Dr. Ian Cunningham – How to Hand Control of Everything to Students! – PP170

Dr. Ian Cunningham
Dr. Ian Cunningham

Paul interviewed Dr. Ian Cunningham from The Self Managed College in Brighton this week. He has some amazing things to share about handing control of everything over to students. There’s also lots of education news and Pivotal news!

The Self Managed College works with children from a variety of contexts and allows them total control of their own learning. Paul asks if the chopping and changing of what children decide to do cases problems. Ian says that they do indeed change and they re-write their learning agreement every term but actually it’s all part of learning how to learn and what to focus on.

Is self-managed learning more appropriate for the academically able?

Ian believes it’s much broader than that. The team have worked with excluded children and those who are seen as not motivated.

“As long as people can verbalise things we can work with them.”

What can a mainstream class teacher learn from a situation where children are allowed to self-manage?

The Self Managed College has a much lower ratio of staff to students but a lot of the techniques used are applicable everywhere, like the systems of perr feedback after behaviour incidents.

They spend a lot of time trying activities out and finding what the students are going to be motivated by. When a group of boys found they didn’t want to be professional footballers after a trial, they decided they were interested in building trades. So they discovered that they needed literacy, numeracy and science qualifications to work, for example, in a garage – and that’s what they worked towards.

So Ian points out that starting with long-term targets actually works with these children – short term targets mean nothing to them -they need to see the big picture at the start.

So we can help young people to understand the value of learning in any school setting.

Another example is be able to write a CV – in correct English – otherwise you won’t be able to get a job – and for this you need to pass some English exams.

Traffic Light System

Listen out in the episode for what Paul calls, ‘The best use of the traffic light metaphor I’ve seen.’


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