Teaching children ‘how’ to learn….

I have begun reading, “The Learning Powered School” by Guy Claxton, Maryl Chambers, Graham Powell and Bill Lucas.  As you can probably tell, I’m doing a lot of reading and researching around ‘learning’.

Learning is central and core to everything that we do as a school – but yet, are we actually teaching children ‘how’ to learn?  Our aim is to create children who become ‘life long’ learners, ready for the transition to secondary school (from primary) and to become confident, resilient, tenacious 21st century citizens who make a positive contribution to society.  We should be teaching children ‘how to learn’, how to be independent, how to seek out knowledge and find answers to their questions.  Not only that, but we should be ingraining in our pupils the desire to succeed, reaching goals that they set themselves and knowing how and what to do to achieve the steps to attain these targets.  We should teach them how to make mistakes with resilience, fortitude and ‘bounce-back-ability’, how hard work, practice and effort pays off and that failure only comes when we stop trying.  These values have to become a part of the fabric of the school, part of the language, the environment, the structure and processes that everyone takes part in.

After reading chapter 1 of ‘The Learning Powered School’ it seems that what we have begun establishing in our school, resonates closely with what this book and its research is about.

At the start they establish that, “students who are more confident of their own learning ability learn faster and learn better.  They concentrate more, think harder and find learning more enjoyable” (p. 2, 2011).  Further, mirroring the vision for our pupils at school, “Schools need to be educating for life-long learning.  Pupils need to have learnt to be tenacious and resourceful, imaginative and logical, self-disciplined and self aware, collaborative and inquisitive” (p. 2, 2011).

They explain that there are ‘5 Core Beliefs’ about ‘Building Learning Power’.  Preparing children for the tests of life, building up a spirit of resourcefulness and resilience within pupils, building up their confidence to succeed and navigate in an ever-changing world, that intelligence is changeable and not fixed and finally that Building Learning Power will be challenging, achievable and essential (p. 2-3, 2011).

Again, much like what Hattie says about learning, it seems very common sense.  So why aren’t all schools on board?  We need to forget (or at least not make it ‘the’ priority) about attainment and league tables, but focus on the children and their learning.  But herein likes the problem…for this to happen, schools need to be brave and go against the status quo.  If ‘learning’  is at the centre of everything, we can’t go far wrong; everything else will fall into place.

Surely, teaching children how to ‘learn’, helping instill key learning traits and equipping them with an understanding of what effective learning looks like, will be key to successful schools?

How do you ‘teach’ children how to learn in your school?

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