Bookmarked Timetable Absurdity by Cameron PatersonCameron Paterson (

In a century that is being defined by flexibility in time, we no longer need to be held hostage by sacred school timetables.

If we value deep learning and human connection, then this should be explicitly built into the school schedule.

Cameron Paterson reflects upon the way in which schools are still held hostage by the timetable.

While flexibility in time and space will define the workplace in this century, students get little experience deciding how to learn, where to learn, and when to learn, because schools account for every minute. Schooling is predicated on the perception that busyness is good. Treadmill schedules leave little time for deep learning, quietude, or human connections.

  • What does our allocation of time say about what we value in the teaching and learning process?
  • How can we provide time to enable young people to take more personal responsibility for their own learning, in line with the adolescent predisposition to begin taking charge of their lives?
  • If flexibility in time and space will define living and working this century, how can school best prepare young people for this?

He shares examples of schools that have more fluid arrangements that allow students to engage in deeper learning.

I am reminded of a piece from a few years ago from Michael Bond Clegg:

The good news about timetables? We’ve created them, so we can destroy them.

As I have said before, what intrigues me is how the technology helps and/or hinders any sort of change to timetables. I feel that the flip side of flexibility is accountability. For some the answer is things like RFID chips or AI driven facial recognition. I wonder what is done in some of the settings that are mentioned in this piece? I imagine that open spaces like those discussed by people like Steve Collis remove some of that stress. Like removing the weeping willows from cluttered waterways, I imagine that it is important that we place some other alternative in place for fear of erosion.

Bookmarked What Can Students Do? by Cameron PatersonCameron Paterson (

Teachers do too much of the learning and thinking for students. It does not have to be this way. When teachers work harder than students, young people become inculcated into coming to school to watch the adults work. If we want them to learn; if we want them to think, this is not something that can be outsourced. And if we want them to take responsibility for the culture and feel of the classroom and school, we need to invite them into the conversation, and even step away and let them take the lead. What do you complain about having to do that your students could do tomorrow?

Cameron Paterson reflects upon the question of what can students do in the classroom? He shares examples of where his students have co-constructed assessment criteria, self-assessed their work, written their own report comments and taught their own lessons. This reminds me of Bianca Hewes’ work with ‘meddles and missions’.

Personally, I have tried a few of these things when I was in the classroom, making the curriculum explicit and getting the students to work with me to design assessments. I even got my Year 8 Media Studies class to design their own excursion, including making inquiries with various places in preparation. In these situations I guess the focus of the teaching were the skills associated with how to learn.

The issue that I had was that I was only one part of the week for these students and that this was all vastly different to how other teachers and classes were operating. I guess the point then is how much can students do when we let them?

It is interesting thinking about all this outside of the classroom. In my role working with teachers and administration on some of the day-to-day technical trivialities, such as academic reporting and attendance. It is always so easy to just fix problems as they arise. However, I always endeavour to meet half-way, whether it be to provide a short summary or to actually walk through a problem. The challenges in these situations is the limits of time, I wonder if that too is sometimes the challenge in the classroom too.

Bookmarked A Culture of Thinking for Teachers (

It turns out that that we can’t teach people to think after all, but we can enculturate the dispositions which enable thinking. Educators who succeed in developing a culture of thinking value the process of learning over the product of learning; they seek deeper learning rather than just the acquisition of knowledge. Leadership of this pedagogical approach requires patience, and valuing, respecting, and trusting people. Leadership matters immensely and models that this is not “flavour of the month”, it is who we are, and it is what we are about. It requires an invitational approach. An invitation is extraordinarily powerful. Invite people into change instead of telling them what they need to change.

Cameron Paterson shares reflections from his Churchill Trust exploring the leadership of difficult pedagogical change in schools. Some of his findings include listening to those hesitant into clarity, persist beyond the first failure, be curious and make people feel seen and heard.

Discussing the place of visible thinking, Paterson talks about the importance of culture.

Learning happens when students connect with ideas, when they ask questions, and create meaning with our guidance and support. A culture of thinking sends a message to students that thinking is valued and infused in the fabric of the classroom

Classroom culture sends messages about what learning is and how it happens. Understanding this process and how teachers might more directly influence it, as well as having the language to talk about classroom culture, helps to demystifying teaching.

Personally, I wonder what a culture of thinking might look like outside of the classroom? I think I appreciate what this looks like within the classroom and understand how we might foster a culture of thinking and inquiry outside of the classroom, but what does a ‘culture of thinking’ look like when it comes to mandated and mundane professional development? As someone who supports schools with things like timetables and reporting, what does a culture of thinking look like there?

Liked New Metrics for Success | It’s About Learning (

Learning Creates is a new alliance bringing together a range of stakeholders to focus on personalized, passion-based learning as the key to modernizing education and preparing young people for successful futures. There is now an Australian hub for the Mastery Transcript Consortium, an expanding network of schools who are introducing a digital high school transcript for students to have their unique strengths, abilities, interests, and histories nurtured and recognized. Big Picture Learning Australia is transforming education by retiring the traditional ‘appointment learning’ where everyone learns the same things according to a fixed timetable inside the walls of a school.

