Volcanic Learning

“I regard it as the foremost task of education to ensure survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity; an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial and above all, compassion.”
– Kurt Hahn

Many schools make claims about what they see as their own unique approach. There is more than one UK school that markets the learning taking place in their school as “adventurous”. Having just spent several action packed days among the volcanoes of the Auvergne with Year 5, I can confirm that some of the learning at the BSP is indeed an adventure.

Volcanic learningTo claim that all learning going on in any school is adventurous would be, I suspect, an overstatement. That said, this short week at the BSP has seen its fair share of both individual and collective adventure; from the first time soloists in our excellent Spring Concert, to intrepid cake makers and decorators raising money for charity. Our Jazz Bands took another step forward with their concert on Tuesday and Year 6 travelled in time. Unicorns have been spotted in Senior School today. A quick look at our Twitter feed will give numerous other examples of the ad-ventures that have been experienced both in and out of the classroom. Elsewhere other adventures have begun – the launch of the new school website is a new step and we look forward to hearing about your explorations of this online environment.

As we start our holiday please spare a thought for those who may not be going to particularly adventurous places – those preparing for public exams. Revision is rarely adventurous. Satisfying, affirming and interesting, yes. Action packed? Less so. That is perhaps why I am sceptical when I see a school claiming to be adventurous in every-thing they do. There is a place for adventure in our learning, similarly there is a place for finding fulfilment in the basics. During this term there have been many moments of adventure and also times when we have had to be more regular with our learning. This I believe is a good balance. Those who have been on trips or expeditions, played for teams, performed in concerts, debated, created art or acted in school musicals will have gained a taste for having learning adventures and they are to be congratulated on everything they have achieved. We would be wrong to forget all students from the very youngest to the oldest on all the unseen work, the graft of acquiring knowledge and developing skills. This foundation will give the base on which to build future adventures.

This week with Year 5 has shown me that learning can be not only an adventure, it can be volcanic… sometimes we go at the pace of slow moving magma, periodically we solidify and at others we are explosive. A life of constant adventure would (it seems to me) be a bit unrealistic. Whilst we need adventure, we also require time to consolidate. So, best of luck to all who embark on their exam preparation this holiday and to those who are travelling have a wonderful time.

Nicholas Hammond

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