I was lucky enough to be in Key Stage 1 Assembly earlier in the week and as part of the assembly I showed a slide of all of the schools that I attended as a pupil and all of the schools that I have worked at as a teacher. Not necessarily interesting for those in the hall, but it led me to think about what we mean when we say “school”. Each one of the schools that I attended was different from the others. Interesting because they were all meant to be doing the same thing. Schools approach their business in many different ways. At best we are following the exhortation of Piaget: “The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.”
One element that is missing in this definition of education is what schools can do for older members of the community. It is a little top down. The best definition of school that I have heard is that a school is a mixed age learning community. As a definition it smacks of dreaded “eduspeak”. Despite this it makes an important point; that all of us connected to a school should learn. Education can be bottom up as well as top down. I learn each day and my days as a pupil are long since over.
Hopefully, parents feel that they too have the opportunity to learn; not just through the adult learner French classes we offer or through use of the school library but also from each other and from their children. It is important that we as adults can learn from the younger members of the community. Equally it is necessary for us as adults to continue to learn as a good example to those around us. Even if we don’t learn it is good to have to answer important questions like the one at the top of this article. I am still searching for an appropriate answer.
Sometimes the most important questions come from the youngest members of our community.