Liked New Metrics for Success (Getting Smart)

Milligan’s New Metrics for Success project is a collaborative research partnership between The University of Melbourne and 40 ‘first-mover’ schools to create assessment tools, influence the development of policy and accelerate change. In this partnership, leading educators are working with academic experts to reimagine schooling in Australia. With the support of The University of Melbourne, innovative Australian school leaders have established a broad network of institutions that are influencing the wider educational system by sharing evidence of their transformative practices.

Bookmarked The Power of Engaging Families (

Too often, family involvement in schools is limited to baking for cake stalls and participating in fund-raising, Harvard Lecturer Karen Mapp says that it is important to move beyond the bake sale to more interaction around learning and developmental goals, and to provide tools for parents to support these goals.

Cameron Paterson discusses going beyond the information evenings, bake sales and parent involvement in his reflection on family engagement.

Family engagement in education is about parents and carers, schools, and communities working together to ensure that everyone plays a positive role in a child’s learning. Teachers need to find effective ways to honor the wealth of knowledge that families possess. A touchstone question for teachers to ask parents is, “What is something you would like me to know about your child?”

Paterson also shares links to a few resources, including Partners Education in A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family–School Partnerships and Learning Potentials website.

This is an interesting topic to consider in regards to COVID and the move to online learning. As Robert Schuetz touched on a few years ago:

Our infrastructure is in place, now it’s a matter of creating the expectations and dedicating the time necessary for teachers and parents to collaboratively advance student learning for all.

While Greg Miller describes this challenge as a battle for the ‘new normal’:

One of the ongoing challenges of designing a ‘new normal’ for preschool to post school has been to clarify how we work in partnership with parents to nurture faith filled curious children to become creative contributors and innovative problem solvers for a changing world.

I also wonder how this all plays out in regards to something like the Modern Learning Canvas? Clearly, it has a place in regards to ‘culture’ and ‘policy’. However, it makes me wonder about the consequences for the role of the educator and the pedagogical beliefs that may align with all of this.

Liked JusticexDesign (

A series of routines has been developed and I will be using these to teach rights and freedoms to my Year 9 history classes this semester:

Bookmarked Distance Learning During a Global Pandemic | It’s About Learning (

What will young people remember about their time in Covid19? It won’t be a laundry list of facts from school subjects. What will endure are the dispositions and habits of character that we are able to nurture, the foundations of intellectual character that a good education is based on – independence, resilience, self-regulation, problem-solving, and collaboration. The enculturation of these dispositions will define how successfully educators cope with Covid19.

Cameron Paterson suggests that what will matter over the next period of time are the learning dispositions: independence, resilience, self-regulation, problem-solving, and collaboration. This is similar to Yong Zhao’s call to focus on productive learners and responsible citizens.
Listened Every Student Podcast: Cameron Paterson | News from NSW Department of Education

we need to be very careful that we’re not outsourcing teacher expertise and decision making to global technological companies that might have their own agenda. But in terms of data, in terms of evidence teaching is very much an evidence-informed profession. I think we’ve run into lots of problems with people trying to argue in fact teaching there is a clear evidence base in terms of what people should be doing. It’s almost as though when a pilot walks into a plane and he or she has to follow a particular checklist to start their plane as if a teacher could do the same thing. As I’ve already indicated, I think it is far more complex than that.

Bookmarked Transforming Schools (It's About Learning)

Creating a culture of thinking is not a “quick fix” or something that can be simply installed. Creating a culture of thinking takes time, it is an ongoing process of small steps that needs constant attention.

Cameron Paterson reviews Ron Ritchhart’s Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools, discussing the impact of the book on his teaching and the culture within his classroom.
Replied to AltMBA Readings by Cameron Paterson (

I have enrolled in the AltMBA. This is an intensive, 4-week online workshop designed by Seth Godin for people who want to level up and lead. To prepare for the course I have been sent eight key texts. Key themes include: seeing the world as a world of opportunity, seeking discomfort, breaking rules, disrupting systems, finding new answers, and overcoming inertia. The following is my summary of these books.

Thank you Cameron for sharing this reading list. You might be interested in checking out the Modern Learning Canvas to appreciate how the Business Model Generation might be applicable to education.
Replied to AI and Human Freedom by Cameron Paterson (

Historian Yuval Noah Harari writes, “The algorithms are watching you right now.  They are watching where you go, what you buy, who you meet.  Soon they will monitor all your steps, all your breaths, all your heartbeats.  They are relying on Big Data and machine learning to get to know you bette…

This is useful provocation Cameron. In part it reminds me of James Bridle’s contribution to the rethinking of Human Rights for the 21st century. I think we are entering or in a challenging time when consuming (or prosuming) comes before being informed. Something I elaborated elsewhere. With AI do we know the consequence anymore and what does it mean to discuss this in the humanities not just the tech class?

