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Today many parents in the UK, particularly in England, are standing up in support of 'the joy of learning for learning' and against the persistent drive to turn schools into places of test-driven instruction. This is a genuine grassroots expression, which has created a groundswell where decades and decades of other informed voices have hit brick walls. Well done, and may it shift sands in the political foundations.
No, children do not need testing "in order to ensure that they learn", as some politicians these past few days have repeated. Dear politicians, that is a miserable mindset which damages children – yes high quality education is vital, but some of you are getting in the way. 'This is not ok anymore' to equate 'testing' with high quality. Stop investing in the grindstone; invest in your children, or if you don't have children yourselves, at least have the decency to listen to those who have and - listen to children. It is not hard, and We will All benefit.
Invest in an education which listens to children – you will get your economic value, don't worry about that. But more importantly, you will be investing in decency and humanity.
Today is a good day to share something of the delights and deep learning which it is possible for us to offer to children in our schools today. Here is a celebratory snapshot of children – and their teachers - learning in intensity and joy in some of our recent projects:
After an'amazing' week in Reggio Emilia, the 41 UK participants, amongst the 400 strong international group from 41 countries are taking last-minute time to pack and buy presents for their families, returning with determination, often overwhelming thoughts , questions and also commitments of all kinds.
We have just closed the week, viewing the strong, observant and delicate collection of work from the children of the city of Reggio. They had prepared it as, not only a gift to the city but also a message to the planet:
"Planetary Messages are children's thoughts, questions, dialogues on the world, on the planet."
We thought you would like to see it too -
Educators, and schools, are often very keen to listen better to children: however there are often many day-to-day impediments; these are many and they include the general culture of education, its organisation and management.
In our coursework we work to tackle all these. another is simply experience - we are unused to doing it.
As adults we need to develop our habits and opportunities to listen and explore our ideas - in order to get nearer to the ideas of the children: this is perhaps the central necessity in 'developing environments of enquiry.'
Here is something for you to look at and try, individually or with colleagues (discussion is of course done better with others!)
At our recent annual development meeting, the Sightlines Members group and Network representatives viewed a short observation and discussed it. We found it a very rich experience, debating our thoughts and different insights for nearly two hours before having to stop for the day.
We invite you to do the same, and - if you are a Sightlines subscriber - you can also read the notes we ourselves made (in the resource library.) Read on to see the clip and the approach we suggest you take for reflection and discussion: