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It takes Courage to Learn

Posted: 26th March 2021 | Category: Headmaster's Blog

Our school community has demonstrated such courage this term. This has been defined by our ability to venture, persevere and withstand any difficulty or adversity thrown at us, even an overnight decision to move to remote learning! 

This has come through in recent assessments as there has been impressive progress made across the whole school, a stark contrast to what is being presented in the media. Our age-standardised results in reading and comprehension has improved for all pupils by 4 points this term. I marvel at their fortitude and adaptability. 

Recently in a blog I read a quote from a speech delivered by John F. Kennedy about America’s quest to reach the Moon: “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” I have used this quote in assemblies and lessons because it encapsulates what is required for real learning to take place. Encouraging our children to not shy away from the hard things, those things that do not come naturally. This is one of the secret ingredients that allows them to become their best selves.

This is all to prove how learning itself is courageous. As many of us adults experience, our natural inclination is towards the status quo. What is learning if not a change? Any change can be daunting and often unwelcome, especially if it takes you out of your comfort zone, however it is in this place of discomfort where we (and our children) learn best. 

That is all well and good, but how can this be encouraged at Skippers? First and foremost, gently, we need to provide children with an environment that allows children to make brave choices and rewards them for doing so. They need to know that initially there is a safety net, that their parents or teacher is there to catch them if they fall. And if they do, gently guide them back to that ledge and let them have another go, and another, until they succeed and no longer need that safety net.  It does not stop there though, there always has to be a bigger leap to take, learning is NEVER finished.

I am a firm believer in role models, if we don’t display courageous learning, how can we expect our children to learn it? We should talk about our own learning and what inspires us, as this in time rubs off on our children. They also need to know it is not always smooth going, that learning is punctuated with changes of direction, failures and adaptations. 

I have done an interesting experiment with my son, Rufus, to prove to him the progress he has made with his piano, as learning can sometimes be so gradual it is not noticed. We started lessons together a few years ago and then I deliberately stopped. Rufus carried on with his lessons and I have remained exactly where we both were 3 years ago. In those moments when he is discouraged from learning a new piece I am able to show him (through my inability to play anything) just how far he has come.

Finally let's all step forward from these difficult times with courage to make the most of all that we have here and around us as our lives will be richer for it. Regardless of your faith this verse from the Bible, found in the book of Joshua chapter 1 verse 9, rings true: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

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