I’ve been thinking about this article, and your comments, for a few days. I agree with Elizabeth that there is capacity for this at some stages of UK schooling but in my experience even our primary schools are so tied to sats that they struggle to move away from drilling data into children.
I spent yesterday morning in Inset training with my school who are focusing on a new ‘school vision’ with a post covid lilt – Re-connect, Re-engage. A significant part of the morning was spent talking about how, in years 7-9 we have an opportunity to run interdisciplinary units and what those might be. This arises in our school, as a consequence of running the IB’s middle years program which seeks liberal education at all stages and seems to work best in project based, inquiry focused teaching.
However enthusiastic the teachers are about this and about a similar approach in the 6th form for the Diploma students, they all agree that we have a gap to breach at GCSE where we are simply cramming facts again. I love working in an IB school for this reason, the opportunity to look at the interdisciplinary units and work with teachers to embed Fosil and implant the IB’s research skills (attitudes to learning) is really engaging. I am aware I am all talk, I still struggle to get beyond the Library admin and find enough teacher facing time to enact any plans. I do think that simply being included in Inset has to be a step forward.
I really can’t see how a UK education without the IB could be liberal in the sense the article talks about. Such a sea change is required to move away from the national curriculum and a culture of ever increasing tests, to embrace a skills based, inquiry led education and I do not sense a hunger for it or an understanding or it beyond a very small number of people in my echo chamber. I am not pessimistic but the authors are clearly struggling to implement this in higher education in the US, I suspect Elizabeth is right, it is many years away here.
As a school we are working through the consultation for the school plan 2026, the vision for the next 5 years of education. Staff have been asked for comments and given the opportunity to take part in discussions that are intended to help form the vision for the next 5 years. I saw this as an opportunity to suggest that we embed FOSIL.
One of the questions we were asked is ‘If you were choosing a school for your child in 2030 what would it look like’. This made me smile because my comment when I heard about Darryl’s move to Blanchelande College was that I would choose a school because it had implemented FOSIL across the board.
In the presentation we were asked to consider the OECD’s future of Education and Skills 2030 project. If you haven’t come across this it is well worth investigating. Central to the explanation is the Learning Compass (OECD, 2018) which they describe as giving the students ‘agency; the capacity to set a goal, reflect and act responsibility to effect change. To act rather than be acted upon.’
Data and digital literacy is one of three core foundations and the whole compass of competencies is developed through a ‘cyclical learning process; anticipating, acting and reflecting’ (AAR). I wonder if this is beginning to sound familiar? Apologies if I’m teaching my grandmother to suck eggs but I didn’t come across any other mention of this on the forum.
The Anticipation part of this process is going further than Connect. ‘Anticipation requires more than just asking questions; it involves projecting the consequences and potential impact of doing one thing over another, or of doing nothing at all’ (OECD, 2019) which gave me cause to question whether this is a development of connect or something broader. Are we asking for a level of anticipation when students connect? Should they be anticipating outcomes or is this in danger of narrowing their inquiry? I like the idea of anticipation, particularly if it conscious, that is to say that part of the connect process is to exercise conscious anticipation and consider what students anticipate as being the outcome of their inquiry and how that might influence their investigation.
AAR is designed for a wider approach to education than teaching based inquiry, it seems to be an approach to action across students’ lives ‘A key aspect of the anticipation phase of the AAR cycle is the ability not just to respond to current events but to anticipate future events’ (OECD, 2019). However, it seems that there is a connection to be nurtured here and obvious parallels to be drawn.
The OECD state that the AAR cycle is a catalyst for the development of student agency ‘… defined as the capacity to set a goal, reflect and act responsibly to effect change. It is about acting rather than being acted upon; shaping rather than being shaped; and making responsible decisions and choices rather than accepting those determined by others.’ This idea brought to mind the discussions, held elsewhere on the forum, about ‘FOSIL is Learning by finding out for yourself (not by yourself, which suggests minimal or no guidance and/ or interventions’ (Toerien, 2021). I think there is a connection here; the agency to find out by yourself, to effect a change in your knowledge rather than having that change imposed upon you by a teacher who tells students rather than leads them to inquire.
I will certainly be using this as leverage, not only in my case for an apprentice (which I’ve attached here but have not had feedback on) but also as a means of influencing the school’s strategic plan and vision for 2026.
This is really interesting. I think there is some potential here to develop this into a multidisciplinary transition project for our Year 7 students as they join us in September, I’m sure there is fiction we could ask them to read – a short story possibly that could link into English. We might think about the role of Google in developing countries, the power to share the arts with users – looking at things like Google Museum Views and asking questions about the real vs the virtual experience. And on and on…
Thanks both and also to Nicola for starting this off. I am also at the very early stages of understanding how to FOSILise and this is extremely helpful. It shows that the real power of this is in collaboration with teachers. I am trying to get from being inspired by, and in awe of, the work of others to actually being able to apply it in my school and these kinds of posts are extremely helpful. I need to keep in mind that I do not have to immediately produce students who have a complete FOSIL education under their belt – if I can drop skills into their curriculum at any point that is giving them an advantage that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
As an aside, I am interested to hear that you undertake the Personal Project. We don’t run that, my understanding is that that sits at the end of the 5 year MYP course in place of exams and in prep for the EE. It’s a shame that schools can’t choose because I suspect the Personal Project is better prep for the EE.
