Tuesday 27 November 2018

Why a recent article in The Telegraph is wrong

Therese Andrews 

Head of International Curriculum - Primary and Middle Years

Therese Andrews response to the following article:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/11/14/making-lessons-fun-does-not-help-children-learn-new-report-finds/

School Pic

A recent headline in The Telegraph stated ‘Making lessons fun does not help children to learn, new report finds’. The article references a report by the Centre for Education Economics CIC entitled ‘The achievement-well-being trade-off in education’ which questions the value of child-centered learning, stating that there is little evidence to suggest that happier children learn better.

I would argue that the benefits of having happy children in school who engage in fun learning activities extend far beyond the realm of academic outcomes and also promote happier, healthier lifestyles and develop lifelong learners. In my opinion, there is no debate to be had regarding the connection between fun in school and learning; it’s obvious that these are connected and well-aligned to promote deep learning and understanding.

If we consider how our society measures learning, it always includes a test (which are often based on knowledge). Therefore, if being successful at school (and therefore at learning) becomes about getting high scores on a test, then of course the most conscientious students will want to be educated in an exam-factory, teacher led environment so that they can rote learn the maximum amount of knowledge without having to do much collaboration, problem solving or critical thinking for themselves. Sure, they might do very well on a standardized assessment at the end of their course, but I wonder whether they will look back on their school days and feel regret for what could have been.

How they could have:

  • Collaborated with their peers, practicing negotiation skills which would prepare them for their workplaces
  • Critically analysed problems they were faced with and worked out how to overcome them, helping them prepare for problems they might face in their futures
  • Developed stronger relationships with their peers where they accepted and worked alongside people’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Developed appreciation for a wider range of subjects and topics as they worked through problems in which cross-curricula knowledge, skills and understanding were required
  • Had more fun! Who wouldn’t want that?!

While the headline of the article may technically be true, if we dig deeper and think about the value of deep learning and how this might benefit not just individuals but society as a whole, I believe that we need to address how we assess students so that they are able to appreciate the opportunities for deep learning and their time spent in school is more enjoyable.

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