On the face of things the past couple of decades have seen huge changes in the way that our children are educated. The days of the blackboard are long gone. Interactive whiteboards, iPads, Chromebooks, virtual classrooms and online learning have revolutionised schools. As each of these appeared they were heralded as ‘revolutionary’, and to a degree they were. There’s no question that the children get excited about the newness of such technology and are initially fired up to be using it. However, new tech’s moment in the sun is short lived. It’s not long before it seems jaded.
It’s not just the technology that’s changed. In the relatively short time that I’ve been teaching I’ve seen a number of changes to the way the curriculum is delivered. The prescriptive structure of The Numeracy and Literacy hour gradually disappeared. There was a shift from discrete subject tuition to more topic based learning. Assessment has gained status and is shifting (quite rightly) from assessment ‘of’ learning to assessment ‘for’ learning.
All of the above are testament to our ongoing struggle to achieve the holy grail of finding the best way to educate our children.
At Edenhurst we’re constantly thinking about our practice and how we can improve what we do for the children in our care. So alongside our investment in technology etc we also look closely at the curriculum and how to deliver this in the most effective way. We’re very aware that educating these young minds involves far more than a teacher delivering and a child receiving information. Our work on ‘Growth Mindset’ has given children an understanding of how failure is part of the learning process. The recently introduced Learning Characters help to remind children that risk taking, perseverance, resilience etc are all needed if they are to overcome the challenges of learning. The children have responded well to these initiatives and we are beginning to see these traits exhibited on a daily basis.
During the lockdown my family and I agreed that we should use the time to try and learn something new, which begged the question ‘What do I want to learn?’ This got me thinking about my own learning. Like most people I’ve had varying degrees of success over the years when I’ve tried learning something new. The things that I’ve been most successful in have been those that have aroused the most curiosity in me. This intrinsic curiosity is a great motivator and whenever I’ve encountered difficulties in the learning process (which, as all of your children will know, is perfectly normal!) It’s been the need to satisfy my curiosity that has driven me over, around and through these obstacles. Intrinsic motivation means we will quite happily work hard to learn new things. And so to my point…
Last year we tentatively introduced the ‘Ownership’ hour with the hope of stimulating the children’s intrinsic motivation. This was an opportunity for children to explore topics that they were interested in, rather than having to learn topics imposed on them by the curriculum. The only criteria that we stipulated were that the children had to try and answer a question related to their area of interest and there had to be a tangible outcome eg a model, a slide show, a piece of writing etc. As the children explore their topic they will undoubtedly encounter challenges that will require them to think, adapt and develop solutions. In the world that we’re preparing our children for these are the skills that will help them to succeed.
‘Ownership’ will continue to be our school’s focus over the coming year. We want our children to learn to ‘own’ their problems. Once they can take responsibility and find solutions to their problems they will have a vital set of skills that will enable them to succeed in a rapidly changing world.
– David BarberCategories: School Blogs