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Learning is for Life, not Just for School




05.08.2020 – Darrell Priestley – Principal, Northern Music Academy

To School, or Not to School? – That is the Question

Amid great concern, the debate rages over how safe it is for children to attend school. Actually, if you listen to the debate, especially among politicians giving interviews, you may begin to detect a whiff of something other than objectivity, as they jostle for position, making claims that rely more on oppinion than empirical fact.

”If you care, you teach”

Education right now is a key political battleground. Still, those of us working in education who believe in the benefits of learning may prefer to distance oursleves from the simply political, having more interest in getting the job done, however that may be achieved. I might say, if you care, you teach.

No one seriously doubts that lockdown has had an effect on childrens’ education, and in many cases may lead to an adverse effect on life outcomes. Be that as it may, it is for all of us to do whatever we can to mitigate this. Learning is not only something you do in school, nor is it simply dependent on school attendence. At it’s core, learning is about openness to ideas, which is merely a state of mind.

Learning stems from a state of interest, based on a desire which grows as our curiosity is spiked. We can all do a lot to foster that desire in those around us, children especially, to be actively learning, by using encouragement at every opportunity, and showing appreciation and approval when students make the effort to acquire further understanding and to think for themselves.

Especially now, in the internet age, most students have vast resources at their disposal to help them learn, and keep on learning for all of their lives. Even without the internet, libraries can do what libraries have always done: pique our interest and supply both answers and further questions that inspire investigation.

We can also increasingly see each other as a resource. No one knows everything, but each of us has knowledge to share. Even by discussing topics with children, we can train critical thinking, the ability to analyse a situation and derive interesting solutions, develop a rational approach to problem solving, and unearth deeper understanding.

Done right, education is always ongoing, and an every day experience. When our children return to school, their education may in some ways have skipped like a record. But on the other hand, they may have taken the time and the opportunity to develop deeper faculties and improved critical thinking, so that when they arrive at the classroom they do so equiped to learn differently, and crucially better, than before. This would be my hope. What do you think?