Sunday, November 21, 2010

Relationships for Learning

Reading, reading .... after going on the Workshop Leader Training earlier this month there's lots of reading for me to do!  Yesterday I read "What's Next?  21 Ideas for 21st Century Learning" by Charles Leadbeater at The Innovation Unit.  You can download this publication from The Innovation Unit's website.  In this publication the most interesting section I found was the one on relationships for learning.

Many relationships can influence learning, not just the relationship between the student and teacher.  It's important to also consider how the students relate to each other as this affects discipline, order, motivation, support and collaborative learning.  Parents also have a huge influence - their care and aspirations provide motivation for their children.  Teacher-to-teacher relationships are important too in opening up opportunities and new approaches to collaborative learning and innovative practice.

There are 4 key aspects of relationships for learning:

  • Participation - students need to set their own goals, choose the tools they want to use to learn and how they want to present their work.
  • Recognition - students (and teachers) need to be recognised for who they are, where they come from, their goals, contribution and achievements.  It is noted that peer-to-peer respect it vitally important.  In the case of students this underlies discipline, order and calm in schools.  Since teacher-to-teacher relationships are important too, it's important that these are also based on mutual trust and respect.
  • Care - students (and teachers) need to feel their needs are being attended to and need to feel they have a voice in what happens to them.
  • Motivation - which involves building up confidence and capability.

What I found really interesting in this document is that it also focuses on instruction.  Recently I've written quite a bit about students constructing their own knowledge, and although Leadbeater states that learning is most effective when learners are participants rather than merely recipients, he also refers to the fact that sometimes learning is the transfer of knowledge from a teacher to a pupil.  He talks about the process of absorbing knowledge by the student and notes that it requires the learner to make sense of what they have been told, to interpret and question it, to reframe it in their own terms, internalise it and make it their own.  This is often to do with the way ideas and knowledge are shared between the teacher and the pupil and he stresses that combining ideas in this way is vital, so that learning can eventually become independent and self-managed.

Photo Credit:  Busy Hands by Lavannya Goradia

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