Beyond the walls


If, as it seems, children have a ‘desire for more ‘real’ learning opportunities that (can) not be contained within the classroom,’ then it seems obvious for the classroom to be extended to the community – beyond the walls, where real life happens.

When I approached one of my daughter’s teachers about the real-life opportunities they’re given for ‘Catering’ GCSE I was astounded to discover that (apart from a token visit to a local cafe where they weren’t allowed in the kitchen!) it was ‘too difficult’ to arrange and ‘just wasn’t possible’. What a wasted opportunity!

So how difficult would it actually be?

Let’s imagine a Catering GCSE course that is extended beyond the walls…maybe start with a local chef (we have one who’s been on TV!) visiting them at school to demonstrate skills and inspire them – giving them something to aim for and leaving them with a challenge: create a 3 course meal (using elements they need to cover in the syllabus) that they can recreate in a set time in his kitchen for a special event (perhaps a meal for the local elderly lunch club). By looking beyond the walls, these young people would be inspired by someone who is not their teacher, given experience of working in a professional kitchen, encouraged to think outside themselves to what needs and tastes a different generation might have, learnt the skills necessary to produce the meal (as well as how to present it) and put a smile on a old ladies face!

For my daughter this exciting opportunity seems to be only a dream, a look beyond the walls, but does it have to stay this way?

Schools in Context

School in town

A few weeks ago I emailed my tutor an initial proposal for my upcoming dissertation. It went something like this:

‘This dissertation will consider whether greater school-community integration increases the empowerment and development of disadvantaged children in schools…’ Continue reading

“…the potential of a rich educational experience…(is) limited by institutional and traditional ways of being and behaving in school environments.”

Burke, C. & Grosvenor, I (2015) The School I’d Like: Revisited

Learning in isolation

Hide and seekLearning 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. Continue reading

No solutions

On my way home from a fascinating lecture on race and education where the key questions we were left with to answer were:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Where do I belong?
  3. How do the answers to those translate into how I am and what I do with others?

Big stuff! Important stuff.

No solutions, just a request to consider the narratives of others.

Give Students Ownership


While ‘alternative methods‘ of education may not be everybody’s cup-of-tea, I believe there’s always something we can learn from each other.

It seems the key to success for these ‘alternative’ methods  is the emphasis on children taking responsibility for their own actions and learning – definitely something we can apply in classrooms around the UK today.

What else can we learn from them?