FORSAN BRITISH SCHOOL TODAY: OUR EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND PRACTICE
A school is by its very nature an environment where knowledge, how and when to apply it, is the prize we all strive for.
Of course we want our students to be prepared for the future but we need to remind ourselves that the future is by its very nature unknowable and the world has always been changing. We must be careful, especially as educators, that we do not ignore or undermine the great wisdom and knowledge acquired by our forebears over the centuries.
This is not just common sense or traditional pedagogy; the huge amount of research in cognitive science, tracked studies of children across decades and different cultures, has given us, as teachers, a huge amount of data to draw upon. I offer a few points that underpin our approach to teaching and learning at Forsan British School:
- ‘Skills’ and ‘knowledge’ are not opposites that can be easily separated: the former is the acquisition of the latter through deep learning and practice.
- There are such things as ‘facts’ and they need to be learned, not for mere repetition, but so that new knowledge can be built upon them.
- 21st century skills are, to a large extent, ones that have been prized throughout the ages, for example: creativity, resilience, teamwork, agility of mind.
- Teachers cannot be replaced; the best have always been more than just transmitters of information.
- Art, music, drama and sport have always been key elements of a fully rounded education.
- There really are no ‘multiple’ intelligences.
- None of us really know what any child is capable of and we must set the very highest standards and targets for all our students. Even to talk of being ‘gifted’ or ‘fulfilling (or not) their potential’ misses the fact that even the most famous of ‘geniuses’ had thousands and thousands of hours of practice and learning behind their successes.
- You cannot simply ‘research’ or look things up without some prior knowledge of the field in question.
- Praise has to be earned: a high test score may indicate a task is too easy; a low test score should not elicit sympathy if no revision was done beforehand.
- Teacher feedback and the use of formative assessment are crucial for a student to progress.
- For all the problems we continue to face, the world our children will grow up in has the potential to be safer, healthier and fairer than the one they were born in. This may not always seem the case, but while there remain significant exceptions and areas of grave concern or conflict, even in the age of Covid, life expectancy, education rates, calorie consumption and GDP continue to rise. We must educate our children to be optimists!