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Active learning does it work?

Discussion in 'Scotland - curriculum' started by aerumlily, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. I have been researching active learning and how children learn... and it seems to me that active learning is not necessarily a 'new' concept. In fact it seems that active learning is just about engaging the children and trying to keep them motivated and finding how they learn best. It needs to be comprised of 'hands-on tasks, spontaneous play, planned and purposeful play, investigating and exploring, focused teaching and learning.'

    Another issue that I have is that my manager has said that we need to become more child-centred in that the children decide what they want to learn about. That's fine and I do agree with this to a degree- it does motivate them more etc... After a number of the children had been to watch Brave, we talked about what was special about Scotland and what they had seen in the movie etc, ( and bearing in mind some of these children's families are very proud of their Scottish culture) They told me that the men wore dresses- not kilts in the film and '... the most special thing about Scotland is the food aisle at Asdas.' The other issue is that some of my more capable children would much rather play with cars all day.
  2. Does active learning work? Yes. Children need to be active agents in their learning, they are not buckets to be filled.
    Is it "new"? No
    Child-centredness - Don't confuse this to mean that the children decide what they are learning... they may be interested in mini-beasts, but you can use this interest to teach a variety of concepts.
    I think there's an opportunity to use Brave to explore Scottish culture and to support their increased understanding of Scotland.
  3. It sure beats kids sitting in silence being lectured to.
  4. Yes, but the Film's perception of Scottishness....
  5. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    Unfortunately, not all children learn well in a busy classroom with lots of 'active learning' going on.
    It is sometimes suggested that 'active learning' is about being 'engaged with the learning' but, unfortunately, one cannot assume that just because pupils are 'active', they are automatically 'engaged' and actually learning very much at all.
    Some LAs have pushed the idea that classrooms should be arranged with different 'active learning bays' and children simply rotate around them, effectively teaching themselves.
    That's okay, up to a point, but children also have to learn to listen to the teacher, and fellow pupils, if we want them to get the most out of education. Indeed, if they make it into Higher Education, it is likely that they will have to spend a considerable amount of time sitting in silence being lectured to.
    As for children being allowed to choose the topics they want to learn about, this seems to be quite popular with school inspectors - up to a point. During one inspection, they weren't entirely sure if 'SpongeBob SquarePants' was a particularly suitable topic.
    Unfortunately, there are problems with just letting the children decide what they want to study unless it is an individual project. What topic are all the children in a class going to find equally engaging? Or, indeed, if they only study something they already know and like, where is the opportunity to learn about new things?
    Yes, we want children to enjoy learning but, surely, part of the skill of the teacher is to widen their experience.
    Indeed, I suspect most teachers already try to engage their pupils with a variety of teaching methodologies and 'active learning', whatever that actually means, is only one of them.
  6. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    LA's no doubt see 'active learning' as yet another way of reducing costs - like ICT. However, pupils cannot teach themselves to read, write and count, or achieve these skills through ICT. They need a teacher to develop their (basic) communication skills, verbal and written (literacy and numeracy). Active learning without sufficiently developed communication skills is completely pointless.
  7. When active learning works you are putting back to them what it is to have a meaningful place in a team or larger group. Shared group objectives and praise for their good contribution to group objectives with individual accountability.

    To put it in stark terms - see the wee chubby guy with snotters crusting under his nose who no-one else wants to sit next to? (me, at school - altogether now "aaahhhh!") He might be the weakest link in your "class chain gang"

    - What will motivate him? (involvement; feeling positively unique; that there's a job only he can perform)
    - What can have others working for him? (associated praise; "star making")

    You are the boss of your classroom. Do you like your boss to ignore you? Or do you respect a level of high demands, at least one area of which you uniquely excel at, mixed with a great deal of leeway?
  8. Spongebob Squarepants is as valid an investigation and has as rich a canon as any short novel. Finding out about Spongebob's job (fast food burger chain employee) friends (a starfish), pets (a snail) his employee/employer relations with Mr Crabs (early teaching about political left and right) and intervention by King Neptune (classical mythology) and the art of cel animation his creators employ is the essence of a CfE "hub" subject, I would argue.
  9. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    No, it was a P4 class.
    I think you may be confusing the primary topic in question with Higher SpongeBob or, perhaps, Nickelodeon's distance learning degree in SquarePants Animation and Oceanography.
    I believe the latter includes a module on advanced burger flipping to aid employment prospects after graduation. [​IMG]
  10. Flyinthewall - excellent analysis. Utterly agree with all that you said. Could you be our Education Minister, please!
  11. Need I say it...the magic word is BALANCE.
    Each child is unique and each child learns different - to ensure we meet ALL NEEDS we then need a balance.
  12. Active Learning put simply by Dylan Williams: "A group with group goals and individual accountability for meeting those goals, e.g. a sports team, an English class magazine project, a play to be performed, a team mural etc"

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