Be The Knight

Inexperienced players have a fear of this piece, which seems to them enigmatic, mysterious, and astonishing in its power. We must admit that it has remarkable characteristics which compel respect and occasionally surprise the most wary players. – Eugene Znosko-Borowski


The knight on a chess board provides a useful analogy for the divergent set of skills required to thrive in the twenty-first century.

The knight is unique. It is the most nimble piece there is. It alone can bound over others and it moves in unusual and interesting ways. Properly placed, it can defend and attack multiple other pieces at once. It is an essential (and hugely under-valued) component of any properly executed strategy. Even the queen, who relies so much on brute force, is incapable of doing what the knight can do.

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6 Calming Mantras for Teaching With Tech

These are the mantras I would like every person I help to integrate technology into their teaching to chant quietly to themselves from their sternums when they begin to feel overwhelmed or despondent or negative. Chanting these mantras will realign your pedagogic chakras and make things a whole lot more manageable.


1. The Personalization Chakra:

Repeat in a flat monotone, speaking from deep inside yourself:

Find something that works for me… Find something that works for me…

2. The Zen of Small Things:

Chant this:

Start with one small thing… Start with one small thing…

3. The Tree Buddha Chant:

Intone this peacefully:

Paper LESS before paperless. (Repeat serenely until calm)

4. The Engagement Intonation:

Tech in schools is about student-driven learning.

(Meditate on this koan until you are at one with the chaos.)

5. The Van Gogh Protocol:

It's about creation, not consumption. (It's what tech is for.)

6. The Newness Canto:

Embrace positive change.






Actually there are quite a few more I should have added. Among them:

'Good tech without good teaching isn't good.' and

'There will be problems… patience.'

Any you'd like to add?


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No, Maths & Science ARE NOT More Important Than The Arts! (Link)

I don't think I have ever written a title with both shouting caps and an exclamation mark. I feel strongly about this one!

Please following the link below to read Zen Pencils's latest cartoon featuring Sir Ken Robinson on 'whole body education'. As a teacher, it is the most important thing you will do this year.

Zen Pencils illustrates an inspirational quote by Sir Ken Robinson

The first five frames to whet your appetite…

While you're over at Zen Pencils, why not brew a fresh cup of coffee and read through his other stuff? The guy really is good!



(Don't forget to look up Gavin Aung Than on Twitter at Zen Pencils … I am @SeanHCole)


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Fact: Science is True For You Too

It's funny how often people's response to a new piece of research is “well I don't believe that”, or “that's not true for me”.

Sometimes this response is justifiable – particularly if the methodology is suspect. Bad science needs to be questioned. (Like when educational researchers use memorization as a benchmark for learning in studies of which pedagogical approaches work best.) But most often what these responses mean, no matter how well argued, is that people simply don't want the results to be true.

The wonderful thing about science done right is that the results are real. Whether you believe them to be true or not is of no consequence.


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My Dad’s Rotary Drill: Why Teaching Critical Thinking in Traditional Schools is Pointless

You know when you were younger and you bought your dad a present for Father's Day that you knew was cool and useful and would change his life forever? Like, say, a small high-speed rotary drill with multiple burrs? There's so much he could do with something like that, you thought. He could do eggshell engravings, carve chess pieces, make jigsaw puzzles and create toys and jewelry. And then he used it for a bit – probably just to make you happy – before popping it in the bottom kitchen draw and only using it to do silly things like screw in screws and drill holes – stuff the lazy bum always did before anyway.

I feel the same way when traditional schools talk about introducing critical thinking. I strongly doubt that they will be teaching kids to think for themselves. They will not use it in exciting new ways. It will not change what happens at these schools on any deep level. And, if it is used, it will be a corrupted, watered down version of itself, used only to reinforce the status quo rather than to challenge it.

Such a sad thing that.


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Really Cool Animated GIFS To Expand Your Mind

Internet traffic:


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55 Animated GIFS For When Words Just Aren’t Enough…

Do you ever shut up?


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How Your Brain Messes With You (My Favorite Optical Illusions)


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There’s No Tomorrow (Excerpts from the Movie)

“There's No Tomorrow” (Excerpts From the Hard-Hitting Animated Documentary.)


Catch the movie here:


It took nature about 5 million years to create the fossil fuels that the world consumes in 1 year. The modern way of life is dependent on this fossilized sunlight, although a surprising number of people take it for granted.

Once an oil well starts producing oil, it's only a matter of time before it enters a decline. Typically it takes 40 years after the peak of discovery for a country to reach its peak of production, after which it enters a permanent fall.

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Home (Excerpted Quotes from the Movie by Yann Arthus-Bertrand)

HOME by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (EXCERPTS)

Catch the movie here:

Today, life, our life, is just a link in a chain of innumerable living beings that have succeeded one another on Earth over nearly four billion years. Our Earth relies on a balance in which every being has a role to play and exist only through the existence of other beings.

