Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Which knowledge?

 Is a thistle a thorny problem?

Which knowledge? 
Joe Kirby

I often ask pupils at family lunch at Michaela what their favourite subject is.
Many of them reply, ‘I love every subject, sir!’
What we choose to teach plays a big part in how much our pupils love learning.
At Michaela, we decide which knowledge to teach based on three principles:
schemata, challenge, and coherence.

Our aim is to help pupils remember everything they are learning,
and master the most important content.
To this end, subject content knowledge is best organised into the most memorable schemata. 
So we organise history and English literature chronologically.
We start in Year 7 with classical antiquity: in History we study Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece,
Rome and Roman Britain; in Religion, we study polytheism, The Old and New Testament,
Judaism and Christianity; in English, we study Greek mythology, The Odyssey, Roman Rhetoric,
epic poetry and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar; in Art, we study Egyptian, Greek and Roman art, sculpture and architecture. Chronological, cumulative schemata help pupils remember subject knowledge in the long-term: not for ten weeks or ten months, but for ten years and beyond.
                 Dovetailing hidden bodies of knowledge in 5 hours of English and 5 hours of Humanities

The subject knowledge we choose to teach our pupils to master
is the most vital and the most challenging content. The pupils we teach often arrive at school
far behind, unable to read fluently or multiply. Many have a vocabulary of under 6,000 words,
while wealthier pupils often have over 12,000. So the opportunity cost of anything other
than the most challenging subject content is high. Only the most challenging topics
with the most stretching vocabulary, combined with high support so all pupils understand
and use it accurately, will allow them to compete academically with
the 96% of private school pupils who reach University. We dedicate extended teaching time
for mastery of grammar, spelling and vocabulary, the hidden bodies of knowledge
that make for accurate writing. Our pupils will have vivid memories of reading
some of the most complex and beautiful texts ever written: Shakespeare’s Othello,
Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Shelley’s Frankenstein, Orwell’s 1984, Malcolm X’s autobiography,
Duffy’s The Worlds’ Wife, and Mandela’s A Long Walk to Freedom.

Subject knowledge we select dovetails cohesively across and between subjects. 
At Michaela, our pupils will remember Year 7 as the year they learnt about classical civilisation. Across subjects, they are making exciting connections.
Sacrifice, for instance, recurs in the stories of Abraham and Isaac in religion,
with Agamemnon and Iphigenia or Minos and Theseus in Greek mythology.
Across English and Science, the planet Mercury is named after the swift Greco-Roman messenger god as it is the fastest-moving planet, taking 88 days to orbit the sun.
A dovetailed knowledge curriculum allows pupils to make these fascinating connections
for themselves, and understand the ideas of democracy, dictatorship, hubris, nemesis,
tragedy and monotheism from their early origins.

In short, we select challenging, sequenced, coherent schemata within and across subjects,
so that our pupils remember what they’ve learned for years to come.

Introduction to Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
A practical overview of Turbo Charged Reading YouTube 
How to choose a book. A Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Emotions when Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Advanced Reading Skills Perhaps you’d like to join my FaceBook group ?
Perhaps you’d like to check out my sister blogs:
www.innermindworking.blogspot.com         gives many ways for you to work with the stresses of life
www.ourinnerminds.blogspot.com               which takes advantage of the experience and expertise of others.
www.happyartaccidents.blogspot.com         just for fun.

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”

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