CLE15: Paul Maharg falls victim to live blogging

by Pamela Henderson on 19/06/2015

Full Title – Well being and learning: What legal educators and regulators can learn from progressive primary education.


Paul is asking:  How do we integrate in law school what is happening in the wider educational sphere?  How have law schools come to be as they are, educationally?  How have we been socialised into doing what we do and what might we do differently?

Case Study:  Eynsham Primary School, Oxfordshire 1965 – 1979.  Bet you didn’t see that one coming!  Is Paul just looking back in time or is he actually older and less Scottish than we thought?

It’s John Dewey’s centenary for his book on democratice education published in 1916 apparently – the most read book after the bible in the US and very popular elsewhere too. Dewey was responding to the serried ranks of desks typical of most classrooms in 1916 and considered pretty modern at that time given that this arrangement only became common in the 1870s.  Paul describes this as an industrial form of education.  Oops – he just admitted to experiencing this format of education himself.  Yes, you heard it here first – Paul Maharg went to school in 1916.  So he’s definitely older than we thought, but no challenge to his Scottishness as yet.

We’re now looking at a doll’s house as a more effective form of education. In fact, Paul is making a very good point about how children may learn about calculating volume, height etc.  Do you line them up in desks and talk at them, or do you get them involved, handling the tools they need to work it out for themselves? [As an aside, this is of course linked to our Scale-Up pilot at NTU as well as our established Legal Advice Centre.  Paul has not yet mentioned Bloom’s Taxonomy and the benefits for students of progressing into the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains].

Friedrich Frobel, Montessori and Waldorf all name-checked.

Paul is now talking about the HighScope project and its extraordinary outcomes for students.

Now picking up Eynsham and the idea of an unstructured approach to education.  Largely project work, lots of large spaces, no differentiation between formal classes and playtime.  The ‘integrated day’ meant no national curriculum, no LEA curriculum, no school curriculum. Instead, everything was embedded and enmeshed with the projects and the natural progression of the day.  Children took mentoring roles, for example.  Teachers engaged in peer review and kept diaries etc spanning a number of years.  Argues that education is everything that happens to a child, not just the formal learning process.

Paul asks;  ‘How did they ever get away with this?’  He took the words right out of my mouth, though unlike me, Paul actually has a sensible answer for this question.

Paul turns to Robin Tanner who had a lot of insightful things to say about approaches to education and how we might open it out, possibly because he was originally an etcher rather than an OFSTED inspector, though he did turn to teaching fine art later?

We’re looking at how things have changed over time, including a holistic view of the education of children, and the concern for wellness and wholeness that was evident at Eynsham.

Closing remarks focus on how we may adapt the practices seen in primary school, including the regulatory relationships that might be formed, and use these in law schools.  Paul asks:  ‘Can you imagine having this kind of relationship with the SRA or QAA?’  Can you indeed.  Actually, some people in the room clearly can!


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Paul Maharg June 20, 2015 at 00:42

Thanks Pamela — first time I’ve ever been liveblogged, so fair enough, time I was on the receiving end… Actually, good to see that we both seemed to be at the same talk.


2 Rod Willis August 31, 2015 at 18:29

Thank you for sharing this blog and bringing some of the history (1965-1979) from Eynsham County Primary School to life for me. Only last week (Aug 2015) I drove through Eynsham not realising such an approach had taken place here.

Paul, in your presentation, I was particularly taken by the 6 Selves and the 3 I’s Industry, Integrity, and imagination

My own background was state schooling, then an apprentice in Electronics Engineering. Thirty years on I am working with many forms of Psychometrics & HC Analytics to inform talent selection while supporting Integrative Leadership development. As we do this, we also embrace fully our digital age as part of this work building on virtual classrooms & virtual breakout rooms etc.

Several of the organisations I am working with are legal practices and I am in the midst of getting myself further up to speed with the dynamic world shared in the Letr June 2013 Report.

The work we do brings us into contact with a wide age range (20s to 60s) and a natural part of this work is Coaching, often informed by the various forms of metrics (Psychometric / Analytic) being used. Interestingly I have to establish every time how the metric being used is NOT a form of judgment, it is only a measurement. Having spent 30 years with measurements of one kind or another, this comes naturally to me.

However I am always taken by how our ‘system’ seems to have programmed the majority of folk I work with to equate measurement with judgment, as the principle outcome.

What I also find interesting is, Self-awareness, Self-confidence, Self-direction, Self-discipline, Self-criticism and Self-esteem (the 6 Selves) all come to the space we work in in general. We had come to the conclusion that our Education System may have been (or maybe still is) short changing society in some way. If we believe core aspects of education are a public good, I wonder why we seem to be missing some of the basics?

