paper1

It’s that stage of the term when I’m reviewing my work over the past weeks and trying to see how much I’ve stuck to the ubiquitous plan and, more importantly, evaluate what effect I’ve had prior to completing the Next Steps part of the form. These steps rarely involve direct teaching from me, at least not in the immediate future: generally I try to equip youngsters with strategies and skills for greater independence. It is the task of the pupils themselves, with the support of their class teachers, to apply their learning, to practise skills and develop strategies. At a later date I may return to monitor the learning and to support development.

It is imperative that young people understand their learning and to do that they have to perform it sometimes again and again until it is embedded. Learners need to reflect upon, tweak, wrestle with, challenge and internalise important concepts in order to make them their own. This is a life long process – not one that can be ticked off after a few short weeks.

Teachers rarely know the impact they have had – for good or ill. We are optimists, working hard but ultimately hoping that our experience and mediation makes a difference.

Let me tell you a story.

When my sons were 16 and 18 they were protected from being beaten up by the hard kids because I was their mum. My love for, and value of, these disaffected young people way back in the primary school ensured my own sons’ safety: an outcome no one would have written on a planning sheet; but one infinitely more worthwhile and deep seated. This was a rare accolade and the most precious one I’ve ever had professionally.

The content is almost immaterial. All teaching is a moral act; all learning an opportunity to become a better, stronger, more loving and open minded person of intellectual rigour: education, as UNESCO declared, is for learning how to be, to live with others, to do and to know.

I believe it is my job to enable young people to stretch their brains, to challenge their perceptions, to understand difficult concepts. But I also believe that in order for deep meaning to occur, they must be engaged, motivated, valued first and foremost. The ‘What’ of learning is considerably less significant than the ‘How’.

 

Advertisements