What you won’t find in eduspired schools…

* National curriculum

* Compulsory subjects

* Professional teachers

* Homework

* Timetabled periods and breaks

* School uniform

* Assemblies

* Bells

* Form groups

* Year groups

* Ability groups

* Classes of 30+ students

* Dumb rules

* Punishment (including detention)

* Rewards (conformity bribes)

* Tests or examinations

* Targets

* Marks, scores or grades

* Report cards for parents

* People labels (ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, Gifted & Talented, SEN, etc.)

* CCTV cameras

* Prison-style corridors or barbed-wire fences

* Ofsted inspections

* Headteachers and Senior Management/Leadership Teams


Ideas for eduspired schools

* Buildings are constructed with sustainable materials and use renewable energy resources including wind and solar power

* School site is open and welcoming (no fences, no barriers and no CCTV cameras) and available for use by students and wider community, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including weekends

* All school amenities are designed to enhance the activities of the whole community

* Small learning environment (maximum of 100 students per building)

* Students follow a personalised learning plan, based on their unique needs and interests

* In-school and out-of-school learning activities are set up to complement and enhance each other, fostering learning throughout a child’s day

* School-based learning is blended with internships and apprenticeships that give students real world experience

* All students are offered opportunities for community service learning (e.g. cleaning up the neighbourhood, planting trees, meeting and befriending people in the community, fundraising activities, etc.)

* Focus of assessment is on self-evaluation. Assessment opportunities include projects, presentations, exhibitions and work portfolios

My vision for education in the 21st Century

* Local communities (including parents, businesses and voluntary organisations) share collective responsibility for education

* Children and adults are co-learners, with equal participation in a fully democratic learning environment

* A focus on life skills – critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, imagination, intuition, self-motivation, perseverance, teamwork and cooperation

* Children are immersed in activities involving movement, music, art, storytelling, fun and laughter from an early age

* Children are free to pursue their unique interests and passions, and to take risks

* Children are free to follow their own personalised and self-directed learning paths

* Children are free to learn at their own pace

* Children are encouraged to ask questions, to discover and create answers for themselves

* All activities – including self-directed play, observing others and informal conversation – are valued as opportunities for learning

* Differences between children are celebrated

* Children are taught that true happiness is found within

I believe that when children are given time and space to freely express themselves, in an environment in which they feel accepted, valued, supported and encouraged, they are naturally curious, imaginative and creative, and demonstrate an insatiable appetite for learning. I believe that learning is as natural as breathing; that, if a baby can teach itself to walk and talk (the two most complex learning processes that any human being undergoes), there is no reason to assume that a child’s learning process will not continue to unfold in a similarly natural manner without formal ‘teaching’ or coercion.

Famous names

Here is a list of famous people who spent no (or very little) time in formal school settings – there are of course many, many more! Most of them were educated at home…

* Clara Barton – pioneering teacher, nurse and humanitarian who organised the American Red Cross

* Irving Berlin – one of the most prolific American songwriters in history

* William Blake – English poet and painter

* Andrew Carnegie – Scottish born American industrialist, businessman and a major philanthropist

* Agatha Christie – English crime writer of novels and plays, described by the Guinness Book of Records as the best-selling writer of all time

* Noel Coward – English playwright

* Pierre Curie – French Nobel Prize-winning physicist

* Hilary Duff – American actress and singer-songwriter

* Thomas Edison – American inventor of the electric lightbulb

* Michael Faraday – English chemist and physicist

* Benjamin Franklin – one of the Founding Fathers of the USA

* Soichiro Honda – Japanese engineer, industrialist and founder of Honda Motor Co.

* Abraham Lincoln – sixteenth U.S. President

* Horace Mann – American education reformer

* Margaret Mead – American cultural anthropologist

* Felix Mendelssohn – German composer of Romantic period

* Blaise Pascal – French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher

* Beatrix Potter – English author of childen’s books

* Auguste Rodin – French artist and sculptor

* Theodore Roosevelt – twenty-sixth U.S. President

* Bertrand Russell – British philosopher and mathematician

* Maria Sharapova – Russian professional tennis player

* Leo Tolstoy – Russian writer, widely regarded as one of the greatest novelists of all time

* Leonardo da Vinci – an Italian polymath, widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived

* George Washington – first President of the USA

* Venus and Serena Williams – American professional tennis players and the most successful sisters in the history of the game

* Woodrow Wilson – twenty-eighth U.S. President

* Virginia Woolf – English novelist and essayist

Eduspired course and workshop titles

Some ideas for titles of courses and workshops in eduspired schools…

* Dreams & Aspirations

* Creating Your Reality

* Stillness & Silence

* Science & Spirituality

* Understanding Power

* Understanding Mind

* Understanding Emotions

* Loving Relationships

* Similarity & Diversity

* Valuing Others

* Peaceful Conflict Resolution

* Ethical Economics

* Real World Mathematics

* Responsible Money Management

* Effective Leadership

* Healthy Diet & Nutrition

* The Intuitive Mind


An all too ubiquitous example of our fear-based culture is the taboo on hugging children.

