Posts Tagged ‘inquiry based learning’
It is currently a frustrating and challenging time in education. It seems as if teachers and educators are speaking one language and having one set of outcomes for the students they teach, and politicians, the media, and parents are speaking another.
Because they are.
It is occurring because they are standing in different paradigms. We are in the midst of the biggest paradigm shift in the human existence and we all are experiencing issues that I suggest are normal to the shifting of paradigms.
To give you a sense of this and give some context to what the education system will be going through over the next few decades let’s look back at the last global paradigm shift.
Pre-Industrial Age to Industrial Age (up to mid-1700’s)
Prior to the Industrial Revolution (1770’s) a broad (or liberal) education was limited to the wealthier middle and upper classes who could afford tuition. For the most part education was provided by religious organisations and focussed on Latin, scripture study and Aristotle’s works (logic). This was appropriate to the social and economic structures of the time as it was the wealthy middle and upper classes that controlled trade and political power. There was no need to educate the large proportion of the population as they only needed sufficient education to ply their trade (which for most people was quite local). Life for the masses was subsistence living and life expectancy and quality of life was quite low for the majority of the population.
During the 18th and 19th centuries there were several important developments that led to the creation of the current educational system.
Firstly, following the Reformation, education theory took a leap forward with Comenius (1592 – 1670), amongst others, proposing the idea of human learning as a progression from youth to maturity and from elementary to advanced knowledge. This lead to the concept of universal education covering topics and subjects that were actually useful to the life of the increasingly urbanised towns and cities where the population had grown significantly. There was resistance to this movement as “too much schooling would make the working poor discontented with their lot”. The class system saw the education of the poor as a threat.
It was really the Industrial Revolution that spurred Governments into providing national education systems because industry required workers with more than limited reading skills and a catechetic focus. As the period of the new Industrial Age progressed and democracy widened, development of public education was slow. It took many years and an extraordinary amount of investment and political will to develop the educational systems. In countries such as Australia and the USA the push was for a common model of education to reduce ignorance (and thus crime) and create good, moral and law-abiding citizens. In the UK the public school system was initially developed in-line with the entrenched class system and later theories of “intelligence” to ensure a divided public education system.
Regardless of the country, public education focussed on what could be considered a factory-model with children in “date of manufacture” groups, “one size fits all” teaching and curricula, where most learning was by rote, memorisation and instilled in students “the advantages of being orderly, clean, punctual, decent and courteous, and avoiding all things which would make them disagreeable to other people”. To ensure quality control students were tested to determine if they knew what they needed to know to work in industry. As the prosperity of the countries grew, this industrial educational model embedded into the fabric of society and the systems and structures have become entrenched in how western society functions.
During this growing Age of Industrialisation this educational approach worked well.
It allowed for the economic and social rise of people from the lower classes. In the countries that educated their populations, there has been a huge leap in the quality of life and life expectancy for the masses. It expanded trade for manufactured goods and services beyond localised villages and created opportunities worldwide. It prepared people to operate in an industrialised and urbanised society. It allowed for countries to efficiently build their infrastructure and economic output around an industrial framework (as Seth Godin points out in “Lynchpin”, most corporations and organisations still follow the factory formula). It allowed for economies of scale by being able to educate large groups of people quickly using minimal resources.
For around two hundred years worked really, really well.
What there is to note is that in the shift of paradigms during the Industrial Revolution are:
- It took a while for the infrastructure, governmental systems, and educational practices to create the public educational systems to be formulated and then mature to be effective
- It took visionary political will working over a long period time to ensure the embedding of the paradigm
- There was resistance by people and organisations in power
- Economic necessity and profitability drove the change
- Education lead to the increasing democratisation of the countries as people gained the knowledge and wherewithal to create a more equitable system for all.
- Corporate, government and educational working structures and systems began to match the new paradigm for efficiency and prosperity purposes
- People were educated and trained to fit the new industrial paradigm
Industrial Age to Information Age (1980’s ff)
With the advent of personal computing, the internet, and social networking there has been another profound paradigm shift in humanity.
