Consumption mentality is mental delusion

Sculpture: OMG LOL / Eyebeam Art + Technology Center Open Studio

 

At what point does human kind stop consuming? Food. Land. Raw materials. Flora and fauna. Water. We have an insatiable appetite for all of them. It has driven colonization, exploitation, invention, and confrontation. No matter how much we have, enough is never enough. We are feeding the beast of growth, and it is only when faced with disaster, obsolescence, or extinction we correct our ways and try and to make amends.

Perhaps then it is no wonder that with all these heavy thoughts I have been thinking about the role of information in this mix of consumption. Human kind has been creating information in many forms for thousands of years, and because of its relative scarcity in the past (pre-20th century) it was easier to archive, read, and consume. In this century we are seeing billions of pieces of information being produced, and re-produced. Primarily we produce this information so it can be quickly consumed by others. All of us are contributing to this sweet social junk food of information, while also finding the bigger meatier chunks of information harder to digest and more complex to store and consume. I guess you get my analogy; I am going to liken my thinking with information to the theme of food.

The consumption of information mentality is something I liken to the obesity epidemics of many countries. Our public libraries, and those at schools and universities, swell with physical and digital information, sometimes shedding the burden of physical weight in favour of more digital fare.  I know why we collect all this information, so we can consume it later, but it seems to underpin so much of the routine of our lives that I feel many have lost the ability to have an imagination. The other aspect to this analogy is consumption of information from starvation, and it also creates incredible dangers whereby people desperate for any kind of information or communication technology will happily consume pretty much any kind of crap. It’s as if our brains are being fed on all kinds of mindless and pointless information, to the point of slowing us down, making us lazy, complacent, and narrow-minded.  But is it no wonder? Since the emergence of tools and spaces to store and archive information centuries ago, we are now trying to house within the Internet the entire memory of the human race, no matter how trivial, while at the same time expecting that because it exists there, then we must know about it, watch it, listen to it, and acknowledge it.

In many instances information is force fed into young people and called education. It is again no wonder that as time beats on, more information is deemed worthy to add to an obese curriculum, more data must be memorized and regurgitated. We have become dominated by the process that consumption of information equals learning. It’s as if students are treated as birds, little chicks learning to fly, waiting for the teacher to regurgitate information into them because they cannot eat it by themselves. Perhaps this is as innate (or inane) as it gets. Education has been serving the same ‘portioned and segmented meals’ for too long  – ‘eat it because we say it’s good for you’. In many instances this is also implicit in conferences and professional learning seminars. I know these are horrible over-simplifications, but from one perspective I feel that we have created institutions and systems based solely on the consumption of more and more information without any real transformation. This is as opposed to systems and environments which develop skills and discernment with information. Good schools and good teachers know the difference; as too do good libraries.

We all know what pigging out on information feels like. We have studied and crammed for exams and essays, only to have it dissipate from our heads in the near future like sugar from our system. The information was not nourishing, but we were told to consume it so we could develop our palette. However when we absorb information that really stimulates and challenges us, it changes us in the same way we build muscle; it is memorable and empowering. Herein lies the real problem: there is so much ‘sugar-filled’ information out there that we’re lacking the skills to find and focus on what really matters, we don’t know what healthy consumption of information looks like, and we most certainly have not developed enough imagination, problem-solving, invention, and creation in our lives and in the lives of young people that grounds us in the present.

The antidote to consumption is play: physically and mentally. We have stripped many of our institutions of play as we became heavier with the burden of information to pass on. It is inevitable. But play is not what happens at ‘recess’ or ‘lunch’. Play is not mindless, in the same way not all information is mindless. Compelling information coupled with playful experimentation, helps us create meaning and improve processes. The digital age has a great deal it can prove that this is the case. The Internet is one of the mirrors in which we can look at ourselves and be happy with what we see. However with it comes obesity and starvation of information as two extremes that can corrupt our perspectives on this, requiring a deeper degree of discernment to know the difference, and how to take action: something I think will be another of the great challenges of human kind.

Game developers take on game-based learning

You know how these things start: a tweet about some new research into the benefits of game-based learning spawns 45 tweets and all sorts of thinking about the intersection of games and learning. Yeah, that old chestnut. What was exciting about this tweeting flurry was that the insights and perspectives on what makes a game a learning experience came from game developers, not teachers.