I recall an instance during my first year of teaching when a senior male colleague had been trying to console a 15-year-old female student in his tutor group. She had broken down in tears in front of him following a succession of unfortunate events that day that had culminated in her under-performing in a maths test. Having myself witnessed his best attempts to raise her spirits, with limited success, he walked over to me and said, “Poor thing, what she really needs is a good hug… but I can’t even even take the risk of offering her one.” My outward calmness belied an intense feeling of frustration inside of me; this well-meaning man had been forced to suppress a perfectly natural inclination – to offer a hug to a fellow human being in distress – because the society around him frowned upon such behaviour.

This is not to say that the girl would necessarily have appreciated a hug. I am not for one moment suggesting that my colleague should have attempted to hug the girl. The point here is that he had wanted to offer a hug but, due to her being an attractive 15-year-old, he could not “take the risk”.

In 2008 I was working at a middle school in a pastoral consultancy and life skills coaching role. The school was located in what might best be described as a socio-economically deprived area. Although I only worked in the school two days each week, every kid in the school knew who I was because I was also responsible for leading whole school assemblies. One morning I arrived and, as I walked through the hall, a little African-Carribean girl of about 10 years of age ran up to me, stretched out her arms and put them round my waist.

I was familiar with this particular child’s background; I knew that she was having problems fitting in at the school due to her weak English speaking skills. The hug completely took me by surprise and another teacher might have chosen not to reciprocate. However, I used my discernment and in that moment decided that this little girl saw me as a source of love. My decision to reciprocate by gently patting her on the back felt like the right thing to do. My intuition told me it was safe to do so. And I have learned to trust my intuition over the years; it has yet to fail me.

Society is more lenient towards female teachers in this regard. Nevertheless, I have spoken to several female teachers who have described instances of children approaching them for a hug and their feeling uncomfortable about reciprocating in any way – not because they felt there was anything inherently wrong with the idea of hugging the child, but for fear of what their colleagues might think.

I spoke to an NQT last year who told me how she had been taught, during her PGCE training, that the standard protocole for dealing with a child attempting to put his or her arms around her was to turn her body away from the child, to avoid eye contact and to keep her own arms firmly by her side. What kind of a world do we live in when we are forced to hide our humanness in such a way?

I can understand teachers being reluctant to engage in regular hugging sessions in the case of students craving attention. However, as with all such matters, a little common sense wouldn’t go amiss. The decision regarding whether or not to reciprocate is surely child- and context-dependent and should be left to the teacher’s discernment. The blanket rules against hugging found in some schools demonstrate a fundamental lack of trust and, in my opinion, have no place in a healthy community.

I am not a robot and have no desire to behave like one. For as long as I am human, experiencing feelings and emotions, I will continue offering and receiving hugs from both children and adults – be they male or female – whenever it feels appropriate and natural to do so. Hugging is a wonderful demonstration of what it means to be human! What’s more, hugs are scientifically proven to relieve pain, stress, tension, depression, and to promote happiness.

“Good practice”?

I will never forget the staff meeting I attended during my final year as a school teacher (2007) in which we were told by the deputy head teacher that it was “good practice” to use the language of attainment levels whenever a visitor was in the room. In response to a student’s verbal answer to a question posed by the teacher, we were supposed to say something along the lines of, “Well done, Michael, that was a Level 4 answer. In order to achieve a Level 5, you would need to have said…” I had never used such language in my classroom before and had no intention of doing so in the future.

Had I followed this “good practice” every time a visitor was in the room, the students would have seen straight through my charade. Children are not stupid; they are far more perceptive than most adults realise. I was being encouraged to behave incongruently and to do so would have undermined my integrity as a teacher.

I was furious at this outrageous advice and looked around the room to see who shared my frustration. My colleagues looked bored or indignant. I was seemingly the only person in the room to be experiencing such a powerful emotional response to the nonsense pouring out of the deputy head teacher’s mouth.

