Stepping up after your bachelor’s degree is like being in a crossroads – you need time to figure out which way to go. Many people take up their Master’s degree to give them more aptitude and edge once they muster the guts to go out and start applying for a job. In the same way, this also provides them a time to space out and prepare for the next steps after graduation. More often than not, some do opt for a Master’s degree to get into an extra ride to the university way of life.
A Masters in History
While dwelling in the past could be a negative thing for relationships gone sour, historians believe that the past can definitely teach us a thing or two of how to shift gears and do better at present and in the future. Taking up Masters in History are for people who are precise and detailed in terms of memorizing and understanding chronological events. This also needs a lot of research and analytical skills to be able to understand and
True enough, taking up online Masters in History or any other specialization doesn’t promise an easy ride. One must be prepared to take on a daunting challenge to prove it can be done – despite odds. One of the reasons why people pursue a Master’s degree is because majority of employers now prefer people who have taken up a Masters or higher education. Not to burst that bubble, but education certainly is a big business nowadays; but the real question is – is it worth it?
Here are some of the reasons why getting a Masters in History is important:
- Adds up Credibility. A Masters in History is important as it does not just beef up your CV but also adds more credibility to your skills. If you are considering taking up Masters and pushing yourself a notch higher, then you must consider the financial responsibility associated with pursuing higher studies. Yes, it’s not cheap to get a Masters but it’s achievable.
- Competitive edge. If you want to stand out amongst the competition, then you might need a Master’s degree. Practically everyone has a bachelor’s degree; but not everyone has a Masters. This will definitely give you that corporate edge in any industry because you will be classified as an expert. While a Masters is important, so is a comprehensive working experience. While the academia could be proud of a Masters graduate, the real-life corporate jungle needs people who are trained and experienced in the skills and attitude they need for the job.
- Higher pay and incentives. According to the Bureau of Labor Studies conducted in 2012, people who take up Masters in History get a median weekly salary that range from $1,300 while those who attained bachelor’s degree earn an approximate of $1,066 per week. Also, opportunities for promotions are stronger with a Master’s degree.
- Job Security. Earning yourself a Masters badge means that you will have a security of tenure as related studies also show that unemployment rate is relatively low for a person with a Masters in History at only 3.5%. This means you get to land a dream job and keep it for the long run.
- Robust marketplace demand. There is indeed a strong demand for employees with a Master’s degree. Having earned a reputation of an expert, more companies are looking to hire you at a higher rate than usual. More companies now are looking for competent individuals with higher studies on specific fields.
Having a Masters in History certainly gives you an added layer of credibility. Companies and educational institutions are looking to hire people who know a little bit of everything, and a master of one niche which is why a Masters will certainly attract more employers into offering you a stable lucrative position. This gives you more options in the professional stable because companies will look to tap into your expert channels rather than you looking for a job as most undergraduates do.
A Masters in History will certainly give you the leverage to get into the job you want. Most people who take up Masters in History become teachers or professors in prestigious universities while others become researchers, historians, and even journalists or writers of their own books. The diversity of professional choices is only available to those who have earned their stripes in the industry they serve. You become relevant and a scarce industry expert worth keeping.
There are plenty of apps out there already to help students stay focused and otherwise help in their learning process, but what about the teachers? This short guide will discuss a few of the more useful ones, and let you know about some potentially harmful ones to investigate further.
Perhaps one of the more well known apps for teachers, particularly in the United States, it wouldn’t be fair to leave ClassDojo out of this list. It is completely free for teachers to use. ClassDojo has been shown to help improve the behavior of students in the classroom over the long-term, while also helping them to build on the skills they need, and has features which allow the parents to get a better view of what their child is doing in school. This can help clear up any misunderstandings that can occur between parents and teachers, particularly when misbehavior is involved.
