My top books for consolidating your understanding of the science behind the Learning Power Approach.
David Perkins, Outsmarting IQ: The Emerging Science of Learnable Intelligence. Anything by Perkins is worth reading. He writes very simply, and thinks very deeply, about education. This seminal book introduces the idea of “learnable intelligence”, on which the whole field of the LPA rests.
In this book, Perkins lays out a way of organising classrooms so that children are more engaged and, as a result, they get better results and their minds are stretched and strengthened.
A classic. Dweck’s very accessible exploration of the practical implications of her discoveries that, first, people’s buried beliefs about the nature of intelligence dramatically affect their resilience and curiosity as learners, and that, second, these beliefs can be changed by teachers.
Ron Berger, An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students. Berger is the patron saint of the LPA. This book documents his discovery that virtually all children, with the right amount of time and support, are capable of producing “high-quality work”.
Ron Ritchhart, Intellectual Character: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Get It. In this ground-breaking book, the second of “the two Ronnies” from Project Zero reports the results of his PhD, which developed and researched the dispositional view of intelligence.
Howard Gardner, Five Minds for the Future. “Further, the world of the future […] will demand capacities that until now have been mere options,” says Gardner. Erudite and lucid, Gardner explains what those “five minds” are, why they are so important, and how to grow them in school.
David Price, Open: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future. An easy-to-read eye-opener about how far and how fast the worlds of work, leisure, and learning have already changed with the explosion of digital and social media. With even low-attaining students doing things online and after hours that are way more cognitively complex that what gets served up in the traditional classroom, schools are going to have to change.
Neil Postman, The End of Education. Pun intended: if we don’t think hard about the proper ends – the goals – of education, it may well be the end of schools as we know them, as they become more and more out of step with the world. Postman thinks deeply and writes beautifully.
Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character. An accessible and authoritative review of the research that shows conclusively why “results” are not enough, and why all children are capable, given the right environment, of acquiring the traits of “epistemic character”.
David Robson, The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things and How to Make Wiser Decisions. Part 1 of this fascinating book explains how schools contribute to developing the kind of stupidity that characterises clever people. Parts 2 and 3 review a wealth of research about how it could and should be different.
James Mannion and Kate McAllister, Fear Is The Mind Killer. The field of ‘learning to learn’, or the development of ‘learning character’, has come on in leaps and bounds in the last 20 years – and this book makes a new and significant contribution: it extends still further the state of the art. It is accessible, witty and grounded in well-conducted research and a broad and deep understanding of the scientific literature.
These are the best practical books about The Learning Power Approach, packed full of tried-and-tested classroom strategies and activities for turning the theory of the LPA into a living reality.
Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, Activating and Engaging Habits of Mind, Assessing and Reporting on Habits of Mind, Discovering and Exploring Habits of Mind, and Integrating and Sustaining Habits of Mind. A set of four slim volumes packed with ideas and illustrations for working with their Habits of Mind framework.
Ron Berger, Libby Woodfin, and Anne Vilen, Learning That Lasts: Challenging, Engaging, and Empowering Students with Deeper Instruction. A very detailed manual of the teaching approached developed by the EL Education schools. Comes with a really useful DVD of classroom examples of how to get great results and build learning character at the same time.
Ron Ritchhart, Creating Cultures of Thinking: The Eight Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools. A very practical guide to different aspects of the culture or ethos we can create in classrooms, including the ways in which we communicate our expectations, and the ways in which we model different attitudes towards learning.
Kath Murdoch, The Power of Inquiry: Teaching and Learning with Curiosity, Creativity and Purpose in the Contemporary Classroom. Aimed mainly at primary teachers, this is a treasure trove of exciting ideas for developing enquiry-based learning in your classroom.
Hywel Roberts and Debra Kidd, Uncharted Territories: Adventures in Learning. Trained by Dorothy Heathcote – originator of the influential “mantle of the expert” approach to primary project-based learning – Debra and Hywel offer hundreds of ingenious ideas to fire your imagination, making learning in every subject, and across all age groups, more dramatic and engaging.
Joanna Haynes, Children as Philosophers: Learning through Enquiry and Dialogue. A great introduction to P4C, with lots of good ideas to get you going, and thoughtful discussions of the rationale and benefits.
