Focus on learning

John Hattie, currently co-chairing a Science of Learning Centre,  stated in an interview that "we need to bring back ‘learning’ as our focus (more than ‘teaching)’.  What does it mean to learn, which learning strategies are optimal (when, how, and where), how do we assess and evaluate how a student learns (wow, we have so many measures of achievement but how many measures of learning do we have!), and how do new advances in the science of learning help make the difference."

Yesterday 2 engineering students from University of Auckland spent the day showing students how to work with robots - how to code them, how to test the code on the maze, and how to improve the code so the robot could get through the maze. I observed them working with a Year 10 class. Knowing nothing about using robots in education, I was astonished to see what a difference it made to the students' learning. Instead of working on individual devices they naturally collaborated in groups and when there was an error in the code ie the robot went around in circles instead of turning a corner or taking a straight line, they quickly went back to the laptop to change the code. They did this over & over again without once putting their hands up to ask the teacher a question (usually they are very teacher-dependent) and they were able to get instant success when the robot followed the direction of the maze. The students were motivated and learning much like the Sugatra Mitra experiment with students from the poorer regions in India.

 Looking at the 12 skills that the children in the Sugatra Mitra experiment learned by teaching themselves, should give us confidence that the new technology curriculum which is currently under consultation will be easily  rolled out in 2020 as an integral part of each learning area. John Hattie & Gregory Yates' book "Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn" explains things such as:

  • how knowledge is acquired & stored
  • Memory and the impact of cognitive load
  • how music impacts on learning
  • achieving self control
  • invisible gorillas, inattentional blindness & paying attention
to name a few. (Gregory Yates is a cognitive psychologist).

See also Derek Wenmoth's blog post (Director of Core Education) "A Shake-up for Education". he attended the release of the final draft of the Digital Technologies Curriculum.


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