No longer is information scarce and knowledge held by the few. There is a wealth of information and knowledge accessible within moments. Experts around the world are at your fingertips on any topic you wish with increasing access to live feeds, videos, lectures, blogs, podcasts, webinars, and so on. And this will become progressively richer and expansive over time with better search engines, more validated and expert voices going online, and the exponential growth in computing technology and software.
No longer is trade confined to your local suburb, state or country. Individuals and organisations can develop niche markets and create sustainable income by reaching out to individuals and marketing worldwide. Companies can compete globally online. In some domains there is no longer the need to have the same bricks and mortar investment to run a successful company. Everyone now has access to creating businesses (not just those with capital, wealth or power).
No longer is media only the purview and voices of the rich and powerful. Individuals can express their views, argue and debate, follow the news, create the news, campaign, learn about what is happening in the world … all from home. A progressively greater number of voices will be heard and interests served.
I could go on but you know many of these things and probably see much more than I. In its essence we are at the beginning of a period of human history that is rapidly changing. We cannot predict what the world will look like in 10 years let alone by the end of this century.
What you should note however is that:
- It will take a while for the infrastructure, governmental systems, and educational practices to create the new public educational systems to be formulated and then mature to be effective
This will cause much of the debate raging in countries as they compare themselves via assessments like PISA and then explore and develop structures and systems that are forward thinking and prepared for the constantly changing world. I suspect that Finland’s model of education will lead the world for many years to come.
- It will take visionary political will working over a long period time to ensure the embedding of the information age paradigm
This is one of the challenges because we have yet to see people with the political will to challenge the status quo and plan for the long term future. In fact, the system of short terms for political parties and pandering to the status quo has resulted in a democratic system that only allows small incremental changes.
- There will be resistance by people and organisations in power
We are currently witnessing this quite a lot from the poor media portrayal of schools, politicians and parents still thinking purely from an industrial age concept of the world, and businesses trying to model the education system on their industrial model
- Economic necessity and profitability will drive the change
As prosperity becomes driven by opportunities arising from the Information Age Paradigm then this will become more so. I suspect that there will be a greater diversity of blended industrial and information models arising for companies and corporations. We never lost the need for agricultural structures and systems with the shift away from a purely agricultural paradigm.
- Education will lead to the increasing democratisation of the countries as people gained the knowledge and wherewithal to create a more equitable system for all
Notice the rise of organisations such as Avaaz, GetUp in Australia and Wikileaks. As people are more informed and able to collaborate and organise over vast distances there will be a resultant increase in the rise of equitable democracy.
- Corporate, government and educational working structures and systems will begin to match the new paradigm for efficiency and prosperity purposes
See Google, Facebook, Amazon, Zappos, Intel, etc. Their workplaces are models of creativity, fun, industriousness, and innovation.
- People will be educated and trained to fit the new information age paradigm
Educational systems and approaches will change. The one size fits all teacher directed model is already experiencing challenges and digital native students are no longer satisfied with boring, content-focussed education. I can imagine that within 10-15 years the development of educational hardware and software will match to address the wide student interests and academic variance that exists within our schools. Currently we are dealing with the technological challenges that our funding and infrastructure does not allow for.
It is interesting to note that educational approaches such as inquiry learning, divergent thinking, and differentiation has been around for decades (much like Comenius educational philosophy was around for decades) and is only slowly now being implemented in schools. However, there is no throwing the baby out with the bath water. Great education has always been great learning.
The work that we (Intuyu Consulting) focus on in schools is working with them to shift their thinking, staff culture, staff planning and structures to the new information age paradigm BEFORE they necessarily have the technology in place. Technology has always been an accelerator … not the answer. We empower the staff to be the creators of what works for them and their circumstance as they stand in the bigger picture. What we have found is that they are enlivened and begin to work with each other and the students to create exceptional learning, projects and results while still operating inside of the current educational and funding paradigm.
