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My Learning Story

This is my learning story... drives our teaching and our own learning in our everyday lives. It is the filter through which we choose or design the best classroom practices or resources that we know will work for children. The story is a draft which we are continually questioning and looking for ways to improve:

My Learning Story

I believe people are born into the world as scientists. They immediately begin processing the chaotic flux of information (tactile, visual, olfactory, auditory, gustatory) which invades them, trying to see patterns and rules.

By watching other people interacting they begin to have premonitions of doing it themselves. They act out variously garbled versions of what they sense and the human beings around them try to understand what they mean.

Whenever the adults perceive a recognisable piece of meaning (whether intended or accidental) they acknowledge it and respond to the younger ones. In this way, through imagining, observing, interacting (initiating and responding) and noting consequences ('Does it work for me?'), the younger ones begin to approximate to the behaviours and skills of the adults.

There is a circle of continual experimentation: Demonstration evokes the intention to emulate, which leads to practice which is eventually put to the test in action, which is evaluated and improved, etc.

Learning power can be be enhanced by adults in constructive and strategic ways e.g. when curious learners are made aware of and can articulate dispositions that stretch their thinking - persistance, being brave, making strong choices, resilient mindset etc.

In Summary

People of all ages are like scientists:

  • The human brain is aggressive in it’s drive to make sense.
  • We leap towards the new from the springboards of what we have already confirmed.
  • We reach new understandings through continual modification of triangles involving thought, action and consequence until there is equilibrium.
  • Adults are engaged (through effective relationship building) in a kind of dance with the young, with both age groups sometimes leading, sometimes following.
  • We all power into the world with questions.

Adults can enhance learning power:

  • In their leading role, adults can use thoughtful provocations and/or apt questioning to lead the learning.
  • Learning power is enhanced when learners are aware of and can articulate effective dispositions: persistance, being brave, resilient mindset etc.
  • Learning power is enhanced when learners are aware of their learning processes (e.g.The Learning Pit), or when they work in spaces that are conducive to learning.
  • Adults can develop effective learning opportunties by helping learners to move from modelled demonstrations to practice to sharing their thinking. (Gradual release of responsibility)

Learning power can be measured:

  • The learning power in a teaching or learning environment can be measured by the number of quality questions being asked by the learners.


This is a growing list of readings that have influenced my teaching over the years...

Boomer, G., 'In Search of a Universal Literacy Program,'  Teaching Reading and Writing to Every Child.  Australian Reading Association, Adelaide, 1983

Bruner, J., The Process of Education, Harvard University Press, 1977 

Caine, R., and G. Caine. (1994). Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain. Menlo Park, Calif.: Addison-Wesley.

Chambers, A., The Reading Environment: How Adults Help Children Enjoy Books, Teachers Publishers Group, 1995

DeViney, J.,(et al) Inspiring Spaces for Young Children, Gryphon House, 2010

Dewey, J.D., How We Think, Dover Publications, Boston,1997

Fountas, I.C., Pinnell, G.S, Guiding Readers and Writers (Grades 3-6) Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy, 2000

McCaskill, W., Play is the Way, Play is the Way Pty Ltd, Greenwood WA, 2010

Meek, M., Achieving Literacy, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983

Nottingham, J., Learning Challenge: How to Guide Your Students Through the Learning Pit to Achieve Deeper Understanding, Sage Publications, 2017

Pearson, P. D. and M. C. Gallagher, The Instruction of Reading Comprehension, Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8, 1983, pp. 317-344.

Smith, F.S., The Book of Learning and Forgetting, Teachers College Press, 1998

Vygotsky, L., Thought and Language, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1986