Not sure if you have come across Edward Deming’s work. He has shared some great insights here
I came to this during my manufacturing days and then over time came to realise his work can be applied as a guide in any situation. A great book of his to explore is ‘The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education’. This describes in some detail his ideas and learning from real world practice that was integrated into SoPK.

Pamela introduced Bloom’s Taxonomy in her contribution and I would like to add two further frameworks that have helped our own practice. SOLO Taxonomy by J Biggs who is based in Tasmania and has had an impact on some of the underlying assessment methods used in our Universities in the UK. Interestingly in Australia and New Zealand, his work is also being used to inform Primary School curriculums as well Universities.

To close: We are currently looking at integrating the work from the Dreyfus model with SOLO Taxonomy to create a framework for self-assessing and guiding ones own Continued Professional and Personal Development (CPPD). We have a particular focus on Reflective Practice and ‘Soft’ skill development for Legal Services, using a combination of virtual learning, facilitation and reflective practice aided by SmartPhone/Tablet based technology. If you have any other information that may assist our journey, that would be great to receive.

Thank you for sharing so much valuable information via your slides, it is much appreciated.



3 Paul Maharg September 7, 2015 at 00:26

Rod, thanks for letting us know about your work, which sounds very interesting. Entirely agree about the different functions of measuring and judging. The relationship between the two is complex, and identifying the functions helps us to clarify what it is we actually do (as opposed to what we think we do) in educational assessment. Add to that a third function, prediction, and I guess you have most of the basic functions of assessment. On SOLO + Dreyfus, it seems to make sense. I’ve always liked the Dreyfus model: it seems to make so much sense of development in any field. But when I tried to use it, I found it had little predictive power (because a descriptive model), and needed instruments to operationalise its categories; and haven’t yet come across a set of assessment instruments that would enable me to do that. You don’t happen to know of any?


4 Rod Willis September 7, 2015 at 01:46

Hi Paul

I agree regards the challenge of predictive assessment. Having said that I do have some thoughts.

If we for a moment ‘assume’ (with all the health warnings) that Reflective practice when combined with Cognitive Structure Instruction (for all learners) provides us with a couple of foundation concepts.

First to three time perspectives of reflective practice (let’s call this RP3): In my experience, NOT many folk I have met have been very clear in articulating what Reflective practice is, even if they themselves would seem to be practicing it effectively. So it may be something they have developed, yet they are not able to explain or share the concept with another. Therefore, they have functioning knowledge and not yet developed effective declarative knowledge.

Now, for the moment a simple set of three statements for the declarative knowledge space. ‘Reflection-on-action’, ‘Reflection-in-action’ and ‘Reflection-for-action’. Using this approach with more depth clearly behind each, I start to wonder are we now able to develop the functioning knowledge side of the space.

This feels similar to Single, Double and Triple-loop learning, maybe different views of the same space!

Now, if we have someone that has not or is not able to engage with Reflective practice, I suspect his or her ability to learn effectively and efficiently becomes compromised when we contrast with others that can (thinking in the adult learning space now).

This might be one possible factor for learning potential: RP3

Secondly to Cognitive Structure Self-Instruction (let’s call this CSSI): During my MBA I received the occasional ‘A’ with the bulk being Bs and Cs (just like my school years☹). Once I had developed the application of SOLO structures and Reflective practice as part of my everyday learning journey during the MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change, my grades (effectiveness) and efficiency (the time I took) changed for the better beyond all recognition. My shift from Bs and Cs to all As was about 3 months using the above approach. What had changed? I had worked out how I learn. I also believe we can help others do the same!!!

Once I had discovered SOLO through my own hunting, I had a structure of learning in mind, informed mainly by combining Reflective practice and SOLO taxonomy. (Maybe this was Cognitive Structure Self-Instruction, a term I have only recently started to work with)

So how might we consider SOLO to aid a structure for predictive assessment?

If you have a look at these two links, you will find a free resource to aid the creation of two SOLO structures, one for Declarative the other for Functioning knowledge.

So if we now bring in Self-determination Theory (let’s call this SDT) bringing in Relatedness, Autonomy, and Competence as the fuel that can be brought into play I think we may have created a vehicle to aid the journey of learning.

The structure that comes to mind:

‘Potential Learning Outcome’ = RP3 x CSSI x SDT

If we now work on building assessment for each of the three items, I think we would at least have a structure to explore and learn from.

Note we could even assess our own ‘Potential Learning Outcome’

So this is what your question prompted, thank you for a great question.


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