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"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven!"

What’s the point of education?

Posted on 29th April 2016

“To be able to respond to all the challenges we face in life, honourably, courageously, positively, ambitiously and creatively.”  (Grasmere School Vision Statement)  We’re aiming to give children the skills, attitudes and confidence that will be a solid foundation for the rest of their lives.

Most of life’s challenges happen outside a classroom, so it’s really important that children get lots of practise at applying skills in different contexts.

This week we’ve been on residential to Hadrian’s Wall.  Every child will have had a different experience, depending on what they were ready to learn.  Obviously we’ve learnt lots of historical information, in an engaging and relevant way. I saw lots of other little moments of revelation, which will be built on in later life:

  • Lasagne can be approached with enthusiasm rather than suspicion. (Hunger helped with this one.)
  • The skill of putting a duvet inside a cover is a skill worth learning. (Some children were viewed with awe, for their efficiency with this.)
  • Telling friends scary stories can make them upset, and then you need to sort it out to make sure they’re ok again.
  • It is possible to keep track of gloves, hats, waterproofs, water bottles etc, without adult prompting.
  • Gold really is gold!  We saw an archaeologist find a string of gold – very exciting. 
  • Making jokes when you’re tired can really help.
  • Making jokes when you’re tired can go horribly wrong.

If I had to guess which learning experience will stay with them forever, I would probably choose the workshop where we were trained as Roman soldiers.  One and a half hours of intense physical training, in Latin, dressed as Romans.  But I might be entirely wrong!  Education is the accumulation of lots of little experiences, and as teachers we don’t really know what we’re giving the children.  As I write, what’s vivid in my mind is our early morning walk in the frosty fort, watching the lambs trying to climb the ruins… We will each have taken our own pictures and learning home, and stored them for future use…

That’s the wonder and humility of being a teacher.  Our aim is to try to provide an environment and experiences which will help the children to learn, for their good and for the good of the future of the world!

As Wordsworth said,

“Enough, if something from our hands have power
To live, and act, and serve the future hour”