Last week I was taking a group of year 8s just off of our school grounds to do some Mission Explore work for their geography lesson. (See http://www.missionexplore.net)
The next day I received this email forwarding on concerns from a concerned member of the public who had rung in to the school. The email also got copied into some members of SLT. It was like I has been caught doing something I shouldn’t. Here is the correspondence
“A member of the community expressed concern that on Friday morning some of our students were behaving oddly. The member of public saw girls running up and down Woodland Path, some others on their hands and knees on the zebra crossing, causing villagers to remark on their odd behaviour. They thought the girls were truanting from school.”
Do you know what? I am rather proud that my class were doing their mission explore work so well that they got this reaction. They weren’t just indolently lying about wasting their time. They were interacting with their surroundings and seeing their own environment from a new perspective. To me this both good Geography and good Learning.
I am worried about a lot of adults’ opinions of schools. Firstly, these viewpoints are based on what they experienced 10, 20, 30 , 40, 50 , 60 years ago. So their ideas may not all be relevant to how teaching and learning is today. Secondly, and more worryingly, is that these opinions are based on personal perceptions formed by children and teenagers. We all know how a pupil can say about a really caring teacher “oh he really hates me.”, when it is quite obvious this is not the case and the pupil has completely misinterpreted being told off for being disliked. These false understandings then get fixed in the memory as truths. On top of that, these selected and possibly incorrect recollections are then stretched out to form a whole philosophy of education, which is then applied en masse to any situation or issue in education whether it concerns their own child or a whole national government policy.
This is why schools should be getting parents and the wider community across the threshold and into the classroom; not so we can tell them what to think, but in order for their opinions to based on up to date, relevant and accurate information and experiences.