What Did You Learn in School Today?

This is a bad question to ask a child after a day at school, for a multitude of reasons.

Firstly, a day in school is a pretty emotional and draining experience for many children. As a result, by the time the school day gets over the child is mentally frazzled and needs time, space and ideally sleep, to enable them to mentally process al the knowledge and information they’ve taken in.

It’s commonly a frustration to parents that their child seems to remember more about the social aspects of what happened in school, than the academic learning. it may even cause some parents to fear that academically their child isn’t learning very much. He or she can tell you lots about who did what to whom, who said what to a teacher and got away with it, who got punished for what etc. The plain reality is that the social elements and aspects of school are incredibly important to our children. We shouldn’t underestimate how many important skills are being developed through these social interactions – skills that will be vital in adulthood.

Another problem with the question is that the learning experiences of the day are so broad and various that the child is hard pressed to figure out which bits, which elements we the adults might consider most important or want us to share with them. Plainly, the child knows that they’re not expected to give a verbatim report of everything they saw, heard, felt or experienced (and all their judgements and reflections) during the day.

It’s known that a lot of learning isn’t really ‘mine’ until I’ve slept to process it and take full ownership of the memories. This is another reason why such a question can prove challenging.

For many parents, so far, this will all be very unsatisfying. As attentive, keen and diligent parents they want to know that they can show an interest in their child’s learning, ensure their child is maintaining focus and effort and check that their educators are doing their job.

The question becomes – “Well, if that’s not the right question, then what is?”

The following article may contain the germ of an answer.

The British Psychological Society Digest – Could the Way we Talk to Children Help Them Remember Their Science Lessons?

This makes a lot of sense to me. Intuitively, it’s what I often tended to do with my own son when he was younger. It also, as a generalisation, is a line of questioning taken more often by mothers than fathers. I wonder whether the nature of the questions asked, the child’s vocalisation of the answers all serve to provide extra focus for when the child sleeps, enabling better absorption of the learning and greater access for recall later.

Whatever the explanation, I believe this merits more research and in the meantime is a habit worth adopting by parents.

School 21 – Educating The Whole Child

Some fascinating video insights in to a London school that’s doing some great work using project based learning, strong focus on communication skills, oracy, student voice and the development of students with the ability to go out and make a difference in the world.

What Kids Want

Radical !! Asking kids what they want from school – what an idea !! And, what’s amazing – their ideas make so much sense!

Relevant school and the opportunity to learn – pretty simple, really.

Mindshift – What Kids Want Out of School

Should Schools Be Teaching Coding?

Here’s the full length video which i found very thought provoking. I love the way they’ve made it really geek-free. There’s no question in my mind, this is the future for large numbers of our students today:

Hate School – Love Education

A young British Rap-Poet, Suli Amoako, shares his thoughts on the difference between schooling and education – pretty clear which one he’s in favour of:

Children’s Vacations

here’s an interesting blog post from a working mother who really puts her point across very well about how long summer vacations are doing no favours for the children and no favours for the parents.

We at TSRS do have a unique ‘on-off’ issue this year where we need a longer summer break to allow for critical construction work at Aravali. With the children out of school we can work a lot quicker and be sure that no children are being put at risk when it comes to safety.

However, in other years my sympathies are with this mother and her children. There’s been plenty of research done worldwide that shows clearly that long breaks are detrimental both to learning and the skills and habits of learning. Also, as she quite rightly points out, it’s not as if the children are getting to spend the 2 months “running free”.

You really have to stop and ask at some point – who is this serving and in what way? And, if the answer’s not good enough we have to commit to change things:

A mother’s plea

Disaster Preparedness & Disaster Management

It was probably at least a year ago, when we were being plagued by bomb scares etc., that the management of the school decided that we were not willing to take anything less than a full-on effort towards disaster preparedness and disaster management. It was decided that we would start out with a detailed pilot project at Aravali, that we will then roll out to the other campuses.

Seeds India were selected as expert partners to work with. I have to say they have been excellent partners for the school to work with, cajoling and pushing when necessary, motivating and encouraging and always very professional.

The work done has been really thorough and has offered some great opportunities for students to get very actively involved, for example with risk identification audits covering every room and space in the school.

The pilot at Aravali has now moved in to advanced stages, with training for teams of teachers and students who will form certain groups;
Search and Rescue Task Force
Fire and Safety Task Force
Safety and First Aid Task Force
Evacuation Task Force

The first two of these groups were engaged in training programmes yesterday, the latter two today. These workshops will be followed by a variety of mock drills involving the whole school.

Here are some pictures from yesterday: