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Going Back to School
03 Sep 2020
by Sam Frankel

Today my children went back to school. 

As I sit in my now, quiet house I am left wondering what will they gain educationally from returning to school?

They will certainly learn that 

First - ‘A good learner passes exams’

  • All children are at school to pass a set of exams/ tests 
  • All children must pass those exams

Second - in order to achieve that necessary ‘pass’ - ‘A good learner conforms’ 

  • All children must engage with subjects/ topics as and when adults decide they are ready 
  • There are set ways of 'learning' that children should follow in order to achieve success
  • All children must accept and adapt to the structured way in which their 'learning' is presented to them

What I would like them to learn is that being a ‘good’ learner is really more about developing a love for learning. It is about growing the skills that allows a learner to navigate their own learning as they make sense, manage and take control of their many and varied learning journeys. 

This means that a ‘good learner’ is not a judgement made by adults about a child, but rather a personal assessment of ones motivation and engagement to learn.

All this demands that learning becomes less about the result and more about the process (the results will follow). Sadly, Sir Ken Robinson died recently, he was a real champion for recognising that learning is about instilling a lifelong passion to explore ones potential. 

It is notable that recent reports have indicated that children in the UK have extraordinarily low happiness ratings compared to others within Europe. Why? Because of their fear of failure. 

It is not surprising that other reports have indicated that during school closures children’s wellbeing has improved as they have been given the chance to step away from the constant pressures that our education model imposes. 

EquippingKids supports schools to think about whether learners are ‘plugged in’ and ‘switched on’ so that they can be ‘ready to learn’. A starting point is for adults and children to have conversations about learning and the emotions and feelings connected to it. It demands that we don’t simply accept assumptions or existing practice rather we question it as we search for meaningful solutions to allow children to fulfil their learning potential. 

My hope is that my children will be given the chance to realise that they are 'learners' and with that understanding they are filled with a passion to increasingly develop their skills and knowledge being excited about the possibilities that a new learning journey presents! 

To ponder: 

1. What can we learn from school closures? 

  • What were the positive parts of learning from home?
  • In what ways can parents/ carers be increasingly encouraged as facilitators of children’s learning? 

2. In what ways can schools increasingly become community hubs that focus on enabling learning skills and facilitating individual learning journeys, rather than ‘factories’ for a system that sees exam passes as their reason d’être?

Any thoughts - do let us know -