Learning in the snow

STOP Snowing!photo © 2008 John Talbot | more info (via: Wylio)
On the radio today I heard a number of members of the public and a public representative calling for teachers to make up for the time lost due to the bad weather we have been experiencing in Ireland this month. In order to do this, teachers would lose part of their scheduled holidays in lieu of the recent exceptional closures.

Making teachers come into school during holidays would seem to me both petty and pointless – I doubt if any learning will take place during these extra days as kids won’t turn up and I can imagine that many teachers book holidays for the start of any break meaning they would have to be compensated. In short, I can’t see this working.

There is another way though.

I think that schooling should continue even though the building may be shut. There is no reason why schools could not announce via their website or SMS that;

“The school building will be closed today but learning will continue as normal”.

Activities could be posted onto the school website for students to participate in. Teachers could set a research activity and see results posted into a blog or forum. Exam classes could meet online to discuss a particular question or to share study advice. There is no reason why in this communication age that we cannot continue to facilitate learning in these circumstances. What is required is a shift in perceptions of what a school building is:

School is one place where people can meet to learn; not the only place.

Knowledge is fine but what can you DO?

Joey and April working on their keyboarding skillsphoto © 2001 Michael Surran | more info (via: Wylio)

Just what is it that we want kids to learn at school?

I came up with this non-exhaustive list:

  1. be able to think for themselves and form valid opinions
  2. be able to communicate ideas effectively in writing, speech and through presentation media
  3. be able to locate reliable information  from the web and from books
  4. be able to carry out common calculations for common tasks
  5. be able to manage their learning in a way which is appropriate to them

As for what knowledge they gain along the way…I’m not too concerned. If they can do all of these things above then  the knowledge will follow.

It’s time we stopped stressing about what we want kids to know and worry more about what we want them to be able to do.