Ms Jeny Shepherd reveals how curiosity, imagination, challenge and co-teaching are fundamental in the Learning Extension Programme at Edgecliff.
The passing of Sir Ken Robinson earlier this year reignited interest in the elements that he believed to be essential in producing successful education. ‘Sir Ken’, as he was affectionately known, gave talks and interviews and wrote many books and papers, espousing his strong belief that education needed to become more personalised so that children would want to learn, using this desire to build on their achievements and discover true passions.
A fundamental part of this learning process is the development of curiosity, one of our School Values. Curiosity is the engine of achievement, and this, along with imagination and creative thought, is the source of every form of human accomplishment. Implicit in this is the understanding that if we, as learners, are not prepared to experiment with new ideas and to be wrong, then we can never come up with anything original, nor become the best learners that we can truly be.
“A fundamental part of this learning process is the development of curiosity, one of our School Values.”
These are some of the foundations that have underpinned the Learning Extension Programme at Edgecliff since its commencement in 2002. All boys who participate, be it in regular Extension or Enrichment groups, or in the Working Mathematically programme that all boys from Years 3 to 6 share during Term I, are encouraged to build their curiosity and imagination, and to have the confidence to take learning risks.
In Learning Extension, the boys investigate a range of topics linked to real-world situations. They build their problem-solving skills as they complete rigorous, open-ended, independent, or small group activities at their own pace. A range of technology is used, where appropriate, to enhance and extend learning experiences and thus increase the levels of rigour and challenge. The Extension Room is full of co-teachers who are ‘more knowledgeable than others’: the boys theorise, discuss and assess ideas, techniques and solutions, learning from each other and from the teacher. They use technology and computation, build models, create diagrams, engage in discussions and simulations, create graphs, and use robotics and real-world data.
As always, our recent investigations have been diverse. They have included regular and truncated polyhedral shapes, practical uses of Pythagoras’ Theorem, why bees make hexagonal hive cells, and applications of algorithmic thinking. We have also designed gardens and explored the use of networking principles and exponents to better understand the COVID-19 situation. Other examples are the marketing and sale of fast food, melting ice, linear relationships, representative democracy, and how the availability of resources, technology and infrastructure affect market forces and a nation’s ability to trade.
The Extension Room is a dynamic and busy place full of boys actively exploring ideas, discussing, collaborating, discovering, and learning. They use their curiosity and imagination to aim higher, and develop the confidence to accept that they may not succeed the first time, but that by taking learning risks they will build their skills and be more able to reach their goals.
There is always the opportunity to learn more!