Reasons to love the European School Heraklion #6

#6 It creates engaged and independent learners

Learning is (or should be) a journey of discovery, in which students learn how to approach problems and find solutions for themselves. It is about learning how to learn as much as about acquiring information, and the teacher’s role is to accompany and assist students in their journey. Teaching in the European School is a pleasure because teachers have the freedom to do this.

We have detailed and rigorous syllabi, of course, drawn up by the European Schools’ organization, which list themes and objectives in each subject for each year group. But we also have a commitment to differentiated learning and teachers are encouraged to flesh out this framework in ways that suit their particular students, drawing on their individual needs, talents, and interests.

In the primary school, maths is perhaps the most guided subject, with specified texts as well as objectives. But even here we do not just set out concepts, methods, and theories for our students to learn. Rather, we help them to arrive at an understanding of the concepts, operations, and principles in a hands-on way, by manipulating resources and talking problems through with each other in a careful and critical way. They begin with a question or enquiry, draw comparisons and make connections, and try to find an appropriate conceptual scheme for thinking about it. They then propose solutions, share and critique their ideas, and finally review and try to reach a conclusion. Assessment serves as a self-test for the student and a progress indicator for the teacher.

As maths coordinator, I would use the journey metaphor when introducing the components to new teaching staff. The syllabus identifies our destination; the prescribed texts and supplementary materials are our means of transport; our teaching plans are our map, and assessment is our GPS. The learning process itself is the journey.

In this way, the school helps to develop creative and independent learners, ready to engage with an uncertain and ever-changing world, where learning never stops. Another reason to love the school!

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