Oliver Quinlan: Letting kids follow their interests improves their learning
In a four-part video series for GETideas I travelled the world in 24 hours and asked four educators I admire what their "two stars and a wish" for learning would be for 2011. I'll blog the films here over the next week.
Oliver Quinlan, a primary school teacher in his first year of teaching in Birmingham, UK, blew people away at the BETT 2011 TeachMeet with his stories of how he gave up the inherent need of the teacher to know what's going to happen next in a lesson, and let students follow their interests. He expands on that in this short video:
"Children coming in and following what they're interested in has resulted in some of the most powerful learning experiences in my classroom. When a child chooses to understand more about the rocks they've brought in, the learning is deep. It takes time, we need to set that time aside.
I've also enjoyed spending longer on some texts, and haven't been afraid to revisit the same texts further down the line. What kids produce after a second chance at a topic, later on in the school year, is so much better than what is learnt and produced in the timetabled time.
"And that is my wish - I wish we could find more flexible, alternative timetabling methods that allow students to do these kinds of things. We need longer periods of time, the ability to not finish a topic, but to revisit it months later."