Our Y8s are in the midst of preparing their very own fieldwork, and its been an eye opening experience for them and myself. Modelled from the teacher is the positive behaviour and practice they will need to develop and deliver an engaging and detailed field study. They have discussed a relevant hypothesis, a clear study topic, and what skills they may need to use during and after the trip. They have looked at both quantitative and qualitative data collections, and we have even had a ‘clearance community’, where groups have critically analysed their topics of study and its relevance to the local area.
What has become abundenlty clear though has been the pupils desire in using scaffolded and already made materials. Many have not wanted to navigate away from the comfort of the tried and tested methods of fieldwork; (population counts, questionnaires, land-use transects etc), and develop their own procedures. It has lead me to look at the starting pots and choices pupils are able to make in lessons; are they contextualised and useable for the demographic of learner infront of the teacher?
We know as educators that letting students make choices in the classroom makes them feel like stakeholders in the planning and delivery of the learning and hopefully will enable them to realise its importance too, but are we able to always build in the time for, as Syed (2011) calls it, Purposeful Practice? Are we as a profession, stifling our teachers and the choices they could be making with prescribed and somewhat bizarre stances and decisions being made on high, (the new KS2 writing assessment standards are a clear example of this)
Underneath are the 3 papers released by the DFE at the end of the March, each start with the word ‘Eliminate’, to me, a negative term, and one I encourage staff to let go of. They make some pertinent and interesting arguments, and a number of points being made to aid the reduction in workload and pressure we are already addressing at the Academy, and have some measures in place, always a nice thing to read! We as a profession look to encourage next steps, for pupils to relinquish the shackles of standardised testing, of revision, of the antithesis that emerges with the constant haranguing of exams and grades and to step into a world of creativity, to take risks, to develop, innovate and eventually achieve. So why do we look to focus on the negatives when reviewing our profession, to use terms like ‘Eliminate’ and ‘unnecessary’?
The papers, as previously mentioned, do have some solutions of where to go next, but I want to hear of the positivity that exists in the profession from my professional body; not just on my twitter feed and afore mentioned blogs, (found here on previous posts). Maybe more of these review groups in localised areas could eventually have an impact for the different demographics that we all teach, and allow us to move away from the pre-ordained methods, which may in turn encourage our pupils to do the same, creating a set of fieldwork tasks that I know the pupil have clear ownership over, and they do not fear to create or deliver on.