Tweet from @ianaddison: Tweet from ian addison(@ianaddison) Fave QCA example: We must do 6 weeks of email in year 3. 6 weeks!!! @charliedeane’s sch does it as part of her egypt topic! #ukedchat
I noticed this tweet this evening and it really got me thinking. The idea of doing email in a discrete unit of 6 weeks is obviously crackers. It is a communication tool which is best taught in an integrated way in the long term, and for meaningful uses. To teach it once in a big block out of context and then not return to it until the following year is antithetical to the nature of such a tool.
However, how much do we do this with non tech tools? Those following the current Primary Framework for Mathematics in the UK will be familiar of the idea of returning often to different areas of the curriculum to embed and extend knowledge in a natural way, but in most other subjects this doesn’t seem to happen. I think this problem is especially prevalent in Literacy in Primary schools, where certain types of writing (eg persuasion) are taught in one block and then left until the next year. To my mind this just doesn’t fit with how learning works, and the notion that certain styles of writing are needed for certain times. I would much rather my pupils learnt to write persuasively when the need arises for them to do so for a real purpose, not just because I have created a purpose to fit with the timetable of our school year (lets not even go into teaching them to do it without giving a truly authentic purpose, as I suspect many do).
Learning is useless without the ability to apply it, and a big part of applying this type of learning is recognising just when to do so. It is so much harder to decide to apply a certain writing style because you want to achieve a certain effect than applying it because your assessment question uses the magic word ‘persuade’.
The more I work with negotiated and project based learning the more I see that the really hard part for children is not learning what we traditionally see as ‘the curriculum’. The hard part is making those links that will let them actually make use of that learning in their lives. Teaching everything in neat little blocks does little to address this most important of aims.