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

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Primary education: listening and observing

5 Children and adults learning together

Good teachers and education workers know that they don’t have all the answers all the time, so it’s important to see yourself as a learner if you want to support the learning of children.

Headteacher Mark Millinson says adults who see themselves as curious, lifelong learners will be able to help children develop these dispositions for learning.

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MARK MILLINSON
One of the things I learnt very early on in my teaching career was when to shut up. Because an adult can be very secure in their own knowledge. And think they know where they're going in the right direction, but children don't need a constant barrage from an adult in order to be able to learn. They need space, they need time, they need to be able to reflect. They need to test it out. And to be able to do that, they need an environment that encourages that. So we purposely hope children will fail at things, that they will become resilient. That they will find their own solutions by being thinkers rather than people who are expecting always to get something right. I know, myself, as a learner, I need to fail in order to be able to learn something new. Or to reflect upon it, or to seek help and assistance from somebody who knows more than I do. Whatever it is, whatever the subject is, that's fine. And by encouraging children to be good learners-- to develop those skills, not to be anxious about not knowing something, but to seek help and reassurance from an adult who can help them to discover new and wonderful things-- that's what teaching is. Although, it's not a lecture for children in a primary school. It's not sit and listen so everybody then absorbs new knowledge. No, young children need to explore and experiment. I'm very mindful of once a young child in reception had a magnifying glass in her hand. On her hands and knees, outside. And I said to her, "Oh, that's really interesting. What are you looking for? What are you doing?" And she said, "I'm looking for dinosaurs." Which was so endearing. Why would you look for a dinosaur with a magnifying glass? But I didn't say that to her. I said, "Wow, what does they look like, then? Tell me about these. Are they creatures? Tell me about them." So I could have corrected her and stopped her being an explorer, somebody interested in learning. Course, she was being very playful and creative at the same time. By telling her she's wrong and dinosaurs are much-- et cetera, and moving forward in that way, I gave her the opportunity to become-- hopefully, have the skills to become a lifelong learner. Because we don't stop, do we? Let children be creative. Give them the space to do it. Help to direct them, steer them in a direction. But don't take over. Let the learning come.
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In the final sections of this session, you will begin to sketch your own learning life story.

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