What’s Worth Learning These Days? – Gold Tidbits from Educating Ruby – Part 4

This is a massive question. Naturally, I begin by considering what is unnecessary. Funnily enough, they’re often the pieces of content that parents tell me should be taught more; handwriting, algebra, long division, Ancient Egypt, etc. Isn’t our curriculum full of enough boring subjects?

It seems that the more commonly boring a subject is, the more the general population considers it to be vital for education. I’ve never had a parent say to me, “Why aren’t my children learning to code more?” or “When will you be teaching Robotics?”

In Educating Ruby, Claxton et al. organises the curriculum into 3 parts; Utilities (self-evidently useful ie. read a newspaper), Treasures (culturally and contextually important learning ie. Democracy and Exercise-Machines (processes that help students to develop capacity or learning habits ie. logical analysis).

The questions still remains, what, then, is worth learning these days? Perhaps we might start by considering the real-world practice of the curriculum aspects. Who will use this? When will people use this? How will they use this in the future? Why will this be used? Where will it be used?

Our students also need to be considering the real-life application rather than just complicitly following along. One school gives every student a joker card at the beginning of each term. During any lesson that term, each student may “play their joker” upon which the teacher must explain the relevance of the lesson.

Claxton et al. also states that an Inquiry-based approach to learning is vital for 3 reasons:

  1. It’s engaging
  2. It’s accelerating
  3. It develops habits of mind

… as long as it is structured and supervised and scaffolded.

I’ll finish this entry with the authors’ quote on why Growth Mindset and Collaborative Learning are vital inclusions in the curriculum:

By the time they start school, many children have already started to value looking good over finding out.

I want my students to value learning above all else.


Gold Tidbits from Educating Ruby – Competence and Character

One aspect I find difficult to teach is character. What I mean by this is that I love teaching about character but actually giving students the skills to develop their character is a whole other ball game.

Something I’ve blogged about a lot is Austin’s Butterfly and how I play that clip to every new class. I love Austin’s craftsmanship. I love that he did 6 drafts. The students love to see his progress and how skilled he became through persistence.

“You taught me the pleasures of craftsmanship. I used to be a slapdash, but now I take real pride in producing work that is as good as I can make it… I don’t want to let others down, but, more importantly, I don’t want to let myself down. It’s not about determination; it’s about being careful, and thinking about what you are doing, and taking time to reflect and improve, and going over your mistakes and practising the hard parts.”

Educating Ruby, p.133

So, what is it that children really need to learn? Educating Ruby (p. 153 – 158) states that children need:

  • Self-protection
  • Intercultural empathy
  • Financial management
  • Sexual understanding
  • Practical labour
  • Science
  • Statistics
  • Scepticism
  • Talking clearly and confidently
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Navigation
  • Cookery
  • Horticulture
  • Caring for others and things
  • Religion
  • Relationships
  • Morality
  • Self-presentation
  • Driving
  • Leisure
  • Fitness
  • Relaxation
  • Attention
  • Craftsmanship

The text implores each one of us to consider which of these should be taught, when and to what age group.

In the next section, the text reminds us of how contagious mind-habits are; we pick up the mental habits of others so easily. It is vital to ensure that we collaborate with others who have strong ‘habits of mind’. When students can get the grades without employing resilience, independence and self-discipline (not obedience); they are less likely to be successful in life (according to Paul Tough).

Learning is often a collaborative rather than (or as well as) a solitary venture, so the inclination to be a good sounding board to others, and the ability to give feedback in a respectful and useful way and take criticism yourself without getting hurt and defensive, is also needed.

Do you, as a teacher, teach 3D shapes or First Farmers or Colour Theory that extends your students to ask deep questions and conduct deep thinking? How can you make your students less dependent on you? How can you facilitate a safe mistake-making environment?


GAFE for Comprehension

In my previous blog post, I wrote about using Google My Maps to demonstrate comprehension of a text.

This post will be about taking that comprehension to a deeper level using Google My Maps and Screencastify; a Google extension.

If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know that my class have been plotting locations from the text they’ve been reading in Google My Maps. They have also been adding important information to those points of interest  – what the characters in the story did in this place and the historical significance of that location.

Their next challenge is to combine all this together to create a screen recording. Students need to:

  1. Read the chapter
  2. Plot the locations on their map
  3. Add the historical significance information to that place’s description
  4. Add images to the description
  5. Add in what happened to the characters at this location in the description
  6. Taking turns, read the chapter aloud whilst using Screencastify to record their reading whilst scrolling through their plotted points on Google My Maps.

You can see my example here:

Google My Maps


I look forward to my students taking on this new challenge.