Schools have two aims: to help young people develop the skills, knowledge and grades they will need for further study and employment; and to help them cultivate the qualities of mind that will determine – even more than their test scores – how well they will flourish in life more generally. At the moment these two aims are being set in opposition to each other: ‘traditionalists’ fight for rigour and knowledge, while ‘progressives’ want character and well-being. But it is a phoney and unnecessary war – so says Guy Claxton in his provocative new book The Learning Power Approach: Teaching Learners to Teach Themselves.
We know that it is the nitty-gritty of teaching that matters most in schools, but different styles and methods of teaching lead to different outcomes. One style can lead to happy children with poor achievement. Another can get good results but runs the serious risk of creating students who are compliant and dependent. But there is a third that gets good results in a way that also develops independence, initiative, determination and a love of learning. That’s the Holy Grail of Pedagogy. It is what Guy Claxton calls the Learning Power Approach, and it delivers the best of both worlds.
In this ground-breaking book, Guy distils 20 years’ practical experience with his globally influential Building Learning Power method, as well as findings from a range of kindred approaches, into a set of design principles for teaching. Students are gradually coached to take over responsibility for managing, trouble-shooting and evaluating learning for themselves – and are thus better prepared for life after school, whether that be at university or college, or in work. And in school, fitting the learning-power turbo-charger means they learn what they need to know more deeply and more efficiently. Instead of the phoney war we now have a Win-Win way of teaching.
The Learning Power Approach clearly describes in detail the small tweaks to practice that are needed, together with the supportive evidence that underpins them. It carefully lays the ground for a series of books to follow that are tailored to primary teaching, secondary teaching, and school leadership.