 Gillard D (2011) Education in England: a brief history, www.educationengland.org.uk/history
 Chitty C (2004) Education Policy in Britain Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
 The Evolution of Education in Australia, http://www.historyaustralia.org.au/ifhaa/schools/evelutio.htm
 Sir Ken Robinson, Changing Education Paradigms, 2010
 Lynchpin: Are you Indispensible? Seth Godin, 2010
Creative Commons Copyright: Intuyu Consulting 2011
Archimedes did, apparently, when he stepped into his bath and noticed that the bath level rose by the volume displaced by the volume of his body. Archimedes yelled “??????!” (or Eureka which is Greek for “I have found it!”) before he went running through the streets half-naked excited about his discovery!
Insights come to us seemingly only at certain times and the process doesn’t seem to be reproducible. But insights is what is at the core of our learning and the learning of all human beings. What if we could make it reproducible?
David Rock in his recent book, Quiet Leadership, has given us an insight into insights.
David discusses recent neuroscience research that suggests that there are four stages to insights. The following is my paraphrasing from David Rock’s book and other researchers.
The First Stage: Awareness
Consider that the brain forms mental maps that gathers the information it has stored into some cohesive whole. As a way of accessing the information and ordering it has organised the information and patterns it has discerned into some map and then uses these maps to interpret and relate to the world.
In this first stage the brain is immersed in new information. It could be new perspectives about something we are examining in a class or heard on TV or are currently reading in a book. New information is essentially being processed and the brain is attempting to fit these ideas, thoughts and concepts into its current mental maps. As the brain attempts to integrate the new knowledge it begins to see that there is a dilemma because the new knowledge is creating a different mental map than the one that currently exists but the brain has not yet worked out how to reconcile this conflict by creating a new metamap or by reconfiguring the existing maps.
The Second Stage: Reflection
If one is to develop a consistent process of having insights and thus more productively then there needs to be more second stage “reflection” time in our days.
MRI scans show that people’s brains give off alpha-band waves just before they come up with an insight. Alpha waves correlate with people shutting down inputs from their external senses and focusing on internal stimuli. When we perform tasks that engage the conscious, logical mind we decrease the alpha-band waves. So reflection is NOT helped by asking your students to reflect by writing down their reflections (which is what many teachers do). The writing process should occur after true reflection.
Studies have shown that during reflection we are not thinking logically or analysing data; we’re engaging a part of our brain used for making links across the whole brain. We are thinking in an unusual way, tapping into more intelligence than the three to five pieces of information we can hold in our working memory. We are allowing the brain to think across the whole dataset of ideas, images, thoughts, knowledge to connect and reconfigure its mental maps without any new input from the conscious or working memory.
A simple process to reflect is to sit still and close your eyes (this removes about 70% of external stimuli) and focus on your breathing. Listen to the way you inhale and then exhale for about 60 seconds. Then open your eyes just a fraction and close them again. This sends you deeper into the alpha-band state. Listen to the way you inhale and then exhale for another 30 seconds and then open your eyes and write down your reflections. During this period you don’t think about anything logically just focus on your breathing.
By the way, we have all experienced this process naturally. Quite often we have insights when we are lying in bed before we go to sleep or when we wake up. It is in the quiet “non-logical”, “non-thinking” times that we suddenly go … “ah-ha”!
Third Stage: Insight
At the moment of insight our mental maps have been reconfigured or a new mental map has suddenly snapped into existence. In this moment the body releases various neurotransmitters like adrenaline as well as possibly serotonin and dopamine. This is why there is a sudden excitement and a rush throughout the body.
The intense motivation from having an insight is short term. If you can get people to take tangible actions while the insight is close at hand, even just to commit to doing something later, this will be a big help to ensuring new ideas become reality. If you don’t take some action then and there the insight and new mental map is not reinforced and the insight is lost.
I just returned from running workshops in Queensland and the group of teachers and I had a fantastic discussion around safety, connection and learning.
Let me tune you in to how we got into it by reproducing a bit of the morning of the Advanced Inquiry Workshop.
Our brain is designed to to ensure the safety and survival of our bodies. So it is always scanning to ensure that the body is safe. Given that survival and safety is paramount for the brain … the learning environment must be safe.
But .. are our learning enviroments safe for the brain?
