Product reviews for Educating Ruby

Leslie Single, QASSP Management Committee Member, reviewer for The Queensland Principal, Volume 43 No.2, June 2016
Professor Guy Claxton is an internationally renowned cognitive scientist. Professor Bill Lucas is Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester. With Guy Claxton he created the Expansive Education Network for schools wishing to expand the goals of education to include much that is central to Educating Ruby.

Schools for everyone are a 19th century invention. They trained young people for the workforce, developed factual knowledge and encouraged compliance, passivity and discipline. They did not have any connection to the world outside of school. But the world is different now. Most children are not born into stable communities; instead the globalised, digital world is at their fingertips.

The main premise of Educating Ruby is that the academic development of children is not enough and that instead schools should be focused on developing character and the skills that employers will want to see in the wider world. Much of what teaching has become is about how we successfully get students through exam systems rather than our responsibility to develop them as a whole.

The book devotes some time to explaining and unpacking the differences between -˜education' and -˜schooling'. Education is a vision of what it is our children will need if they are going to flourish in the world as we predict it will be. What knowledge and skills, attitudes and values will stand them in good stead as they embark on a life in a globalised and digitised future? This requires that those in control today are able to predict what this future might be.

School, on the other hand, is a particular system that societies have invented for -˜doing education'. Education is the end, and school is the means. Claxton goes on to say that in order to judge the quality or effectiveness of -˜school' we need to determine if school has prepared the students effectively for something else beyond school.

Claxton and Lucas believe that getting an education is far more than grades. -˜It is character traits that determine how well you do in life,' Professor Claxton said. -˜Grades give you the key to get through some gateways. But how well you function once you've got through that gateway depends much more on your grit, confidence and collaboration.'

Claxton and Lucas state that learning should be built on the pillars of the seven -˜Cs' of building learning power: Confidence, Curiosity, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Commitment, Craftsmanship. 

These are the capabilities that will assist children to do something better outside of school or after their schooling is finished. This world outside school is globalised and digitised. If students from difficult backgrounds are going to succeed in -˜life after school' it is important that they gain these qualities because their home life may not provide them.

Claxton, through the eyes of fictitious Ruby and her friend Nadenza, compares the seven character traits from building learning power that Ruby has with the seven -˜Ds' of a traditional (and commonly thought of as a failing) school approach that Nadenza learned. She became:

-¢ Defeated not Confident

-¢ Disengaged not Curious

-¢ Distanced not Collaborative

-¢ Dumb not Communicative

-¢ Deadbeat not Creative

-¢ Drifter not Committed

-¢ Dogsbody not Craftsmanship.

Throughout the book Claxton and Lucas make many varying references to the purpose of schooling and how it is imperative that it changes so that it is relevant to the needs of the world outside school.

Educating Ruby will provoke a range of opinions from readers; more importantly it gives examples of how parents can assist their children to gain the seven -˜Cs'. The book also provides many examples of how to progress this change.

Educating Ruby speaks from the heart. It challenges teachers and school leaders to think deeply about what is taught and why. Instead of government ministers being focused on rearranging the window dressing of education they should reconsider what the shop actually sells.

-˜Politicians love rearranging the furniture,' Professor Claxton writes. -˜They invent new types of schools. They change exams. But what needs to be done is to change the nature of how people teach, and that takes longer.'
Guest | 14/06/2016 01:00
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