… from the newsletter notes of Head Teacher John Boyce
Our school Curriculum policy states a basic underlying principle of learning at Garin:
Quality and richness of experiences are vital for student learning and development. (ie at Garin we emphasise quality of learning experience, and studies in depth rather than a shallow breadth of study undertaken in order to cover requirements. BF Skinner: Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.)
“Quality and richness” “depth” – words that resonate in the hearts of teachers!
Our experts in this field are Howard Gardner of Harvard University, and Benjamin Bloom of the University of Chicago. These two educationalists did very influential work of the nature of intelligence and the nature of learning.
Gardner was the researcher who popularised the view that “intellect” is not limited to the traditional tests which identity mathematical and linguistic gifts. Schools traditionally “stream” students using these tests. Gardner pointed out that people have all sorts of gifts – there are geniuses who are ImageSmart (with Visual/Spacial gifts), BodySmart, Number/LogicSmart, NatureSmart, Sound/MusicSmart, WordSmart, PeopleSmart, and SelfSmart.
(For an overview of MI research, and to test yourself. Click here.)
Garin does not stream students – partly because we only have three or four classes at each level and streaming would not be fair, and partly because intelligence tests are all about number and words – and there are so many other ways to be smart.
So all of our teachers use Gardner to identify gifts – and Bloom to cater for them in their classroom.
Benjamin Bloom developed a list of increasingly sophisticated ways to approach any topic.
Every students needs the first two all the time: Knowing and Understanding. That is the bottom line for all teachers; it is the minimum requirement of every teaching point, every lesson, every unit of work.
But every assignment, and a lot of the questions must also allow students to go into deeper ways of really learning:
- Applying information in the real world
- Analysing or seeing the patterns
- Synthesis: putting ideas together with other learning to create new ideas
- Evaluating the worth or usefulness of the new learning
- Design, improve, create a better version
These last four are where deep learning takes place – they are where students (and teachers) internalise information and turn it into learning.
Does it sound like an impossibility to arrange learning so that students get a broad, general education-while at the same time providing opportunities for depth of study (because those are the moments the students will remember all their lives)?
It is not impossible: our teachers and our GATEway (Gifted And Talented Education) programme gives teachers, parents and the students themselves the opportunity to test their talents in and out of the classroom, and soar – while also helping those without huge academic gifts to identify, value and foster the gifts they were born with. Each one of us needs this self-awareness if we are to become the people we were created to be.