This app is a great way for teachers, no matter what their level of technical expertise is, to create visual learning tools for their students. This can be as simple as recording a voiceover while you write or draw a lesson plan on your iPad, and the lesson can then be shared with students through any number of means such as YouTube or direct download. Because the teacher is creating these visual lessons themselves, they can be fully customized to the needs of their class.
No matter how great of a teacher you are, most kids would prefer to do stuff rather than listen to you talk about stuff. Instructables helps make that kind of hands-on learning possible, and streamlines the whole process by giving you ideas and techniques to use in the classroom. From cooking to woodworking, and just about anything else you can think of, you will surely find some appropriate DIY projects here.
You may already be familiar with the traffic light setups you can buy at some teacher supply stores that are sound-sensitive and will light up when classroom noise gets too high, but now there is an app for that. Too Noisy Lite can be used for free online, and Too Noisy Pro can be used on iPad, iPhone, and even iPod Touch, for $3.99.
Potentially Harmful Apps You Should Know About
It is very tough for teachers and parents to keep up with all of the new technology and apps that students are using these days, but a little effort could go a long way in preventing any harmful effects. Due to the over-saturation of Facebook and Twitter, combined with the desire to try new things, the last few years has seen a large rise in the use of anonymous apps as a way for teenagers to communicate without sharing their real name and information.
These anonymous apps – such as Whisper, Secret, YikYak, and others – have made it much easier for cyberbullying and trolling to take hold in a school.
Are your students using anonymous apps? Do they know the risks and legal complications involved? Consider setting an assignment for them to write an essay about internet trolling and cyberbullying to get them thinking about the consequences.
Hand-eye coordination begins at infancy. Although the baby is practically nearsighted and can’t seem to recognize objects from afar, it is by instinct and constant exposure that infants will slowly progress towards focusing on moving objects at a much precise rate especially when he or she reaches the age of 2 months.
It is by 3 months of age, that an infant will display a more prominent hand-eye connection or coordination because the hands are now in the baby’s field of vision. They can control hand-eye movements and move on impulse with touching or grabbing objects that they can see or are attracted to.
In the toddler stage, your kid will be able to stack objects on top of each other or gather and collect toys in a particular sequence. They are now experts with handling the spoon and fork while feeding.
At age 4 and 5, your kid will be competent with the pen and will most likely try to tie his own shoelaces. Although at age 6, hand-eye coordination will move to a complex phase wherein the eye could be looking somewhere else while the hands are busy working on something. Multitasking seems to have developed from this stage.
Hand-eye coordination, in layman’s term, is all about using the eye or our visual system to process information and direct attention which controls the hands to perform tasks. Hand-eye coordination is important to be managed and developed even in the early years so that you will be able to carry out daily tasks with ease.
What is the importance of hand-eye coordination in kids?
- Mastery of handwriting skills begins with precise hand-eye coordination. Your eyes ought to guide your hands with writing letters and making sure that everything is in line.
- This is a very critical skill in sports because it helps you to focus on the goal such as when hitting a ball or catching a ball with precision.
- Tracking every word using visual skills.
- Life Skills. Hand-eye coordination in playtime is a preparatory for the real world. Building with legos, stacking up toys, following sets of instructions when playing hones a child to be ready for more tasks in the grownup stage.
Here are some fun activities that you can try with your kids to master hand-eye coordination:
- Object Relay. This is a great indoor and outdoor activity that mom and dad can do with kids during playtime. This is also a great game for parties.
Here’s how it works:
- If you are familiar with fireman relay, this works similarly with that. Let the kids form a single file. Prepare a bucket of toys in front of the line as well as an empty bucket waiting right at the back of the last child.
- Let the child pass one toy at a time to the kid on his back using both hands. Pass objects over the head alternately with that of passing things between their legs.
- The last kid will have to run in front of the line once he is done putting the toy on the bucket at the back; and so on so forth – until all toys are placed in the other bucket at the end of the line.
- Roll and Catch. This is a great game even for toddlers. It’s a game for two. Let the kids sit with legs opened wide or in a V position. Let the kids push the ball towards each other while attempting to stop it to prevent it from touching the chest. The first kid to get 5 goals is declared as winner.