The conversation was sparked by my tweet about an Australian study from Macquarie University for the NSW Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre which highlighted the benefits of game-based math. The research was carried out by Dr. Kristy Goodwin, who highlighted the following benefits in the Mangahigh Extended Evaluation report (PDF):

  • Improved student learning outcomes,

  • 100% teachers reported that games had improved student learning,

  • 83% of students reported that the games helped their learning,

  • 94% of students reported that Mangahigh was more enjoyable than traditional modes of mathematics instruction,

  • Teachers reported enhanced student confidence which may lead to greater engagement and motivation, and

  • Instant feedback contributed directly to a more transparent learning process.

Getting acknowledgment that games have a role to play in learning and education is always good news – except the use of the phrase ‘Digital Game-Based Learning’ just seemed unnecessary and overly academic. This report added to the growing global body of significant research into the value of games in learning environments. Learning through play, who knew right? Der.

No, the really exciting bit was that I had only been recently reflecting on being more engaged with my Twitter followers who are either game developers or those that support the games community. This kind of report provided the fuel to get the conversation started. Very quickly game developers Andrew Goulding (@brawesomewaffle), Ben K (@AussieBen), and Andrew Duval (@_AndrewDuval) got involved in a tweet-chat about games and their impact on learning.

A few things became central to the conversation that followed. First, my initial point that other factors are crucial than just dumping the game in a classroom of students: that time and again the tech/game is only as powerful as the capacity of the teachers to make it meaningful in the context of the students’ work, otherwise it’s just a stupid way to crowd an attention-seeking, disjointed, and desperate curriculum. This means that teachers have got to start understanding games as a separate medium, the same as they might do with books or films, in order to appreciate the mechanics, design, and opportunities they offer. And there’s only one way to do this: play them.

Second, the way games are funded in Australia has a history of being pretty sporadic. Given that Australia has developed games which have stood their own ground on the world stage makes for a very impressive story – but that’s for another time. Certainly when it comes to the funding of educational games, things get even more lean. The US has gone quite a way to making in-roads on developing better educational games, thanks to the funnelling of major philanthropic investment from groups like the MacArthur Foundation, the Joan Ganz Cooney Centre, and the Gates Foundation. Of course the scale of these organisations do not exist in Australia, and neither does the kinds of support and thinking for games-based learning. This is gradually changing however, with examples like Knowledge Quest, Mathletics, LiteracyPlanet emerging as some examples of ways games can be built around learning outcomes.

Third, most people who grew up with games know that making a game educational is not the only way learning happens; and edutainment has a horrible history of trying so hard to gamify learning to make it ‘fun’ that it sucks all the fun out. And those who make games are even more qualified to have insights on this area, as Andrew Goulding pointed out –

The second comment by Andrew nailed it, in my opinion. It highlighted something often overlooked by those wrapped up in edutainment, and the same affliction teachers have when they use a tool, resource, or game that they don’t fully understand. Mechanics and motivation matter. I think this tweet would make great context for a panel program with educators and game developers. Andrew Duval qualified this by saying –

That last comment by Andrew Duval would also make a great public debate for educators and developers; and parents for that matter. There is such a pressing need to better educate people about how games function, their purpose, and their potential for teachable moments. For far too long games have been lumped together in the bucket of mindless violence, subconscious gambling, and meaningless story – it’s worth remembering that other mediums have all gone through this societal evolution; consider music, films, comics, and even books. Andrew Goulding wrapped it up towards the end with this nice insight –

While there is still so much to learn about game-based learning, there is also clearly a need to have more conversations like this, with a wider audience of experienced developers, designers, educators, and learners. It can start and end with everyone playing their way around a room full of games of all genres and platforms, coming together to explore perspectives and experiences, and building a better awareness that the answers often lie in communities we’re not connected with enough.

Also check out: Mangahigh and Dragonbox App

Disconnected learning

If you could have a day off tomorrow to learn anything you wanted, what would it be? Have a think now…

There could be so many things you or I could learn in a day, probably the vastness of choices would make it so hard to decide. It might be connected to other people. It might be working with experts. It be making something, or finally learning to finish something. Imagine the pathways that one day of learning might open up for us? OK, now back to reality. Sorry.

