Blooming Parenting. Quality parenting leading to quality learning.

Some week ago, I shared the self-evaluation tool for Bloom’s Taxonomy. The checklist is here if you wish to re-visit it.

I was leading an after school professional discussion yesterday where this was to be the focus of a self-improvement opportunity.

During the discussion regarding Higher Order Thinking, we stumbled upon a question that made some of us think. “Does Evaluation and Analysis need pupils to be older before they become of any educational benefit?”

If you are a secondary specialist, it may take a minute to think about this, and we did take a minute to consider it. If I ask a pupil in S1 to talk for twenty seconds on what it means to be analytic or to tell me what evaluation is all about, I do doubt they will be able to tell me. Ask them to tell me why Celtic Park is so much more impressive to see than East End Park, there will be fairly easy discussion about number of fans, ticket price, money from being in Europe…. It could go on a long time. If you said “Evaluate the differences between two polarised Premier League Teams!” then you may not get the same answer.

We agreed that all pupils are good at higher order thinking. They are fantastic at it. Only last week, my two year old asked for a 10p bag of Haribo sweets and a £2.00 bag of chocolate buttons. I told him he had to choose one, and one only.

If that had been my six year old, he would have evaluated it based on weight of sweets and I would have spent the £2.00. For the two year old, he evaluated this himself and came up with the fact he wanted the Haribo more than he wanted the chocolate.

This is a very basic example, but it proves a very important point. We discuss Higher Order Thinking and rich questioning as though it is exclusive to education. Education never stops, I am not sure where learning starts but in the delivery room I remember my youngest stopping what he was doing (Urinating on the midwife, as it happens) and turn to face my voice. He had heard that voice through a load of water for months and clearly recognised it as something of interest to him. He was certainly curious and there had been less than five minutes since his grand entry.

Indeed, the enrichment of learning that we create using Bloom’s Taxonomy is not just for high school, it is not just for primary but it is something our pupils do learn from a very young age. 

As professionals, we question and engage using this method a lot naturally. If you are unsure, have a go at completing the self evaluation tool yourself and you will see quite how much of the process you are already doing simply from experience in your own profession.

The question I am left to consider is this. Do we share this basic process with parents? And should we?

I believe it is vital that parents truly are partners in this process and I would openly welcome any parent to look at what questions they ask their children. Parents are the most important teachers and if a school doesn’t have its parents on board, it really doesn’t have its pupils on board.

My son goes to a smaller primary school in Prestonpans and I can say with pride I see the homework does come home with questions for parents to ask pupils – I always make a point of doing this with my son. 

However, there is still a feeling of poking around in the dark. What is the holistic thing about questioning and would parents be interested in spending an hour finding out about the work of Higher Order Thinking?

It is hard for me to answer for two reasons.

1) As a teacher, I am quite up-to-speed with the process
2) As a teacher, I have a natural interest in the area anyway so don’t know if other parents do too.

As we move to using the Curriculum for Excellence, which appears to be underpinned by this whole Higher Order Thinking, more parents should get an opportunity to find out about our processes and they may learn that education is moving more to a natural learning process. As parents see that we are changing to help pupils learn like the have done from day one, parents may start to not only engage better with this change but also trust it more.

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