- Playing Foosball. Kids will be able to enjoy playing foosball as it takes on a more complex way of doing hand-eye coordination. At first, your kids can observe while you maneuver the racks and then they can play side by side with you or as opponent. What’s great about foosball is that it trains a child to multitask because there are a lot of movements going on and also, be able to implement strategies in order to win the game.
There are lots of worthwhile activities that you can enjoy with your kids while also enriching their knowledge and sharpening hand-eye coordination in the process. Incorporating playtime with fun games is a great way to create more bonding moments with your children while also paving way in the mastery of cognitive and motor skills that they will need in the daily hustle and bustle of life.
Getting your degree online is unlike any run-of-the-mill educational route but is now considered significant and timely especially with today’s modern generation. If in case you are attending school for the first time or maybe taking up postgraduate studies or advanced courses – you may want to consider enrolling on online universities. Most E-learning programs are designed with the working class in mind which are designed for students to be able to integrate learned concepts and skills in their present working environment.
Here are the top advantages of getting your degree online:
- Convenience. Most individuals who cannot attend regular schooling opt for online education especially for those who have physical disabilities. Some students also cannot attend traditional schools because of geographical difficulties and restrictions with schedule. Getting your degree online allows you to take classes at flexible schedules right at the convenience of your own home. You only need a computer and a stable internet connection to get started with a virtual school.
- Cost-Effective. In comparison to attending a regular school, taking classes online can be cheaper. For one, you can cut off other expenses like food and transportations costs as well as room rentals if you have to study far from your location.
- Speedy Course Completion. Online schools most often offer streamlined courses which focuses on the programs or subjects that are required for you to earn a particular degree and cuts out the miscellaneous requirements that you will need to take in a regular campus setup. In addition, most online schools cater to students who have already taken up some subjects in a regular school or have already earned a degree but are aiming for further studies or additional certifications which can make the entire course faster to complete than attending regular school.
- Easy Transfer of Credits. Attending online school allows easy transfer of up to 24 credits from a regular college (although the requirements vary from one online university to another). This is advantageous for those who want to attend school irregularly because of constraints in schedule.
- Study at Your Own Pace. This innovation with studying online certainly has its perks specifically with efficiently managing your time. You can choose a schedule that will mesh pretty well with your existing routine especially if you are busy with a career or taking care of children. Multitasking certainly has its toll and taking up online courses gives you that extra mileage to be able to organize and juggle work, managing the home, and schooling in perfect symmetry and at your own pace.
- Immediate Access to Course Lectures and Materials. Unlike classroom lectures, learning materials with online universities are in text and video formats which can all be readily downloaded and viewed at your convenience. This allows for easy access and fast review whenever necessary. It is very easy to pick up where you left off because you can always review your lessons during free time.
- Top Tier Schools Online for Less the Costs. It’s relatively easier to enroll even in the most reputable schools like the University of Memphis where you can take up online masters in history, Stanford University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology that offer online courses or some learning programs that you can take advantage of at a much lesser cost than attending school the regular route.
You miss out on the socializing aspect when you get your degree online but it gives you the power to manage your time efficiently because of flexible schedules and the cut on expenses. The costs of getting a college degree have certainly hiked up for the past years and taking up online courses actually gives more value for your money.
You get to focus on the academic part of getting a college degree which maximizes your time and efforts. Most individuals who attend online schools already have an existing robust social life and may even be too busy especially with managing a household and a career. Online education actually works to their advantage as they get to focus on just studying and earning a degree at their preferred schedules.
