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i s s u e n o . 2
Headmaster John Baugh considers the role of the Dragon in
equipping pupils with transferable skills for lifelong learning –
to fit them for rapid change and a future we cannot predict.
Conventional training for jobs is
insufficient when careers now rarely follow
a set course. Equipping young people
with transferable skills, particularly a life-
long learning habit and an ability to work
collaboratively, will be critical to their future
happiness and prosperity. Our challenge is to
focus on learning processes and on joining
up the different subjects on the curriculum.
This in turn places a premium on thinking
skills, on which the pursuit of deep learning
depends.
Dragon skills
The Dragon’s curriculum and teaching
are designed so that children discover
how
to learn as well as
what
to learn. We help
them develop learning strategies, thinking
and communication techniques, and
personal skills. Nurturing enquiry, building
the confidence to question and debate, and
encouraging children to work collaboratively
lie at the core of this approach. In short,
we aim to give Dragon pupils the expertise
to learn throughout their lives – to take
advantage of every opportunity life presents
and to adapt positively to new circumstances.
What does this mean in practical terms
at the Dragon? First, a rich and varied
curriculum which naturally incorporates
thinking skills: e.g. Logic - Maths and Latin;
Problem Solving - Design Technology and
Science; Conceptual Thinking - History and
Geography. Second, we increasingly offer
stand-alone modules of ‘enrichment’ such as:
Learning Strategies
e.g. Revision, Memory,
Enquiry and Organisational Skills, Time
Management;
Thinking Skills
e.g. Sorting,
Analysing, Evaluating, Brainstorming, Critical
Thinking, Concept (Mind) Mapping, Logical
Reasoning;
Reading and Writing Skills
e.g.
Essay Writing and Note Taking; Reading for
Understanding and Speed Reading;
Personal
Skills
e.g. Presentation Skills, Collaborative
Skills, ICT Skills and Personal Welfare.
Varied and creative teaching methods
allow staff to adopt individual approaches
to every child’s learning style; a repertoire of
visual, aural and practical methods is used
to help different types of learners. As one
of my colleagues expressed it to me: “We’re
clear that lessons must be about learning, not
teaching. As a teacher, if a lesson is focused on
learning, then how and whether your pupils
are learning will be at the forefront of your
thinking. If a lesson is focused on teaching,
a lesson can too easily be about you, the
teacher.”
Preparing the Class of 2020
What do the following three events of the
21st century have in common? An Icelandic
volcano erupts, closes UK airspace and
disrupts travel all around the world for weeks
on end. Banks’ lending on doubtful debt
brings the economies of whole countries to
their knees and triggers global recession. An
earthquake in Haiti causes massive destruction
to one of the poorest countries on earth – and
within hours the news is around the globe and
millions in aid start to pour in.
One answer is that they are unprecedented
in scale and unpredictability. Globalisation
means that the worldwide effect of local
events can be fast and widespread as
economies interlink and communication is
instant. The 21st century is giving us a lot to
think about – from pandemics to iPads.
Deep learning
What has this to do with education? Well,
we cannot predict the future, but we can
help prepare children for it. I am reliably
informed that it is estimated that a week’s
worth of
The Times
today contains more
information than an educated person was
likely to come across in a whole lifetime in the
18
th
century. It is estimated that more unique,
new information will be generated worldwide
this year than the whole of the last 5,000
years and that the amount of new technical
information is doubling every two years. (By
2012 it is expected to double every 72 hours.)
For students starting a three-year university
degree, this means that half of what they learn
in their first year will be outdated by the end
of their studies; many of today’s degree courses
didn’t exist 10 years ago (New Media, Organic
Agriculture, e-Business, Nanotechnology).
What will students study in ten years’ time?
We can barely imagine the world of 2020 into
which today’s Year 3 children will emerge as
adults – but it is our job to equip them to
cope and to flourish.
I am reliably informed that
it is estimated that a week’s
worth of
The Times
today
contains more information
than an educated person
was likely to come across
in a whole lifetime in the
18th century.
D R A G O N S T O D A Y . S P R I N G 2 0 1 0
Head Dragon
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