I recently bumped into a former colleague and briefly chatted about “A Curriculum for Excellence”. My friend has responsibility for developing learning and teaching at his school and was telling me that the school are going to give every pupil comprehensive course support materials for each of their certificated subjects – once the course has been completed. The teachers didn’t want to put it out before they taught the course as they wanted to “remain in control”.
For me it was a timely reminder about how much work is still to be done in terms of changing our approach to learning.
If we are going to change the way in which we work then perhaps we need to destabilise the status quo thereby freeing teachers to adopt different roles and engage learners in learning as opposed to absorbing information.
Keeping this in mind I wonder if David Eaglesham, the general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, perhaps provides the catalyst when he said he doubted whether ACfE could live up to its aims without financial input.
“It is almost inevitable to say it is the worst-resourced initiative we have ever had, because there is nothing there in the way of resources,” he said.
“It is not that people don’t want to do it, but if they don’t know what they are doing or have the resources to implement it, it could be disastrous.”
I agree that there is a need to provide resources but I wouldn’t provide them in the form that they have come in the past. My alternative approach would be to create a virtual learning environment for every certificated course provided by the SQA. This course could be accessed by students at a place and time of their choosing – I’d like to think GLOW could play an important role here.
I’ve been speaking to a number of my son’s friends who have just finished school and without exception they all said they would have welcomed the chance to access their entire course on-line. That’s not to say that they didn’t want a teacher but that they wanted the teacher to work in a different way.
So what would be the outcome of such a step – surely it will replace one form of spoon-feeding with another? Well not according to my son’s friends who are now at university – the teacher would take on much more of a tutor’s role where they have use their tutor to expand and deepen their knowledge. In so many ways this ties in with what Jerome Bruner was talking about yesterday when he said that educational systems were “too easily routinised” and that there were too few opportunities for students “share hypotheses”, “reflect upon alternatives ” or “reflect upon controversy”.
Bruner wants teachers to seek out “inter-subjectivity” (I think I prefer this term to inter-disciplinary) by contextualising their subject within the wider world – but how often do teachers manage to do this in the pressure to get through the content of a course.
Put it this way – there appears to be an appetite amongst young people for such a change.