Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Lumiar leads learning by doing

Lumiar schools don’t look like schools i.e. they don’t look like factories, hospitals or prisons. And the children are not regimented daily into doing work they find dull. Make no mistake this is a formal learning environment but they have transformed learning into another very different project, far from the current classroom, subject, lesson model. They are not interested in incremental change, which they feel just settles back down into the traditional model. It’s a massive, transformative, gear shift. What they do is swap the traditional knowledge-based learning that.... model, with a learn by doing learning how....model. Learning how to do things becomes the means of knowing things.
The whole thing was started by Ricardo Semler, an industrialist who has written Maverick and The Seven-Day Weekend.

Learning projects
Like DeLorenzo, students have a competency matrix and learning takes place through problem solving and projects, which try to match the student’s interests. Learning Projects, based on work going back to Dewey, lie at the heart of the process, and are renewed at least every two months. Some projects are done by all, others are choices. It’s not that all learning projects have to be ‘fun’ only that motivation must be maintained if true learning is to take place. It’s truly a ‘learn by doing’ model, where core mega-competences and lots of sub-competences, allow lots of choice within a clear structure.

Learning portfolio
A Learning Portfolio is used to track progress and discuss issues and direction. This is no libertarian or laissez-faire approach – it is rigorous. Students choose projects with their parents and tutors. Parental involvement, just like the DeLorenzo approach, is strong. They go to great lengths to distance themselves from Libertarian schools, such as Summerhill. The do have a curriculum, namely a Competency Matrix and a methodology, namely their Methodology of Learning Projects, but don’t for one minute imagine that this is an easy ride. It’s tough, demanding but satisfying. Learners are not left to their own devices, but encouraged to go stretch themselves and acquire 21st century skills not 19th century knowledge.

Circle assessment
Traditional assessment is replaced by observation and human discussion, daily, weekly and at the end of projects. The Circle is a collaborative approach to assessment that gets away from the simplistic pass/fail opposition and the language of failure.

Masters and Tutors
There are no teachers as such, only Masters and Tutors. Traditional teaching is split into two separate roles; mentors and tutors. Masters are the project people, responsible for the coordination, execution and evaluation of students doing projects. Tutors are student supervisors, responsible for groups of students, their welfare and assessment.

Like DeLorenzo, technology is not seen as an add-on for teachers, but a learning tool for students. Technology is used to solve problems by the students themselves. They are not learning how to use technology but using technology to learn. Behind the system is a piece of software called Mosaic which is a competency matrix, database of projects and hold the learning portfolios.

Finally, here’s a blog about these wonderful schools...


Mark Berthelemy said...

They sound just like what we need. When are they coming to the UK?

Donald Clark said...

I believe they're setting up a school in Manchester but don't know when.

Lars Hyland said...

Donald - are you managing to get any of these ideas into the secondary school at which you are a governor? Would like to discuss that offline with you sometime.

Anonymous said...

In the past, one had to bamboozle the host institutions, pretending we were dyed-in-the-wool control-enterprize merchants ie. opinion-formers .. While actually, what was really going on, sub rosa, was that participants were gradually beginning to feel free to empower themselves, reaching out & finding for themselves, the knowledge & practice they wanted, or felt they needed to access - from wherever it could be found .. All of which enriched life no end, both for the adult participants, as well as for the learning/study coordinator .. It was a great period of my life, to which I bade farewell in 1999 with the onset of major illness. Let's give Lumiar a big hand !

@norwichtech said...

Hi Donald - where did you get your information about Lumiar? I'm struggling to find anything in English online - and your blog link no longer works.

Donald Clark said...

Saw the guy give a talk in London. Tray http://lumiarschool.wordpress.com/