Samantha Rodgers' blog

Brain based learning: Willingham’s ‘Why don’t students like school?’

WIllingham's book

A few months ago, I was asked about what started my interest in curriculum design and change management. I don’t that there was any one moment, but I do remember the moment, a few years ago, when I knew that there was ‘something’ in these books that I was reading, and when my belief that change was needed- and now- was cemented. This, combined with being a mother whose daughter was just about to enter primary schooling, was a powerful motivator for change. This moment occurred when I was at an ‘Aspiring Principal’ course and I was seated with some primary school colleagues. I had with me a book – Daniel Willingham’s ‘Why Don’t Students Like School?, who as a cognitive scientist was answering the key questions about how the mind works and the implications this has for the classroom.

One primary teacher glanced at the title and said, ‘I don’t need to read that- kids love primary school!’ That comment really got me thinking, one- do kids love primary school and lose that feeling in secondary school, and if I was going to try and make a difference, what would this book tell me?  Continue reading

Teachers are like gardeners

Teachers are like gardeners

Surfing on the Net I came across this YouTube clip, by Sir Ken Robinson, about the nature of teaching. It is brief, to the point and gives great food for thought. The key ideas: that teaching is about providing the right conditions for learning, and the importance of seeing learning as cyclical and ongoing, really resonate with where I am at the moment in my thinking.

He starts with the analogy of gardening, that great gardeners depend on plants growing under their care, their livelihood depends on it, but no gardener can make the plant grow. They can only nurture it with the right conditions and let the plant grow itself. He then links this idea to educators, how great teachers recognise the right conditions for learning and they nurture these, so learners can learn. It rightly puts the role of the educator as an activator of learning, someone who through their passion for learning strives to firstly find the ‘right’ conditions for learning and then embedding them into practice.