Today across parts of Australia, children undertook testing for NAPLAN, the National Assessment Program – Literacy And Numeracy, to help the Government work out how well our children spell, write, add, subtract, etc. A lot of anxiety happens around NAPLAN. Schools become dominated by it. There’s the idea that a lot is riding on how well the students do, because it reflects how well the teachers do, leading to how effective the school is. Sure, I get it. I can understand the pressure. What I can’t fathom is the learning.

I hear that some schools let primary school students watch a movie after their NAPLAN test was over. I hear some schools are giving students the Friday off from school after all the testing they’ve endured over the week. Are these meant to be rewards? Are they an acknowledgment that testing is hard work? The preparation, the testing, the recovery – all this for what are otherwise incredibly disconnected experiences from real learning.

You know what hard work is? Changing the system of education. If you’re reading this then you probably have a very good idea of what challenges this kind of change brings. Seeing education evolve isn’t going to happen with NAPLAN. It keeps us firmly planted in the traditional mindset that testing, scores, and buckets of testing data is going to give us insights into how to help education be better, be more effective; be better funded? Today I came across this video about the ’10 Expectations’ of school from the people at Leaving to Learn. The video does a very good job of defining the things that make school work, giving teachers and students a sense of purpose and engagement. The irony is that these ten expectations are more like ten challenges – because schools don’t work this way. These expectations would scare many schools.

As the video explains: these are imperatives. And to think that schools might evaluate themselves by these? Now there’s a test I’d like to see implemented. These imperatives suggest that current schooling is full of disconnected learning: we give kids the pieces, in the form of lots of separate lessons, hoping that somehow they will figure out how to make a whole. What it ends up creating are lots of ‘holes’ – ones that I’m sure existed for all our school experiences as well.

This thinking leads nicely into another piece of the puzzle: the content king. Education is dominated by content. It is saturated by it, driven by it, and confused by it. And in the world of the internet, content has multiplied millions and millions of times, in all its forms, from catalogues to cat videos, from testimonials to tweets. What we’ve gained in the technology though, is the ability to finally make connections with our learning, in real time to real places and people, really, really fast. The web scares schools too – because, just like the big bad world outside the walls of the school, the internet is waiting to chew up our attention, making us mindless, thoughtless, and selfish victims. Or so Nicholas Carr would have us believe.

Something about this logic seems all wrong. Just like the logic of NAPLAN tests. It makes sense at first, but the more you consider how the web is empowering nations of people who haven’t had the chance to learn what they really wanted, to help innovators and inventors iterate faster than ever, then you have to wonder whether Carr has simply watched too many cat videos. If you only go by the numbers then we all think Gangnam Style is the world’s greatest ever music video. The long tail of the web should make us think twice. ‘Disconnected learning’ in this context, can also relate to those moments when we are absorbed in thinking and learning deeply through the web on a key topic, a key talk, a moment of inspiration. If we need to make time to refocus, think deeply, meditate away from all the distractions of this world, then education is still not making the grade.

As a final footnote, last night I played Commander Chris Hadfield’s now famous video cover of ‘Space Oddity‘ to my two little kids. They were amazed. The questions came thick and fast. We went to his Google+ page to have a look at his other exploits and commentary while he was at the space station. More questions. More wonder. More opportunities to learn. I found it quite amazing to see these two little children discover there was another world in space, where the laws of science weren’t quite the same as on Earth. It gave them new perspectives, and a reason to connect with their learning.

Curated serendipity

What brought you here?

No, really. I doubt you came here by accident, or through a series of clicks on other sites; it was probably me that brought you here through a tweet or a cross-post. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t serendipity. Serendipity is often described as a ‘happy accident’ or a ‘pleasant surprise’, but can also just be the result of pure luck. And we’re not talking about the kind of luck that gambling wants you to believe, that’s closer to deception. Real serendipity, I think, is when you put yourself into a different situation, space, or environment, and another element of your life collides with it.

I have been doing a fair bit of thinking about serendipity recently, since delving a little more into the research and ideas of Aleks Krotoski. Aleks is a social psychologist, journalist, and all-round web geek who’s also done a fair bit more thinking and writing about serendipity than I have. Heck, she even tried to build a machine that models serendipity. I am really looking forward to her upcoming Melbourne events. It’s an incredibly thought-provoking concept. One that we are often duped into believing the web delivers for us on a daily basis. I think that serendipity is rare within the web. Serendipity is much more at home in a bookstore, or a video rental shop, or at a festival, or walking through the park. All it needs is the right time and place.

