Sunday, 14 September 2008

Student voice - learning styles - Why don't we ask students and then do something about it?

It is now increasingly acknowledged that many students claim to ‘learn’ more outside of the school environment than inside it. For many, what happens in schools does not engage or excite them and the relevance for them is, at best, dubious.

As I get more and more immersed in the BSF (Building Schools of the Future) programme in the UK, I am still really almost shocked as to how little exploration there is, and subsequent credence given to, the students input regarding the learning experience they wish to have, even now, not just in future exciting new environments. Equally, who has asked them how they would like teaching and learning to change now and in the future?

In fairness, many students in areas considering new or refurbished buildings have had input into environments, as regards designs, colours, areas and types of spaces they like. They have cut up pictures from magazines, explored class room designs (but who says they want good old classrooms??) and discussed catering and bathrooms.

Who is having those real detailed discussions with them as to what spaces they would really like to undertake what types of learning activities in?

Students do know about these things. Every time I have put students in front of their own staff to discuss their best learning experiences and ways they like to learn, the staff have always been blown away by the understanding, sense, clarity and perceptiveness of their views.

You can almost guarantee that student response will focus around a technology rich environment with a variety of handheld devices as a basic expectation… this obviously has to be the way forward. But…… how many people are planning what that really means for learning and teaching, or facilitating as some are now calling it, (not sure about that one!)

What WILL it look like in the future… and who is really going to help prepare the teachers on the ground for what needs to be a real change in professional practice?

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