I have recently spent two days at a conference in which I was fortunate to listen to some inspirational speakers in the field of education, all advocating that we have a ‘permission to educate’. That we have a duty to prepare our children for the ‘test of life’ rather than a ‘life of tests’. In a current climate of education in which we are being asked to test our youngest children and evidence how much ‘educational’ progress they have made at each stage of their school journey, it is refreshing to be reminded that many of the skills needed to be successful are not those one can measure with a test. Creativity, imagination, passion, determination, confidence and perseverance are what have likely seen the world’s most successful people both in business and the arts realise their ambitions. These characteristics of effective learning are the foundation of an Early Years curriculum and we are fortunate to see the blossoming of them in the children we teach. Our view of ‘clever’, as a result, is very wide. It also means that, just as you find the fizz inside a sherbet lemon, we find the fizz inside every child.
I was witness to a brilliant example of this recently when in the woods with a group of Year 2 boys who had discovered a plank of wood and decided to use it to make a see-saw-slide construction using the branches of a tree. I saw excellent communication, negotiation and creativity as they each contributed their ideas for what would provide the best technique for the ultimate ‘bounce’ factor, with each one of them being tested accordingly. However, one boy stood out amongst the others for being able to see through the information overload as he realised the technique needed to be adjusted for each person depending on their stature and long after some of the others had turned their attention to something else, he remained in fixed determination making refinements. The outcome was quite outstanding, but it was the process which showcased his amazing abilities and ‘cleverness’. On paper, this boy does not necessarily stand out as achieving highly academically based on test scores, but if I had to choose a child who will be successful and be able to withstand the ‘test of life’ his name would be pretty near the top of the list.
I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a team who value the importance of helping every child ‘find their fizz’ and their unique place on the ‘clever’ spectrum. We fully accept the ‘permission to educate’ and enjoy doing so in as many ways as possible!