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Roland Martin - Issue #23

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Model T 
 

Roland Martin

June 7 · Issue #23 · View online
Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

Model T 

Shape shifting
Thanks to Azeem for bringing this article to my attention this week … 
The myth of the well-rounded student? It’s better to be ‘T-shaped’. - The Washington Post
Couldn’t agree more: Instead of encouraging students to be “well-rounded,” we should be encouraging them to have both breadth and depth, and to have a flexible mindset to learn where their curiosity takes them. This will ensure that students have the ability to navigate the ambiguity of an economy where entire industries and occupations are expanding and contracting at alarming speed.
Those of us responsible for educating tomorrow’s workforce, movers and shakers, have been saying this for a little while now … we don’t know what jobs and how many jobs the young people in our care will have in their working lives. The traditional ‘career’ route is not the only one. 
With this in mind, I’ve been excited to see our 'Free Minds’ course start to take shape - I believe it will really encourage students to keep a 'flexible mindset’ and 'curiosity’. I think it will also free teachers to teach to some passions and think creatively, too…
Aiming high
I’ve been explaining our school aims to students recently… my whole assembly to juniors is available to read on our school website, or summarised below. [By means of an aside, please do try to get past and excuse the clunky website - we are on to it… parents, staff and students are currently being consulted about what they want to see more of and less of as we start to instruct new designers]. 
Anyway, here is the full text, as explained to our youngest students.
Freemen's Aims: The Assembly
And what a spin doctor might call some soundbites, with some interspersed links that may be of interest.
Our Mission:
We want children at Freemen’s to learn, to lead and to make a difference.
Some leaders are really obvious: they run companies or even countries. But there are other people who exercise really good leadership in a less obvious way. I know that some of you have been learning about Rosa Parks, who is one of the best examples of someone who was what is known as a ‘quiet leader’; she led by making a choice regarding the values in which she believed and ultimately, her actions changed an entire country. But she wasn’t a speechmaker, a politician or a business leader. 
Rosa Parks, as celebrated in Black History Month:
Celebrating Black History Month: Because of Rosa Parks....We Can! - YouTube
Or, a little more lighthearted, the Horrible Histories Rosa Parks song - just because it’s so witty - without film, but you can sing along if you have a mind so to do.
Horrible Histories Rosa Parks Equality song + Lyrics HD - YouTube
The Mission Statement, wanting you ‘to learn, lead and to make a difference’, is supported by a series of Aims. We hope to make the Mission Statement a reality by:
1. nurturing a community of learners – adults and children – who are ambitious about what they might achieve in and out of the classroom
You might notice that this aim talks about learning outside of the classroom as well as learning inside of the classroom…
[For what it’s worth, I would stake a claim that children learn more outside a classroom at school, than in one…]
2. providing relevant opportunities for pupils to expand their horizons academically, aesthetically, athletically, creatively, emotionally, socially and spiritually
[Don’t worry, I did break that down in the assembly!]
3. establishing an environment at Freemen’s where everyone involved in the community is respected, trusted and supported
I want the community at Freemen’s to be a tolerant community. We won’t always agree; we won’t always share the same preferences; we won’t always believe in the same things. But I want us to respect difference not mock it and to trust and support each other. 
4. encouraging responsibility and capability; honesty and reliability; pride and passion
Responsibility is a really key word for me. I want children at Freemen’s to be responsible in their decision-making and to become more capable about making good decisions.
I have always told students in my care that I want them to take pride in what they do and to be passionate in the way that they do it. I don’t mind what someone’s ‘thing’ is, I just want each and every young person to commit to it, be proud about it and do it as well as is possible. This was always my opening gambit with new boys and their parents in my boarding house, on the first day at their new school.
This young man certainly offers us some passion - as he says, we all have it within ourselves to be awesome.
A Pep Talk from Kid President to You - YouTube
5. promoting determination and innovation; flexibility and adaptability; kindness and consideration
And here we link back to the starting point … the desire for those T-shaped learners … 
because the world is becoming more and more interesting, innovation (which links with creativity) is really significant. So we want to give opportunities to share ideas and to build on them. My boss – The Town Clerk in The Guildhall - talks about being ‘a little bit radical’ and innovation is where the ‘little bit radical comes in in schools. 
Our children will need to be flexible and adaptable, to pick up opportunities to work around problems and find different paths. 
6. fostering in our pupils the curiosity, independence and wisdom to succeed in the next stages of their lives
Curiosity may have supposedly ‘killed the cat’ according to the proverb but in the context of learning, curiosity rarely did children any harm
We hope to develop independence – independence as learners and independence in terms of actions because independence will give experience and experience will give wisdom and wisdom will help when it comes to making good, responsible, reliable decisions.
We want to encourage thinking.
Roy van den Brink-Budgen is interesting on skills with regard to critical thinking … I was fortunate to hear him speak in the flesh at The Society of Heads’ London conference last Autumn and I am currently in discussion with him over some staff-training at Freemen’s. I leave you with his thoughts …
The skills of Critical Thinking - YouTube
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