Primary education: listening and observing
Primary education: listening and observing

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Primary education: listening and observing

1 A headteacher talks about lifelong learning

For this final session, headteacher Mark Millinson was asked about the learning of adults who work and volunteer in his school. He says he sees many similarities between children and adults as learners.

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Adults learning in a primary school, fundamental to the success of a primary school. I would like to think that every adult learns something every day, and that you start your career not knowing how to do it, because there's a lot of learning to happen. And you might put the word yet into that sentence, not learning how to do it yet. However, as I get to the other end of my career, I still don't know everything that I've come across. And I think that's very healthy, because a good teacher, a good teaching assistant, is the curious one, is the reflective one, the one that wants to know why, because this one size fits all idea does not work, because the children are different. The schools are different. The adults are different. Everything's different. So therefore, you have to adapt continually. You have to reflect. What works this year for a group of children may not work next year because, once again, they're different children. So that might sound onerous in some respects. But you know what? It's actually what makes it fun, what makes it really interesting, what makes it appropriately challenging. You know, you're driving to work in the morning thinking, how am I going to help Bill to actually achieve this? How do I help Emily to achieve that? And you're being very creative in yourself. It's not doing the same thing day in day out. Having been in primary schools now for more than 30 years, I haven't had two days the same. Do I see similarities between adults and children as learners? Every day. Every day. There's the next steps in learning, be you adult or be your child. There's a reflection upon what you know and what you need to know, again for both adults and for child. And there's developing curiosity, developing interest, developing a hunger for learning, which I want to see and everybody associated with this school, because learning, it doesn't stop at a particular age. I see insecurities in adults like I see insecurities in children. And it's my role as the head teacher to encourage them through those insecurities, to accept them for what they are, and to reassure them that actually this is wonderful. And can you do the same for me too, please? Because I'm going to have insecurities about my learning. And that creates a learning community, where you have learning conversations, that are mutually supportive. Just because we're adults, doesn't mean to say we need to stop learning. And just because we are adult, doesn't mean to say there isn't a reason for learning.
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