Make learning an active exploration

24th August 2007 at 01:00
I read the article "Teaching learners to be explorers" (TES, August 10) with tremendous excitement. At last, it felt great to be a "maverick". I have argued, for what seems like eternity, against the current emphasis on climbing league tables and "learning to pass examinations". Education should be a proactive experience for students through learning, thinking, being creative, discussing issues and solving problems.

All students who "learn to learn" and think for themselves, rather than regurgitate methods and facts, do well in examinations anyway. They understand the relevance of learning if they see how to apply it in a meaningful context for example, how to use proportion to modify recipes or adjust prices for differing amounts. Teachers who promote curiosity and enquiry (as I do) certainly do not get "worse results". Students have to explore ideas, take risks and sometimes fail in order to cultivate determination, confidence and self-reliance. In the process, they will develop a willingness to reflect on mistakes and revise and improve strategies.

Teachers must also be happy to ask questions, and have questions thrown back at them, without fear of ridicule. The best questions heard in a classroom are those posed by the students. Usually, this means they are proactive, not passive, and are thinking and making the connections required for effective learning to take place. This has to be within a learning environment of trust not one of fear, as the Tory leader David Cameron espouses.

Ann Moore

Advanced skills teacher (maths),

Stocksfield, Northumberland

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