Our purpose at Dulwich Prep London is to deliver a curriculum that will prepare our pupils for ‘life’ (but the world keeps changing), and prepare them for the ‘test’ (but the tests keep changing). Is this tension between infinite and finite goals too great to reconcile in deciding what we teach and the way we teach it?
No. We’re already doing it and doing it well!
From Teacher-led to Pupil-led Dulwich Prep London pupils are in an educational system that requires them to be able to gain, understand and apply knowledge. For this to happen there is research to suggest that instructional methods are highly effective in increasing attainment.
Building on what is already known, instructional methods combine teacher explanation and modelling with student practice and feedback to teach new knowledge and skills. The process commits new learning to long term memory. Instruction is teacher-led, but is
not necessarily ‘traditional’ and passive; active learning, discussions and group work, for example, are all within the remit of instructional teaching. But, rightly, we do more as teachers than embed knowledge and skills in long term memory.
Our pupils are growing up in a world which is changing rapidly and is increasingly influenced
by the interaction of digital technologies; a world where value will also be placed on the human attributes of creativity, communication, critical thinking and collaboration. Effective learning in these areas (the 4 Cs) can be achieved with the use of more open ended activities as expressed in inquiry based learning (progressive pedagogy) where, at times, the answer is unimportant and/or unknown and where it is the skills required during the process that form the essence and purpose of the learning experience.
However, our best practice is to plan such activities only when the requisite knowledge and skills have been learnt to support a learning experience where the scaffolds of teacher direction, modelling and feedback are largely removed.
At the heart of our teaching, however, Dulwich Prep London recognises that the relationship
the teacher has with their pupils, their ‘teacher presence’, has a significant impact on the learning experience. The ability of the teacher to bring joy and wonder to their lessons, to motivate and foster enthusiasm, and to adapt to the needs of each pupil is paramount, regardless of the pedagogical approach being adopted.