I have no doubt that my networks, contacts, perspectives, and passions have grown and shifted because of the web. I have run at least four successful public events that started from seeing an opportunistic tweet. But is that what counts as serendipity? In building online networks, creating RSS feeds, subscribing to news, and joining communities I am simply shaping already latent interests – and finding common people that keep popping up. Actually, I am trying my best to use Google+ more and to curate it with different people that I don’t follow anywhere else, just so I can make the space more surprising, more engaging, and possibly a little more serendipitous.

The web is really just ‘curated serendipity’; things posted and linked together in a way that others can find them. Since none of us randomly surfs the web hoping to find enlightenment or for something to happen; unless you’re a troll, in which case you’re inciting something to happen. There’s nothing wrong with curated serendipity, it’s just it isn’t authentic enough for my tastes. In fact a library is also a form of curated serendipity – the books and items are all neatly cataloged and organized, so even if you find your book on the shelf, the books either side of it were deliberately placed there too. It’s the places which have a certain randomness that are the best for serendipity. Which puts serendipity back on the playing field for libraries, because the most random elements you can add to a place are people and nature. And libraries are magnets for people.

If an organization or museum, or library, or shopping mall manages to crack the code for fostering more or better serendipitous moments, then they will have incredible engagement with people. Effective organizations and institutions are using surprising and often playful elements to to break visitors’ assumptions and build their anticipation; which is so amazingly powerful. I think the web is teaching us to be more accepting of different people, places, and spaces, thereby maximizing serendipity in the real world. And that can only mean good things, but only if you act on them; a little like Shaun Tan’s story of ‘The Lost Thing‘. Bumping into an old friend randomly on the street is not serendipitous unless you act on the moment. They are among some of my biggest regrets – and when I’ve trusted my inner-self and acted on them, something unique always happens. It’s a little like this video that was doing the rounds a while ago. It’s pretty good at showing people make the most of serendipity –

Sure, maybe it’s not as authentic as Soul Pancake may want us to believe, but it makes for an energizing experience if you trust it. Which is maybe why the web doesn’t always cut it for serendipity, because we approach it with a certain level of skepticism and opinion. But if you’re quick to seize moments, or curious enough to follow that trail of links, then it will pay up for you. You see, serendipity requires you to take risks, and most places mitigate risks to the point of ‘disinfection’, thereby killing off the very lifeblood that adds spice and intrigue. I guess that’s why I like to put myself into interesting scenarios, for example meetups like The CPX or Social Melbourne, there are always opportunities for things to go slightly off the rails, if you let them. But you know, maybe these are just more examples of curated serendipity. Finding something unique in what was otherwise mundane or expected is no easy feat. Especially when you’re not even looking for it.

Testing the regime

So much of our education has relied on tests. Every single person on the face of the earth who went to school, or finished university, or even got their driver’s licence, has sat some form of test. This means sitting on your own with a test paper, answering various types of questions within a time limit. I would go so far to say that we cannot perceive anyone being good at anything unless they were tested on it.

Since reading this very interesting article two days ago by Professor Peter Nonacs on ‘Why I let my students cheat on their Game Theory exam‘ my thoughts on testing have been stirred again. What makes this experience with Nonacs’ students in Behavioural Ecology at UCLA so interesting was that it was time spent reflecting on the purpose and function of testing that led him to take a different approach. It was also probably the fact that the course he was teaching challenged and observed systems and patterns that had him thinking in this frame of mind. His revelation that “life is games” is profound. It is in our nature to respond to challenges and circumstances differently and diligently, depending on the established environment. Needless to say, his students were pretty perplexed. After all, how could we find out if people are good at anything if they don’t take tests?

Across the world education is being strangled by tests. Tests that provide huge amounts of data. The data-nerds are having a field day with all that information gleaned from tests. Politicians and governments are lapping up comparative results and and ranking data sets as if testing meant everything in setting education policy – it’s like the Cold War of Tests. Sure I love numbers and data too, especially if it’s presented in one of those funky infographic or visualization mediums, but we are so easily blinded to the simplicity of statistics (once they’ve been explained to us!). Governments have created curriculum systems that can almost only be measured by testing in standard and standardised ways, thereby crippling the emphasis on social, emerging and creative intelligences; the very things that education is most often held to account for.

