MoM_header brand

I wasn’t going to do a personal post about Make Club as Stephen and Kim have already so beautifully captured much of the thinking behind the initiative. However Make Club has been a constant thought on my mind and this post is a personal reflection of those thoughts.

Make Club emerged form a series of conversations that revolved around empowering our kids and bringing the community together in ways that lead to meaningful learning for all. We wanted to create a space where children, parents, teachers & community members could learn with and from each other.

One of the things we do in education is work hard to make sure all children have opportunities to be great. But opportunity isn’t always enough. Our kids come to school with varying levels of cultural capital and this affects how well they can access learning opportunities. Kids that come from backgrounds where technology, making and tinkering is valued and who’s parents have some skills in those areas tend to be the ones that have more digital cultural capital. Teaching parents along side their kids can build a bank of cultural capital and help lessen the divide. Teachers can also build their confidence and skill level with technology and making.

For some, technology can be scary and it is easy for techy people to forget that for some the basics need scaffolding. We wanted to create a safe place for people to take risks and try new things whether it be learning their way around a computer to serious engineering challenges.

Another challenge in education is battling stereotypes. Girls tend to get labeled as good at reading and boys good at maths and computing. Research shows that these stereotypes lead boys and girls to believe they are good at some things and not others based on gender. These beliefs are formed early and it is our hope that having lots of female role models and cultivating a gender-neutral environment at Make Club will help negate these stereotypes.

As a board member and parent I love the idea of our students and community learning to use a diverse range of technologies and tools in authentic contexts. I think this better equips people with the skills they need in the real world and more importantly stimulates many different ways of thinking and approaches to solving problems.

Make Club is about cultivating curiosity and empowering people to control their world and their learning. Kids and adults alike get to play, create, experiment, break, make and share their work in ways that are meaningful to them and their world. I can’t wait to share the rest of this year with my kids and community learning in Make Club! M_spanner icon


One sunny Auckland afternoon, I sat talking with two of my favourite people, Sandra Russell and John Edwards. We chatted all things learning and got talking about child centered learning and agency. Sandra mentioned a poem she wrote with John: The Things We Steal From Children. I loved it so much I asked if I could share it on my blog – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did as I think it hits at the heart of agency and child centered learning.



Sandra Russell and John Edwards

 If I am always the one to think of where to go next.

If where we go is always the decision of the curriculum or my curiosity and not theirs.

If motivation is mine.

If I always decide on the topic to be studied, the title of the story, the problem to be worked on

If I am always the one who has reviewed their work and decided what they need.

How will they ever know how to begin?


If I am the one who is always monitoring progress.

If I set the pace of all working discussions.

If I always look ahead, foresee problems and endeavour to eliminate them.

If I never allow them to feel and use the energy from confusion and frustration.

If myself and others are allowed to break into their concentration.

How will they learn to continue their own work?


If all the marking and editing is done by me.

If the selection of which work is to be published or evaluated is made by me.

If what is valued and valuable is always decided by external sources or by me.

If there is no forum to discuss what delights them in their task, what is working, what is not working, what they plan to do about it.

If they have not learned a language of self-assessment.

How will they find ownership, direction and delight in what they do?


If I speak of individuals but present learning as if they are all the same.

If I am never seen to reflect and reflection time is never provided.

If we never develop a vocabulary to speak about our thinking

If I signify that there are always right and wrong answers.

If I never openly respect their thoughts.

If I never let them persevere with the difficult and complex.

If I discourage playfulness.

If there is no time to explore.

How will they get to know themselves as a thinker?


 If they never get to help anyone else.

If we force them to always work and play with children of the same age.

If I do not teach them the skills of working co-operatively.

If collaboration can be seen as cheating.

If all classroom activities are based in competitiveness.

If everything is seen to be for marks.

How will they learn to work with others?


For if they

have had all of their creative thoughts explained away.

are unaware what catches their interest and how then to have confidence in that interest.

have never followed something they are passionate about to a satisfying conclusion.

have not clarified the way they sabotage their own learning.

are afraid to seek help and do not know who or how to ask.

are paralysed by the need to know everything before writing or acting.

have never got bogged down.

have never failed.

have always played it safe.

How will they ever know who they are?

 (Russell and Edwards: 1996)


*please note the special CC that applies to this post and this post only.

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You can’t tell an introvert just by looking at them, but you can bet that they are the ones dying just a little bit inside when they have had far too much social interaction for the day.

Think Geek t-shirt

Think Geek t-shirt

It seems intuitive to say that some people are more outgoing than others. The terms thrown around are introverts and extroverts. But is extroversion and introversion a thing? Well yes. According to trait theorists it is one of the big five personality dimensions. McCrae and Costa (2008), proposed 5 personality dimensions: Openness. Contentiousness. Extroversion. Agreeableness and Neuroticism.

