting us up, about revelation and excitement. Ultimately there are some processes that need to be practised, but even this can be given relevance, meaningful exchange, rather than dry exercises that need constant revisiting and retrieval to support remembering to tick a few boxes in a test.

Learning, real life education is much more than this. Learning is boundless, beyond an institution, and Covid has taught us so much more about this. Collaboration to overcome difficulties, exploration, relentless quests to find out, and a sense of purpose all come to mind.

We’re all learning wherever we are-and the subject of what we need to learn, what matters, has risen to the fore with a sense of urgency like never before.

Early surveys and research are showing an increased need for competencies, skills and values. Our world faces enormous challenge and change.The business world has been telling us this for ages.  The world has learnt the value of building capacity for adaptability, innovation, motivation and independence, as well as the need for robust Emotional intelligence, the ability to keep ourselves healthy physically and to be able to connect with out inner sense of purpose in times of extreme challenge. Our children need to be able think beyond our thoughts and horizons.

I have learnt so much about the need to balance all four intelligences;

IQ, the cognitive intelligence that reigns supremely in traditional models of achievement,

EQ, emotional intelligence, popularised at the turn of this century, but with research into neuroscience and language development demonstrating just how crucial this is, particularly throughout the events of 2020/21, demonstrated in supporting mental health, and performance efficiency,

Physical Intelligence. How often do our bodies try to tell us what’s going on, and try to respond, and we squash it? Our gut tells us so many things, but do we listen? We’ve needed this more than ever.

Then there’s this… Spiritual Intelligence. Before Covid I would be cautious about discussing this, and I’m ashamed. As a school leader, intuitive signals have always enabled me to reflect. Often this has been closer to the truth than any data could tell me, but I worry this is not given enough relevance in a sector where’ intuition oozes in abundance look in your Foundation stage!Imagine the creativity we could unleash if we nurtured all of these through school. What a world it would be!

The corporate world has taught me the value of creating a balanced view. I attended a conference where we began with a meditation, checking in with ourselves on all levels. I smiled wryly, as I sadly reflected on previous education conferences, where we discuss inspiration, our passion , our passion and purpose, we discuss everything so seriously, but do we truly connect?

Or are we caught up in “ the business of learning”, without appreciating the joy in the in between spaces?

Back to liminality- I hope that’s a word! I feel we’ve all been in caterpillar mode, busily eating up as much as we can, gathering all the stuff, the next new morsel to get a certain % of children to their next target, stretching and striving, or munching away intent on survival; getting through Ofsted, Mockstead, or achieving above Nationals at whatever cost…and now the Chrysalis forms and it all disintegrates to a soup. Did you know this happens?

As the caterpillar converts to goo (technical term) we now know that tiny imaginal disks ,like embryonic cells, remain and start to grow again to form different parts of the butterfly at the precise moment they need to.

Where am I going? It’s time, for the goo to nourish us, for us to create, to harness our imaginal disks and get ready to fly. We can’t go back, the future is forward.

Sir John Jones talks about dreams in his The Magic-weaving Business.I have hope, I have a dream I discovered a way to enrich learning, inspire children and adults alike, and to enable every one to explore really tricky issues, develop great, really meaningful use of vocabulary, and to inspire joy. I tried to write it down, and it needed to remember how to grow wings and wait until the time was right. That time is here.

I’m going to revisit this with my colour-seeing lenses on. The world changes, and our children are the ones who were born to lead it. We are at the point of rebirth. We nourish and show our baby care and love before we expect it to walk and talk. It stands to reason then that we prioritise this now as our classrooms are reborn. Forging into the future with heart-shaped minds, strong relationships and hope for what we can create must be our go to.

I attended an amazing session with Independent Thinking last week where JonathanLear reiterated the job of curriculum should naturally cultivate and promote well-being, Debra Kidd spoke of a hopeful curriculum where we inspire our students with a sense of agency and Hywel Roberts invoked botherdness and empowering ourselves in our stories – all of us together.

Making connections, solving difficulties, real learning for real people in the here and now.

Let’s empower our students’ voices, let’s hear what they need to say and unite a hopeful story where the boundaries of the past do not define the possibilities of our futures.

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