Monday, March 02, 2015

What's the point of school?

In the previous post we have explored the perspective of Professor Guy Claxton, director of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester, who has authored a book on this subject. Here he strongly criticizes the testing system and its implications on children and learning, such as stress and emotional problems, and alienation from real learning. He argues that for various reasons stress is becoming an epidemic amongst children, while schools contribute to it, but do not teach children to be resilient and adaptable. What Claxton advocates is a curriculum that meets the needs and interests of students, making school relevant to them, and providing them with challenging and relevant learning opportunities. Finally Claxton addresses the gap between what students learn in schools and what students need to learn for the real world and suggests that schools discourage innovation, curiosity and risk taking, skills needed for the real world.

In this interesting article on BBC News, Mark Easton also explores the role that schools should have in the development of our children and quotes the Character and Resilience Manifesto published by the APPG in February 2014, according to which "All too often the development of attributes associated with character and resilience - that is, the development of the pupil as a rounded individual - are neglected or, at best, given second billing". Despite the fact that "The most powerful childhood predictor of adult life-satisfaction is the child's emotional health. Next comes the child's conduct. The least powerful predictor is the child's intellectual development" (LSE report),"many well-intentioned programmes carried out with the best will in the world have been found to make no difference". The APPG report points so to successful initiatives in Singapore and the United States. In particular the American "Knowledge is Power Program' (KIPP) is cited as a model of what is possible. KIPP, that values character development as highly as academic preparation, has had remarkable success with youngsters from some of America's most deprived neighbourhoods. Based on seven "highly predictive" strengths - zest, self-control, gratitude, curiosity, optimism, grit and social intelligence - the KIPP model is now being adapted in some UK schools.
-- Read Schools urged to promote 'character and resilience' on BBC News
-- Read about KIPP
-- Watch KIPP School Summit 2014 - Looking Forward
-- Watch How KIPP Teachers Learn to Teach Critical Thinking
-- Watch KIPP Extraordinary Teachers

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