The View From My Study 30th September

Teachers wear many hats. In any given day, we can be instructors, coaches, actors, nurses, diplomats, judges, agony aunts, motivators, therapists, problem-solvers and sounding boards. And perhaps also ‘counsellors of learning’ which is an appealing phrase because it implies that teachers are there to guide and encourage learning, not simply impart knowledge.

Children need to learn ‘stuff’ but knowledge on its own has little value – it needs to be put into context and this comes through creating experiences in a child’s learning. Visits to historical sites, maths games in shops, or map reading and orienteering tasks – these are all experiences that enable the children to make sense of why they have to learn ‘stuff’ and are more likely to embed a self-directed love of learning. Instead of being told the facts, the children are discovering where to find the facts, which is far more beneficial.

Parents will know that children cannot be made to do anything. And if one does opt for the forceful route, it may work in the short-term but it has longer term detrimental effects. It will lead to a “can’t do” or “won’t do” mindset and a resignation at the earliest opportunity whenever anything is tough. To avoid this consequence, we need to enable the children to see the value in learning for their own long-term benefit. Force will not achieve this; too much spoon-feeding and hand-holding will not achieve this; but encouragement will.

It is natural to want success for our children and today’s fast-paced society, as impatient as it is, does not warm to those who take time to work things out or who make mistakes along the way. So the temptation is to do too much for them. Children certainly need scaffolding – some more than others – but they also need the experience of getting things wrong and knowing what they need to do to put it right next time. Through encouragement and guidance towards independence, pupils will develop more learning confidence and competence and will begin to make connections between different areas of the curriculum and different skillsets. That is where the next generation of independent learners and thinkers will come from and this is our aim here at Bilton Grange.

Gareth Jones, Headmaster

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