Learning in isolation – shut away, behind closed doors (apart from a weekly foray into London for a lecture and the presentation of 3 essays) my first year of studying for a Masters in Social Justice and Education has found me isolated. How ironic then, that some of my theories about education and how it works best are grounded in an open system of schooling, one where children are not learning in isolation, but as an integral part of the community to which they belong!
So, why have I hidden myself away? Although not my initial intention, if I’m honest it’s probably because I’ve been afraid. Reluctant to expose my views to others, concerned that I’ll stumble when I try to to explain my rationale or justify my opinion, and anxious that I might be exposed as one who is not even entitled to comment. But I realise now that I’m the one who has missed out, learning in isolation has limited the potential that collaboration can bring – opportunities to glean wisdom from headteachers, chances to disagree with other students, possibilities of learning from family, friends or those in my community, and not forgetting the prospect of challenging the status quo!
And this makes me wonder what opportunities children are missing out on while we keep them hidden behind school walls? What is it that schools are afraid of? What possibilities are we keeping them from? By limiting collaboration, are we limiting their learning and development? Is it time to take down the protective walls that schools have built? Is is possible to limit learning in isolation and thereby expand children’s horizons?
These are some of the questions I will be asking and exploring – not on my own, learning in isolation, but rather in collaboration and with confidence. It’s time to open the door and take down the wall…