James Nottingham, Challenging Learning: Theory, Effective Practice and Lesson Ideas to Create Optimal Learning in the Classroom. Using his well-known image of the learning pit, James illustrates a variety of strategies for teachers to use to challenge their students to think more skilfully and logically.
Gordon Stobart, The Expert Learner: Challenging the Myth of Ability. An accessible handbook of arguments in favour of the “learning is learnable” concept, as well as practical, research-based suggestions as to how to go about it.
Paul Ginnis, The Teacher’s Toolkit: Raise Classroom Achievement with Strategies for Every Learner. A mine of practical activities to engage and stretch students of all ages across a wide variety of subjects.
Wendy Berliner and Deborah Eyre, Great Minds and How to Grow Them. Aimed principally at parents, this is nevertheless a very useful distillation of research and practice for anyone interested in helping children grow the attributes and attitudes they will need to thrive in the 21st century.
Here are the top ten things to watch or check out online to get a feel for The Learning Power Approach.
Founded by Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas, the Expansive Education Network is a sharing platform for teachers who are interested in learning with and from each other about how to develop a learning power culture in their classrooms. It also offers useful tailored professional development about how to try out ideas in an action research framework.
This is the website of Stanford professor Jo Boaler, full of ideas and resources for making maths (or “math” if you are American) more adventurous and less intimidating. Also watch out for Jo’s new book Limitless Mind.
Chris Watkins, formerly of the UCL Institute of Education, has assembled a website full of giveaway resources for building students’ capacity for and interest in learning. Really useful – and generous. (Chris has had to retire through ill-health. If you find his website useful, we are sure that he would be delighted for you to contact him and tell him.)
“How to get better at the things you care about”, TED.com (2016). Eduardo is head honcho of MindSet Works, the spin-off organisation that supports Carol Dweck’s work. In this excellent TED Talk, he offers an improved way of thinking about what have come to be known as fixed and growth mindsets.
Dylan Wiliam’s work on formative assessment is not technically part of the learning power family because his focus is predominantly on improving school achievement rather than (also) building lifelong learning characteristics that are useful in their own right. But his website contains useful free resources and also a wealth of wisdom about how to configure effective self-help teacher learning communities (TLCs) in schools, which can easily be adapted to LPA ends.
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) website has a load of good evidence-based advice for teachers, some of which – such as their recent work on metacognition and self-regulation – sits squarely within LPA territory.
This is the website of Becky Carlzon, my co-author on Powering Up Children. Here Becky blogs about her classroom practice, and freely shares her resources with a growing band of followers, the Learning Pioneers. This is a new international virtual learning community which aims to bring learning power practice to life: https://learningpioneers.co/
For fifty years, Harvard’s Project Zero has been a constant source of well-researched, deeply thoughtful, and highly accessible ideas about what education can and should be. The website points you to a wide range of resources and professional development opportunities – many of them free.
EL Education, “Austin’s butterfly: models, critique, and descriptive feedback” (4 October 2016). Austin’s butterfly is a classic video that shows how to build what Ron Berger, chief education officer of EL Education, calls “an ethic of excellence” in even very young children. If you’ve seen it before, watch again, and think about how the spirit of Berger’s work could be infused even more deeply into the day-to-day workings of your own school.
Bevan Holloway's Smata Bulletin explores the "frontiers of educational possibility", and it is a thoroughly interesting read. This is a must for those eager to deepen their thinking on fostering learner agency. Free subscribers get access to the monthly issue of The Smata Bulletin and paid members receive exclusive access to much more including a weekly one hour live chat and subscriber only editions of the Smata podcast. Smata now have an app for teachers, and you can also follow them on Twitter via @smatalearning.
Trevor is an inspiring teacher, author and speaker based in Canada who supports schools in implementing inquiry-based learning practices, which like the LPA, places students at the centre of their own learning. He is the co-author of Inquiry Mindset (2018) and the author of Dive into Inquiry (2016). I am currently collaborating with Trevor on his recent sketchnote project which shares a free inquiry sketchnote online every week for teachers to use in their own classroom. You can follow Trevor on twitter via @trev_mackenzie and join the conversation with the hashtag #InquiryMindset.