As you may have gathered from my lack of further post I have not progressed those very far. The interdisciplinary project was a casualty of Covid because it was due to happen in camp week – which was cancelled. The teacher who was the driving force behind it has since left and so the who project has been dropped. I have yet to hear what is happening this year in its place.
The community project did run this year but on a very minimal scale and I have found it hard to get me teeth into it. I did give a session about carrying out primary research and putting their ideas in context but little more. In our school the community we ask students to engage with is always the rest of the school. They are not asked to reach outside. They are also only given form time (20 mins) a day to work on it and therefore the scale of their work is generally small scale. For example in the past we have had teacher appreciation boxes, poster campaigns to remind students to recycle, revision guides and campaigns to introduce meat free days into the canteen. While I can see an opportunity here I am also weary of imposing a workbook on students unnecessarily. I will give it some thought over the holidays – I am dedicating the break to FOSIl – and let you know where I get to.
This is such an interesting discussion, I too like Helen, am spending a lot of time trying to get my head around, not the theory, but the practice of FOSIL. I think that gets to the heart of this question about paradigm shift. I was employed to be the solo librarian at an IB school that hadn’t had a librarian for some years and so didn’t really have any idea what I might be able to offer. This has afforded me great opportunities as the management are very supportive but I am finding it hard to find a clear and sensible path to implementation of any Inquiry based learning. There are a number of causes of this difficulty.
There is a problem with the curriculum in my opinion despite us being a IB MYP school (this means that we follow the IB in years 7-9) we sit GCSEs in Year 11 and so the teachers are reluctant to follow inquiry based teaching widely in the lower school as they feel they need to cover certain skills or topics in preparation for GCSE. GCSE has no coursework element and is very much a rote learning exercise and this means that if we are not careful we are not preparing our students for the IB Diploma in Years 12 & 13 or the world beyond school.
As has already been mentioned very few of us have any teaching qualifications, this was foremost in my mind as I read Baraba’s work. I long to have a better understanding of pedagogy and feel strongly that, as a profession, the lack of specialist sector training lets us down and makes us ill prepared for the paradigm shift we are discussing.
The other, perpetual issue, is time, not only that I need to find time to think, plan and organise around my other responsibilities but teachers need to find time to rethink parts of their planning to incorporate a new approach. I need to be able to demonstrate the value and help them plan the inquiry. Every year I look for time to work with teachers but without the impetus of a whole school approach, time is never made and soon another year has passed.
To me this feels like the beginning of a potentially huge change in education practice with, very excitingly, libraries and librarians at its heart. My thoughts are now turning, as I said to the practical implementations in my school on the ground. I do hope that this approach might gain the traction, in the UK, that Barbara has managed to achieve in the US and begin to enter the mainstream of educational thought.
Thanks Jenny, for sharing that. 2 points occur to me.
I have come across Susan Trower’s Lib guides and found them helpful. I have been using MS OneNote to create a similar guide and wondered if anyone else had used this as a free alternative to LibGuides. Can anyone explain the advantage of LibGuides to me?
I think this is also getting to the nub of my current difficulty with teaching and Inquiry. I need to teach our Year 12 students how to reference as they have never been taught this as a skill – either as an integrated skill in an Inquiry process or as a skill on it’s own. I am working on embedding this, amongst other skills, from year 7 so in time this will become less of a problem. However, we also have an intake of students from other schools at Year 12 and so we will always need to offer this skill as a top up.
My question really is when it is necessary to teach a specific part of the process should I be aiming to embed this into a broader piece of work or just accept that this is not the time – that their EE is that broader piece of work – and just teach them why and how to reference?
Please ignore this message – clearly having Sunday 28th in both Feb and March is too much for me. See you in a month.
Apologies, if I’ve misunderstood but it this discussion open for us all to watch live? If so I am not sure where to find it. If not apologies, I’ll go back to my Sunday and watch the recording when its available.
This reply was modified 9 months, 1 week ago by Ruth.
That is a brilliant articulation of the issue I had been grappling with but had not yet managed to articulate. Having read this summary of this issues I can now see clearly why I had had such difficulty matching the ATLs to FOSIL and then thinking about how this can inform the practical implementation of inquiry learning. I fear I may be working towards an achievable goal?
Ok, so I think, having looked at these I do now understand the relationship between them. I think the work you are planning will effectively join the ESIFC on the left across the void to the ATLs on the right. Is that correct?
If so I think my next step would be to look at the curriculum plans across the school and see where the skills can best be introduced and reinforced across MYP. This would create another 3 maps that sit behind this and show its practical implementation in years 7, 8 and 9 (we only run the 3 year MYP) Is that what you are planning?
I think that I may need to have done that before I am able to get the staff on board. Clearly, I would only be able to suggest ideas and any detailed lesson documents or workbooks would be my next step when teachers have seen the benefit and we can collaborate.
Thank you so much for sharing these. Now I can work on encouraging greater uptake, having created some prototypes for our school. When I have managed to create something in collaboration with a teacher, and it is used, I’ll share it.