Helen Amass

Have we forgotten to teach pupils how to learn?

Every teacher knows that metacognition – learning how to learn – is important, and many think they are automatically passing on such skills to their pupils. But are schools going about this the wrong way, and do teachers need more advice on how to get it right? Helen Amass investigates

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Russell Harrison is talking about pineapple-shaped swimming pools. In a classroom. With around 30 Year 6 pupils. During a maths lesson.

Ostensibly, this is to test the pupils’ skills in calculating perimeter and area, as that appears to be the focus of the lesson. But lean in closer and listen a little keener, and you will realise there is another, more pressing motive: Harrison, assistant head at Alderwood Primary School in Greenwich, is teaching the children how to learn.

You see, the pineapple had come up because Harrison had been discussing using a visualisation technique to remember the ...

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