So what would happen if you stopped testing children at single tables, on their own, repeatedly throughout the year? Well anarchy surely? My god, how would we ever know how a child can apply themselves if they aren’t forced to regurgitate an answer within a set time? How would we ever complete our reports? For all the talk of the wonders around formative assessment, testing is still the ‘summative’ cop-out for not having the rigour in place. Furthermore most of these  ‘official’ tests (for VCE, high-school, NAPLAN) are never seen by the teachers, let alone the students. Even then the results come so late, that passing or failing becomes ‘oh well’ or ‘oh yeah’. By contrast some of the most compelling strategies about effective testing means reducing the feedback loop to zero; there being no lag between answering and getting a response on your progress. Leading educator Alan November has often shared these approaches within a wider system of how schools need to reform. The problem is that assessment, ironically, is always the last thing to be considered in curricula reform; sometimes deliberately.

Tests are here to stay, let’s face it. The conception and execution of them on the other hand is up for rewiring though. Just like Nonacs’ lesson on Game Theory, the notion of how a test plays out can be flipped on its head slightly. It could start by letting students bring their textbooks or novels into an exam. It could shift to having students creatively collaborate on their tests; with the right kinds of questions. It might mean the test being highly practical, or being extended over a period of time to allow depth, much like a game. Or it could simply mean letting students bring every know laptop or device into a test, and let their ability to apply and navigate the device be one measure, while their digital literacy and strength of networks be another in ensuring their responses are unique and efficient. Which is the outcome Nonacs’ class was heading to, and an outcome that some innovative schools are tackling too. In these environments anarchy doesn’t reign at all; new skills and new forms of sharing emerge and new types of respect are formed.

Of course the maths and hard-core science groups would baulk. They’re the same ones who screamed and tried to block Wolfram Alpha when it appeared on the scene. Actually the real push of this regime of testing sweeping the globe is probably the result of the hard-core education traditionalists when they discovered the internet [sounds good, but no]. All these embedded systems  and curricula, trying to keep everyone honest by making sure only you, the test paper, and a pencil define the capacity of your brain. Maybe if I were an artist this would make sense; and I’d probably come up with a creative way to illustrate the test too.

As educators we have to be better at the process of testing and better designing tests. Thirteen years of school is a complete waste of time if all we’re doing is preparing kids for a couple of exams, so that some might get a chance to go to university. Ironically, it’s universities which are looking at testing with fresh eyes. Their systems of educational accountability are different. If there was a ‘NAPLAN for university’ you’d see otherwise.

I’m fearful where all this testing will lead and the fake systems of accountability they create. I’m fearful that teachers won’t have the courage or the energy to come up with alternatives. Many others have grappled with the challenges tests create at the very core of what an education means, and like others, traditional tests died the moment my phone could Google the answer.

A house of sticks

House of sticks

 

 

 

 

 

We are playing with the future all the time. We’re often told to invest carefully in it. We feel compelled, obliged, and sometimes pressured into doing far more to secure our future than we should. Take the current debate about the National Broadband Network infrastructure. There’s enormous pressure to invest in the best possible cable network for Australia, so that access to decent network speeds are on par with other developed and technological countries. For many in Australia it’s having at least any access full stop. It should be a no-brainer. Next take the debate about investing in education, much of it driven by findings and recommendations of the Gonski Review. Again there’s masses of pressure and energy around making sure all of the young citizens of Australia have a better, fairer, and richer education. Do you reckon it’s that hard to make a call on it? Stemming from these rather frustrated thoughts was the most selfish problem – trying to work out whether to renovate our existing home or knock it all down and rebuild.

At every level of our lives we are often making crucial decisions – ones that affect our future and the future of others. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to improve your living conditions or helping millions of people have better access to quality education. Complexity and limitations will blur, cloud, trick, and frustrate us at every stage. Which makes you less surprised to see people revel in taking risks. We marvel at people that can base jump off the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, shake our heads at stock brokers who earn and lose millions of dollars, and gape at entrepreneurs who make their projects soar.