Fear is the foremost inhibitor to learning and growth. The brain, however, cannot distinguish between fear of failure /getting things wrong / making a mistake in a peer environment vs fear of dying or suffering injury. Research has shown that the physiologically they produce the same body reaction. This is understandable because the environment that we exist in has evolved from the dangers of survival out in the wild to the dangers of survival in the modern world.
What this points to is that we must go beyond looking at physical saefty issues like bullying or many of the overt factors that create an unsafe environment for learning. We need to also look at the systemic structures that the brain will interpret as a danger or survival issues.
One of the unfortunate byproducts of a content focussed traditional school environment is that we have created an environment of wrong / right, good / bad … a breeding ground for fear. Students over time adapt by unconsciously becoming passive learners as a way of mitigating this fear as they haven’t yet learnt the skills to mitigate the fear using their pre-frontal cortex or reasoning part of their brain to reframe their perception. By the time we become adults many of us have not developed the capacity to mitigate the emotions and feelings that fear drive up – notice how public speaking is still feared more than death!
When I shared that with the teachers that I had a face to face example of the passivity that our education system breeds with a large group of first year pre-service teachers only last week … they began to share about their experiences of students from year 8 onwards and how they developed themselves to overcome the fear suppressor with the students.
Social networking research indicates that unless the individual has very strong self-confidence and wherewithal to go against group behaviour (the fear of speaking up and being wrong or humiliated) they will be passive and go along with the beliefs of the groups they are in. A simple example of this is how we can be chameleon like when we are in different groups of people. Fitting into a group is a survival technique that is fundamental to design of the brain in most species.
So a learning environment must be safe and develop the self-confidence of the child to question, to challenge, to develop their own place in the world. Young people must learn how to fail and learn from those experiences without fear of consequences for failing (e.g embarrassment, teasing, bullying, etc).
How do we create this?
Well the very best teachers practice it all the time. They know that they must be connected on a deep level with the students. They actively build a safe environment. They share their lives and create mutual respect. They honour their word. They consistently role model behaviour and relate to the students as their learning partners. They create environments where it is Ok to fail and make mistakes. They sometimes ask the students for feedback so they can improve their ability to deliver lessons that are more inspiring or have the students learn better.
Even more than this … why inquiry learning is becoming a more spoken about learning approach is that it is not about right or wrong, good or bad … but it allows students to discover and voice opinions and try different things out in an environment of discovery.
You might realise my point by this time. Unless we move from a content focussed paradigm which is all about passing the test, getting things right, etc .. we will not be preparing students for a world that is profoundly changing.
If we want our students to be self-confident, risk-taking thought provokers who adapt to an ever changing social and technological environment then we need to shift OUR paradigm of education.
The leap isn’t large … but it is becoming more and more urgent.
In last week’s blog we begun a discussion about developing leadership whilst student’s are learning. This week we explore, what John Maxwell calls “the quickest way to developing leadership“.
F.F. Fourneis, in his wonderful exposition Coaching for Improved Work Performance, discussed four common reasons why people do not perform the way they should:
- They do not know WHAT they are supposed to do
- They do not know HOW to do it
- They do not know WHY they do it
- There are obstacles beyond their control
Despite that this was originally written about work circumstances it is apparent that this can also be said about students in a school situation.
The first two reasons are normally dealt with reasonably well within a classroom environment. We provide excellent explicit teaching on the WHAT and the HOW of doing specific tasks. Having well designed assessment rubrics go a long way to providing students with what they need to show that they have develop knowledge as well as skills and capacities.
Reason three, the WHY, is sometimes not addressed well in classes but can be developed with well designed “tuning in” sessions and linking to the students’ understanding in other areas. A strong WHY will have the students engaged, passionate and enabling strong transference of skills AND knowledge.
Reason four, however, is poorly dealt with by many schools, and in fact most people rarely develop the wherewithal to overcome the obstacles that life throws at them unless their survival is at risk!
[Interestingly, a social psychologist at a conference once shared with me how in a survey he performed of his clients he discovered that 6% changed their unproductive habits from advertising, 17% from an emergency (e.g. heart attack, cancer) while over 70% because a close friend or family member nagged them until they changed!].
