Tag Archives: Videos

“Learning Neighbourhoods” in Brazil (WISE session on Education and Community)

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Visit a session on ‘Education and Communiy’- Fostering local developmentat the last WISE conference in Doha in Nov 2012. There were representatives from Haiti, Qatar, Canada and Brazil.

I found it particularly interesting to listen to the experiences of the Brazilian participant, Ms. Natacha Costa, a psychologist and executive director of Apprendiz. She started working in a small community in 1997 in Vila Madalena in Sao Paulo and helped to develop an idea that led to the creation of a school model they call “Learning Neighborhoods”  (Bairro Escolas).

Their idea of  ‘connecting schools with the communities’  has spread now to some 32 000 (!) schools all over Brazil. It has become a powerful idea, radically transforming some of the old notions about learning and the role of schools.

Rod from British Columbia also said, there should be more ‘white space’ where teachers and students identify the needs of the community; also interesting for policy makers and implementation theorists, he spoke about the  ‘social license’, saying …instead of  ‘implementation models’, we ar talking about ‘affiliation models’: how to get people to affiliate to those larger ideas which transcend politics…THAT becomes a social license.”  This is to avoid getting ‘more of the same’…

But, here are some of Natacha’s  comments (It gets interesting after 29:00 minutes):

(29:00 min) “…communities can only be engaged with something that is meaningful for them…( takes cue from the ‘African saying’ “it takes a village to raise a child”.

…We do not need more of the same…”schools do not have the monopoly of knowledge any more…they are more facilitators of development process…they have to be connected to the issues that are meaningful to the communities that they are based on…systematize what the people are discussing and what children are interested about…that’s the new role of schools…we have to learn how to build knowledge, how to learn and not just get information…32 000 schools have embarked upon creating neighbourhood school …each community with a different ideas and different ways of doing it … there is no prescription…only guidelines, themes & project that make sense to them … they have to be developed by themselves …”

(36.40 min) Then she makes a pretty powerful statement: Education is not about preparation for life…we usually work with that …most countries work with that…preparing kids for life… we hear that all the time in Brazil … what we notice in the community based approach is that, they are already living … they are alive…they have ideas, they have a background, they have social networks, they have interests, they have knowledge … kids have knowledge, they are competent, they can do thing … Working with the idea of preparing for life is like working with them like they were rats in a lab.”

She then speaks about how teachers become a part of the learning process: “…Sometimes what happens in Brazil is that teachers often have no idea about the lives of the kids, what is going on in the community, so they cannot connect to those kids … (…”There is a programme in Brazil where the teachers go to the kids’ homes, and many, many, many of them come back and say ‘I had no idea how they lived…I  often told them ‘you haven’t learned’…but then they see that they had no space to learn… for example because is there is a TV always running in the same room”…)… so by this idea of getting connected, by knowing them…knowing who are these kids, teachers become part of the learning process…”

(50:00 min) “Education is not like cookingyou cannot put the ingredients together…put it in the oven and it is finished…it is a complex issue… so we try understand and explain what we can get in 1 year… in 4 years…10 yrs … and to see it as a process. In our experimentation we try to organize that…what are the goals and what can we get in these periods, so people can see what is happening in a process that takes time, so that they can see things are advancing…it is very important to bring to the community some visual marks … communication is an important process … and it is politically very important as well … they did such visualizations in public space … so that they can see what’s going on, because this social capital process can be very silent … sometime u don’t see it happening … Once a visitor went to Apprendiz… and said “what is learning neighbourhood? I thought there is something going on here?!”

“There are relationships here … you cannot see the network” … “…these are some of the strategies we have been developing.” (transcribed from the online video by the author, slight language changes were made):


This video


Biography of Natascha Costa:


UN-Habitat Best Practices Database:


An introduction to Aprendiz: Bairro Escola – with basic ideas and some slides to



Finland is hyped for having the best school system in the world. In 2010, Tony Wagner, of Harvard, was invited by the Finland National Board of Education to share his ideas about education. Bob Compton, best known for his film “Two Million Minutes”, sent a film crew with Tony and shadowed him as he visited schools, met teachers, parents, and students….the film is at last online on Vimeo! Enjoy the great documentary !!

“The Finland Phenomenon: Inside The World’s Most Surprising School System”

If you want to read some more before you watch the film go to Daily Kos, there is a good summary written by “teacherken”.

Here’s an excerpt:

1.  Finland does not have high stakes tests
2.  Finland worked to develop a national consensus about its public schools
3.  Having made a commitment to its public schools, Finland has few private schools.
4.  When asked about accountability, Finns point out that they not only do not have tests, they do not have an inspectorate.  They find that trusting people leads to them being accountable for themselves.
5.  Finland does not have incredibly thick collections of national standards.  They have small collections of broadly defined standards, and allow local implementation.
6.  Qualifying to become a teacher is difficult.
7.  Teachers are well trained, well supported, and given time to reflect about what they are doing, including during the school day.
8.  Finns start school later in life than we do
9.  Finnish students do little homework.
10. There is meaningful technical education in Finnish Schools

John Biggs: “Constructive Alignment” (Theory + Video)

John Biggs has been hugely influential as an educational psychologist. His notion of ‚constructive alignment’ has become an pillar in pedagogic theory. Watch this award winning 20 min film about the core ideas of Briggs put forward in a classroom setting in rather a unique way.

“Teaching Teaching & Understanding Understanding”
Claus Brabrand and Jacob Andersen
19 minute award-winning short-film (DVD) about Constructive Alignment.
( http://www.daimi.au.dk/~brabrand/short-film/ )
Aarhus University Press, University of Aarhus, Denmark, 2006.

His theory in a nutshell:

Leaving behind the good student/bad student; good teacher/bad teacher model, Biggs presents a practical approach about about how all teachers can achieve an ‚intended learning outcome’. „In 1976, Swedish researchers Ference Marton and Roger Saljö demonstrated that students learn not what teachers think they should learn, but what students perceive the task to demand of them.“ (John Biggs Website). It implies knowledge is created less by teacher’s transmission but more by construction through learner’s activity. It’s not what the teacher does but what the learner does is of more importance when it comes to understanding the teaching/learning system.

About assessment it says that exams are only one sort of assessment, they don’t assess how well you can use the topic to inform their behaviour. In constructive alignment, the assessment task is how well can students apply given principles. The most important learning outcomes are: bringing about a) different behaviour and  about b) making informed decisions.

…And teaching is about weaving a constructive web of learning where students are activated to develop higher level cognitive processes – climbing through the 5 cognitive levels of the ‚SOLO Taxonomy’; it’s about shifting students from the mode of ‚surface learning’ to ‚deep learning’.

…more to follow at a later post. Here is his book: Teaching for Quality Learning at University” (Biggs, Tang 1999/2007. MacGraw Hill, NY)

..and he is a prolific writer of travelogues and novels!! http://www.johnbiggs.com.au/writer.html