Textbooks and worksheets

It is always a pleasure meeting families and talking to them about learning and what we at The Aquila School mean when we walk about amazing learning.

Families repeatedly tell me that when visiting schools they often leave with more questions than answers. Having been a school leaver for over twenty years now I believe that very often primary education is sometimes over-complicated. For me – three things are usually foremost in the minds of families –

• Will my child have be safe and how will the school keep them safe?
• Will my child be happy and have lots of friends?
• Will my child learn and develop a love of learning?

The first two should be easy for any school to answer – they are the core work of the school and these are the things that matter more than anything.

The third point is about the core purpose of school – learning. Children some to school to learn – this is a given – but there are so many ways of learning and so families have to choose a school whose learning philosophy is in line with what they want for their children.

At The Aquila School – we use the phrase ‘Real Learning for a Real Future.’ By this we mean that we want our learning to be relevant, engaging and interesting for the children. We believe that children learn best by doing things – and less by listening – so our teachers know that children should be actively engaged in learning from as early in the lesson as possible – this might be doing a task, discussing an idea with a partner or collaborating with other children to brainstorm their ideas.

We are often asked by families why we state that we will not use worksheets. As a child in the 1980s I was used to having teachers hand out worksheets galore for us to complete – and I know that this still happens in many schools. I firmly believe that there are so many better, more engaging and more relevant ways to learn than filling in the blanks on a sheet. Tony Robinson famously states in his Ted Talk that a worksheet is very often a secretarial task with little significant in supporting learning. Most worksheets tend to be about regurgitating information and as such they represent a determinist view – the children can only achieve what the worksheet allows them to – whereas open ended learning – real learning – allows the children to fly!

As a child I remember diligently completing every worksheet given to me – only to see them later consigned to the bin. The on-line blogger who uses the pseudonym ‘The Learning Spy’ says;

“Filling in worksheets is a waste of students’ time, creating worksheets is a waste of teachers’ time and copying worksheets is a waste of paper! The ultimate condemnation of the worksheet is where it ends up: the bin”

Such activities for me do not represent ‘Real Learning for a Real Future’ which is why no-one will ever see a worksheet at The Aquila School – there are for more engaging ways to learn 😊