Shut Up & Think!

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I joined Twitter over three years ago. One of the first educators I followed was @cpaterso – or Cameron Paterson, as I’m assuming it says on his think

His then-bio appealed to me. It was something along the lines of hating grades and – I think in the metaphorical rather than literal sense – wanting to “blow up school.”

Since then I’ve enjoyed his thoughts on education, and had the pleasure of working with him and some of the staff at his school.

So I was very interested to hear of an article he’d had published in the ACEL Journal. It centres around some learning experiences he had whilst studying at Harvard.

It’s a great read for two reasons.

1. It tackles the issue of Cam’s dislike for grading in a system reliant on it.

2. It proposes a consultancy protocol for problem solving as a group.

I encourage you to read the article for yourself, but I wanted to share the consultancy protocol. (See the illustration below)

When faced with a problem, how often do our attempts to solve it turn into a “talk fest?” Everyone has their two cents to throw in, each with their slightly different agenda.

It’s quite clear in these circumstances that our ability to talk far outweighs our ability to listen, and if we’re not listening properly, our thinking will not be as clear as it should be.

Perhaps this is because whilst we’re taught how to read, write and talk – other than an ad-hoc session on active listening – we are never really taught how to listen.

In fact many people mistake listening with just waiting to speak.

Listen or thy tongue will keep thee deaf… – Native American Proverb

The Consultancy Protocol ensures that people have an opportunity to think about what they have heard before responding with further questions to clarify their understanding.

Or as one of Cameron’s colleagues at Harvard – the most experienced educator among them – said,

It gave me a chance to shut up and think a little bit!

I like it. And whilst I haven’t been able to use it myself yet, I can certainly see the potential for its use in the work I do with schools, and will be incorporating it into workshops later this year.

The protocol is illustrated below.

Consultancy Protocol

0 Comments on “Shut Up & Think!

    • Thanks Peter! It’s a great resource, and I really appreciate you sharing it!
      Hope all is well with you back in Blighty!

  1. Thanks for this Dan. The ACEL article was a chopped version of a longer paper. I was impressed that they published it, because it doesn’t fit their usual style. I now use protocols and thinking routines throughout my professional learning sessions with staff and in my own teaching. The link provided in the previous comment directs you to an excellent resource bank. My other two faves are the Tuning protocol and the Collaborative Assessment Conference protocol.

    I decided to temper my Twitter bio as it becomes a bit problematic if I’m saying I want to blow up schools when I’m in a leadership role in a school. Suffice to say that I’m more interested in learning than schooling.

    I very much enjoy following your thinking online and on the odd occasion we manage to met f2f somewhere. Please keep up the great work and keep pushing us.


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