Welcome to another of our monthly newsletters. The focus for this month has been stimulated by some of the feedback from colleagues regarding the 5 year programme of resources for Recognising and Recording Achievement. I hope colleagues have found units 1 to 3 a useful set of learning tools. There has been some discussion of developing something similar for Learning to Learn and I would welcome feeedback about the following proposal (see page 4). I would also welcome discussuion with any colleagues who would like to be involved in developing these resources using the ‘Planning for Deep Learning - Teaching for Understanding’ approach that Carol-Ann, Alison, Claire and myself outlined last year.
Kyle is a 14-year-old from Cardiff. This is his story about why he goes to school:
“Why do I come to school? To develop my learning power, of course! They give us interesting things to explore that get harder and harder. In finding out how to grapple with them, we develop the ‘learning muscles’ and learning stamina that will enable us to get better at whatever we want, for the rest of our lives. People like scientists and historians have figured out special-purpose ways to learn: as we get older, we practice those, and think about how they might help us in everyday life. As powerful learners, we will be better able to learn new skills, solve new problems, have new ideas and make new friends. We know that learning itself is the one ability that will never go out of date — guaranteed — (unlike programming your iPod!). And learning power is learnable. No matter how so-called ‘bright’ you are, everyone can get better at learning. Even professors have learning difficulties! Oh, and by the way, as we become more powerful learners, so we naturally do better on examinations too! It’s a no-brainer, really.” (quoted from Guy Claxton).
In this article I outline the key ideas behind Building Learning Power, suggest some impacts and implications of such a tutorial resource and outline, in a little detail, a proposal for a set of learning tools for S1-S5 regarding Learning to Learn. The essential ideas behind this have been around for a long time:
‘The test of successful education is not the amount of knowledge that pupils take away from school,but their appetite to know and their capacity to learn.’ Sir Richard Livingstone, 1941
‘All skills will become obsolete except one, the skill of being able to make the right response to situations that are outside the scope of what you were taught in school. We need to produce people who know how to act when they are faced with situations for which they were not specifically prepared.’ Seymour Papert, 1998
‘One of the core functions of twenty-first century education is learning to learn in preparation for a lifetime of change.’ David Miliband, 2003
‘Pedagogy should at its best be about what teachers do that not only helps students to learnbut actively strengthens their capacity to learn.’ David Hargreaves, Learning for Life, 2004
‘Effective teaching ... should aim to help individuals and groups to develop theintellectual, personal and social resources that will enable them to ... flourish ... in a diverse and changing world.’ ESRC TLRP Evidence-informed principles for teaching and learning: No 1, March 2006
There is a widespread feeling that 21st Century life presents everyone, as they grow up, with high levels of challenge, complexity and individual responsibility. It is commonly said that we are in a century of choice, problem-solving and learning. And if young people are lacking the personal resources to thrive in such a context, then it is the job of education to strengthen their ability to be good choosers, skilful problem-solvers and powerful learners. My aspiration would be to develop resources for the tutor period (and other lessons?) that colleagues can develop and use to help young people cultivate the character traits and habits of mind that help expand young people’s capacity to learn, little by little, through a process of continuous infusion.In my view powerful learning takes place when: