You are the reader, the thinker, the decider, the seeker, the grafter, the finisher. Sometimes you a



The trouble with teachers and our plans, goals, objectives or whatever we call them, is that they can limit our thinking and your learning.

You are all different and just because you don’t understand something it does not mean you will never understand it nor that you do not have the capability to understand – it just means you do not understand just yet! Most of the time it has nothing to do with your intellect but more to do with your exposure to different events or concepts.

I often found myself teaching Religious Education knowing that a high percentage of the learners in the class would not understand the deeper meanings simply because they had not experienced a death in the family or gone to a wedding or a particular religious event. As time passed and they encounter the experience they would come back and say now “I understand”, “I saw this happen” or “I felt that” at that moment, showing that they learnt long after the lesson. The brain is capable of holding on to small bits of information to make use of later.

The brain is also malleable – meaning easily influenced and amended – therefore trainable!

It can change itself as it receives external stimuli. Learners in particular have no idea what their limits are. As learners, you have the privilege opportunity to set your own bar wherever you like. Teachers can make sensible plans for their classes. However, those plans are not guaranteed to accommodate every child in their class and if your autistic, dyslexic or learn in a different way to the teaching style, you know - you miss out! Which is why many home schoolers have already chosen to learn away from the school setting.

Tim Oates, from Cambridge Assessment, explained recently that if a learner doesn’t understand then it is down to the teacher to explain it in different ways until the learner does understand. However, that is not your experience of what is happening, the class moves on and your left behind.

As teachers we are professionals, whose work includes a lot of technical craft. As educators, we should be constantly reading the room, reading body language to judge how the learner is doing, instead we are often managing behaviour. If one learner is bored is it because they have already mastered the construct so are they causing the disruption or is it the learner who requires additional support but no Teaching Assistant is available and they have already given up?

As well behaved learners you often find you get very little time with the teacher, you do your bit and strive to understand the lesson and just as you grasp it - the bell goes and it is time to pack and move on. As learners, this is very frustrating because as you move from classroom to classroom the information you have so diligently strived to gain is lost and so by homework time you struggling with what to do all - over again!

As a classroom based teacher my heart would sink on a Friday when the class would say “I just got that” because instead of consolidating that learning - we would, I knew, be doing something totally different on Monday. As a teacher of home schoolers, we might spend six weeks on a topic having looked at it in every which way and we leave say ‘fractions’ knowing that when we come back to it or encounter it in another branch of maths we would be able to tackle it.

As the learner, you need to be in control of your own learning and where you do this and when this best is really down to you. The teacher can help you plan your way through the curriculum, but it is you that decides which subject, how fast, where to and how much effort you put in to learn something. If you don’t understand it is you who should be able to ask for help, you should be able to follow a thread of a topic until you have exhausted it. Learning something is different from having the topic delivered to you.

We are all individual learners - not units that have to pass through an ever-increasing volume of tick boxes.


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