Tuesday, 7 February 2012

" It doesn't matter what we cover; it matters what we discover."

It may seem that my obsession of the past 18 months has been the school's expansion and the progress of our fantastic new building, but the fact is that no matter how wonderful it will be, what goes on within the walls is the important thing.

So, as you would expect, the focus is always on teaching and learning and how we can make this relevant, meaningful - and exciting - for young people in the 21st century. Much of the process of developing the curriculum for Hollymount and refining the tools for teachers to inspire learning is carried out through professional development within school - but we - leaders and teachers - also need to get out of school and listen to and share with others in the field of education.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a two- day conference at Olympia hosted by an organisation called "Learning without Frontiers". The theme was "the future of learning".

Noam Chomsky, the linguist and social/ political theorist was one of the keynote speakers via video link from the US on: " The purpose of education." Although much of the conference was about how we can harness digital technologies to enhance modern-day learning, Chomsky focused on the skills required for rich learning which need to encourage creative enquiry and exploration. For example, the internet can be an exciting gateway of discovery, but we still need a framework to pursue any line of enquiry - knowing the questions to ask and having the skill of interpretation. He quoted a colleague who, when asked by his students, what was on the term's curriculum, he responded: " It doesn't matter what we cover; it matters what we discover.

That's basically it, good teaching and learning: developing the capacity to discover. Here at Hollymount, when embarking on a new topic, pupils are asked "What we do know already; what do we want to find out?"  This ignites the spark of creative enquiry - and our objective should be encouraging pupils to want to learn because this is what they will need to do successfully in life (refer the school's mission statement!)

More on this theme to come......


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