Read Kate’s Column in the Autumn 2017 issue of School Report: Challenging perspectives on change
Each new academic year brings new challenges and opportunities. With the arrival of three timetables, two different sets of uniform and a never-ending list of equipment – per child – it’s easy to get caught up in the busy period of a new school year and find that the family calendar says it’s only two days to go until October half term!
While some aspects of a new school year never change, the rapid reforms to British examinations and curricula are understandably unsettling for pupils, parents and educators. Although it’s natural to be feeling apprehensive about the prospect of learning another whole new syllabus this year, the benefit of this climate of change is to seize the opportunity to broaden our learning goals. Socrates astutely acknowledged that “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
At Enjoy Education we strive to instil the sense of power and positivity in learning that extends far beyond the school walls. How can we equip all children to fulfil their potential throughout the inevitable changes to the content of their learning? We shift our primary focus from what children are learning to how they are learning. By extending academic goals to include the development of a “can do” approach, we can foster a positive attitude to learning that celebrates questioning and problem-solving. These skills and values allow children to grow into lifelong learners who are ready to learn and are open to new ideas throughout both their school and adult careers.
By identifying the qualities of successful adult learners, we can help almost any child to develop the skills to achieve lifetime success. Based on the latest neuroscience and psychological research, a new book Great Minds and How to Grow Them, by Professor Deborah Eyre and Wendy Berliner, highlights these attributes as the key components of high performers. Their work explores the malleability of children’s brains and challenges the perspective that children are born with innate gifts and a fixed IQ. We often refer to discoveries of understanding and moments of pure genius as ‘Einstein moments’ or the ‘Eureka effect’ but it is encouraging to know that Albert Einstein did not consider himself to be a gifted genius. Einstein once remarked: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” This strength of character and perseverance is what drove Einstein to change the world of science – and should continue to challenge our perception of the attributes of a successful learner.
In the face of educational change, let this new school year focus on building new positive attitudes to learning and developing skills for lifetime success. Developing confidence, an open mind and a sense of curiosity will ensure that your child has the tools to transcend any changes and challenges that come their way this school year and transform them into ‘aha!’ opportunities for learning.