Forget the objectives, bring back some joy

23rd May 2003 at 01:00
Exasperated by the standard lesson formulae, headteacher Suzanne Brown has branched out, much to the delight of her staff.

Does there need to be an objective behind everything we do? Can't we sometimes light the fire and let it choose its own path?

In teaching, we have become so fixated with outcomes that we cannot allow ourselves to enjoy the process, or as Tim Brighouse described it, "the experience", any longer.

Why can't we provide children with experiences and allow them to take from it what they will? No matter how stimulating the lesson, if someone prefers to think about what they are having for tea their learning will be of a different kind, and totally within their control and not ours.

At Queen's CE junior, in Nuneaton, we have decided to focus more on the experiences we offer children and less on the outcomes. A Year 5 class has proved so difficult to motivate using the standard literacy strategy package that something new had to be tried.

In fact, it is very reminiscent of many lessons taught and observed pre- literacy strategy. We have indulged ourselves in a set of books and are basing the remainder of the summer term's work on the issues they raise.

The Wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo will not let us down.

Once we started to discuss how we could use it to stimulate cross-curricular topics and discussions, excitement blazed and the ideas were plentiful.

From turtles to self-sufficiency, sibling rivalry to worship, there was hardly an area of the primary curriculum that it did not touch upon. We found it almost indecently easy to cover all the remaining objectives in the literacy framework for Y5 term 3, but with not an extract in sight.

We intend to monitor carefully and evaluate, but for the first time for a while, I know that some of us cannot wait to teach. We are far from alone.

Along with The TES drive for creativity, there came a call from our local education authority. A packed room of heads and deputies discussed how we could shake off some of the lethargy that seems to surround the increasingly tight and centralised lesson plans.

Everyone was saying our children are bored, we are bored, what can we do? It did not matter which phase of education we represented or our scores.

We need to bring our lessons to life, if we are ever just to enjoy what we do again.

Suzanne Brown is head of Queen's CE Junior School, Nuneaton

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