Meta-learning approach

Going beyond the nuts and bolts to a deeper level, and thus understanding the nature of knowledge and learning.

Photo of Andrew Hampton
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I want to be a bit awkward and argue against the idea of 15 minutes of fame and indeed, to some extent, putting students at the heart of parent conferences. Pretty much all schools meet with the parents (though not all) and they operate different models of how these conferences are organised. As I write I am sitting outside a Year 10 parents evening in which parents will spend around ten minutes with around seven or eight different teachers. 

In a child centred school I don't find there is a particular need to place the student at the centre of the parent conference because they get plenty of air time and attention anyway. Indeed, the pupils are in that hall right now listening and contributing. I could give you a list as long as my arm of the ways in which this is a child centred school. 

no, I argue that we need to look at ways to make the time teachers have with parents more effective and yes, more personal. Looking at this from the parents POV, they want/need to go away from the conference with some genuinely useful insights about their child and about how they can support their child more over the next period of time until the next meeting. Knowing how their child is performing is part of that but gaining an understanding of the deeper reasons why a child is performing in the way they are  is surely much more powerful. Ideally, in the exchange between parent and teacher there will be garnered an understanding of what is needed next and who is going to support those needs. In order to arrive at that meta-understanding inside ten minutes (!) teachers, parents and pupils need a common language, a language of meta learning. 

My contribution, then, is to propose that we work on a meta-learning framework that looks at knowledge and learning in simple and universal ways, to create that common language. We also need to build on a previous (magnificent) piece of work by the RSA on learning competencies and learning to learning, again creating a common vocabulary to identify the characteristics and traits of effective learners. 

With this language used and understood each conference can shortcut to the chase: on a meta level your child needs to xyz... On a meta level my child needs more abc...from you his/her teacher. 

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Photo of Thomas Gilliford

It feels to me like this might be a vital component of Without Further Ado . . . if we are going to have young people talking about their success we surely also need to develop a shared language that crosses the adult -child divide?