We learn from each other

Margaret Fuller was the first American female war correspondent, writing for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, and full-time book critic. 

Please watch this beautiful, simple 2 minute video clip to see how these babies are learning from each other. 

Baby Plays with Feet

All humans learn from each other. Fact

Pupils in our school are placed in pairs, and small and large groups to facilitate their learning. Understanding the cognitive processes* involved when pupils learn from others is important for creating group situations that aid learning. This shared learning approach reveals hidden potential. 

It allows the teacher to observe and facilitate the learning direction. 

(*Cognitive processes meaning: the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses). 

A lecturer once told me that research suggested as little as 10% of what comes out of a teacher’s (or adult’s) mouth is actually heard by children. The younger the child the truer this is. The research indicates that the opposite was also true: 90% of what children’s friends tell them is heard, understood and I am sure will be remembered! Sound familiar? It says it all really!

Learning objectives (LOs) have been set for years in the educational field. Learning objectives define learning outcomes and focus teaching. They help to clarify, organise and prioritise learning. They help you and your pupils to evaluate progress and they encourage pupils to take responsibility for their learning. I am starting to wonder if we should also be adding opportunities to our planning called LFOs – ‘learning from others’. An idea for the pot. 

On another educational forum, I saw the below table and it hit me like a slap in the face. The table lays out in black and white just how much pupils’ learning has been disrupted due to Covid-19. 

Their School Year now     Their last ‘normal’ full school year 
Year 11     Year 8 
Year 10     Year 7
Year 9     Year 6
Year 8      Year 5
Year 7      Year 4
Year 6      Year 3
Year 5      Year 2
Year 4      Year 1
Year 3     Reception
Year 2     Never 
Year 1      Never  
Reception      Never 
Nursery      Never 

2019-2020 disrupted by Covid-19

2020-2021 disrupted by Covid-19

2021-2022 disrupted by Covid-19

This table illustrates the reason why St Peter’s Preparatory School hit the ground running after each school lockdown. We had a three-pronged ‘attack plan’:

  1. ‘Formal learning’ push – ensuring that all the children’s basic reading, writing and arithmetic were up to speed.
  2. ‘Working collaboratively’ push – in pairs and groups ensuring that all pupils were not losing their ability to learn from others. 
  3. A Pastoral check in with a ‘mental, emotional and physical health’ emphasis: our children have survived the first two years of the pandemic relatively unscathed. All hats tipped to them for their remarkable journey through this difficult time.  

Although I do not think there will be another school lockdown, this blog shows the continued importance of learning from others and you can see how wider Covid-19 issues such as losing the benefits of pair and group work may well have hindered our children’s learning and development. Watching the children over the past couple of weeks has shown me that we must keep up our battle on their behalf to make sure we think carefully about what they really need in 2022. Anything in education can change and we must embrace change positively.

Whatever the next few days, weeks, months, years hold…may we always embrace the need to learn from each other. 

Lucy Ball 

Deputy Head Teaching and Learning 

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