Thursday, 25 September 2014

Help(er) or hindrance?

The other day I was in a classroom working with a child-  taking him through a test of the reading strategies that he was using. I handed him the closed book and asked him to read it through quietly to himself. Interestingly, he just sat there...and sat there, until I realised that he was waiting for me to open the book for him!

This made me wonder if many of our our children are so 'supported' in their learning that they lose the ability to think and act independently. It is as if they feel that their learning cannot take place until an adult is there to help them.

This morning, I read an article published in 'is international School' entitled 'The 'Maid Phenomenon'- a worrying trend for schools?" (Bradley,G., is International School, Autumn Spring 2014 Vol 17.1 pgs 18-19) in this article Dr Bradley talks about how our maids can actually hinder the development of the life skills, independent learning and attitudes that we work on so hard to develop both through our school philosophy and curriculum.

She states that some of the consequences of 'the maid phenomenon' can include:
  • poor language development
  • promoting 'learned helplessness' which may hinder the development of self reliance
  • attachment disorders- sometimes,  maids take on the role of 'parent'
  • poor behaviour
  • children relinquishing vital skills which have become unnecessary for life in this context
  • children taking for granted that someone else will pick up after them
  • a belief that some individuals are worth less than others
This can have an impact on learning right through school. Professor Marcus du Sautoy, in his article "It's not about  the numbers" (IBWorld, September 2014, 70 pgs 11-13) states that "students lack of confidence in mathematics is a long-established problem." He goes on to state that  a PISA study found that one in three students from OECD countries said that they "were put off by by difficult problems."

I have written before about the need to develop resilience in our children. They need to be able to get up, shake themselves off and carry on when they encounter mistakes, problems or difficulties, not just not try! Teaching then to be self reliant and independent is a really important part of this. So please, ensure that you are the one spending time with your child and that you are encouraging your maid to let the child do things by themselves and most importantly, encourage your children to value your maid as a person.

As a side note, this might really help our congestion at the beginning and end of the day- maids do not have to leave the drivers to double park while they (carrying the child's schoolbag) walk them into or out of school, rather than have them wait for them with me at the top of the stairs!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Being open minded

Last weekend, around 17 teaching staff members attended a Google Summit for Educators. This was a two whole day event that was voluntary, so I was very impressed that so many of our staff attended.
It was a great opportunity to catch up on all the latest developments in learning technologies- for me at least!

I realised that at Bradbury, many of the teachers had already started to use some of the applications, systems and programmes in their classrooms. 'Google Classroom' was a great example of this- several teachers had already started using this application already- with great success.

What this meant for me was a great affirmation of how 'switched on' and open to new ideas the teachers at Bradbury are. The idea of being open minded is an important one and is something that is valued and encourage both for staff and for our students through our inquiry approach to learning.

All of us are brought up and in turn, bring our own children up, with a set of values and beliefs. As a school community we have a set of shared values and beliefs as expressed through our guiding statements. Having a set of values and beliefs is a very good thing- it gives us guidance on how to live our life and operate in our world.

It becomes a problem however, when it stops us from considering other points of view and recognising that they may be as equally valid as our own. In such a multicultural and accessible world, this understanding becomes vital in order to live respectfully and peacefully together- especially in a melting pot like Hong Kong! At Bradbury, we address this through our approach to 'internationalism' and by valuing diversity as something that makes our world a richer and more interesting place.

This quote by Gerry Spense sums it up rather nicely:

"I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than closed by belief."