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School closures are an opportunity to battle-harden students' independent learning

Let's invest in building young peoples' capacity and appetite for organising and grappling with things on their own.

Sharon McCutcheon, Hampton Beach, Hampton, NH, USA, Child of COVID-19, Coronavirus, social distancing. March 18, 2020.

It really does seem as if this viral cloud could have an educational silver lining – for those school leaders who have already been training up their students to take greater control over planning, trouble-shooting and evaluating their own learning. If they have already begun to taste the pride and satisfaction that comes from figuring things out for yourself (both alone and together with peers), then school closures will be a great opportunity to battle-harden that independence. But students who have been trained to be compliant and dependent – to know only how to learn when they are being spoon-fed – will be much more at sea. And their poor teachers will be having to work their fingers to the bone digitising all their traditional lessons.

I’m reminded of a friend of mine who used to teach history at an independent school in England. George loved his A-level teaching especially, was a knowledgeable and inspiring teacher, and prided himself on getting great results. But he has always been puzzled by one thing. The year his students did best of all in their A-levels was a year in which George was away from school for a crucial 6 weeks in the spring term, and he was replaced by a very mediocre supply teacher! How come? They weren’t an especially gifted set, so the only explanation was that they just had to set to and organise their learning for themselves. And in doing so, they worked harder, had to think more deeply and independently – and Hey Presto! Better results!

As we in the Learning Power Approach have been saying for some time, invest in building your students’ capacity and appetite for organising and grappling with things on their own – with an appropriate amount of checking, supervision and quality control – and you have a Win Win Win situation: better results, better preparation for the independent learning that universities and colleges will require, and more enjoyable teaching. What’s not to like?

You can learn more about The Learning Power Approach by watching this video:

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