Monday, 20 May 2013

'How To Escape Education's Death Valley and National Standards.'

Body, Mind and Spirit-education has be approached holistically.

Sir Ken Robinson: 'How to Escape Education's Death Valley'.

National Standards
We are finding some schools and/or individual teachers use varying approaches and expectations around national standards. This is not a criticism of other schools but more about the reality of interpretation as there can be a reasonable level of teacher subjectivity going into decision making around national standards unless there are robust in-school and between schools moderation processes in place. I could talk on the issues around national standards at length but for now, let me say that used well, they provide a good 'snapshot' of where individual children are at in their learning at that particular point in time. The downside of course is that they can be an absolute nonsense if not used well.

On a cautionary note, we all (parents and teachers) have to be very careful not to place too much focus on the national standard outcomes that the child's confidence and self-belief is knocked as they get subtle or not so subtle messages that they are not up to standard! Learning is very developmental and as emphasised in the above link ('How to Escape Education's Death Valley'), a broader view of learning has to be embraced.

Often when a child is having difficulty with a concept or range of complex concepts, no amount of pressure or magic can be used to instantly transform that child to where we want him to be. 

After saying that, there are key concepts that all children need and thus we must quietly support and use professional expertise to boost the child's engagement, confidence and understanding. Sometimes considerable focus, expertise and work can go into helping a child but the 'penny doesn't drop' immediately. This can be for a number of reasons such as a processing issue or a readiness (developmental) reason. However all that work and energy is not wasted as the child is incrementally being supported to develop his skills. Probably the most important point I can make here, is that if you give children this support, be patient and encouraging, have high and realistic expectations, then success is guaranteed. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow but in due course the boys wil blossom. Sometimes, particularly with boys, you have to 'hang in there' with the encouragement as they can blossom late. As someone once said, boys are like popcorn, some pop earlier than others.

Yong Zhao  summed it all up as he described boys’ learning as like cooking popcorn—some pop early, some pop late. Our job is to retain and build their spirit.   (Chinese Education Professor working in the USA)

Amongst many other things, ERO in their draft report have said that teaching quality at Wellesley is high and the 'students are achieving highly'. I look forward to sharing more of this with you soon.

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