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Published by jack elliot


human beings are learning beings:

they know hardly anything at birth

but seek out

and develop incredible capacities.

It should make us less worried about children during this difficult time, and even more hopeful about ourselves.


explore the frameworks and concepts of  the subject, show examples, where possible allow the students to try out tasks, discussions and debates.  provide the tools (the tech, the stats know-how etc) for the students to be able to build the hypotheses, to test their assumptions, to come up with answers.  tell them that they are here to facilitate their learning, but they need to explore the subject and find their own way. What happens? Some students do learn really well in this mode of teaching 


The current evidence that supports the cognitive learning theories might be still relatively new, and in need of additional research, but it is evidence led. The examples used here aren't - they haven't been repeated and then been subjected to scrutiny because of that.
There is no doubt that left alone, children and adults will learn. Trial and error learning, or discovery learning, works, and the normal life experience that goes along with that is highly valuable. Except it is not thorough, efficient, disciplined or directed. This means, for adults and older children, in effect, that you are slowing and narrowing down the business of learning. This method is great at Nursery and Foundation levels, but even then there is structure, goals, direction, boundaries etc.
Yet the other 'extreme' end of the current debate - the fact driven, disciplined maintained, knowledge curriculum - is also not effective for education. Here there is growing evidence that children are just memorising and repeating, even quite complex skills, without understanding the why and the how. They can find facts anywhere, but are less able to determine the best facts, or how to use them to the utmost effect, or to recognise when they have made errors with using those facts - or even how and why these facts are important to human society.
If we put aside cultural transmission and enforcement, something I recognise and challenge, the reason you have professional teachers is because we want learning to be effective and efficient. As human society and knowledge grows, so our children need to leave school each year with that little bit more of knowledge, skills, and understanding of their abilities to use those. Children deserve to enter the world with enough knowledge, skills, metacognition and growth mindsets to challenge, explore, create and be full active, progressive members of society. They deserve to leave with a love of learning, and the discipline to achieve that learning

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