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Drew Perkins talks with Katharine Birbalsingh, Headmistress and Founder of Michaela School in London, and Tom Hudock, Director and Founder of ARC Academy in Victoria, BC about the different approaches to addressing the importance of knowledge and and inquiry in teaching.

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1 Comment

  1. Nora Krieger

    This was a fascinating discussion!

    I think there were some similarities between what Tom and Katharine in terms of expectations about what should be happening when we educate children but there were major differences in their perceptions about how you get there. The language used to express what their two schools practice and value also created a divide. Some of their understanding of what learning is was similar but the route to get there was different.

    Katharine did not think that you could be curious about topics about which you had limited or no knowledge. I agree with that, but the remedy she is uses in her school is where I think I disagree. If children are not exposed to knowledge that supports the further acquisition of knowledge, then a child’s success will be limited.

    If we have schools that include very young children, we can provide the experiences that more affluent children have but, unfortunately, we rarely do that. The less affluent children are often viewed as though they have no knowledge, which we, the educators, need to fill them with. Instead, it would be better if we provided them with a classroom rich with materials, books, and conversation as well as field trips to places that would fill in the gaps to which Katharine refers. Can this only be done through Draconian discipline and initially total emphasis on skills and memorization???

    I think that Katharine’s school would not work well for all students. Any student with special needs would most likely be demoralized and rather than developing self-control would sink lower and lower into despair and unacceptable behavior.

    In New York, there is a chain of charter schools, which has a reputation for encouraging children with problems to leave by telling their parents that the school is “not a good fit” for them. I wonder if the same sort of thing happens at Michaela’s School where the discipline appears to be so Draconian.

    Reply

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