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Whispers and Whoops: How to Get as Smart as a Brick


Who doesn’t love Brick Heck? He’s so cute and quirky (Softly whisper the word QUIRKY into your chest – because it comforts you.)

In case you don’t know, Brick is the youngest son of Mike and Frankie Heck – a middle class family in middle America in the TV series called the Middle. The role of Brick is played by Atticus Shaffer. (ATTICUS.)

Brick is smart. Very smart. Here’s what this lovable TV character can teach us about how to get as smart as he is:

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How to Learn Better (30 Brain-Friendly Tips & Techniques)

Try these neurologically nifty techniques to improve your learning…

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The Education Revolution vs The Scourge of Standardized Assessment: What Really Matters


Teachers: Let’s be brutally honest shall we: exam results are all that matters in education. Bottom line.


Don’t misunderstand: What students can regurgitate and explain and do in a stress-fueled few hours should not be the ultimate end of their education. Schools should be hubs of self-discovery and confidence building where students learn to think and express themselves independently and where the focus is on curiosity, discovery, critical thinking, creativity and all those other yummy twenty-first century skills. But they aren’t, by and large. Even schools which profess to have these wonderful education principles at their core still subject their students to standardized examinations at the end of the academic year.

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ClassCraft FTW! (Why ClassCraft is the Best Thing to Happen to Education Since the iPad.)

ClassCraft is simply awesome!
I've been using it now for a few months and I have been amazed at how it increases engagement in my class.
Developed by high school Physics teacher Shawn Young, and successfully crowd-funded, ClassCraft is revolutionizing classrooms around the world by gamifying the learning experience.
(Not familiar with gamification in the classroom? Check out this post for an introduction.)
Specifically, this is what I LURV about ClassCraft:
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Woot! Let’s Play! (Leveling-Up Education Though Gamification) #gamification

Let’s play a game…

(Note: Please see my next post on ClassCraft for the best tool there is to gamify your classroom!)

Here is your character: Continue reading

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The Saddest Thing About Being a Teacher.

The saddest thing about being a teacher is seeing the amount of wasted potential leaving our school gates every year.

How dispiriting it is to see what standardized testing and what some (often well-intentioned) teachers can do to a young person's confidence and sense of self-worth. (What makes it worse is how often I am part of the problem myself.)

I despair at the amount of young people who finish school without a sense of purpose and belief that they can change the world in their own special way.

Foolish optimist that I am, though: I live for the day when schools will realise that their job is not to create businessmen and doctors, or even good test-takers, but to help every child to find the desire and the confidence to make their own special mark on the world.

And to be happy.

All the rest follows.



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Collaborative Writing Experiment: Call for Contributions

Dear Reader

I want us to write a story. It will be a story about a school. Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Perhaps a little ironic. Maybe even a touch zany.

What would happen?

I want you to help to write this story, one line at a time.

Here’s how it will work:

  1. Compose a line to go into the story.
  2. Add it as a comment below this blog or tweet it and add my Twitter name @SeanHCole.
  3. Share this project with your friends and on social media.
  4. If I get enough responses, I’ll weave them all together into a story. I’ll edit where I need to so please don’t be afraid of the rough edges.
  5. I’ll try to develop the central characters and story lines out of common threads.

Feel free to contribute as many lines as you like. I’ll need about 4000 of them.

Think about it as a crowd-sourced creative project. Instead of money, though, you contribute your ideas.

Let’s see how this goes.


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Peeling Potatoes: The Peculiar Challenge of Teaching Teachers



A One-Armed Man in a Juggling Contest

I used to think that teaching kids under the age of ten was the most difficult thing a teacher could do. It isn't. Or else that it was teaching chimps sign language. It isn't that either. Teaching adults is more challenging by far. And teaching other teachers is the most difficult thing any trainer can possibly do. Mainly, this is because teaching some teachers is like teaching the most disruptive / most demanding children – except that you'll find that you can help these kids… if you really work at it. Too often, teaching teachers feels like being a one-armed man in a juggling contest: you can be as entertaining as you like but it usually feels like you haven't actually achieved anything – simply because of the limits of what you've got to work with.

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Imagine a world with no more exams

Sean Hampton-Cole:

Less testing, more teaching. An idea whose time has come.

Originally posted on Buzzing Blue Room:

Take a moment, imagine it.


Six weeks a year we spend writing exams. A week before each of the two the examination periods is given over to exam preparation. And before those dreaded weeks I am constantly aware of how much I have to leave behind, unexplored, because of the dreaded syllabus that needs to be completed before my kids have to sit down and prove, again, what they have already shown me in class.

Even I (and I am no Maths boff) can work out that eight weeks will give me an extra forty days of teaching time.

What would I do with an extra eight weeks of teaching time? I probably would not even add anything new to my syllabus. But I can teach in greater depth, have time for discussions and side-ways exploration. We might even go off-topic and come full circle back on-topic.

Okay, truthfully, I…

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30(ish) of the Best iPad Apps for Education (2014 Edition)



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