The Stephen Perse Foundation has had a 1:1 iPad programme running for two years now. Whilst there are many subject specific apps utilised for learning, it is interesting to note how the top 10 apps are all multipurpose. The list below also includes an indication of how workflow is developing for the school and how an app is chosen when and where it is appropriate. For more information about how we are using the iPads as a tool for learning please visitSPFlearning.com
Simply the most versatile education app available. Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard and screen casting tool that suits the needs of teachers and students alike. The app allows you to animate, annotate and narrate presentations and explanations to your audience. It is widely used across the foundation to record plenaries and provide audio feedback. It is also the app of choice for students when they are required to provide more than written material. The key to its success can found in its intuitive interface and export options. A must have app in education.
Socrative 1.0 and 2.0
Socrative is a very simple and effective assessment tool that can be used during any part of the learning process. A teacher can pose questions to a group which they answer on their device with the information directly relayed back to host. It is available as long as there is an internet connection. The most common use for Socrative is as an ‘exit’ ticket. Students answer four or five questions at the end of a lesson so the teacher has feedback to base the next lesson on. All data is sent directly to the teacher’s email account as soon as they end the quiz. Very useful for planning. Socrative 2.0 is currently in beta and has added functionality and analytics that makes the franchise a simple yet import part of the digital toolkit.
iMovie has always been a favourite with students, but it is interesting to see how it has developed as an educational tool. As well as an obvious movie creation and editing app, iMovie provides a platform to express learning. The ‘trailer’ option guides students to capture snapshots to show learning as well as input text to frame their ideas. These ‘trailers’ are then interesting starter videos or revision tools. iMovie projects take over where a student or teacher may want to add greater depth. Only today a reception class were using iMovie to show their understanding of joining words when describing a recent trip.
iTunes U is often referred to as our learning platform. The iTunes U courses provide the framework and resources so the teachers can get on with what they do best. Removing the need for photocopying, internet searching and distribution, iTunes U supports a culture of creation and collaboration. Having access to everything required on one device can’t be underestimated and its popularity is growing by the day. Add to this the ability to update any resource and make it available to all at the tap of a screen and you have a very powerful learning platform.
Showbie allows you to assign, collect and review student work. As a tool it meets a demand that used to be supplied by a school VLE. The difference here is the ability to ‘open in’ a multitude of apps to create content or provide feedback. A couple of taps sees a student assignment opened and annotated with audio feedback or viewed in the teachers app of choice. It is then just as simple to return the assignment to the student for immediate viewing. Showbie works very well with larger classes where the transfer of information is common and often.
Edmodo fulfils the need of a collaboration and communication tool within the school environment. The secure site is suitable as nobody can gain access to a group without the unique code. Many students use Edmodo to question their peers over challenging questions and as a platform to collaborate on projects. It is interesting to see how groups communicate under the tutelage of a teacher. Edmodo is also used as a tool to model good practice on the internet. For many students it is their first interaction with social media in a controlled environment and Edmodo has proved a very useful component of our esafety programme.
As a note taking app, Notability stands out from the crowd. With all the tools available to record information, Notability is a real favourite with our students. The most common use can be seen as students take a picture of a resource or experiment and then jot down information to highlight key terms. Whilst we encourage handwritten notes as well, it is interesting to see how Notability folders are an important part of the learning process. The export functions within Notability also make it suitable for the students as they develop their digital portfolios.
Keynote is the presentation tool of choice for students particularly when faced with a class or school presentation. The students are very positive about the ease with which they can convey a message using multimedia. There is distinct attention paid to the use of transitons to emphasise a point and interestingly an engagement with the requirements of the future world they will work in. Students often equate job applications and progress with presentations so using Keynote to express learning is very desirable. Ask a student to convey their learning and it is likely to be Keynote they turn to.
From simple projects to a school terms worth of learning, Book Creator has become a handy vessel for curation and creation. With the ability to add video to explanations as well as ‘widget’ type effects, students of all ages enjoy using Book Creator. It deserves its inclusion due to the ease with which all tools can be used and the export functions available. Stand alone projects are ably supported by Book Creator as it acts as a working portfolio to document the process. A favourite of the Visual Arts department.