I approached a close colleague after the meeting to elicit his feelings on the matter and received the same little nougat of advice that I had received on countless previous occasions: “Just play the game, Dave.” Play the game? Why are we playing games with children’s lives? Another colleague told me she couldn’t care less what was said; she wasn’t a core subject teacher so it didn’t apply to her. She then added: “I’m retiring in two years time. You’ve got another thirty years of this to look forward to”.

This was just one of innumerable instances of system straitjacketing that I experienced as a school teacher.


I recently posted the following quote from Plato on my Facebook page: “No trace of slavery ought to mix with the studies of the freeborn man. No study, pursued under compulsion, remains rooted in the memory.” I followed this up with a question: if Plato was right, why does almost every school in the world force kids to follow a compulsory curriculum? An old school friend posted the following reply:

“Those who are not expected/capable to be fully responsible for their actions (children) cannot expect to be left to make all their own decisions!”

And therein lies our problem. We do not believe that children are fully capable of taking responsibility for their own choices, let alone their own learning or lives. We do not trust children. Why is this so? The answer is obvious (though the obvious is often not so obvious until it becomes obvious): we were taught, as children, that we could not be trusted. We were indoctrinated into a system that taught us we were nothing more than ignorant, insignificant and inferior beings.

And so we find the process of education and childraising locked into a self-perpetuating cycle of distrust. Our parents did not trust us, so we do not trust ourselves. Because we do no trust ourselves, we do not trust our children. Because we do not trust our children, our children do not trust themselves. Because our children do not trust themselves, they pass on this distrust to their children. And so the cycle continues.

So what is the answer? The answer is gloriously simple: we must begin trusting ourselves. In so doing, we will find ourselves better able to trust our children and thus bring the life-crippling cycle of distrust to an end. We can replace it instead with a healthy focus on mutually reinforced trust. I believe this is what T.S. Eliot was alluding to when he wrote the words, “Those who trust us educate us”.

To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved, which is why Trust is one of the three core values of the eduspire paradigm.

Education quotes

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” (John Dewey)

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” (Socrates)

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” (W. B. Yeats)

“Education is not received. It is achieved.” (Anonymous)

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” (Albert Einstein)

“Education is what remains when we have forgotten all that we have been taught.” (George Savile)

“Education is the way to change the world.” (Oprah Winfrey)

“Education is a state-controlled manufactory of echoes.” (Norman Douglas)

“Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance.” (Will Durant)

“Education: The inculcation of the incomprehensible into the ignorant by the incompetent.” (Josiah Stamp)

“Education: One of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.” (Bertrand A. Russell)

“Education: One of the few things a person is willing to pay for and not get.” (William Lowe Bryan)

“To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul… [P]utting in of something that is not there… is not what I call education, I call it intrusion.” (Muriel Spark)

“Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills, or abilities – that’s training or instruction – but is rather making visible what is hidden as a seed.”
(Thomas More)

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” (Malcolm Forbes)

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” (Carl Rogers)

“An educated man is one who can entertain a new idea, entertain another person and entertain himself.” (Sydney Wood)

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled” (Plutarch)

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” (Aristotle)

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity, or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” (Paulo Freire)

“The secret in education lies in respecting the student.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“The highest result of education is tolerance.” (Helen Keller)

“The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every chil should be given the wish to learn.” (John Lubbock)

“The principal goal of education… should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.” (Jean Piaget)

“No trace of slavery ought to mix with the studies of the freeborn man. No study, pursued under compulsion, remains rooted in the memory.” (Plato)

“The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth.” (Erasmus)

“My education was interrupted only by my schooling.” (Winston Churchill)

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” (Mark Twain)

“Those who trust us educate us.” (T.S. Eliot)

“Formal education earns you a living. Self-education earns you a lifetime” (Christopher Howard)

“An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.” (Unknown)

“What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.” (Henry David Thoreau)

“All education springs from some image of the future. If the image of the future held by a society is grossly inaccurate, its education system will betray its youth.” (Alvin Toffler)

“A good teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” (Thomas Carruthers)

“I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.” (Socrates)

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” (Galileo)

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” (Chinese proverb)

“Everyone who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching.” (Oscar Wilde)

“Public schools are the nurseries of all vice and immorality.” (Henry Fielding)

“The chief wonder of education is that it does not ruin everybody concerned in it, teachers and taught.” (Henry Brooks Adams)

“It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.” (Albert Einstein)

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” (Albert Einstein)

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.” (Oscar Wilde)

“Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.” (Henry Brooks Adams)

“There is, I think, no point in the philosophy of progressive education which is sounder than its emphasis upon the importance of the participation of the learner in the formation of the purposes which direct his activities in the learning process, just as there is no defect in traditional education greater than its failure to secure the active cooperation of the pupil in construction of the purposes involved in his studying.” (John Dewey)

