We would be forgiven in thinking in this season of mock exams that education is all about the end product: the test. Yes, exam results are important but important as stepping stones that help us move to the next stage.
Listening to the palaeontologist Susannah Maidment talk about her research into stegosaurs and why so many dinosaurs evolved from bipeds to standing on four legs (subtext - when humans went the other way) I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the years of research and miles of travel, family in tow, that resulted in her honest answer: we have no idea. Yet, on reflection, how refreshing. The excitement was not the arriving, it was the journey, a journey sparked by intellectual curiosity and perseverance.
It is all too easy to retreat to routines. This is equally true in our studies: this is how I have always learnt. In this season of resolutions perhaps we should consider how to rekindle our intellectual curiosity.
Diaghilev’s famous challenge, ‘Etonnez moi!’ resonates. If education is to be so much more than results, we need to set ourselves new challenges that encourage fresh habits of life-long learning, and look to our children to do the same.
How good, then, to see recent ISC research into the wider learning habits of sixth formers asking, amongst other things, how many books they had read that year that were nothing to do with their syllabus; how many exhibitions they had visited; how many plays or other cultural events they had attended.
Mrs Kate Reynolds