Turned on to learing? 'active learning' at the start of Primary school

Martlew, J. (2008) Turned on to learing? 'active learning' at the start of Primary school. In: 18th EECERA Annual Conference, 2008-09-03 - 2008-09-06. (http://www.uis.no/getfile.php/Konferanser/abstract...)

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The initial phase of this project (part of the Applied Educational Research Scheme, Scotland) explored children's ideas about engagement in learning during the first year at primary and secondary school. The children's accounts suggested that doing or making 'things', playing and being with friends were the most engaging activities and that adults had a less central place in their perspectives on learning than teachers and parents might expect. In this paper we will give a brief account of the findings from the initial stage then explore the evidence from phase two which looks in detail at experiences during the first year of primary school in five classrooms that have adopted a pedagogical approach usually described as 'Active Learning'. Our evidence comes from interviews with teachers, school managers and parents, repeated periods of systematic observation in the classrooms and structured conversations with the young learners (five-year olds). Although apparently adopting the same pedagogical approach, practice varied across the classrooms, as did children's experiences of 'activity' or 'play'. From our evidence we will problematise the concepts of activity and play, consider the interplay of core, and possibly contradictory, ideas about the role of the teacher, authority and choice and raise questions about the outcomes and dispositions expected or achieved through active learning (Carr, 2001). Centred on a sociocultural understanding of the learning experience (e.g. Rogoff, 1990) our study takes up the conference theme of looking again at early childhood learning to address questions related to children's play and learning in institutional contexts.