A Brief Introduction…

The Organic Learning Blog will showcase some of the school-based research we are undertaking at St Mel’s Campsie. Whilst our research began in 2015, we have not captured any of our progress until now.

Organic Learning is the synthesis of ideas, practices, risks, innovations and reflections borne out of our inquiry learning journey shared with our critical friends at NoTosh Consultancy. As our students began to engage in Design Thinking, seeds of tension were gradually being uncovered in our perception of learning, in particular the principles of learning.

As our competence in using Design Thinking with students increased, we began to experiment with the same processes for our own learning as teachers. We established a Bunker Room for collaborative planning and critiquing and applied the use of Hexagons to create a visible, tangible year-long curriculum map for each stage of learning (more to come on Hexagonal Curriculum Mapping in a later post).

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The idea of aligning how we work as teachers to how we engage students in learning, made IMG_4863complete sense and encouraged us to explore how we might replicate this for our Leadership Team. With limited resources we created a 3.6m wide learning wall made from black magnet glass that we named The Provocation Space. It is used to capture our thinking, planning, observed tensions and crazy ideas. It is visible and open to critique.

We are aware that these are mere tools and it is what you actually do in the Bunker Room and what you do with the Provocation Space that demonstrate the quality and depth of learning, but for our community it highlights the start of a self-determined learning journey.

The WHY…

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At the heart of a school-wide vision for learning should be the belief that every learner has the capacity to change or influence the world. We reject the view that entry into university, getting a good job or achievement in external exams should be fundamental drivers for learning.

Learning must be driven by need, interest and curiosity, as well as loads of teacher inspiration. As learners gain in proficiency, we believe a concurrent increase in responsibility and capacity for self-determined learning should become the main goal of educators. Not only should this be a goal for student learning, it should be the same for teacher and leadership team learning also.

Schools need to look beyond content, skills and behaviours, which are undeniably critical components, and promote a greater focus on aligning the principles of learning for all learners, regardless of age and experience. The impact on learning across a school is increased significantly, particularly for young learners when they can observe an unambiguous cycle of learning in action for themselves, their teachers and the school’s leaders.

This will challenge schools to redesign structures, processes and learning spaces and create learning experiences that enhance agency, metacognition, emotional intelligence and capacity for self-regulation.