Monday, 16 February 2009

Independent Learning

Independent Learning is surely the holy grail of all educators. In her paper 'Understanding Learners' Jane Hart describes how the current generation of learners have a style very different from the people who teach them. Yet the desire to get the pupils to 'do it for themselves' remains as strong as ever.
The difference now is that independent learning though technology is infinitely easier and a lot more fun.
The skills needed for independent learning have not remained the same. What I was bad at school and university was research, reading round and taking ownership. The school learners today are faced with the need not find information but to filter it; and not only that, but to focus on the learning in hand when the tool they are using - Web 2.0 - has so many other enticing distractions! By promoting Independent Learning as a specific competency the school invites teachers and pupils to engage in projects, homework and open-ended tasks that provide pupils with the chance to experiment and explore the realms of working for themselves.
The key to success here is to create a school culture where children feel safe to fail; and that is achieved by taking away grading systems, promoting formative assessment and keeping 'competition' out of the classroom.
It is in these last few aspects that this school starts to depart from the ethos of most mainstream schools.

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