By Huw May, Headmaster of Eaton House Belgravia School
‘Education with a purpose’ is a different concept from the purpose of education. However, there is some interrelationship between the two.
Table of contents:
- Why children need education with a purpose
- Creating a passion for education with a purpose
- Connecting with the outside world
- Taking risks
- Developing deeper knowledge
- Further knowledge
Why children need education with a purpose
During multiple lockdowns, digital platforms have been a great help in education. They have enabled schools and their pupils to continue their education, with some providers creating platforms that are a one-stop-shop for learning. This begs the question, ‘Why do children need to go to school?’
There have been many books written on this topic, and they will go into why we have in-person education much more than I will in this article. If there is one thing that brings home to teachers why in-person education is vital, it is human contact.
Social interaction, the ability for children to develop the skills to interact with each other, develop productive working relationships, emotionally support each other and be empathetic and compassionate have all suffered during the lockdown.
Education with a purpose empowers children to understand the role they play in their learning journey. It is all too easy for children to be passive and not engaged in their learning, only doing the bare minimum.
Children need to be inspired to take their learning to new heights. Once they have been introduced to a topic, teachers should ask, ‘Where can you take this next?’ and help the children unlock their research skills, interests and inspire them to learn more.
This, in turn, will deepen their understanding, and they become masters of their own learning and gain a deeper understanding.
Creating a passion for education with a purpose
Application of knowledge is core to children fully appreciating what they understand and what they don’t understand. This then helps them develop their own plan to fill those knowledge and skills gaps.
Teachers and parents guide and inspire the children to develop their own methods to fill the skills and knowledge gaps. A one size fits all approach is not always the best way.
Taking their learning into the real world or seeking inspiration from the world around them makes this knowledge tangible, purposeful and relevant. A visit to a museum, the realisation of seeing the Rosetta Stone, for example, understanding that it is the real thing, not a copy, and yes, it does exist is a breath-taking moment. These experiences fire up so much enthusiasm and passion worth their weight in gold in motivating future learning.
It is a real motivator when children connect what they learn in school and how they can apply that learning in their own lives. As adults, we often have the ability to withdraw from activities if we feel they aren’t providing us with the knowledge or stimulation we feel is right for us. Children in school do not always have that luxury. It is the teacher’s role to help children see the relevance of what they are doing.
Connecting with the outside world
Often children see that what goes on inside the four walls of school has nothing to do with the outside world. This is a missed opportunity. Making the connection helps them to understand how they fit into the world and how they can play their part by utilising the phenomenal resources around them.
Education with a purpose can help children discover their passions at an early age and shape their future. Introducing children to many experiences prompts them to develop new skills. Making this relevant is the key.
Education with a purpose means taking risks
When observing young children undertaking something new for the first time, one wants them not to be risk-averse. We want children not to be afraid to have a go and establish an environment where trial and error is encouraged.
Pressure from the people around them to get things right the first time and be perfect surely sets children up to be risk-averse. But trying things and getting them wrong, analysing why they got things wrongs and creating a plan to fill the skills and knowledge gap is a sound process to secure future learning.
Children might then ask, ‘Why can’t I play the piano?’ ‘What do I need to do to play the piano better?’ One needs to be energised to practice skills and have a thirst for acquiring more knowledge and skill. With this effort, you become an expert yourself.
Developing deeper knowledge
In summary, education with a purpose endows children with relevant skills to apply in the world around them and use their experience to continue developing their skills and knowledge and being inspired to learn more. Driving their own learning and research enables them to embed deeper knowledge and understanding and have a profound appreciation of how they learn, what gaps they have and how to fill those gaps.
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