One can consider that one major aspect of leadership is the ability to overcome obstacles to achieve the goals you set out to achieve. You look at any successful individual and you will find that they failed many times before they succeeded and what made them successful and leaders in their areas was that they learnt how to overcome or get around obstacles (the youtube video below gives some examples of this).
John C Maxwell in his book Developing the Leader Within You suggests that there are only two things that allow for powerful problem solving and leadership: the right attitude and the right action plan.
Given the importance of attitude to being a leader, next weeks blog will go in depth about the right attitude. At this point I just want you to consider that in a content focussed curriculum and school environment the right attitude of students is to give what the teachers want and what the assessments ask for that will give them the best marks. This does not naturally develop leadership.
With respect to the right action plan John Maxwell outlined the following process to develop the problem solving approach that will give people the ability to tackle the obstacles they face
- Identify the problem – quite often we attack the symptoms not the cause. Identify the real issues that lie beneath the symptoms
- Prioritise the problem – quite often we become stopped because we seem to have too many problems or things to deal with. Being able to list the issues and them prioritise them will allow students to grapple with the reality of the situation and learn how to deal with what is most important first
- Define the problem – defining what is the problem you will tackle (e.g. a critical question the students will tackle in an inquiry learning project) gives direction to the solution process. Maxwell discusses 4 steps to this aspect
- Ask the right questions
- Talk to the right people
- Get the hard facts
- Get involved in the process
- Select people to help you in the process – I have observed that many people try to solve problems on their own and get stuck. What I have found is that the answers always lie in community. Consulting as widely as possible will allow for solutions that you, as an individual, have never thought of.
- Collect problem causes
- Collect possible solutions
- Prioritise and select the best solutions
- Implement the best solution
- Reflect on and Evaluate the solution
You have probably noticed by now that this process IS the process of project-based inquiry learning. Pure inquiry learning, where the students choose a critical question to research and then go about in a discovery approach to answer their question, requires the skills and capacities I have just outlined.
What I ask you to reflect on is … how are you developing your students in the above process EXPLICITLY? Do you have rubrics that the students fill out to train them? Do you have particular practices you use in the class to do this? Do you have specific templates where the students can ritualise this process?
Feel free to comment on the blog!
Next week .. developing the right attitude!
It is interesting when you start reading out of your field how many interesting ideas one discovers that are applicable to education.
Ken Blanchard is one of the world leading experts on management and leadership. He is the author of a series of books called the “One Minute Manager”. He, and his team, have sold millions of books and empowered managers and leaders in a range of industries worldwide in simple and effective approaches to developing leadership and managing their organisations.
In “Leadership and the One Minute Manager” I discovered an interesting table (see Figure 1 below) where the One Minute Manager discusses “Situational Leadership”. The principal behind the approach reminded me greatly of how inquiry–learning, project-based learning can be designed to empower and develop skills in young people. It actually reflects the essence of what Bertram Bruce from the University of Illinois pointed out about the stages that teachers must go through to develop skills in leading inquiry learning (Figure 2).
The table outlines the relationship between four developmental levels and the four leadership styles that a manager / leader would use with the person in that developmental level.
- Directing – for people who lack competence but are enthusiastic and committed. They need direction and frequent feedback to get them started.
- Coaching – for people who have some competence but lack commitment. They need direction and feedback because they are relatively inexperienced. They also need support and praise to build their self-esteem, and involvement in decision making to restore their commitment.
- Supporting – for people who have competence but lack confidence or motivation. They don’t need much direction because of their skills, but support is necessary to bolster their confidence and motivation.
- Delegating – for people who have both competence and commitment. They are able and willing to work on a project by themselves with little supervision or support.
So if one was going to develop independent learners who are responsible for their own learning teachers would need to use a variety of leadership styles. Teachers would also need to ensure that the students develop competencies and skills. They need to have the basic knowledge as well as the skills to use that knowledge.