Characteristics of extroverts include being sociable, active, talkative, optimistic and person-orientated. In contrast introverts are reserved, unexuberant, aloof, task-orientated and quiet.

It has been suggested that extroverts are energised by social interaction and introverts become drained quickly in these environments. This seems right when we look at the research conducted by Geen (1984) and Fulker, Eysenck, & Zuckerman (1980), that suggest introverts experience more cortical arousal from their environment than extroverts. Situations that invoke high levels of stimuli would over arouse an introvert and so we would expect to see more inhibited behaviors from them.

Of course introversion/extroversion is on a continuum and is not an either or. Many people sit somewhere in-between. But for those that sit on the extreme end of introversion the terrain of life can be challenging sometimes. Think about the life of an introverted kid. They try to learn in highly stimulating classrooms with 20 + other kids all day. Group work is valued and they are expected to participate (because society values collaboration, so kids must be able to work in groups). This is all day, every day. In work places there has been a move to open spaces to increase collaboration and productivity. Ironically these types of spaces are the antithesis of productive spaces for introverts. Too much environmental stimulation quashes thinking and productivity for introverts. We value and reward those who can tell mesmerizing stories in groups and lead in dynamic and charismatic ways. But how does society celebrate and value the quiet thoughts of our introverts? Given 1/3 -1/2 of society (according to Susan Cain) are introverts it is a question worth more thought.

How then might we create optimal thinking and learning spaces for our students and colleagues? I am taken back to a conversation with the lovely Danielle Myburgh who suggested blogs for students to express their thinking. This gives the kids the space and time to express thought at a pace that works for them (maybe at home when all the noise has gone from the school grounds).

I think acknowledging that some students need time to work on their own to get into their own state of flow and not being rigid with timetables. Not making students wrong for not loving group work and creating thinking nooks inside and outside of the classroom to let them recharge (same for work spaces and conferences).

Just because students or adults don’t speak up in group discussions or staff meetings doesn’t mean they don’t have anything meaningful to say. How do we make sure these voices are heard and more importantly valued?



Fulker, D. W., Eysenck., S. B. G., & Zuckerman, M. (1980). A Genetic and Environmental Analysis of Sensation. Seeking Journal of research in personality, 14 (2), 14, 261-281

Geen, R. G. (1984). Preferred Stimulation Levels in Introverts and Extraverts: Effects on Arousal and Performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46 (6), 1303-1312.

McCrae, R.R., & Costa, P.T, P.T., Jr., (2008). The five factor theory of personality. In O.P. John, R.W Robins, & L.A Pervin (Eds). Handbook of personality: Theory and research. New York: Gilford.





For those of you who are hearing Governance as inquiry for the first time, you can read what it is all about here.

For those of you who have heard me talk about Governance as inquiry you will know it has been a while since I have written any updates on where we are at. This is due to a healthy dose of reality that reminds me of the importance of alignment and shared understanding when implementing change.

Everything was moving along nicely after our staff and board got together to co-construct the model and frame the first inquiry. However things were about to change. At a meeting shortly after there was confusion, apathy and resistance all in one room. Where did all of that come from? I think this is a normal part of change, when the talking moves to action it can get hard for people. A natural reaction to this can be to jump into advocating your position or coercing people into going along – but this never ends well. So, much reflection was needed and new way forward to be generated. It turns out to go forward we needed to go back. We needed to slow down and truly get a shared understanding of exactly what Governance as inquiry was and what it meant to all of us. We all come from different backgrounds varying from a very good grasp of inquiry to knowing next to nothing.

I put a few slides together for a board meeting to describe and discuss the differences between learning as inquiry, teaching as inquiry and Governance as inquiry. Slowly we started to get our head around the what and why.

The main difficulty lay in the two objectives we were trying to achieve. One was to create a new way of reviewing curriculum areas so they were deep and resulted in lasting change and the other was for us as a board to inquire into our own practices. We needed to be clear that these were two different things (because a review can include how the board is performing in an area, but this is not the same as the board inquiring into its own policy and practice).

Can the model service both objectives? We are in the process of answering that now. We have iterated the model and the numeracy inquiry is underway. We have a small group of people who meet to gather feedback on how the model is performing. It is apparent that one of the biggest challenges to implementing change is the value that is assigned (perceived or otherwise) to that change. What mental models do you have around inquiry? Is it an add on perceived as extra work or is it viewed as a challenge that extends thinking and improves your practice?

Taupaki School Governance Inquiry Model

Taupaki School Governance Inquiry Model









Our next steps include making the Governance Inquiry model dynamic so it is easily shared and modified. As the board moves through its first inquiry we need to be mindful not to rush through each phase and default back to tick boxes.

Whilst it can be frustrating when progress is slow, it is far more important to keep the big picture of authentic deep learning and sustainable change in mind. Sometimes we have to go back in order to go forward together.