Inspiring a Culture of Learning

What podcast speaks to the importance of a “culture of learning” in schools?

Allison Tucker asked me this question earlier this week. I love podcasts. I listen while running, driving, walking, doing dishes… I immediately thought of the awesome conversation between Alfie Kohn and Gary Stager. If you haven’t heard it, take the time.

But I also love the work of Pam Moran. As a retired superintendent, she has many years of experience doing the actual work of leading change. She has spoken on many great podcasts, including the EdCan Network sponsored episode Designing schools that work for kids – a conversation with Pam Moran on Edline Canada (VoicEd Radio).

The one I think best reminds us about creating a learning culture in schools is Pam’s conversation with Tom Vander Ark on the Getting Smart Podcast, Episode 236. The podcast has a long name: Listening to Kids and Designing From Scratch for Timeless Learning. It’s powerful though.

  1. Listening to kids: Do your students REALLY have a voice? Pam goes back to the idea of “kidwatching” (something I first learned about during our Ontario Renewed Math Strategy work with Cathy Fosnot). People in schools have to know that they have a voice, and that their voices matter.

What I hear in this section of the podcast, is Pam describing “efficacy”, which we know is essential for positive change.

Taken from the podcast notes.

When children are happy in school, when they are curious and interested and empowered in their learning, they are thriving in school.

The list below is a great quick reference guide to the podcast. Pam talks about kidwatching around 15:10.

Learning should be “more child-centred than teacher-centred” and kids must have agency over their learning if we truly believe our work is about ensuring they have the tools to be successful in a rapidly changing world. Kids have to love to learn, and know how to learn, because learning is what they will do for the rest of their lives.

Schools need to move from content-driven, adult-determined teaching, to context-driven, child-determined learning.

Pam Moran, Timeless Learning, 2018

“Equity begins when children believe that learning makes a difference in their lives, and that they can make a difference in their own lives as learners.” Dr. Pam Moran, Edline Canada 2019, in conversation.

2. Designing from Scratch: If you had the chance to start again, what kind of “school” would you design? Tinkering around the edges isn’t getting us to where we need to go quickly enough. It requires rethinking the meaning of “success” in the 2021 context, and recognizing that the idea of success will continue to change. Details of her thinking are provided below.

From the podcast notes.

I highly recommend this podcast for those looking for ways to shift the conversation about learning in schools.

Consider the podcasts you have listened to recently. Is there one you would recommend to remind us of the importance of a culture of learning in schools?


Podcast notes for Listening to Kids and Designing from Scratch

Seven Pathways for Lifelong Learning

Timeless Learning (book)

Designing Schools for Learning (Pam Moran with Donna Fry and Stephen Hurley)

Find a Way to Yes: Nine Leadership Lessons (Dr. Pam Moran)

Featured image by Donna Miller Fry, July 2020

For 2021, my #oneword is LEARN. I have committed to learning and making my learning visible to others. What word is your focus for 2021? Share your word with the #onewordedcan hashtag, or post it below to be included in our focus group for 2021.

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