Learning independence in an interdependent world

One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is the ability to live happy and independent lives. When they leave school at 18, they will then be prepared to take responsibility for their own choices and to forge successful futures – and we can only hope that their choices will be morally-informed and that their futures will be shared generously with others.

The worst sort of education is therefore one which encourages spoon-feeding, however attractive this appears at the time and whatever the short-term, easy gains. Unfortunately, the nature of GCSE exams can sometimes encourage this (‘teaching to the test’), and it is important that we teach pupils to play the game according to the rules; however, it is also vital that they learn to think for themselves.

This approach begins early and positively at LGS: we pitch questions back at pupils rather than giving them the answers; we tell them it’s fine to make mistakes and thus learn from them; we encourage them to be curious; we challenge them to grapple with a problem when the solution is not immediately forthcoming; we set them both independent and collaborative tasks; and we take them out of their comfort zone in a supportive environment. We hope that this gradually builds self-confidence, so that they have the resilience and wherewithal to enjoy the challenges and to overcome the difficulties which will surely come their way from time to time in adult life.

Your child will no doubt be in revision-mode when you read this, either for public or internal exams – and this inevitably requires perseverance and independence. Miss Lovelock gave an excellent assembly a few weeks ago on the transference of knowledge from the working memory into the long-term memory and I hope your child has received plenty of helpful guidance on how to revise. Often, however, our pupils learn as powerfully from their peers. It is always heartening when our older pupils take the initiative and show the independence to support activities for the younger years or to give them advice. I was therefore very pleased to read the Change/ Well-being Team’s Sway newsletter for all pupils as they depart for half-term; it includes articles from Year 12 on revision techniques, exercise, brain-foods, time with pets, relaxation and sleep.

We end this half of term with a Platinum Jubilee Picnic and charity activities. I hope you will thoroughly enjoy the bank holiday celebrations with your family, and that your child(ren) will be able successfully to blend revision and relaxation!

Best wishes,

John Watson