Meaningful learning

One of the defining elements of a 21st century education is personalised learning.  The ability to create the right classroom conditions that enable students to work independently, collaboratively, creatively and to think critically.

According to the OECD (2008) these are important skills not only for successful economies but for ‘effective cultural and social participation and for citizens to live fulfilling lives.’

However, as Hargreaves and Shirley stress in the Fourth Way, if these skills are all there is to 21st century schooling then we are guilty of ‘customising’ education for today’s world.

They assert that 21st century schools must ‘also embrace deeper virtues and values such as courage, compassion, service, sacrifice, long-term commitment and perseverance.”  This what they refer to as ‘meaningful learning and mindful teaching’.

Last week I caught up with Phil Glendenning, Director of the Edmund Rice Centre who spoke about the challenges he sees for Catholic schools in today’s world.

Academics and advocates like Andy Hargreaves and Phil Glendenning remind us of the need to develop robust, sustainable narratives that speak to the hearts and minds of all learners.

It’s a message not just for Catholic schools but for education systems committed to meaningful learning and mindful teaching.

One thought on “Meaningful learning

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with Phil’s message.
    I am currently trying to serve as an Assistant Headteacher in a 4-16 state academy in very challenging area of the N East of the UK.

    As a Catholic educator I belive it is a huge challenge for all our Catholic schools not just to replicate a ‘successful’ academic school (not least due to the immense pressure from league tables in the UK) but to genuinely witness to Gospel values in serving the needs of all our young people, particularly the marginalised and the most challenging.

    I am also concerned that the relatively small numbers of young people taking an active part in our parishes, feeling accepted as they are, where they are at in their journey, are a clear sign that we may not be addressing these important issues in our school communities and parishes. I would like to see an honest dialogue in all our Catholic schools that allows dissention, honest debate, a seraching for truth and an expression of different views.
    I think this is essential if we are to prepare our young people for life and for the role they can and must play if we are to make a genuine difference in our World. As Catholic Christian educators we must be aware of the sacred responsibility we bear. As the document ‘The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium, no 19’, reminds us:
    “Teaching has an extraordinary moral depth and is one of the most excellent and creative human activities for the teacher does not write on inanimate material but on the very spirits of human beings.”

    Gerry O’Hanlon, Director of Learning at Academy 360, Sunderland. UK
    and chairperson of Medical Aid Sacred Heart, Sacred Heart Church. North Gosforth. UK.

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