Friday, 29 June 2012

It depends where you start....

When I was fourteen, I went to Ireland with my dad. We stayed at one guest house and, while walking up a few flights of stairs to the room by the owner, he gestured left saying, "The breakfast room's there." A few more flights of stairs later and I couldn't remember which floor the breakfast room was on, so I asked him to tell me. He looked at me, thought for a moment and said, "Well, I guess it depends where you start." I never thought about this as a educational point before, but it's a thinking one. As educators we are stuck in a rigid system where numbers, levels and data indicate position, both within class and league tables, yet that can inhibit thinking. His approach to answering my question was to remove what we naturally perceive to be the obvious absolute: the building is rigid & therefore we must move around the building. He put me as the rigid element and moved the building to fit my requirement. To him, the problem wasn't confined by the framework within which I had posed it, based on my accepted view of the world, he manipulated his response based on a different set of parameters, ones which I am only just beginning to understand. That got me thinking about the new draft curriculum. It mentions the word practice a lot. An awful lot, to be honest. So much so that I started to think about changing my approach to teaching and it didn't seem to fit at all. Then I remembered Kilkenny man. So, I would suggest we do practise things. But not quite the way the lord Gove intended. when practising a skill or setting a task, ensure the viewpoint is changed from time to time. Make the children uncomfortable by removing things that are familiar. Then practise figuring out why things are the way they are. Thinking skills are integral to empowering independent and lifelong learning and underpin successful, employable and engaging adults. It is though experience that we improve.

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