Learning how to learn
The College Learning Culture is a teaching and learning framework built on the premise that learning is learnable.
From Pre-K to Year 12, this approach reflects contemporary research about learning, developing student appetite and capacity to learn in different ways.
Learning is learnable.
“All skills will become obsolete except one, the skill of being able to make the right response to situations that are outside the scope of what you were taught in school. We need to produce people who know how to act when they are faced with situations for which they were not specifically prepared.” – Seymour Papert
There is a common theme in classrooms around the world; the teacher tends to do most of the talking and asks lots of questions. In turn, students are aware that the teacher already knows the answers and are rarely given much time to respond. In this way, student learning is often reduced to an exchange of information between student and teacher, “Just tell me what I need to know so I can tell it back to you.”
However, students in the modern world need more than a clutch of examination certificates and a memory full of isolated knowledge. Instead they will need to be equipped with transferrable skills. They will need to be tenacious and resourceful, imaginative and logical, self-disciplined and self-aware, collaborative and inquisitive.
Penrith Anglican College’s Teaching and Learning Framework intends to not only equip our students to achieve their best academic results, but also enable them to develop as learners who will continue to excel beyond their time at the College.
Research tells us that the more a student is aware of the different facets of their learning, the more effective their learning is. The College Learning Culture is built upon a simple premise that learning itself is learnable and that the dispositions needed to be powerful learners are the same character traits needed to be able to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
Based on the work of Professor Guy Claxton, the College Learning Culture is built on two foundations; a common language (known as Learning Language), and classroom practices (known as Learning Habits). The Learning Language describes and defines the characteristics and dispositions of a powerful learner; the Learning Habits help students cultivate and develop these characteristics and dispositions in their learning.
As a College, our teaching practice reflects the following core principles:
- We believe that learning is learnable and that every student can develop as a learner.
- We have high expectations for our students, with a focus on improvement rather than achievement.
- We ensure that our students know that it is safe to be a learner and that mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow.
- We know that all students, regardless of their ability, learn best when they are invited to take an active role in their own learning.
Our Learning Language
The College’s Learning Language is a common language used to talk about learning in all classrooms. It is modelled around four domains of becoming a powerful learner, with each domain having four dispositions.
Using your imagination and intuition to explore possibilities and new ideas. wondering ‘what if …?’
Gathering a range of resources from the wider world; other people, books, the internet and past experiences.
Asking questions of yourself and others. being curious and creative with ideas; delving beneath the surface of things.
Calling up your logical and rational skills to work things out methodically; constructing good arguments, and spotting the flaws in other arguments.
Perceiving subtle nuances, patterns and details in experience.
Recognising and reducing distractions, concentrating on the task at hand. creating your own best learning environment.
To begin tough or challenging learning journeys, even if they look overwhelming.
To keep going in the face of difficulties, knowing that learning is a slow and uncertain process. productively channelling the energy of frustration.
Thinking about where you are going, the action you are going to take, the time and resources you will need and how to overcome possible obstacles.
Selecting knowledge and skills from different contexts and carrying them forward to aid further learning.
Being flexible, changing your plans in the light of different circumstances, monitoring how things are going and seeing new opportunities.
Generating fresh ideas and new methods in order to complete the task at hand.
Contributing to others’ experiences, listening to them to understand what they are really saying and putting yourself in their shoes.
Being able to appreciate another person’s belief, action or perspective, even if it doesn't align with your point of view.
Knowing how to manage yourself in the give and take of a group environment; benefiting from the strength of teams.
Constructively adopting methods, habits or values from other people whom you observe.
Using a common Learning Language allows students to recognise the emotional, cognitive, social and strategic dimensions of learning. From Pre-K through to Year 12 this common approach and language helps students to identify, describe and understand themselves as learners in a wide range of contexts.
“Every time we teach our students, we are either adjusting or reinforcing their understanding of how to learn.”
Our Learning Habits
The Learning Habits are designed to cultivate curiosity and motivation within learners, develop effective processes for learning, and enhance the acquisition and retention of information.
This active learning environment promotes constructive learning behaviours and reinforces positive messages about the nature of learning.
The Learning Habits are designed to help students:
- understand it is safe to be a learner and make mistakes
- ensure they are being challenged and engaged during classroom activities
- take part in learning-based conversation with other students
- focus on personal responsibility and independence in learning
- understand the value of improvement rather than just attainment
These strategies give students the words and habits to be able to record, reflect on and articulate their growth as flexible, independent, learners; identifying progress in their own learning behaviours.
The College Learning Culture seeks to provide challenges, improve mindsets, encourage collaborative activity and create and reinforce positive messages about what it means to learn.
“Preparing students not just for a life of tests, but for the tests of life.”