“You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself – educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.” (Doris Lessing)

“If education and studies of children were suited to their inclinations and capacities, many would be made useful members of society that otherwise would make no figure in it.” (Samuel Richardson)

“Man is endogenous, and education is his unfolding. The aid we have from others is mechanical, compared with the discoveries of nature in us. What is thus learned is delightful in the doing, and the effect remains.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“I can prove at any time that my education tried to make another person out of me than the one I became. It is for the harm, therefore, that my educators could have done me in accordance with their intentions that I reproach them; I demand from their hands the person I now am, and since they cannot give him to me, I make of my reproach and laughter a drumbeat sounding in the world beyond.” (Franz Kafka)

“The prevailing school education system was created for a simpler and bygone age. No amount of money, reform, restructuring, tweaking or tinkering will ever ‘fix’ this system because it is not broken; it is obsolete. Wholesale transformation through the creation of an entirely different paradigm of education is the only way forward.” (David)

“Schools and schoolmasters, as we have them today, are not popular as places of education and teachers, but rather prisons and turnkeys in which children are kept to prevent them disturbing and chaperoning their parents.” (George Bernard Shaw)

“One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim of life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community.” (Albert Einstein)

“Since there is no single set of abilities running throughout human nature, there is no single curriculum which all should undergo. Rather, the schools should teach everything that anyone is interested in learning.” (John Dewey)

“Intelligence is the ability to learn, not a measure of how much one has learned.” (Daniel Greenberg)

“Learning from programmed information always hides reality behind a screen.” (Ivan Illich)

“Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.” (Perelman)

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” (Margaret Mead)

“Kids’ views are often just as valid as the teachers’. The best teachers are the ones who know that.” (Morley Saefer)

“Abundance of knowledge does not teach men to be wise.” (Heraclitus)

“We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious: let them manage themselves.” (John Taylor Gatto)

“What children need is not new and better curricula but access to more and more of the real world; plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them; and advice, road maps, guidebooks, to make it easier for them to get where they want to go (not where we think they ought to go), and to find out what they want to find out.” (John Holt)

“What makes people smart, curious, alert, observant, competent, confident, resourceful, persistent – in the broadest and best sense, intelligent – is not having access to more and more learning places, resources, and specialists, but being able in their lives to do a wide variety of interesting things that matter, things that challenge their ingenuity, skill, and judgement, and that make an obvious difference in their lives and the lives of people around them.” (John Holt)

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings.” (Hodding Carter)

“The most beautiful things in the creating of the child are his “mistakes”. The more a child’s work is full of these individual mistakes the more wonderful it is. And the more a teacher removes them from the child’s work the duller, more desolate and impersonal it becomes.” (Franz Cizek)

“It takes a village to raise a child” (Anonymous)

“Pretty much all the honest truth telling there is in the world is done by children.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up.” (Pablo Picasso)

“Every child is born a genius.” (Albert Einstein)

“We must accept collective responsibility for caring for the people in whose hands our hope for the future lies.” (David)

“The teacher’s role is simply to facilitate the unlocking of latent potential residing within each child’s soul.” (David)

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bougt or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” (Douglas Adams)

“Teachers are those who use themselves as bridges, over which they invite their students to cross; then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.” (Nikos Kazantzakis)

“The best that the great teachers can do for us is to help us discover what is already present in ourselves.” (Irving Babbit)

“A teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops.” (Henry Adams)

Other quotes…………………

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” (Carl Jung)

“Don’t believe everything you say.” (Anonymous)

“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross lies your calling.” (Aristotle)

“We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.” (Albert Einstein)

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” (Albert Einstein)

“I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave.” (H. L. Mencken)

“No one should negotiate their dreams. Dreams must be free to flee and fly high. No government, no legislature, has a right to limit your dreams. You should never agree to surrender your dreams.” (Jesse Jackson)

“The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men.” (John F. Kennedy)

“For every man who lives without freedom, the rest of us must face the guilt.” (Lillian Hellman)

“As far as your self-control goes, as far goes your freedom.” (Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach)

“They can because they think they can.” (Virgil)

“Truth fears no questions” (Anonymous)

“Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.” (Booker T. Washington)

“To trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves… and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.” (John Holt)

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.” (George MacDonald)

“One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life.” (E. M. Forster)

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Our distrust is very expensive.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Self-trust is the first secret of success.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy” (Walter Anderson)

“The people when rightly and fully trusted will return the trust” (Abraham Lincoln)

“Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” (Walter Anderson)

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.” (Albert Einstein)