I’ve often become really worked up when it comes to people taking risks. In particular within workplaces who desperately want ‘innovation’, but are so anxious and insular that ideas can’t flourish. Innovation is inseparable from risk. It’s doesn’t matter whether you’re a base jumper, a stock broker, or an entrepreneur. Or even if you’re a technician improving networks, a teacher working with students, and a home owner looking to build. If we really want to change and create a better future, then we’re going to have to start taking some risks, and quit the blocking, doubting, and apprehension of ideas, which often delays them long enough to lose their momentum.

We all know the story of the three little pigs. The houses of sticks, timber, and stone. The ferocity and unimaginable force with which the wolf could blow down ideas with (hot) air. We know why we’re told this story: don’t jeopardise the future by building the present on poor foundations because we didn’t want to invest the time. But how would the story have changed if the little pig who built his house of sticks, had been given a better education in constructing his house? Good experiences in understanding the materials that he was working with, and how building something pretty solid (and maybe even creative) with them was entirely possible. Sure, the wolf couldn’t blow down the house made of stone, but just because the home has more weight doesn’t mean it shouldn’t also have some faults.

Maybe we’re all trying to build houses made of stone, when we should consider making it out of sticks – and see how clever and quickly our ideas can take shape. There will be a lot of people who might shoot this approach down; and if you’re building a national broadband network or correcting the inequity in education, then the scale and consequences become even more risky. But when I think about all the decisions I’m grappling with around renovating or rebuilding my home, scale and consequences are just as prevalent. Which direction allows innovation to flourish? Now there’s a question.

The Green School fiasco

I’ve been attending a few events out of the ordinary over the past week: the first was the Social Melbourne 5 year birthday meetup at Ponyfish Island, the second was the TEDxMelbourne network event at The Deck, then there was the Green School evening at the Hilton (I’ll get to that one in a sec), and last night was the SYN Awards at the State Library of Victoria. That’s a pretty mixed bunch of networks, and they all certainly made for some interesting conversations and experiences. All except for the Green School evening…

See, I should have had the ‘spidey-sense’ tingling when I signed up for that one. I should have seen that it was really a marketing ploy in disguise; using education to sell into the wallets of optimistic parents and teachers. It was only when I arrived that I started to question why the Green School would use the Hilton to talk about their school. It just didn’t seem ‘green’. Sure, there was about 100 people there, with a sprinkling of educators, but it was when the pop music started blasting over the PA as we took our seats and the presenters took to the stage that I started to look for the exit. OK, so I stayed just to see where it was going… and I tweeted the proceedings.

“Ok, so there’s going to be some selling of their camps for kids at #greenschoolmelb – it all makes sense now.”

“It seems Green School calls its library a ‘book bank’ – not sure about that one. #greenschoolmelb

“A slideshow of the campus which doesn’t seem to feature kids in the photos. Bad move. #greenschoolmelb

But then something weird happened. The provocative presenter, Alan Wagstaff (Learning Manager, Green School Bali) started challenging the audience about the purpose of school. ‘The mission of schooling is to send kids to university.’ ‘School timetables look the same all over the world. They are a magnet for everything that’s school centric, not kid centric.’ Saying this along with what was clearly a Powerpoint designed with animations from 1999 may have not seemed like a good idea, and you could sense that it made a number of audience members uncomfortable; he openly targeted the teachers in the room, which is why I never raised my hand when he asked. In a bizarre way though, I found myself bonding with these perspectives, as they are the kind of disruptive system thinking that I often enjoy debating with others. It was in two further statements he made that I found the gems in what was otherwise a pretty desperate sales pitch to the room:  ‘Student centered programs are crippled by teacher fear and parent prejudice.’ and ‘If you want something to stick, teach it over ‘three days in three ways.’

As soon as he walked off stage, I picked up my phone like I was taking a call and marched out of the Hilton. For a school that was trying to communicate a love of its philosophy and of the way it teaches children, they failed. Points for the provocative statements though – not many people can take a stage, metaphorically kick the audience in the head, and make them grateful for it. Alan Wagstaff gave it a shot, but it didn’t quite come off with the audience. I often give provocative statements a shot too when I present to teachers and librarians; perhaps I need to alter my strategy.

In an interesting footnote, the Twitter chat on the way home about these comments generated some further stimulating points – some of which I was challenged to defend. I like that. It makes us accountable for our opinions. It makes attending that portion of the event worthwhile. It means I will write a post at some point expanding my thoughts on why schools should ditch their timetables, stop using exam and test results to wax about how good they are, and why schools should stop behaving like people expect schools to behave.