As I said last week we want our pupils to approach learning with wonder, with an unquenchable thirst and with humility. Two of my School Captains helped out with an online open afternoon for prospective parents this afternoon. They mentioned (without prompting) that you could count on teachers/ staff at Minchinhampton to listen if you have a problem; to listen to you as a learner, making the thing feel less like it’s being done to you; to be interested in what you want to learn. This was good to hear– we have a healthy preoccupation with words like trust and autonomy and agency. Sometimes I feel too much of education, like too much of life in general, has been turned into a race toward bigger and better. These two children claimed they didn’t feel ‘ranked’ (their word- not mine)- they felt quite equal with others, more relaxed.
Assemblies this term have kept touching upon the importance of humility. Today’s assembly revolved around the philosopher Socrates’s assertion that the more he learnt the less he realised he knew (ie the humbler he became). We draw on Socrates heavily when we do Philosophy for Children sessions; on the importance of asking questions which in turn harks back to the notion that the learning is never done- instead it is constant, fulfilling and lifelong. It is a privilege and a joy to be a head teacher because you are surrounded by learning day in day out- it is the food upon which we feast. Two pupils came to see me about their maths today. I always ask them, as far as possible, to tell me what they have been learning in their own words- ‘I have been partitioning– you grab the tens and put them up on your fingers and then see what they make- and write down the total tens. Then you grab the ones and put them on your fingers and see how many you’ve got and then write that down in the ones – and you have – partitioning!’ I know – it’s just two children talking about their maths- but this is what I get moment to moment. It means my days are spent holed up with learning- identifying it, celebrating it. We would love our children to approach learning with wonder, with an unquenchable thirst and with humility. I threw this quote from Eckhart Tolle at a couple of children the other day to get them thinking, ‘How can a single human cell measuring 1/1000th of an inch across contain instructions within its DNA that would fill 1000 books of 600 pages each? The more we learn about the workings of the body, the more we realise just how vast is the intelligence at work within it and how little we know.’ Here is a quote I shared in today’s assembly from Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, ‘We run this company on questions, not answers.’ I also shared a quote from a child at this school: ‘I would say that I am curious. The deeper I go, the more questions I have.’ That sounds remarkably like Socrates to me.