Helping Build Powerful Learners

Bruce Topham —

By attending learning conferences you are helping to develop powerful learners.

Thank you all for taking 30 minutes out of your busy lives to attend each of your children’s Learning Conferences and help your children develop their Learning Power.

If you were to enquire whether your child had become more perseverant, imaginative, independent, curious, inquisitive, experimental, reflective, self-controlled, attentive, resilient to adversity, open to experience, empathetic, tolerant and sociable so far this year, what would they say? These are just some of the skills and attitudes that they have been practicing and will need to master to reach their true potential in life.

While your children need to empower themselves to thrive in an increasingly complex world success in learning the traditional skills and knowledge remain paramount. We know that learning is itself a learnable craft; that we can all get better at it. This means that schools, teachers and indeed parents can enable young people to develop as better, more effective learners. Consider asking the question: When do you do your best thinking, learning or completion of tasks? Thus encouraging your child to consider how they best learn and in making good choices when engaged in learning.

To enhance learning power is to enable children to make good progress across the curriculum and become learners who are consciously aware of developing any of the learning behaviours previously mentioned. A wealth of high-value learning habits.

To get this to happen we are creating a school wide culture that systematically cultivates such habits and attitudes. Our teachers are becoming more precise and forensic about learning behaviours and attitudes, and shifting learning culture to becoming more learning-friendly.

Simple everyday social tasks have many facets that need to be learned and practised: can they share their ideas effectively, build on the ideas of others, clarify the task, agree on their goals, listen empathetically, change their minds and direction if necessary, stay focussed, monitor their progress and so forth? And all before they have applied the problem-solving skills needed to find the solution. Making the journey to learning-centred culture is gradual, and will be at times challenging, but a hugely worthwhile process and habit changes by teachers and parents alike.

Learning has become a shared responsibility, with students being given more responsibility for their own learning. A language for learning is gradually being introduced to help your children to become conscious of using their learning behaviours. Using and extending this language in the home adds breadth and depth to how our learners can respond, talk about, understand and improve learning. At Halswell learning activities are designed to stretch and challenge learning behaviours and content acquisition. The underlying learning values become visible through what is recognised, praised, displayed as we design nudges and activities that target quite specific aspects of learning behaviour.