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#ukedchat : ‘Handing over the reins. How do you implement pupil led learning in the classroom?’ - A response

girls group

This is a personal response to the #ukedchat that took place yesterday evening.  In a nutshell, I think it missed the point.  Whether this is because in-depth and meaningful discussion, argument and rebuttal is not really possible within the fast-paced 140 character format.  I find the more useful Twitter chats tend to swap and offer practical classroom tips.  I’ve tried to link to some of the examples I threw out in last night’s ‘debate.’

What was striking is that the debate was bi-polar with very little middle ground.  I’ve tried to sum up my own thoughts here.  I know that there are some who would disagree with the whole concept.   They are welcome to that opinion but I won’t be listening, especially to the louder, anonymous voices that I pay little attention to nor attach any reliability. 

1. There is a problem with the term ‘Pupil Led Learning’ as everyone has a slightly different definition in mind.  There’s nothing wrong with this in my view as it reflects the diversity of institutions and viewpoints.  My point would be that ‘Pupil Led Learning’ is a worthwhile goal, but not all the time.  I get really, pant tearingly frustrated at the apparent forgetfulness of some.  The answer to any debate in my view is simply:

‘Yes, it’s a great tool / perspective / approach to use, when it’s appropriate and underpinned by good learning objectives and outcomes.’

Should every lesson / day / week / month be pupil led?  Of course not.  Really that should be game over as it’s the ‘middle ground.’  Anyone who advocates the dominance of one approach or tool (iPads leap to mind) to the exclusion of all others, is just bonkers ( in my humble opinion).

2. My second reaction was it was disappointing to see the focus on the classroom.  Pupil led learning is most effective when taken outside of the classroom.  For example:

The mobile learning project set up last year where students co-planned and delivered learning with teachers that resulted in our cookbook.

Another example would be enterprise projects like this one.

A further example would be the way in which leadership and outdoor skills are often taught to young people.

All three of these examples reinforce my first point, that any form of teaching is powerful when used appropriately.  There are times in which pupil led learning is just not appropriate, useful or desirable at all.

3. A linked point is that pupil led learning need not be an overcomplicated behemoth of a thing.  Getting young people to create quality questions at the start of a unit is a great way of creating pupil led learning.  In addition, at Priory Geography we get young people to sit down and pull apart schemes of work. They suggest improvements.  The teachers are still the curriculum experts. What I would say is that when using this approach, it’s important to engage a cross-section of young people and not just use the ‘cream of the crop.’

4. I’ve grown a beard this holiday.  That makes me an expert.  Right? 

Part of the problem I think was that the topic last night, while a worthy one, was perhaps too ambitious and broad for a Twitter chat?  With #GeoEdChat, launching in February, we are attempting to combat this by closing the poll before the chat to provide the time for a think piece.

Any way. What do you think?


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