I’m sitting here trying to mark prelims for S4 and my thoughts are already turning towards the Higher. Anyone who has taught or is familiar with the structure of the Higher course will know that it is impossible to do full course coverage by January and there is a real pressure of time on teachers. Furthermore, we sometimes find ourselves in the situation of hurry-up teaching, where learning becomes lecturing and notes instead of engagement and thinking.
As such, I had been worried that a highly technical topic, atmosphere, would be fudged and would be barely understood in such circumstances. My solution (and it remains to be seen whether its right) was to create space for what Sugata Mitra might call ‘Hole in the wall’ learning. For those not familiar with this, as I myself wasn’t until a couple of days ago, Sugata Mitra tried an experiment where a computer was placed in a hole in the wall of an Indian slum. The natural curiosity of children led to self tuition, the central assertion being that children learn best by collaborating with one another as opposed to adult led tuition.
Mitra tried the same with a class in the UK, who were given GCSE problems they had no content knowledge of, grouped them into 4 and gave them one computer, encouraged free movement between groups and even copying. The average grade on the responses was 76%. To prove deep learning had taken place, he assessed the same group later in a formal exam and the average grade was exactly the same. I have mirrored this with my higher and included some of their resulting work. It will be interesting to see if a seed has been planted when we revisit both the topic for a brief pre prelim run through, and the questions themselves.