What if Learning

Posted on February 17, 2014 by Amy Tolmie
Categories: Primary, Secondary, 16-19s, SEN, Young Leaders,

Schools, especially Church ones, have been very good at discovering their shared values. Next time you visit look out for the displays which list them. Often Christians will suggest that the difference for them is how you drill down and uncover their theological background. christianvalues4schools.org.uk is a great example and very helpful.

The challenge is that shared values may be very evident on displays, a focus in collective worship and a significant part of the ethos but as a schools worker and visitor what difference do they make? Don't worry because they often don't influence what teachers do in the classroom either!

Enter any shopping centre and the whole experience is based on a variety of values and a particular view of the world. But no-one tells you about them, there are no displays listing them. It is the experience that counts. The enticing spaces (shops) and places to eat etc. draw the visitor in and scream out those consumerist values that are part of modern life. The experience is what matters.

Stand in a classroom and imagine what the child or teenager will feel. Think about the experience, the framework around the lesson, that they will be arriving for. What will your manner, your approach to the lesson and the content taught will they be encouraged to engage with? Will all three add up to support the values of the school, or even your own values? Or, will those values be undermined?

Suppose generosity is an agreed and encouraged value. In lessons and the behaviour reward system has a different focus on earning, getting, having. It won't be difficult, especially for schools workers, to turn that around to giving or supporting and therefore a generous spirit.

Behaviour management can often undermine school values too. A teacher's power spot in the classroom may also be identified with pastoral actions, even prayer (in a church school). Just as a KS1 child will identify some good experiences with 'sitting on the carpet' whereas for a teenager the place where detention is held is unhelpfully linked with the interest you want to show for their genuine concerns.

All this and more is explored on whatiflearning.co.uk. Designed especially for Christians who are teachers, it aims to enable them to think differently about how, as well as what, they teach. It's not an onerous challenge but an opportunity to develop a mindset that thinks Christianly, specifically through the Christian values of Faith, Hope and Love.

You may find the concept and approach of What if Learning helpful in evaluating the content of lessons you deliver and helpful in ensuring they have real educational and Christian purpose. If you are interested in taking this further, go to the What if Learning website and also feel free to contact me as I speak and train people in the use of this concept.

Mike Simmonds
GO Ministries Ltd
Education Consultant (What if Learning specialist)
e: mike@goministries.org.uk
w: goministries.org.uk