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Page history last edited by Norman Jackson 8 years, 8 months ago

I am no longer maintaining this wiki. Please visit my new website  http://www.normanjackson.co.uk/


I was born in Manchester in 1950 the eldest of six children. My mother and father taught me the value of hard work and encouraged me to believe that you never get anywhere in life unles you work hard for it. Inspite of this wisdom I was not a good student until,thanks to a teacher who believed in me, I discovered geology in the sixth form. It became my passion and although I don't 'do geology' any more there is still a geologist inside me. What appealed to me about geology was the way the sense of discovery that lay at the heart of being a geologist. I liked the blend of fact and imagination it afforded. I studied for my BSc Geology at Kings College London University graduating in 1972 and completed my doctorate under the light touch supervision of Professor Howie, on the geology and mineralisation of the St Just tin mining district in SW England at the end of 1976. I was then fortunate to spend eight happy and productive years being a geologist in Saudi Arabia working closely with two people, Colin Ramsay and John Roobol, who provided me with the best role models any university geology teacher could wish for. I returned to England in 1985 with the intention of emigrating with my family to Australia. But fate decided otherwise and I became a senior lecturer at Kingston Polytechnic (now Kinsgton University) where I taught mineral deposit geology and returned to researching the mineral deposits of SW England.


My mid-career change to the field of education started with me becoming geoscience inspector with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate. The transition I had to make from 'being a geologist and geology teacher' to 'being an inspector of geology education' was the hardest professional change I have ever made. It was truly immersive and it involved a change of identity. I am thankful to all those colleagues who helped me through it, especially my mentor John Benett. I always felt that witnessing other teachers, teaching was a great privilege and I began to see more clearly the characteristics and relationships that made good teachers great teachers. During this period I built a picture of geology in the polytchnics and colleges sector. In addition, I was given the task of producing what would have been the final report of HMI which dealt with the impact of research, scholarship and consultancy activities on the standards and quality of learning. Unfortunately, this report never saw the light of day because the senior civil servant at the time felt that the pattern of positive messages I had discovered through trawling through thousands of HMI reports ran counter to the Governments policy of research selectivity. This collision of truth and policy was a hard lesson to learn and even now it makes me very uncomfortable.


Giving up my professional identity as a geologist and creating a new one as an inspector gave me the confidence to adapt to other roles. With the expansion of the university sector in 1993 I lost my job as an inspector and spent two years at the University of Plymouth setting up a small evaluation unit. In that role I developed the idea of an institutional evaluator/process auditor and the practice of inquiry into significant institutional issues. But it was the enhancement side of my work that I enjoyed the most. I guess it connected most closely with why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place and it enabled me to take the next step or rather a series of next steps working for national organisations between 1995-2005.


Higher Education Quality Council (1995-97) I led work on modularisation of the curriculum (5 national reports), institutional self-evaluation (1 report) and benchmarking (1 report later published by QAA). My work on benchmarking eventually resulted in a book ‘Benchmarking for Higher Education’ SRHE OU Press.


Quality Assurance Agency (1997-2000) I led the development of policy on programme specifications and personal development planning (PDP) the first educational policy in higher education to try to influence the process of learning. During this period I developed the concept of the role of a broker in higher education as a way of explaining my professional life and this work was published in a book Changing Higher Education through Brokerage’ Ashgate Press.


Learning and Teaching Support Network (2000-03) and the Higher Education Academy (2003-2005) I led research and development work on creativity in the curriculum, personal development planning and external examining. I also led development of the ‘Change Academy’ an innovative team-based approach to planning for institutional change.


Interests in creativity during my time at QAA I became increasingly uncomfortable with the way we were promoting an outcomes model of education where everything was prescribed and the spaces for people to develop things that were not prescribed were geting smaller and smaller. I felt that there was something missing in what was fast becoming an instrumental model of outcome-driven over assessed education and this seemed to me to be about the things that really motivate and drive people to achieve and to develop themselves as unique and creative individuals. My interest in personal development planning and self-regulation stems from this belief as does my interest and passion for creativity in higher education. My move to the newly formed LTSN in 2000 enabled me to bring together people who were also interested in these things and in 2001 the imaginative curriculum network was born. In partnership with this network I was able to dvelop, at the LTSN and its successor the HE Academy, a programme of work aimed at developing a better understanding of creativity in higher education. Some of this work is published in a book by Routledge-Falmer developing creativity in higher education :an imaginative curriculum. I have included some of the working papers from this project on the discovering creativity in higher education page of this wiki.


In 2005 I wanted to try to apply some of the thinking that had emerged in the imaginative curriculum project in a real educational environment and I was fortunate to be appointed to lead the Surrey Centre for Excellence in Professional Training and Education (SCEPTrE) at the University of Surrey: one of 74 Centres for Excellence in Learning and Teaching established in 2005/06 with a five year Government grant. The Centre provided research, development and enhancement capacity for the university’s undergraduate curriculum an important component of which is professional training (year-long work placements relevant to the field of study). Much of this work is archived in our wikis which can be accessed through the SCEPTrE Portal. Our 2009 conference focused on 'Learning to be Professional through a Life-Wide Curriculum' and we launched a Learning to be Professional through a Higher Education e-book in October 2009. This e-book is being maintained.


SCEPTrE's work was inspired by the fuzzy but inspiring idea of learning for a complex world. Ths led us to eaminethe learning potential contained within the idea of a life-wide curriculum and the encouragement this idea gives to higher eduction to think about the potential for recognising learning across the full width of learners' lives. In 2010-11 SCEPTrE developed and piloted a Lifewide Learning Award Framework Inspite of a successful pilot that demonstrated the value and potential of the approach, the University was not persuaded to continue beyond the pilot.


But our ideas have been shared with the higher education community. In April 2010 we held a conference Enabling a More Complete Education aimed at showing the diverse ways in which UK universities were recognising and valuing life-wide learning. We followed this up with a small symposium in September 2010 on the theme of Educating for the Real World and a third conference in March 2011 Student Lifewide Development. Our ideas have been consolodated in a book Learning for a Complex World: a Lifewide concept of learning, education and personal development which was published by Authorhouse in October 2011 Book store link


For one who promotes the ideals of lifewide learning I have said very little about the rest of my life. I am blessed with a loving and supportive wife, six great children and a grandson. For my sins I have a large garden that keeps me busy most weekends - sitting on a tractor cutting the grass that seems to grow a foot a week is one of the real pleasures in life. When I can find the time I play my drums in something that on a good night might be considered a band 'Freeworld'.


The SCEPTrE project finished in March 2011 and I am now enjoying the freedom of being able to work for myself and for others who share my vision for a more complete education. I have formed a company Chalk Mountain Educational and Media Services, around the idea of visualising and sharing knowledge. I have also formed the Lifewide Education Community Interest Company to carry on promoting the idea and practice of lifewide education.


My life has been filled with many friendships and experiences, much happiness and some deep sadness (my first wife Jill died of cancer in 1999 and my closest friend Mike died of cancer in 2010). Their memories live on and in the things I do.










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