Developing True Grit

Can you teach it? Should you teach it? Should it be part of the school curriculum? The ‘it’ in question is character, or grit, or resilience or all three and more, and it’s been a big talking point this week. Michael Gove believes his school reforms would help develop it; Tristram Hunt argues that it should be a taught part of the curriculum while an all Party Parliamentary Group is behind a Report published this week on future policy. It’s not a new issue of course but seems to have resurfaced as debate continues about whether the current curriculum reforms tilt learning too far away from what are often regarded as essential personal skills and politicians battle it out for the soul of education. So what is true grit and where’s it best developed?

 

What is meant by grit/resilience in an education setting?

 

It’s generally easier to recognise than define and most attempts at codification tend to reflect what comes under the heading of ‘soft skills.’ Click on preferred soft or personal skills on recruitment websites and you generally get a list that comprises the following: effective communication; problem solving; team player; flexibility; creative thinking; confidence; and being able to accept feedback and act on it.

 

These tally pretty closely with the seven acknowledged employability skills that the CBI has been promoting for some time although theirs include Business and Customer Awareness and Application of IT and of Numeracy along with self-management, team working and communications.

 

Similar lists can be found in most employer surveys and are pretty much staple diet in vocational programmes these days but the MPs’ Report this week, published with the think tank Centre Forum and the independent Character Counts centre, focuses more on the “personal resilience and emotive wellbeing” side of personal development. Their research suggests four key ‘character capabilities’ namely: application; self-direction; self-control; and empathy, with a strong nod towards a range of other characteristics such as self-efficacy and the ability to defer gratification, generally reflected in the terms ‘mental toughness’ and ‘grit.’

 

An interesting aspect of this is the development of wellbeing, the subject of recent Reports from both Young Minds and Barnardos and increasingly recognised in schools as an important contributor to learning success and component of personal or character development.

 

Read the full article from Pearson here

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Effects of Learning Skills Interventions on Student Learning: A meta-analysis Review of Educational Research

A review of: John Hattie, John Biggs and Nola Purdie (1996) Effects of Learning Skills Interventions on Student Learning: A meta-analysis Review of Educational Research Vol 66: 2 (99-136)

This month we focus on a paper by John Hattie and colleagues, whose aim was to identify the key features of successful study skills interventions. The review was a study of studies (meta-analysis), building on findings from of over 50 pieces of research that aimed to improve student performance by focusing on learning or study skills. It was conducted by leading experts in the international field and is a highly influential review, which colours our thinking about how best to impart learning dispositions to pupils in a way that will ‘stick’ or ‘transfer’ from one classroom to another or, indeed, from the classroom to the world outside of school, college, or university. Findings support the recommendation that training (unless for simple mnemonic performance only) should be given in context, should use tasks and strategies from within the same domain as the strategies will be utilised in by students, and should promote high levels of learner activity and metacognitive awareness.

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A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

Featured Article from Pearson – Open Ideas

A rich seam of insight

The OECD states in their report “Education Today 2013” that countries need to provide a “good basic education in childhood and adolescence that equips people not just for the jobs of today, but with the ability to learn new skills for the jobs of tomorrow right through their lifetime.” In order to engage young people in their education and for them to succeed in the future, Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy suggest that ‘deep learning’ – the disposition to learn, create and ‘do’– is necessary to stimulate lifelong learning in today’s students. The good news is that that deeper learning is already visible in many schools today, and, according to the authors, likely to spread globally in the near future.

This expansion is due to the convergence of three forces, which the authors have highlighted in A Rich Seam as:

1) New pedagogies – where teaching is no longer about curriculum content, but fosters learning that is more engaged with real life, encouraging students to continue learning outside the classroom;

2) New change leadership – where leadership is no longer about top-down or bottom-up, but rather about students and teachers pushing each other to learn together, driving progress in partnership;

3) New system economics – where learning can be less expensive due to students’ natural inclination to learn as a result of new, more engaging pedagogies.

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