The point is that pride play a large part in our lives. If we have pride, this encourages us, gives us confidence and energy to engage with tasks. Of course, pride also comes before a fall and that can be personally detrimental, but essentially, pride plays a part in performance. For education, how can we develop and embody pride into the everyday lives of learners?
During a visit to a school to explore parental involvement, the discussion developed very well, with all agreeing that parents involved in school were having a positive impact on learning outcomes. The school had been involved in a significant amount of development work in Teaching and Learning, so we sought to determine whether the T&L initiative or the parent involvement had had greater impact.
The discussion focussed on intangible areas such as expectation, confidence, pride and the presence of a broader audience, where the school had developed an open door policy and regular parent visits to look at work in progress. Parents, teachers and children were very clear in what they were trying to achieve, with detailed target setting, child self assessment and regular opportunities to describe and discuss progress embedded in the school culture. Communication in all aspects of school life was seen as a significant strength, with very good models being provided by the adults.
So what made the difference? Work was seen as valuable, at each stage of development. Knowing that the audience for the work was broader than the child and the teacher immediately put an additional, but not intolerable, pressure on the child to produce work of a quality that could be shared. Regular, supportive feedback set the tone for children to pursue areas for their own development, knowing that effort was recognised.
Their confidence grew and they wanted to share their work with others. Celebration of achievement added to the sense of pride and confidence, thus encouraging the children to take occasional risks in work, seeking to be more creative in word use, for example.
Celebration extended to having work displayed in a local library, where the wider family, and the community as a whole was encouraged to go along and admire the displays. Children and staff were very clear in their ability to articulate the improvements in outcomes. Some are tangible, level descriptors and APP sheets ticked against subject criteria, but, perhaps more importantly they became aware of the importance of the intangibles, effort, expectation, aspiration, confidence and pride, provided, by redefining the breadth of the audience for work.
So, perhaps the lesson is not to make school activity a conspiracy between the teacher and the child, with no other audience to be considered, but to open things up and show more people, both in books and in displays. Offer the opportunity for feedback from people other than the teacher and put children firmly in the producer role with greater responsibility for the outcomes of their learning. Empower children to learn, with the teacher and parent role sometimes becoming a guiding partner in the learning. In Vygotsky terms, becoming the significant other.
Teachers have to take to role of guide and partner in progress to parents in this situation, to ensure that parent expectations are realistic and focused, thus ensuring consistent progress, rather than hiccupping or regression as a result of inappropriate interventions.