A Profound Shift: Seeing Children as Capable and Competent

“This is a profound shift to view the child as a capable, competent, rich in potential rights-bearing individual rather than as an empty vessel waiting to be filled.”

Dr. Jean Clinton

How do we shift our image of the learner?

Recently I had the privilege to listen to Hailey Noseworthy, a Grade 12 student from Valmont Academy, speak about her experiences with Deep Learning at her school.

Hailey began by sharing how her involvement in the SHAD program helped shift her own thinking about school and learning.  She discovered amazing world changes people were making all around Canada, yet nobody was talking about this at her own school. She realized that SHAD’s experiential approach to learning should be available to students in every school.

Living in rural Newfoundland doesn’t mean you can’t have the same opportunities as someone in downtown Toronto!

Children should not be focused on how to manipulate a school system to get an A!

School should focus on building up the strengths of every student.  Today’s world needs independent, creative, critical thinkers who are connected and engaged in their learning and their work.

“It is educational malpractice to teach students that their learning is not as important as a report card grade.”

When we can customize health care, cars and social media pages, why do we think learning has to be standardized for everyone?

“Bubbling in a multiple choice exam in a gym in rows of desks shouldn’t determine our success any more!”

When we focus instead on relevant learning that will be meaningful when students leave the four walls of the classroom – that’s where you will find your change makers!

Focusing on deep learning allows students to see their own strengths, to believe everyone is a genius in their own way – and it lets teachers see this too.

“When we give students the chance to build on their strengths, we give students the chance to show us their strengths.”

“Helping children believe in themselves, helps us believe in them too.”

Dr. Jean Clinton has reiterated this in her own learning.

“It goes something like this; when students fully engage with the 6C’s of Character, Citizenship, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking, those students who come from disadvantage have a more profound and deeper opportunity to engage in the learning through collaborative inquiry. They are able to bring their experience and life knowledge, rather than simply being labelled as not having what we “need them to know.”

This implies an inherent belief in the competency and capabilities of every child; that every child CAN learn and will do well if they are provided the opportunity and the right environment. As one group says, “It’s skill, not will they need to do well.”

Deep Learning and Well-Being – Levelling the Playing Field for all Children

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Bekah Russom

If someone gets an A on a test but forgets everything within a few months, did they learn it in the first place?

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2 thoughts on “A Profound Shift: Seeing Children as Capable and Competent

  1. A fascinating post and your reference to Shad took me back a few years. It was founded in the 1970s at St. Andrew’s College (while I was teaching there) and began with experimental science projects in and around Shad Creek, running through the campus. It was —and still is — a challenging science program attracting extraordinarily gifted students. The founders were research scientists from Waterloo University who sought to introduce students to higher level science in high school. A few of my students have attended and many went on to be research scientists or medical doctors.

    Wondering how all this dovetails with “deep learning” as conceived by its current apostles.

  2. Thank you for sharing this post Donna. It could not have come at a better time because I have been wrestling with the idea that our students are struggling with what it means to learn. I think the lens that is placed on value and self-worth in education as only measurable by grades needs to be replaced.

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