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Adults Learning Too

If you work at St Christopher’s School you understand that everyone is expected to join in whether big or small and you also learn to expect the unexpected! In every organisation the concept of ‘team building’ is understood but we take this idea one step further with a Staff and Governor Challenge Night in September followed by INSETS which develop us as practitioners as well as reminding us of how it feels to be a learner. We are experts at educating young children and this practical understanding helps to maintain that excellent understanding and empathy.

Our approach is far from new. The Chinese philosopher Confucius, who lived in the 6th Century BCE observed; ‘I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.’ There is something very special about learning as an adult. As well as the joy of the new there is often an obstacle to overcome in the form of the expectation that we should ‘know’ how to do something and this brings a sense of frustration when we can’t immediately solve a challenge. Young children are free of this impediment. They largely expect to find challenges hard and it is our job to scaffold for success by leading with a ‘can do’ approach and embracing an experience of ‘failure’ with the explanation that this is how we learn.

Our INSET was about bringing problem solving outdoors and the skills of collaboration that we revisited became a real thrill. To know when to lead and when to follow, to recognise that the personal skills that allowed one person to lead in the first activity may belong to another’s skill set for the next activity. The approach of trying again and again rather than giving up is arguably easier as an adult but to experience a child’s frustration and understand what type of motivational language helped you complete the task is invaluable when understanding the world from a young person’s point of view.

Teachers are a competitive bunch! I always forget this when I sail into the activities mentioned above and I have to sharpen my game accordingly. The unanimous feeling after our January INSET was one of delight. Yes we were cold, yes we were exhausted but we had exercised both minds and bodies in the glorious winter fresh air and as we were packing up ready to head in, talk of how these sessions were to be adapted for the children could be heard in every group and have since materialised on the planning. And I was reminded not for the first time just what a terrific team I am part of.

Annie Thackray