Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mr Badman and Prof. Heppell on New Learning Systems.

From the Guardian:

"The typical instructional mode of teaching has its place but does not necessarily equip pupils with the skills they need to thrive throughout their education and work careers," explains Graham Badman".

Too right. Now, let's see just how personalised, personalised education really can be, shall we? Could it go all the way and become an autonomous one? The benefits of that are that the learner is properly motivated and engaged, works with open-ended objectives and can ask for feed-back as and when they are ready to hear it.

UPDATE: Prof Heppel's been thinking along similar lines, it seems, this time in the Telegraph: (HT: Jax).

"According to Prof Heppell, getting children interested is always the key to success in the classroom. 'It doesn't matter what the idea is, it's the active engagement of the children that's the secret,' he says. 'When children are engaged with the process of learning, their attitude changes; being a good learner is becoming cool, rather than being the child most likely to fall off the chair or the most disruptive in the class.' "

We absolutely agree. The active engagement of the children IS the secret, but there are several points within this that it is important to recognise:

Firstly, the adult may have a clear picture about what he thinks the child ought to learn, but he would be wise to acknowledge that he might be wrong: the learner may have other more important priorities and the adult would be far better off facilitating these, whilst also, should the moment arise, presenting good reasons for his priorities.

Secondly, the adult must realise that whilst he may present the child with seemingly perfect learning opportunities, he cannot open up the learner's mind and pour the knowledge in...not yet at least.

Whilst these points both apply, the adult is therefore better off, if he genuinely cares about learner engagment, realising that he should offer learning opportunities tentatively, and that it may be simpler just to follow the learner's lead. He may well only need to present options should the learner ask for it.

Another important qualification: the learner must also be engaged with any assessment process that ensues. Assessment won't work either if the child is doesn't engage with it.

Another essential part of successful learning involves a child feeling safe to make mistakes. It is very, very difficult to feel safe in a situation where you know you are being graded and marked down if you don't get things right. The problem with the IT option in schools and with some distance learning programmes is that it would allow for the institution of a technological panoptican where the learner's every move is registered and assessed. His confidence to play around with ideas, to learn from his own mistakes is highly likely to be markedly reduced.

Yet HE children demontrate that they can manage the feedback and self-assessment process extremely well without any enforced assessment. Because they are motivated to learn, they are motivated to improve and are therefore motivated to spot their own mistakes and get better at stuff. They know when they are ready for criticism or need some help and will ask for it if necessary. In this scenario, the assessment process springs naturally from the initial engagement and doesn't have to be forced upon them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful post, Carlotta.

I hope we can rely on the good will of the panel. I hope we can find that they are open to new ideas and realise that learners are people and have their own needs, wants and desires. However, I suspect that the panel is there only to suggest that LAs should be allowed to monitor and assess home educated children. I will, of course, be delighted if I am wrong.