Last newsletter, I wrote on the main point that the learning in school is not about accumulating knowledge or skills alone, rather it is an undertaking in which students can learn the process of learning. The outcome being, students become thinkers, designers and problem solvers who can learn and relearn throughout their life.
At this point it is worth pausing with the idea that the purpose of study is not ‘a product’, but ‘a person’. As the Swiss education researcher Etienne Wenger stated in his 1998 book Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity, learning is “not just an accumulation of skills and information, but a process of becoming: to become a certain person, or to avoid becoming a certain person. We learn, not as an end in itself, but in the service of an identity”. Effective learning has a clear purpose that focusses on the development of the whole student.
Over the past year, our teaching staff have been working to implement a learning framework we have titled ‘Design for Learning’. The diagram below provides a general summary.
The William Carey ‘Design for Learning’ framework is characterised by reverse engineering. That is starting by clearly identifying the end goal, ‘What will our students learn?’ (Intention). The second step is to then critically clarifying ‘What will successful learning look like?’ (Success). These two features must be shared with the students.
Once these two steps have been completed the planning of ‘How will our students learn?’ (Pathway) is carried out, at various points both students and staff can determine ‘How successful was this learning?’ (Evaluation).
This summary is a relatively simple cycle and is based on the research evidence of multiple educational researchers, John Hattie (Aus), Grant Wiggins (USA) and Dylan Wiliam (UK). Each of these steps incorporates many teaching practices to provide positive impact for all learners.
I hope to revisit sections of our ‘Design for Learning’ framework in future newsletters. For time being, I want to highlight two more sections. Learning for our students occurs within an excellent Christian learning environment, in which we seek to provide inspiration, expectation and growth in our students. These often are highlighted through the newsletter and examples from the past fortnight include the project based learning exemplified in our Lemon Tree Café (Learning Support High School) and the ‘Play Fest’ performance (Year 9 and 11 Drama).
All this said, at the centre of our ‘Design for Learning’ is our inspired purpose for our students. That is they may grow in knowledge and understanding of living God’s way, in God’s world, as God’s image and become students who embody the William Carey Attributes. This brings me back to Wegner’s quote regarding learning and personhood. We do not settle for being a school which encourages our students to become ‘good people’ who make positive contributions to society. We hold the view that all members of our school community have intrinsic value determined by the fact that we are created by God in His image. This is a biblical value.
The Bible leads us to define personhood not in terms of our capacities at any given point in our lives, but in terms of our unique relationship to the Creator who knows and loves us from beginning to end. Our value is based not on what we can do (capacities) but in whose we are (being made in God’s image).
This is our inspired purpose: that our students may know their value before God and relate well with Him and each other on those terms, in everything they do.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.