However, how many teachers become stuck using one leadership style? Some are all about directing. Some are all about supporting or coaching. If a teacher does not use the appropriate leadership style to the student (and it gets even more complicated because students can be in different developmental levels for different subjects … and the One Minute Manager actually shares a story about this) then we can actually be counter-productive to learning.
What do you see? Tell us in the comments section of the blog.
Next week we will discuss another aspect of leadership … how do you actually set up your teaching to develop leadership.
This week I thought I’d make a short entry but one that could be really useful for you. Yep … I am giving you stuff in this one!
When I lead inquiry learning workshops with teachers one of the skills that they highlight as important for young people growing up in a 21st century environment is planning and organisational skills. If we are going to develop those skills we need to systemize the process such that the students know what to do.
For example, at a secondary school I have visited, they have a set number of templates that they use to generate ideas, capture ideas, display ideas, use to link and mind map, etc. So they train the students to go straight to the templates (tools) when needed. This approach will develop the habits that build the planning and organisational skills. It also lessens the workload for teachers once their students have be trained!
There is no need to reinvent the wheel as there are many resources available on the internet. Here are some:
Search through for what you can use and adjust them to your needs.
The second part of this week’s blog is around De-schooling school and the future of education. I came upon two interesting videos (which I have attached from Youtube) by George Siemens, an educational technologies expert. The first video discusses how schools (and society) are institutionalised and because of this constraint limit what is possible in schools.
The second video, Robin Good (the interviewer), questions George Siemens about what he sees the future of education. George raises soem very interesting ideas and thoughts about the skills for the 21st century and beyond.
I had a fascinating conversation yesterday whilst I was at Rowellyn Park Primary coaching Grade 5 and 6 teachers in developing inquiry based units.
Janette Lewellyn, the school principal, had invited Mike Scadden from Brain Stems (http://www.brainstems.co.nz/) to work with the teachers the following day and Mike happened to be in the room as I worked with the teachers. Mike is an ex-principal based in New Zealand and has a Masters Degree from the University of Tasmania specialising in brain compatible and accelerated learning.
At lunch time we were discussing brain training and developing brain compatible learning in primary school children. At one point he walked to the whiteboard I had been using and drew the following word diagram on the board …
Abstract – Symbolic – Concrete – Transfer
and then asked me in which domain did I see children working. I though for a moment and said .. “children really work in the concrete given they like to be very hands on and see things in front of them”. Mike then pointed out that one of the pitfalls that some schools fall in to is that they try to have the children learn from an abstract or symbolic representation before they are ready for it. So while a child may have a rote learn understanding of the abstract or symbolic representation it doesn’t transfer into their actual learning and ability to apply what they have learnt into different situations.
The small diagram that Mike drew represents a cognitive outline of how we can learn concepts such that they allow for a transfer of knowledge (i.e. able to apply it to other situations and circumstances). Children live very much in the now and their world is very much what they can see, feel, touch, etc. Thus, when I am coaching teachers, I coach them to develop projects that are real, practical and involve community. My intention is that the students start to relate their learning to the concrete world around them.
One thing to note about the diagram is that there aren’t arrows pointing in any direction. In fact the process is not linear. One can go back and forth using abstract, symbolic or concrete representations to cause the transfer of knowledge. I have found, particularly at high schools, that they tend to focus too much on the abstract and the symbolic and thus tend to lose the relationship of the student applying it to their world. Given my background as an engineer and a Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering, I really became clear that just knowing and understanding the abstract concepts or the symbolic representations of the concept does not cause the true understanding of the physical situation and thus the transfer of knowledge.
I believe that one must use all aspects of abstract, symbolic and concrete in ones teaching but the percentage one uses it depends on the age group you are teaching. In primary schools you definitely would focus more on the concrete and introduce the symbolic and abstract more and more from Grade 2/3 onwards. Grade 5 / 6 would still be mostly concrete because that is the world of the children still. As the child grows in their cognitive undertsanding of the world around them then the greater the percentage of abstract and symbolic representations.
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Welcome to 2010 and the start of a whole new year of learning and discovery!
