2017. New year = doomed effort to restart reflective musings for chartership application.

This is a thought bin. Here are some thoughts.

I have been frustrated with my progress generally. I have found I have been swamped by the little tasks, therefore remaining constantly distant from the long term plans I want to achieve because they’re always low priority. So I’m changing that, in a testing-the-waters-to-see-what-works sort of way. I thought initially I would set aside a day a week to focus on more strategic or reflective work, but this job is a bit too disordered for that. I also think it’s important to capitalise on what your brain is interested in doing at that moment, rather than forcing it to do something purely because of an arbitrary timetable you’ve invented for yourself – this is, of course, the perk of being a sole librarian. I can be completely responsive to what I prioritise – and I need to start prioritising the future stuff, otherwise that future will never be realised.

Today I wrote down every thing I might need to do today – from the very small, to the ridiculously huge. It worked well. Every time I stalled with my “big picture” process, I completed a small task – however small, it was enough to do something else momentarily and re-focus. My brain has been drifting for quite some time, it needs to remember how to stay on task.

I read an article today. I hope to read one each day. These are comments randomly, I will try and put things together more cohesively at a later date – this probably means never!

A literature Review on independent learning. That is what I’m looking at in terms of big picture stuff. How the library can enable and support independent learning, and how the research skills support needs to be reflective of that concept and enabling of it. It proved very interesting reading, there’s a few articles I will be picking up on. It is fairly old now when it comes to Educational policy, and working in the Independent sector does give me a different perspective (a much freer one, in most cases) so further reading definitely required, but an excellent starting point.

Independent learning: a literature review and a new project by Meyer, 2010. 

Some particular quotes for food for thought – either because they’re useful reminders, or because they’ve sparked something:

Huddleston and Unwin (2002) and Higgins et al (2007)… “have shown how new information from many branches of science has added to our understanding of what it is to know; from the neural processes that occur during learning to the influence of culture on what people see and absorb.” (p.5)

“To be of value, an educational theory must in its practical application have outcomes that are desmonstrably beneficial.” (p.5)

These projects have looked at outcomes of independent learning and thinking skills programmes have a considerable, measurable impact:

  • Learning how to learn – UK Project, 2008
  • EPPI-Centre Thinking Skills Review Group, 2004, 2005

Useful definitions

A Dependent Learner: “A passive recipient of knowledge, or at least of teaching: he or she accepts the teacher as the expert in the learning process and sees his or her own role as subsidiary or dependent.” (p.11)

An independent learner: “active in directing and regulating his or her own learning and is him/herself a learning expert.” (p.11)

Delayed gratification is an important ability for independent learning, and motivation is an essential element. These both ring true in my experience – the need for instant results, an understanding of why persistence is beneficial results in increased motivation. Pupils need to develop an interest and become involved in the topic (Malone and Smith, 1996). Again, this is a massive factor. With the self-selected opportunities in History projects, EPQ, and a move towards more independent research projects in the new curriculum teaching pupils how to develop their interests – how to truly begin research, is required. Empowerment, too – the pupils need to feel in control of their own academic success. Emphasising ownership of their research is quite powerful – they are typically “instructed” in many cases, they will hopefully discover real joy in exploring and developing their own skills in self-selected areas.

Some interesting comments regarding transferable skills –  Neber and Schommer-Aikins (2002) suggest the skills are context specific, a highly important factor to consider. This echoes conversations regarding the struggle to apply skills from one subject context to another (even as straightforwardly as physics to maths) so this was of particular interest to research further.

Further reading

Allan, B. and Lewis, R. (2001). Learning independently. Managing Schools Today, 10(7), 24-6.

Black P., McCormick R., Mary, J. and Pedder, D. (2006). Learning how to learn and assessment for learning: a theoretical inquiry. Research Papers in Education, 21(2), 119-32.

Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L. and Cocking, R.R. (2000). How people learn: brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington: National Academy Press.

Deeson, E. (2006). Creating a learning to learn school. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 37 (4), 651.

Huddleston, P. and Unwin, L (2002). Teaching and learning in further education: diversity and change. London: Routledge.

Higgins, S., Baumfield, V. and Hall, E. (2007). Learning skills and the development of learning capabilities. London: EPPI-Centre, Institute of Education, University of London.

Neber, H. and Schommer-Aikins, M. (2002). Self-regulated science learning with highly gifted students: the role of cognitive, motivational, epistemological, and environmental variables. High Ability Studies, 13(1), 59-74