IMAGINE LIVING DIFFERENTLY,
LEARNING, CREATING, GROWING ....
WITHOUT SCHOOLING.


Monday, 11 June 2012

Boy friendly schooling

Today was a good day!
It started yesterday, really, when we arrived home to find the neighbours out on the street looking up into the tree in front of our house. There was a swarm of bees in a ball hanging there, so the boys had a look and told us all they remembered learning on a science day with a bee scientist some months ago. Our neighbour told us she had called the regional association of beekeepers who would be sending one of their members to collect the ball of bees. He did not show up until early this morning when I was summoned downstairs to cries of, "Mum, the bee man is here!" Eldest son went straight out front to talk to the man, whilst sons 2 and 3 watched from the front window as he proceeded to smoke the bee swarm into a box, decked out in his beekeeper's suit like a spaceman!
As I watched my eldest son chatting away to the bee man, it occurred to me that his learning style is conversational. He learns by talking to people, and processes information orally. I remembered his last school teacher telling us how he needed to stop bothering her, and I suddenly saw how frustrating it must be for children who learn in this way to have to sit down and shut up, thereby disabling their preferred learning style. I am often struck by our boys "all talking at once". It is something I don't understand, but maybe this is because boys learn in this way. I have often read of school being "girl friendly" and watching my son today gave me a fresh insight into what that might mean.
I once did a teaching placement in a boys' school. The English department was attempting to make English more "boy friendly" - primarily by choosing literature which was thought to appeal more to boys, but also by encouraging varied teaching methods, which made them quite open to bold approaches. I had a class of very bright Year 7 lads who were studying a play about a Japanese samurai. I got them to act out each scene of the play in triads, and really encouraged the boys to get into the plot and to enter into the story. So we had characters jumping off the tables and building caves beneath the desks, all talking and shouting at once - but thoroughly engaged in the text. I remember the Head of Department looking through the window, and I cringed wondering what she would think of the chaos in the classroom. Oughtn't learning to look calm and orderly, pupils sitting still, listening and focussing on what they are being told? But at the end of the lesson, she looked so pleased and told me, "It looked so exciting. They were all so engaged. Every single pupil was on task. Wonderful!" It was refreshing. And lots of fun!


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