Pages is simply the ‘go to’ app of choice when Stephen Perse Foundation students are asked to produce a piece of written work. Functionality and ease of use again mean that this app is a favourite amongst students. There are further layers to the app though that enhance the learning process. Firstly, the templates remove the need to spend time over layout and formatting. When the task requires a student to convey their learning, time no longer wasted on making the document look good. Secondly, the multimedia aspect of Pages elevates it as a document creator. As well as the written word, our students submit photos and video to support their views, all professionally laid out. If Stephen Perse Foundation students are submitting a formal piece of work, then Pages is the app they’ll chose.
It is worth noting that our iPad 1:1 programme is underpinned by GAFE with Google Drive as our cloud based storage solution.
A quick glimpse into the arena of education debate highlights just how disrupted children’s learning is in 2014. From changing curriculums, inspection madness and the implementation of new technology, this is a period of instability and concern. As a profession, teaching is driven by so many outside influences that it is easy to see why teachers often take to forums to voice their displeasure with this or that. We all know the only thing that matters is learning, yet I wonder how much precious time is wasted on the distractions?
Right now I could make a case for or against innovation in education. The need to consolidate, meet standards and react to government pressure, points to innovation being yet another distraction. Yet, in my opinion, this is the wrong way to look at our situation. I grow weary of the debate over pedagogy and teaching methods. A teacher will look to provide as rounded an experience as possible for their students, given their context. Of course, the number of students seen per week will have an effect. Naturally there isn’t enough time to see every student on a 1:1 basis. So we all strive to teach to the best of our abilities. We are all learning every step of the way and we will make mistakes. So why do some educators worry about innovation?
To put my own situation in context, I currently work at the Stephen Perse Foundation, a school with exceptional results. It would be easy for the school to rest on its laurels and continue to do things as it always has. Yet it doesn’t. Led by its principal, Tricia Kelleher, the foundation seeks to innovate in order to enhance the learning process for all its children. An environment where 1:1 iPads are the norm and conversation is driven by ‘the best possible conditions for learning’ the school will strive to innovate where appropriate.
Take the current learning space development as one example. The library has been converted into the ‘Cabinets of Curiosity’. A place where the physical, digital and print worlds are brought together. Concerned about the instant connection to digital platforms, the school took the decision to create an innovative new space. Physical artefacts lead the individual to a digital resource that includes an iBook and video content about the display, adding layers of information. In turn this leads the learner to the books that are available from the shelves. The school seeks to engage the learner with an understanding that not everything should be viewed on a screen. Of course this also leads to an ever changing environment that is much more flexible than the library of old. Our next two exhibitions point towards the thinking behind the project:
‘Sherlock’s Clues: the physical exhibition will contain no text at all, consisting only of 6 object-clues from the original stories and TV series (walking stick, fob-watch, top-hat, iphone etc), raised on plinths. An Aurasma-linked iBook will take students to the crime that the clue helped to solve. It will also encourage them to explore more complex topics such as deductive reasoning, media representations of Holmes and forensic science. One of the clues will be a written code that can be solved inside the book.’
‘World War I: A larger-scale exhibition that will spill out into the garden outside the cabinets. Again, the iBook will allow us to connect the two areas, and free us up from using too much textual interpretation in the space itself. This approach also encourages students to focus on the historical peculiarity, and material texture and detail, of the artefacts in front of them, before they are confronted with reams of explanation.’ (Digital curator – Ms K Joice)
The iPads and ‘Cabinets of Curiosity’ are an indication of what is available to us because of technological developments. The cabinets are a vision that has been realised by the iPad acting as a portal into a world that was much more difficult to access before. It would be wrong not to take advantage of these innovations.
At this point it is worth mentioning that the debate around iPads in the classroom will continue for many years to come. I’m not here to extol the virtues of the device, suffice to say it was the right tool for the Stephen Perse Foundation two years ago and it doesn’t appear to affect grades, if that is your metric. However, I would debate the argument that students are better off without some form of personalised technology in the classroom. Of course they are only a tool and the teacher is still the most important resource in a child’s education. But, denying individual access to resources and tailored content alongside video/audio feedback? I’m not sure anyone could defend the teacher/textbook model in that context.
