Archive | August 2012

Only 15% Of Learning Happens In School

Here we are, half way through the Summer holiday, and it got me wondering just how much learning is happening now that schools are closed?
Did you know that only 15% of learning takes place in school. It makes you wonder where and how the other 85% is being achieved.
Anybody interested in education and I would argue, we should all be, would enjoy reading  John Holt. He was an American author and educator. In his book, ‘How Children Fail’, which was published in 1964, he suggested that the academic failure of children was not despite the efforts of the schools but actually because of the schools. 
As you can imagine, he upset a lot of people.
I was struck by these words,

“…….. children are passionately eager to make as much sense as they can of the world around them. Children observe, wonder, find or make and then test  the answers to the questions they ask themselves. When they are not actually prevented from doing these things, they continue to do them and to get better and better at it.”

Does school ‘prevent’ them from doing these things? Will more valuable learning take place during August while children are away from the constraints of school? 
John Holt uses the metaphor of the assembly plant to describe schools, where rows of empty containers pass along the assembly line and the workers try to fill them with various amounts of substances – reading, writing, maths, history, etc. 

Upstairs, management decides when the containers should be put on the assembly line, how long they should be left on and what kinds of materials should be poured in and what should be done about those containers that have smaller openings or no openings at all. He goes on to say,

“No one seems to ask the obvious question. How come so many of the containers, having had these substances poured into them for so many years, are still going out of the factory empty? If students don’t know enough, we insist, it is because we don’t start pouring soon enough, or didn’t pour the right stuff or enough of it.”

Education is, I believe, at a crossroads. On the one hand we have politicians and educators who want to take us back to ‘the good old days’. They want to dictate exactly what should be ‘poured’ into children and want to start doing it an even earlier age. On the other hand you have the technological revolution that surrounds our daily lives and is having a profound impact on how we all learn. 
At the moment, many of our schools are not using the sophisticated, technological tools at their disposal to help our children make as much sense as they can of the world around them. Take a look at this video, see what the children of today think.

What do you think? We would welcome your thoughts.