Monday, August 30, 2010



A Succession of Memorable Experiences

How much of that which we teach our students is going to be remembered?

When we cast our minds back to our own primary schooling, we remember the events or experiences that were unusual, exciting or troublesome. The camps, excursions, plays and sports meetings are all so much more memorable than any drab lessons on nouns, tense or spelling.

Those peak events are memorable, both because of the excitement they involved and also because they nurtured the development of relationship. Children are more interested in their relationships with each other, and with their teachers, than in mere lessons. Children follow their hearts. That is how it should be. In primary school, we..

… turn our backs upon the spine
Of each and every tome and rhyme,
And skip our way t’where sand meets sea...

This is natural and right, and needs to be respected. It is the world inhabited by the young child. Too-early intellectualisation is an ill.

No subject, however, needs to be taught in a dull way. Lessons can be carried within exciting contexts; even grammar can be delivered within the starry cloak of stories of high adventure, or during demanding practical tasks. Lessons can be enthralling. Indeed, they have to be.

If we are going to reach our students ‘where they are’, we have to speak directly to their hearts. If, for example, they are to develop a love for language, then their language lessons need to involve the things they love. As Melbourne teacher Dieter Rixecker once declared;

“Primary school should be a succession of memorable experiences..”

These memorable experiences can be the events that the class is involved in, such as tree-planting, long hikes or maze construction. They can also be the adventures of vivid characters in great books. Better still, they can be the exploits of marvellous, inspired characters that leap straight out of the imagination of the teacher and become part of the fabric of the class.

A teacher always knows when an adventure is speaking directly to a child’s heart. With wise choices, the energy that enlivens and sustains the lessons comes out of the stories and journeys, and from the students themselves. When a teacher decides to meet her students’ developmental needs and to match the yearning she perceives in their imaginative lives, the students then give back tenfold.

Earthside Education
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ES008© Sean David Burke 2010. Free to Copy as is.

Sean is the author of Lighting the Literacy Fire: Creative Ideas for Teachers and Parents

Earthside Blog Index

1. Get a Grip: Starting the Day with a Handshake

2. Integrated Learning

3. Teach Something Meaningless

4. Exercise not Esteem

5. The Teacher as a Sower of Seeds

6. The Teaching Relationships

7. There’s No Rush to Read

8. A Succession of Memorable Experiences

9. Writing Verses for Your Class

10. First Contact: The Sense of Touch

11. Emotional Intelligence

12. Bringing the Body to Balance