Which brings me to the next stage of innovation. The development of a space twice the size of a ‘normal’ classroom that is informed by mobile technology. Flexible furniture, airplay enabled projection and collaborative areas allow teachers and students to adapt the learning environment. Coupled with our digital platforms, iTunes U, Google Drive and Edmodo this will allow teachers to mould the learning process with the typical barriers removed (photocopying, set classroom layouts etc). Take a look at Don Orth’s iLab as an example of the type of learning environment we are trying to provide:
Our current education system is dominated by grades. A metric by which to compare and judge. We celebrate and justify in equal measure and our curriculum is driven by the outcome. Yet here at the Stephen Perse Foundation theethos and vision isn’t controlled by the ‘grade’. The animation above serves to illustrate how important it is to put the child at the centre of all decision making and prepare them for the future.
To put the school in context, the average UCAS entrance score in 2013 was A*A*AA and the Stephen Perse Foundation is one of the Sunday Times‘ Schools of the Year. The Sixth Form College also achieved the highest points average in the world at 42.2/45 for the International Baccalaureate. However, the grades aren’t the be all and end all.
The importance of the animation is to convey that a school that ‘performs’ well in examinations does not believe they are the most important thing. An ethos and vision that is crucial to the future of its students is there for all to see. It is a positive example that decisions made in the best interests of the child can navigate through the murky world of examinations and analysis. I’m not for one moment implying that all schools don’t share the same values. Rather that schools who are constantly judged by Ofsted and held accountable to certain criteria will always concentrate on those areas.
Choice. A frequently used word when talking about pedagogy in 2013. The options available to teachers and their learners are countless. The variation in a child’s school day should be applauded and the engagement with learningis an obvious consequence. This is a great time to be a teacher.
I’m convinced that the way I was taught in the 80’s and 90’s didn’t prepare me particularly well for 21st Century employment. This is not to lay blame at the door of my teachers. They were well equipped with the ‘tools of the trade’ at the time but lesson after lesson was largely filled with note taking. I do remember facts from my schooldays and I was well prepared for the exams. However, few aspects of my classroom learning helped with my post school days. I had very engaging teachers from a presentation point of view, but, on reflection, I don’t remember being challenged frequently. If I’m honest I learnt more from the non-examined areas of school life that allowed me to understand the importance of teamwork, leadership and collaboration.
The last three months of my own teaching career have cemented the opinion that pedagogy is shifting for the better. A change of schools has introduced me to the International Baccalaureate that is streets ahead of its A level counterpart. As well as its breadth and depth the Theory of Knowledge component challenges learners and teachers to think twice about the process in which they are involved. It is so important to our Foundation that every student takes the ToK course in the sixth form even if A levels are their chosen certificate. Indeed upon visiting a 2013 school leaver at Utrecht University it was interesting to note that she believed the ToK course was the most useful aspect of her sixth form learning.
At this point I should state I have moved past the debate of whether tablets or smartphones should be used in the classroom. A tool is just a tool. If you want students to write notes in lesson time and listen to the ‘story’ then a tablet isn’t necessarily worth considering. This is an excellent option for learning in some circumstances and should not be challenged for the sake of argument. However, because of the availability of tablets, we can now change the learning process and vary its components. Five years ago it was virtually impossible to expose learners to the wealth of resources we can now at the touch of a screen. Tablets allow the learner to record video evidence of their science experiment and more importantly their explanation. Tablets provide a platform for real time feedback from every learner. Tablets allow the learner to access multiple resources at their desk in the classroom where appropriate. Tablets allow the learner to collaborate with peers in the classroom, down the hall, across the country and the other side of the world…. you get the idea.
