Links for Leaders
James hasn’t finished his book for leaders (yet) but it’s on its way. In the meantime, here are some articles to read and links to follow.
Values associated with the Learning Pit
Images of the Learning Pit will help pique your students’ interest, but of course more is needed to realise its full potential. The following values are a very good next step.
Describe challenge as interesting
Very often, learners will view challenges as ‘difficult.’ Whereas, if we talk about challenges as being ‘interesting’ or ‘intriguing’ then students are less likely to be disheartened or fearful of stepping out of their comfort zone. You can read more about this in The Learning Challenge (Section 1.3, 2017) and Challenging Mindset (Section 8.1, 2018).
Support learners with inquiry and making connections
When learners link ideas, concepts, skills, and theories together, they are able to form a more complete understanding of the world around them. Indeed, it is this process of ‘making connections’ that is arguably the key difference between ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’. If these connections reach across disciplines, then transferability will also be enhanced.
Encourage open-mindedness & a willingness to learn from others
Students are often more interested in learning when others around them are curious and willing to express uncertainty, so model open-mindedness. Phrases such as ‘I’m not sure’, ‘perhaps’, ‘maybe’ and ‘I was wondering’ will help. Remind your staff of the celebrated Irish poet W.B. Yeats (1919) assertion in The Second Coming, ‘The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity’.
Use dialogue to enhance learning
Encouraging students to talk about their ideas, assumptions and misconceptions – and to question each other – is at the heart of Learning Pit experiences. Indeed, dialogue has been shown time and again to improve learning and yet is all too often dominated by teachers. Gad Yair (2000) found that teachers talk for 70-80% of lesson time, and that the amount they talk increases as the year level rises and the numbers of students in each class decrease. The Learning Pit can be used to redress this balance by developing dialogue and encouraging student voice.
Describe process as more important than outcome
Think of the process of going into the Learning Pit as more important than arriving at an answer. That is not to say achieving a consensus is a bad thing, but it is to say that it shouldn’t be thought of as the primary focus. After all, there are already too many lessons that hasten towards an answer at the expense of inquiry and exploration.
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