The session began with a discussion about what barriers exist that hamper pupils becoming independent, adaptive & innovative learners. The responses and suggestions were a range between problems because of an unimaginative and ‘safe’ teaching style adopted by some educators to the system of education is ultimately flawed and needs a complete overhaul. It was interesting to see the difference in focus on radically different scales, from the classroom and individual teachers and techniques up to the educational systems of the United Kingdom. Suggestions included the chilly hand of Ofsted and teachers being complacent and not seeking their own learning opportunities and a lack of willingness to improve.
A common theme was the pressure to teach to a test. Seemingly universally deplored by those taking part in the discussion, yet most people felt that this is expected to varying degrees by ‘powers’ above. Many stated that this ‘preparation’ for testing was wasting pupils’ time that could be spend discovering the world around them and following their interests. Perhaps this is way teachers are not required to pledge a ‘Hippocratic’ oath – we are asked to harm the life chances of pupils by our Government all too frequently.
The discussion turned to how why these traits are important in our students and what we can do to encourage these. Some participants thought that you can not teach creativity and innovation, while other thought it is very difficult to develop these in the classroom setting as it is today. Lots of great ideas for encouraging independent working and critical thinking skills where suggested, and I strongly suggest you browse the archive below to find some great techniques for your class.
A repeated (and retweeted) point was that true improvement and learning can only happen in an environment where failure a possibility. It was felt by a small number of chatters that failure is not allowed at schools and that teachers ensure that their pupils never have the opportunity by not providing any challenge. Schools should be a place where mistakes can be made and used as a learning opportunity and valued. It was also suggested that the Early Years environment and learning strategies has much to teach the year groups above. Mantle of the expert and peer to peer teaching from well trained children was held up as good practice by a number of participants.
A short discussion followed about whether a student who follows instructions is ‘better’ and will achieve higher grades than an innovative creative student. This lead on to some discussion about how to engage all pupils in learning. Of course, learning and education are not quite the same thing.
The conversation moved on to the role of the educator in the process. Providing the right environment where ideas are valued and discussed, whether they are the ‘right’ answer or not. Also, teachers should be a role model and discuss their thought process with their class and discuss the merits and different points of view. There were a number of chatters who said that the teacher’s role should be to guide and advise learning rather than imposing topics and tasks (see barriers to creativity, innovation and independence above!). It was also mentioned that teachers should be inspirer by the topic/task or not teach it.
The topic turned to assessment and how the teacher initiated assessment was usually beneficial, while assessment for outside agencies was not useful for helping children learn and were often time consuming for both teachers and pupils and put extra pressure on both. It was stated by many people taking part in the discussion that the best way to move pupils forward was the listen to them and get to know them.
At the end of the chat there were some fabulous final thoughts. Once again I recommend reading the archive to see the great ideas that were shared. Several tweeps expressed the importance of exploring and giving students the time to work things out. Some (probably most) problems do not have just one solution and perhaps there are better ways to do/view something than the current consensus.
Innovation, creativity and independent are not the only traits that will ensure the child will be a successful student of tomorrow and a valued member of the community in the future. But they are the qualities that will enable our pupils to seek out their own interests and learning opportunities today. Conforming to a system is easy, but it will only get you so far. A remarkable human is rarely a product of a system, but is exceptional despite it. Our schools should be a hot bed of ideas, discussions, collaborations, explorations and experiments. We’re outside the box here, people!
NOTABLE TWEETS FROM THE SESSION:
@bellaale: let them fail, pick themselves up and understand why, then succeed. Rinse, then repeat. #ukedchat
@futurebehaviour: If we want intrinsically motivated students, we should stop our obsession with reward charts, stamps and stickers. #ukedchat
@super_sixfive: #ukedchat we have to teach our students to take managed and controlled risks in the classroom. The fear of failure is prevalent in classes
@thelazyteacher: Avoid saying ‘If you get stuck put your hand up and I will come and help you’ as you are robbing them of the chance to learn! #ukedchat
@nohandsup: My observations – as children get older, self-awareness increases, risk-taking decreases and reliance on teacher increases #ukedchat
TWEET OF THE WEEK:
@SurrealAnarchy: @catmill The true innovation in education would be to engender the love of the pursuit of wisdom #ukedchat
ABOUT YOUR HOST:
Martin Burrett (@ICTmagic) is a Year 5/6 Primary School teacher at Mersea Island School, near Colchester in Essex. His award winning wiki page provides a huge selection of free web resources for every area of the Primary and Secondary curriculum.