Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Yes please - lets DO talk in lessons!

Some schools still have these unfortunate rules as standard in them - depressingly!
I was amused to read this week that a study from Cambridge University have advised that children should be allowed to talk more in class. It also advised that co-operation and collaborative working should be encouraged as providing "valuable opportunities" for learning.
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Whilst the study goes on to note that the educational value of collaborative learning has been clearly demonstrated by a variety of research: "In particular, encouraging children to pursue joint goals, explain their understanding, express different points of view and attempt to reach consensus through discussion have all been found to help learning and understanding."
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I just feel that the best teachers already know this and have, for years, been allowing their students to work collaboratively, discussing ideas, identifying solutions to challenges and evaluating their findings. This study really should come as no surprise to anyone!
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It really is an artificial world if we constantly expect students to work in silence - we are actually harming students social and work skills. Adults don't work in this way - we may have to teach some of our young people how to use talk to aid learning, but that's how most of the learn during the times when they are not in schools. Social interation plays a key learning role in the social development of students. No one is saying that there are not some lessons where silence is important - but a variety of teaching and learning syles is important for everyone. The days of students working all day in silence in rows of individual desks has surely gone!
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I can't wait to see how the Department for Children, Schools and Families prepare the promised materials that will provide guidance to teachers and children in how to use group discussion and talk about issues to solve problems. Isn't it common sense and wouldn't it be better to find and use good practitioners for those not confident in using discussion rather issuing a rule book?

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