Over the summer I have been involved in doing some research for Dr David Zyngier at the Faculty of Education at Monash University. David and I first met when I took over the ruMAD? program at the Education Foundation and I began to redesign it to be more applicable in schools. Since then David has asked me back each year, no matter what I am up to, to talk to his first year and final year pre-service teachers about inquiry learning and applying it in schools.
Out of the 2009 lecture on Connectedness I asked David if there was some work i could do for him (and that way I can build my knowledge base and continue to develop what i deliver to schools from the latest research). So for the past month I have been reviewing the research literature on after-school programs, on how community-school partnerships can support children who are culturally, linguistically and economically challenged, and how schools can support parents in supporting the learnign of their children.
I was just reading an article about what interventions schools and parents can make for their children when a particular paragraph struck me as vitally important for us all …
“During the early school years children develop perceptions of their own academic competence. Research suggests that these perceptions are established in response to children’s perceptions of their own abilities in school, and become relatively stable by third or fourth grade (Chapman et al., 2000). These self-perceptions appear to determine whether children pursue or avoid opportunities to acquire and refine the academic skills and strategies characteristics of proficient learners, expend effort and persist in the face of difficult challenges (Chapman et al., 2000; Helmke & van Aken, 1995). This suggests that if an early childhood intervention succeeds at boosting children’s academic skills, even if only in the short-term, it may lead children to have more positive perceptions of their own abilities. If instilling positive academic self-concepts increases the likelihood that students seek out learning opportunities and remain engaged in school, then it may result in long-term benefits to human capital.”
Duncan, G. and K. Magnuson (2004). “Individual and parent-based intervention strategies for promoting human capital and positive behavior.” Human development across lives and generations: The potential for change: 209-235.
What this paragraph implies is that we have a critical focus in primary schools and parenting … ensuring that our children’s perception of themselves, their ability to learn, and “who they are for themselves” are empowered ones.
I have been especially noticing the perceptions of my children to themselves over the past year. Ty is 9 years old and going into Grade 4 this year and Chiara is 6 years old and going into Grade 1. I have been picking up the underlying perceptions in what my children say and their actions, and I have taken on to have them think about who they are and what they say as they tackle tasks and communicate with each other.
For example, one of the first words that come out of my children’s mouths when they are attempting something new (or they fail in doing something a number of times) is that it is “hard”. When something is “hard” it creates a perception of being immovable, impossible, overwhelming difficult. In fact one definition of “hard” is that it is “resistant to pressure, not readily penetrated“. But … if you are doing something for the first time (like playing putting a basketball through a hoop, or doing a maths problem or writing a word) then … you may not be successful until you have trained your muscles and your brain in doign what is necessary to be successful. However the word “hard” creates a mental barrier. What I have created for the kids is to replace “hard” with “challenging”. A challenge can be overcome. By definition a challenge is “A test of one’s abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking“.
We have also set up, as much as we could, an environment at home where the children read, there are limitations on TV watching, that they participate in homework clubs and other out-of-school activities, and we partner them in their learning as much as we can.
What difference has this made?
Ty, who at the end of Grade 2 was rated by his school as only being midway though Grade 2 in most of his learning areas jumped a year an one half in his ratings so as he begins Grade 4 his is rated as midway through Grade 4. Chiara is rated at midway through Grade 1 after a year of prep (and being in a Reggio Emilio inspired program).
Given the above highlighted research it then is critical for schools to also educate and empower the parents of their students … especially before Grade 4.
It is for this reason I have designed a new seminar for 2010 to be delivered to parents at primary school to begin to educate them on how they can partner their children in developing a positive self-perception of learning. Check out the seminar at the website www.intuyuconsulting.com.au
Welcome to Intuyu Consulting: Empowering 21st Century Learning.
This blog is designed to enlighten, to give ideas, to share thoughts and to empower teachers, schools, students and educators to shift the culture of their schools such that they actually prepare their students for the 21st century.
Firstly I want to say … I am not the font of all knowledge! Far from it. But as I read and work in schools there are great ideas and tools I come across that i will want to share.
Feel free to link to me, to share the thoughts and ideas with others and to make a difference from what you read and see!