Thanks to Mr Steve Rees and the staff of Evenlode Primary School, Penarth for co-designing, co-delivering, and ‘co-llaborating’ this week.
Could Mr Cuff’s Year 5 learners research, prepare and present essential information, about all the planets in our Solar System, to interested aliens from Devolene (yes…it’s an anagram of Evenlode…what a coincidence!)…in 50 minutes? Yes they could! They were able to delegate tasks to group members – some researching, some preparing presentation materials. They felt they owed their success to helping each other (if they were stuck or had too much to do) and didn’t waste time arguing.
Mrs Hayley Hodgkins’ Year 4 class have been finding out about the Antarctic – hence the penguins! They have just read about Ernest Shackleton‘s incredible feat of survival and the difficult decisions he had to make. However, under pressure of time, could their groups come to a consensus about which 5 items would best aid their survival, in polar conditions,..from a selection of over 20! Yes! They could! There were some fantastic discussions and reasoning (…a torch would have more uses than a mirror because…). Creative and critical thinking, decision making were all in evidence and demonstrated in an environment of respect for differing opinions. ‘We listened to each others ideas and thought about them. We didn’t always agree. Once, we got really stuck, so we used scissors/paper rock!’
Avast! I spy Year 2 on the port side. Buckles were definitely being swashed in Foundation Phase with Miss Kirsty Mainwaring, Mrs Jo Roberts and Mrs Emma Thomas! Could Year 2 help Professor Jones* from the Museum to create child-friendly displays about Pirates - in an afternoon? Yes they could! And, what’s more, they used their checklists to make sure their displays were complete. One efficient group put dots against criteria to show ‘work-in-progress’, which then became a ‘tick’ when the job was done! In small groups, children demonstrated creative thinking and organisational skills.
If the purpose of school is to prepare children for a specific future that we cannot imagine, then they are going to need skills that will give them the best opportunity to lead successful lives in a world of rapid change. They will only develop these skills if they are given the opportunity to acquire and refine them in real life situations (or scenarios which reflect life). They need the opportunity to collaborate with others and experience all the ‘problems’, ‘positives’ and ‘potentials’ that interdependence brings. They need opportunity to reflect on these experiences and discuss them in a ‘safe’ environment. The earlier learners begin to experience and use tools and strategies, in order to solve problems, the more likely they will be to develop a confident approach to solving all sorts real life problems.
Children at Evenlode Primary School are well on their way to developing skills for their futures. No matter how advanced technology becomes we will still need creative and critical thinkers, decision makers, organisers and effective communicators to solve not only the everyday problems but the problems that, at the moment, we cannot imagine.