Starting from the Child: Teaching and Learning from 3 To 8

By Julie Fisher | Go to book overview

1
COMPETENT YOUNG LEARNERS
What children know and can do

Introduction

Before children come to school at the age of 5 they have developed a range of skills, knowledge and understanding at a speed that will never again be repeated in their lives. The years from 0 to 7 are a period in human development when the capacity to learn is, in John Brierley's words (1994) 'at flood-readiness'. All the evidence shows that, in their early years, young children demonstrate a variety of characteristics which make them natural and successful learners. However, when those same children arrive at school it can be a different story. Children who have been motivated and determined become disillusioned and disaffected (Barrett 1989; Smith 1995); children who made sense of things and had begun to form their own personal construct of the world become confused and disorientated (Donaldson 1978; 1992); children who posed a thousand and one questions become quiet and uncommunicative (Tizard and Hughes 1984; Cousins 1999). It seems that schooling can inhibit some of the most prominent characteristics of competent young learners.

Yet quite clearly it is the desire of all teachers to bring about learning, and their efforts to do so and the personal time and commitment they give to their task is not in question (Campbell et al. 1993). Despite changes in education policy which, in terms of speed and influence, are unparalleled in the history of the UK state education system (Pollard et al. 1994), most teachers have sustained their commitment to children and to their best interests (Woods 1990).

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