These options are available, where appropriate, in the learning process and are made possible by the technology. As a teacher it is my job to select the right time to use a tool and guide the learner. It has never been easier to challenge a group of students with various stimuli. I am grateful that the technology exists to remove the barriers to the lessons I have always wanted to teach but found impossible to put together. Even a simple back channel (usingTwitter or Edmodo) allows students to have a voice where they otherwise might be shy or fearful of asking a simple question. A challenge that every teacher faces. (As an aside it is interesting that the technology that exists to connect our students is having a dramatic effect on teachers. The power of social media to engage, provoke debate and challenge opinion has led to a platform that can only benefit the profession.)
It is a great time to be a teacher because we have the tools available to us that provide increased scope for engagement, stimulation and creativity. It is a great time to be a teacher because there are qualifications available that challenge the exam factory ideal. It is a great time to be a teacher because we are so connected with information and each other that opportunity is presented daily.
It is a great time to be a teacher because we need to learn with our students.
I have made no secret of my fondness for generic apps that enhance learning. Explain Everything, Google Drive andEvernote can aid the educator and student alike. However, there is a new contender on the block for the No.1 app in education. Socrative 1.0 was very good – Socrative 2.0 looks excellent.
This brief introduction to Socrative 2.0 highlights its potential and possible use in the classroom. I look forward to hearing about the effect it has in schools.
Talk about learning and educators will enthuse about creativity, discovery and development. Add the term examination or grades and the conversation takes a different slant. The post below from Tricia Kelleher (Principal of the Stephen Perse Foundation) skilfully highlights the importance of ‘space for development’ ahead of a ‘collection of grades’.
“Watch out for the sharks! The plank is for the bad pirates.” This snatch of conversation between two 3 year old children in our Pre-prep captures brilliantly their learning experience. Adults tend to equate learning to the amount of time children sit behind desks. The children I observed today were outside, creating a world of buccaneers, princesses and sword wielding heroes. I was even given a lesson in ballroom dancing by two little girls keen to share their skills with me.
Of course, the principle underlying the lesson was independent learning. The teachers had skilfully configured the spaces to support discovery and creativity. Each child was encouraged to explore the possibilities offered to them and “to play” – by play I mean problem solving, creativity, showing initiative. Essentially developing a positive learning disposition.
The year 2 children meanwhile were coming to the end of plan-do-review day and were reflecting on what they had learnt. They had complete freedom to design their own project. Sadly the pressure of time had prevented the completion of a model of Henry VIII, the painting of a cottage and the markings on an aeroplane. All the children had learnt an important lesson about time management and, as one boy observed, how much they enjoyed “collaboration” (his word).
This window into the world of young children’s learning was a timely reminder to me about the importance of providing space for children to develop. The national obsession with measuring progress places a premium on cognitive development which, whilst more easily measurable, is not about the whole child.
Interestingly, at the other end of the educational spectrum, the International Baccalaureate offers a sixth form programme which is about breadth both in terms of subject content and assessment. Students enjoy an intellectual challenge which stretches them and an assessment framework which requires more than performance in a terminal examination – group work, extended essay, presentations are an integral part of this programme. Intellectually coherent and clearly valuing so much more about the student, there is much to recommend the IB. The learning is embedded in this programme.
And then we have our national qualification. It strikes me as someone with responsibility for children aged 3-18 that our examination system almost gets in the way of learning. With national exams required to fulfil different purposes – measuring a school, value added, individual’s attainment – is it any wonder that the development of an individual can get lost in the exam conveyor belt? The current debate about standards in education has become subsumed by proposed changes to the national examination framework. In my view this is the wrong way round. Surely the big debate should be focused on learning and exams configured to capture what we truly value.
Yet I also know that we measure what we measure because we always have done it this way. The exam machine is grinding away and our children are destined to pass through it for better or worse. This is their passport to the future. As a school we are determined to add stamps to this passport – for us it is about the education of an individual and it is our responsibility to ensure this is about more than passing exams. A young person is surely more than a collection of grades; they are the future.