Remote learning...again. It felt like a sharper stab in the back this time for all the families that had seen their children flourish back in school for the whole of the Autumn term. As a teaching staff, we were determined to take on the challenge...
I was lucky enough to attend a Heads’ Conference with the Independent School Association (virtually...of course) last week. The keynote speaker was Professor Bill Lucas, the Director of the Centre for Real Life Learning. It was one of those blissful hours where everything he said resonated with me and his philosophy for education matching my own. He talked about children needing a ‘zest’ for learning and he quoted from Ken Robinson,
‘Activities we love fill us with energy even when we are physically exhausted. Activities we don’t like can drain us in minutes, even if we approach them at our physical peak of fitness. This is one of the primary reasons why finding the ‘Element’ is vital for every person... Mental energy is not a fixed substance. It rises and falls with our passion and commitment to what we are doing at the time.’
When you’ve taken away the vibrancy of the classroom environment, we need to provide activities remotely that stimulate and give children that zest for learning. Not all children are the same; one child’s idea of ‘activity’ heaven may leave another child cold. So we need to vary our activities to catch their ‘passion and commitment’.
Miss Katie’s science experiments would have fascinated me and filled me with energy and enthusiasm. (The mess the pupils left after experimenting may have filled their parents with less enthusiasm but I’m sure they wouldn’t begrudge their child’s moment of joy and discovery).
Making things or ‘wroughting’ as it was called in Regency times, was the original meaning of what made up the 3Rs, according to Sir Christopher Frayling, Rector of the Royal College of Arts. Not reading, writing and arithmetic but reading, wroughting and arithmetic. Wroughting has a wide definition: worked into shape by artistry or effort or as Professor Bill Lucas explained in simple terms: making things. This was a prized part of education until the era of Mr Gradgrind and the Great Exhibition of the 1850s where ‘wroughting’ got dropped for ‘writing’.
As an English teacher, I’d have been more than happy with 4Rs but I do agree - ‘wroughting’ is often what fills children with that zest for learning. So whether it’s creating your own hot air balloon, building a pirate ship or building a dinosaur habitat as a diorama, you can be sure that ‘wroughting’ is most definitely NOT out of fashion and deserves its place in the world of education.