Education Personal Thoughts Teaching

What is learning?

Developing an understanding of learning through reflection.

When thinking of learning and theory it is hard to separate the role of the teacher and the student, the learned and the learner. My opinions on the role of the teacher have changed drastically from the fresh rose tinted newbie who arrived on a train to Norwich on the LDP. Even though I still believe in the importance of children developing their own learning through creating new, and altering pre-existing, schemas, I now see the importance of having an active role reserved for the teacher. It is all well and good offering children the time they need to explore new ideas and evidence, but what about those who just don’t know where or how to start? I have become increasingly aware of how difficult students find the idea of freedom of learning without a framework to structure this.

As a history teacher, I may be able to shower them with rich sources to capture their imagination, but I can’t throw it on their desk, mic drop and then leave with the hope that they will suddenly pull out a monocle a determine the exact moment America “stopped being great”. That would be as fruitless as handing a two-year-old a pair of trainers and telling them to tie a shoe. If a child has not been shown how to tie shoelaces is there a high chance that they will be able to complete the task? No. Furthermore, without further teaching reminders, there is still a high chance of memory relapse, so this cannot be a one-off experience if the child is going to gain a lifelong skill. With this in mind, I have developed an appreciation for the necessity of the scaffold. Children should be able to formulate their own knowledge, but it is our job to ensure that their toolbox is full of the equipment needed to produce concrete, measurable, and valuable insight; not a toolbox of gel pens and bendy rulers.


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