Also on: Read Write Collect

Replied to The Importance of Teacher Voice by Cameron Paterson (Learning Shore)

An informed and engaged population starts with teachers. Protecting liberal democracy requires curriculum disobedience in the same manner that university professors protect their academic freedom, and upholding professional ethics, just as the medical profession adhere to the Hippocratic Oath. For too long educators have allowed others to set the agenda. The tacit knowledge of teachers is often devalued and teachers are voiceless in discussions about education policy. Education has yet to put in place a system that guarantees teacher’s a voice and makes it an accepted, integral part of the day-to-day operations of schools.

I enjoyed this post Cameron and look forward to Flipping the System. However, I am left wondering if great teachers make great schools? I actually worry that maybe great teachers are in fact bad teachers?

I found it interesting reading your post on collaboration alongside this one. I always thought that if you provided the opportunity for teachers to work together that collaboration would be there. However, my experience has been that there are some who are more interested in their own agency and self-interest. It is for this reason that I cringe at awards and individual recognition. Maybe I am wrong? Jealous of the success of others? However, I would like to think that my interest is in supporting the wider systems, whatever that may look like.

Replied to Flip the System Australia | It’s About Learning by Cameron Paterson (

My chapter for Flip the System Oz was co-authored with Keren Caple from the Innovation Unit. In it we advocate generating networks of teachers across schools to learn from each other, placing trust in the grassroots, and creative reimagining. I used the term “Strategic Corporal”, which is the notion that leadership in complex, rapidly evolving environments devolves lower and lower down the chain of command to more effectively incorporate the latest on the ground data into decision-making. Too much education reform remains top-down, imposed on schools without drawing on or supporting the development of capacities within the system. We need to shift the narrative and reform from the bottom up.

I look forward to reading the book and your chapter Cameron. Having been a part of a collective investigating reporting, there is real power in working together. My only wondering is the role of the central, top-down system, which often ironically maybe supports and facilitates such initiatives.

Syndicated at Read Write Collect
Liked Democracy and Education by Cameron Paterson (It’s About Learning)

Democracy requires active work. Every generation has to reclaim it. Educators have a critical function, at a moment when we live in filter bubbles and echo chambers, to create safe spaces and facilitate points of confrontation to break single identities. If we are serious about democracy, it is about how we teach. It is about living democracy in the classroom. It might be timely for teachers to consider whether they model authoritarian leaders, how they might support curricula disobedience and academic freedom, and what their professional code of ethics is.

Bookmarked Building a Coaching Culture | It’s About Learning by Cameron Paterson (

One of the key learnings from educational research over recent years is that it is simply not possible to measure the quality of teaching the way people want to. Measurement is a comfort blanket but most of the measurement is meaningless. Coaching is our way of promoting a culture of trust, instead of an audit and micromanagement culture.

In Cameron Paterson’s notes from a staff presentation he outlines the many benefits of coaching and how it differs from a managerial approach.

📓 Reggio Emilia

Cameron Paterson reflects upon a recent study tour to Reggio Emilia. Some of the points that stand out is that in Italy children are not labelled as having special needs, but rather special rights, tests are replaced with documentation and the focus is on collaboration and co-construction.

In some notes on the topic of empathy and belonging, Paterson discusses the way in which the focus is on celebrating the strengths, rather than focusing too much on deficits:

At a time of increased conformity and standardisation in education, I like to offer the Reggio Emilia approach as a different path of possibility. One of Reggio’s key aims is to look at what children can do, rather than what they can’t. In Reggio Emilia schools, children with disabilities receive first priority and full mainstreaming under Italian law. Instead of being labelled “children with special needs” they are labelled “children with special rights.” Every child is seen in terms of the resources and potential they bring, rather than what’s missing.

Bookmarked Establishing a Culture of Thinking (It's About Learning)

Some simple ways to begin practicing documentation include:

  • Sharing a short video clip of documentation at the start of class or a meeting by displaying a brief clip and then asking students their thoughts about it.
  • Taking a photo of an especially powerful learning moment to revisit with students by using the classroom walls to display the documentation.
  • Jotting down a provocative or insightful quote from a student to share with the class via speech bubbles on the walls.
  • Cameron Paterson provides a useful introduction to Ron Ritchhart’s Cultures of Thinking and the notion of documentation. Along with Silvia Tolisano and Diane Kashin, I have written about Project Zero and the routines of thinking before. I was also left thinking about the power of documentation during a recent session with Amy Burvall, where we critiqued our creative thinking. However, Cameron’s post also left me wondering about the place of thinking and documentation outside of the classroom?
    Liked Shadow a Student by Cameron Paterson (It’s About Learning)

    Shadowing is not about evaluating classes, teachers, or the student. Indeed, it is a good idea not to tell the teachers that you are coming to their class so they are not tempted to put on a show. The goal is to immerse yourself in the student’s experience, preferably commencing as soon as they arrive at school in the morning. Recording and documenting your observations and taking pictures and videos throughout the day to support your observations are a key part of the shadowing experience.

    Liked Educating for Civic Agency by Cameron Paterson (It’s About Learning)

    What might pedagogies for supporting civic agency look like? How do students investigate civic issues? What are the complexities of gathering information in a networked age? How do students learn to talk across differences, imagine new possibilities, and cultivate skills to develop a social change agenda?