I have recently read Educating Ruby: what our children really need to learn, by Guy Claxton & Bill Lucas. Educating Ruby is a powerful call to action to deliberately and actively cultivate confidence, curiosity, collaboration, communication, creativity, commitment and craftsmanship in children while at the same time preparing them for success in public examinations. It first drew my attention because of its alignment with the 6 Pillars that we promote at St Luke’s.
In this book Claxton & Lucas name 3 character strengths that are predictive of success in life that CAN BE cultivated in schools, all of which align with our 6 Pillars of giving witness, managing self, relating to others, communicating and collaborating, thinking creatively and critically and being digitally literate:
2) Habits and attitudes of a ‘good’ person
3) Habits and attitudes of a ‘good’ learner
They also name 3 ‘classes’ of things that they believe should be in the school curriculum:
1) Utilities (things that are useful for children to know or be able to do such as reading, writing, telling the time, tying shoelaces, etc)
2) Treasures (things that are not directly useful but which form part of our cultural heritage)
3) Exercise Machines (topics/activities that are not intrinsically valuable but which develop qualities such as perseverance, logical analysis, patience, etc)
I like their approach to learning – they focus on growing a whole child that is ready to function in an a world that is known or unknown – academically, emotionally and spiritually.
They then unpack this a little further, giving examples of what a progression of learning would look like based on stages of development as follows:
- 3-5 years – a time for ‘Serious Play’, a time when children should explore, practice and build up ideas, concepts and skills, a time when they learn to control impulses, take risks, think creatively and imaginatively, communicate as they work together to problem-solve, etc.
- 5-7 years – a time for ‘Growth Mindsets for Success and Collaborative Learning’ (improving what they can do, seeing failure as an opportunity for further learning, thinking, playing and competing with others, being well-grounded in the basics of numbers and words, having many opportunities to create and so much more)
- 7-11 years – a time for mainly completing projects driven by interest (some guidance), but increasingly better at noticing carefully, collaborating, recording observations, reasoning, drawing conclusions, refining techniques and communicating findings. This is also the age where they should be introduced to the vast range of ways in which grown-ups make a satisfying living.
- 11-14 years – a time for continuing project work, some designed by teachers to stretch certain learning habits of mind and some designed by students in response to real-world needs. At this stage techniques and attitudes of the ‘powerful learner’ are made explicit – widely coached and discussed across the curriculum.
- 14-16 years – a time for students to bring their already well developed reading, writing, collaborating and researching habits to bear on matters of national and global significance
- 16-19 years – a time to enhance personal and interpersonal development through either a commitment to one or two vocational pathways or more philosophical study of complex issues of relevance and concern.
Makes sense …. you can see the developmental nature of this approach …
There is so much more to challenge our thinking in this book. Really worth the read.