We only have to think back a short while ago to when some of us were in the classroom. Some of my fondest memories are with a teacher called Mrs Jones.

She was a lovely woman and she taught me many things. I learnt how to trace around images and stay in the lines, I learnt loads of timetable songs… you know the ones, “one seven is seven, two sevens are fourteen, three sevens….”. Mrs Jones also had a big focus on recounting stories, word for word and dictating things for us to copy down.

I had fond memories of Mrs Jones class, but if I was to analyse what I had learned it wasn’t much. I traced, because I wasn’t a very good drawer, we rehearsed times tables songs, but couldn’t re-call 7×7 without singing the whole song until I got to that line. The dictation was fine, but I’m pretty sure my spelling was way off.

Most of my learning in Mrs Jones Class was somewhat passive. Can anyone relate?

I’m probably being a little critical, and truthfully, there is nothing wrong with these types of learning, but they lacked something.  Fast forward to this generation of learning and the inquiry-based learning model has really shifted the way teachers teach and the way students absorb learning.

There are lots of big questions and breaking down these questions into sections to find suitable answers. There is a focus on problem solving and getting students engaged through the act of solving some educational mystery.

As a Senior School teacher, we are working to equip students with agency and ownership of their own educational journey. We see this as an important step between school and the workforce. According to Glen Gerreyn, student agency is defined as the capacity to set a goal, reflect and act responsibly to effect change. It is about acting rather than being acted upon; shaping rather than being shaped; and making responsible decisions and choices rather than accepting those determined by others. Too often, students fall into a cycle of blame, negativity and entitlement. They think they deserve what they want but fail to recognise that they have to work hard for it. If you are a parent of a teen, I’m sure you can resonate a little.

If this is something that sparks your interest, The Hopeful Institute has written an article, called Mastering Agency, helping students take agency over their life and move forward into a positive future.

You can read the article here:

Meanwhile, I’m so thankful for my time with Mrs Jones. She taught me why manners were important, to look a person in the eye even when you have to say something a bit hard, and my fondest memory is the learning that the metal rake should never be covered up in the sand pit I found that out the hard way with a trip to the hospital.

Mrs Emma Davidge / Head of Senior School