It is hard to label what it is we are doing here at Amesbury School. 21st century learning is now an outdated term given that we are now well into the 21st century. The argument is that because we are well into the 21st century, the learning that is happening in all schools must be 21st century learning. Apparently, the term "21st century learning" can no longer be a term that points forward to a new way of "doing" learning. MLE – modern learning environments – became the new term but this has caused the "future-focused learning movement" to become focused on physical environments more than how teaching and learning happens. The powers-that-be have recently decided that MLE or MLP (modern learning practice) are no longer acceptable terms. Apparently we are now to use the term ILE – Innovative Learning Environments. I am not really convinced that this moniker is any better than any of the previous labels. However, none of this really matters to me other than for the fact that it becomes tiresome trying to think of a single word or phrase to describe our approach which connects with other people's thinking. We use any or all of the above to try to give people an idea of what it is that we are trying to do here at Amesbury School.
However, names and labels aside, we are very clear about our vision for teaching and learning and the kinds of learning experiences we want children to have. We want them to experience a "humanising education" – an education in which "every student experiences what it means to be fully human and continually fulfils his/her potential." The term "humanising" is a bit off putting for some people – it seems woolly and soft. However, our experience is that it is anything but! A humanising education is one in which each student experiences highly effective teaching and learning programmes which acknowledge and value their uniqueness, their right to be insiders in their learning, their empowerment to make plans and carry them out (agency), their need to belong, to feel part of a group (togetherness), but also to be acknowledged as being on their own personal journey. A humanising education acknowledges and meets the needs of the "whole" child and ensures that they are involved in the process of making sense of their experiences and the world. This kind of education is not focused so much on students learning content, but rather on learning content AND using it to live better in and for the world. Content/skills are a means but are not the end of education. According to "humanising care in nursing", when people experience each of these aspects of what it means to be human, they will experience what it means to be fully human. This is what we want for our students.
A humanising education is our vision; everything we do in our school needs to align with this. Over the next few months I am going to write briefly about some of the pedagogical approaches that are central to the delivery of a humanising education.