Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Great Read!

I have just re read Guy Claxton's excellent book "What's the point of school?" This fantastic 2008 book out of the UK reinforces our notion of "CHILL Factor" at Windsor. That is, Children who Independently Lead their Learning.
Claxton argues for children to not only think for themselves, set goals and reflect on progress but more so to understand, expand and exercise learning muscles. It seems so simply yet at times I wonder if we miss the trees for the woods when we create our learning environments. In a country where our vision is to develop capable, confident, connected life long learners I think we may have overlooked what a life long learner is, in fact we may be overlooking what learning is so much so that we are setting ourselves up to continue the education system and philosophies of the last 100 years.
There is a point of difference with the New Zealand Curriculum, and that is an implicit acknowledgement that children are not vessels to be filled but rather they are flames to be lit.
How do we light the flames? We allow, encourage, model and explain the learning processes, the art of mistake making, the place of inquiry, the importance of curiosity, questioning and exploration and we provide learning environments that reinforce these beliefs.
This will mean that children progressively know more about what they are learning, why they are learning it, where best to learn, who they are learning with and how they will learn best. Children will be aware of if they should they be learning independently, collaboratively or with a teacher. They will be empowered to share their learning journey with teachers and families.

For our children and our schools to achieve the vision of the New Zealand Curriculum it will require some reframing about what is really important schools, it will also require brave teachers who are keen to be transparent and are willing to say (and model) I don't know it all. It will require teachers who make a mind shift away from schoolwork, homework and classwork to learning.
I highly recommend Guy's book to parents, teachers and leaders especially as we begin to grapple with the challenges of National Standards- a great read!