How many things have you enjoyed learning when you didn’t want to learn them? And how much did you learn?

  • English (e.g. writing instructions for how to board a plane);

  • Maths (e.g. calculating distances and times of journeys; working out takeoff angles);

  • Science (e.g. magnets, electricity, gravity);

  • Art and Design (e.g. designing a new logo for a plane company);

  • Computing (e.g. programming an ‘aeroplane’ to go from A to B);

  • Design and Technology (e.g. building a model plane);

  • Geography (e.g. interpreting a map of an island your plane has landed on);

  • History (e.g. looking at what life was like in the time when the first plane was built);

  • Languages (e.g. communicating with plane enthusiasts in other countries);

  • Music (e.g. creating their own music to play to passengers of their planes);

  • PE (e.g. training like cabin crew in order to be able to stay balanced during turbulence).

Working within the national curriculum, this means that we have to make the objectives relevant to the children so that, even if they’re not consciously choosing what to learn, we’re making them ‘think’ that they are. In this way, we could plant some ‘bait’ to pique the children’s curiosity.

For example, suppose we’re planning a lesson on magnets. You could, quite easily, begin by talking about what magnets are and how they work. The children would learn, sure, but would they really care? What if you started the lesson by, for example, throwing paper clips at a magnet? I think that if the lesson began in this way, it would be hard for the children not to be curious and want to learn more! I believe that this kind of lesson starter inspires children to want to learn more and, from this choosing, they have more invested in the lesson and therefore will learn (and enjoy the lesson) more.

As good as it is to engage all children in this way, where they all learn the same thing at the same time, is it possible that at least part of the school week could include an individualised curriculum, where children with similar interests work together across all areas of the national curriculum? Which child wouldn’t want to go to school if that were the case?

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