Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Research and Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Eton

I have recently come across this short film for Eton - possibly one of the most famous schools in the world. It is interesting to watch their approach to teaching, learning, innovation and research at Eton.  Their new Tony Little Centre includes rooms for students to work collaboratively using a wide range of approaches.

Of most interest to me is the way that they have included total flexibility in the way that their rooms have been arranged and focus on research.  Furniture that allows total agility, write on table surfaces, write on walls supported by robust technology.  The rooms are not huge learning barns, they're modest in size.  That does not prevent exploring a range of learning and teaching styles however.

None of this is new and many schools have considered this approach.  The Blue Sky Classroom initiative with every wall being a write on surface was used in schools in Essex year ago. Write on walls are in many schools, primary and secondary. All these innovative approaches can be done in a standard classroom in any school if staff were allowed to be given the time to explore how a new approach would work for them.  It's not wildly expensive.

However, as the political climate has changed and budgets slashed, innovation and flexibility in learning seems to be a dirty word for many, especially those key education decision makers.

Innovative approaches still exist in many schools but this is down to strong leadership rather than a genuine national passion for innovative teaching styles.  This is a pity!

As more and more schools re built  based on Building Bulletin 103 guidance, on minimal budgets, especially for furniture, fittings and equipment, it really is important to remember that there is a different and better way that encourages students to learn in a way that best suits them and the subject being explored.

Equally important is Eton's passionate approach about researching what works best in teaching and learning, building on best practice and publishing their findings.   Too few schools really explore what learning styles work best for the students.  Surely this what we should all be focusing on.

To watch the film, click here.

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