“Morning Jay, I’m Lisa the swimming instructor”.
“Hi Lisa. My son Tom hasn’t had lessons before but I’m sure he can pick it up. He discovers lots of things by himself.”
Lisa half smiled, half frowned. “That’s great, but he will be getting explicit instructions for the next 30 minutes”.
Wait, what! Jay protested. “Don’t you know how kids learn these days”?
Lisa let out a frustrated sigh. “I’ve been teaching in the pool for 20 years, I think I’ll be okay”.
“Oh I see”, said Jay, “The old it’s always been done like this rubbish, It’s the 21st century you know”!
After the lesson Jay approached Lisa. “You completely dominated the lesson. You even had a go at him for not listening. It was all teacher instruction at first. He had a go and then you kept correcting him the whole lesson. He had no ownership of the learning whatsoever”!
“I hear you,” replied Lisa, “ But in one or two more lessons he will be able to get himself to the side of the pool if he falls in. That’s the first goal. That will give him ownership of his life. Water safety is so important, you can’t just leave it to discovery driven, child-centred learning”.
“That’s an outdated attitude I’m afraid”. Jay was becoming increasingly frustrated with this instructor who clearly was lost in the past.
“Have you taught your 5 year old about road safety”? said Lisa.
Jay rolled his eyes. “Of course”.
“With discovery learning?” Lisa’s tone was calm but forceful.
Jay snapped, “Oh don’t be so bloody ridiculous, he could get killed! Oh wait, I see what you mean. Well look if its really important life changing stuff where safety is involved, sure explicit teacher instruction might be the way to go. But if it’s not that important, you must understand that the students should drive the learning”!