The Coronavirus pandemic, and the disruption of learning that it has wreaked, has thrown into sharp focus the interface between learning that takes place at home and that which takes part in school.
I’ve listened as principals have assured parents that school is a safe place to be, that hand washing, face coverings and social distancing are all being strictly enforced and that the chances of a child contracting Covid 19 in the school are relatively low. This may all be true, but if the same principal had observed pupils walking to or from school hand in hand, without masks and in close proximity she might not have been so confident that her strident efforts had been worthwhile.
So it is with readiness to learn.
As the cartoon On a Plate makes so graphically clear. We cannot assume that the learning that goes on in schools is supported and developed in the home environment. The social, economic and political reasons for this are many and varied and have absolutely nothing to do with feckless parents not wanting the best for their children as some political commentators would have us believe.
A school which does not appreciate the home circumstances of the child, and makes provision to give every child the best opportunity to thrive as a learner is, like the principal above with their antiseptic school, missing the broader picture.
This infographic illustrates the point. There are a whole set of preconditions to learning that schools ignore at their peril. Unless Maslow’s human needs are being addressed within the home environment, then the child’s ability to engage with and benefit from the learning on offer in school will be limited.
We can choose to ignore the underperformance of such children as lack of ability, or behavioural problems, but however we rationalise it, that child will be failed by the school and the educational process. Unless the child is lucky in later development, this pattern of underperformance in learning, inspiration and aspiration will set a pattern for the rest of their life.
Coincidentally, my friend Kevin Hewitson has been working on this problem for a number of years and has developed a systematic approach to engaging pupils in learning. His book is due out shortly from Critical Publishing
With a little effort and intention, putting Maslow Before Bloom throughout the day can boost students’ well-being AND academic outcomes. 🌱 pic.twitter.com/UNrLCIyaHL
— edutopia (@edutopia) October 28, 2020