Last Thursday and Friday, while the students were having a holiday and some of you maybe had an extra loooong weekend, we were at our biennial conference run by SCEA called “Better Education”.
The keynote speaker was James Nottingham from the United Kingdom, though he works worldwide. The main themes of his presentations were interesting and inspiring; they were a great affirmation of the good work we are doing at MCC (around assessment, thinking skills, extension and education support... we’re on the money as they say). There are some areas important for you to know as parents to partner together with us in your child’s education.
I will outline two main ideas as briefly as possible and provide some links for further information:
1) A growth versus a closed mindset: A closed mindset sees human potential as the result of gifting and set talents e.g. "I’m no good at maths, he’s a gifted musician, I can/can’t draw.” A growth mindset understands and links achievement with effort. There are obvious limitations, I can go to the gym as much as I like but will never be Arnold Schwarzenegger (or even Liam Helmsworth). But with effort I can achieve far more than many would think possible and may surprise myself (watch out Liam). The key thought for parents here is not to label your children with "Good girl/boy" epithets or "you’re a real star!" etc praise. Speak in terms that link effort and achievement. This way their aim is effort, growth and development which fosters resilience rather than the win/loss; success/failure judgements that undermine commitment.
2) Realising the challenge required to learn: to learn, students need to move from practising what they are comfortable with to facing challenges that stir and upset them intellectually. He called it the “Learning Pit”.
Learning moves through these stages:
a) Concept: an understanding that needs to be developed
b) Conflict: involving sorting out dilemmas in understanding
c) Construct: meaning by developing an understanding that resolves or begins to resolve these conflicts
d) Consider: reflecting on the learning journey and stages you have been through
Looking at learning this way encourages a student to change their language to understand that hard is not something to recoil from, but to realise it is what makes learning interesting and is an essential part of the journey.