The Learning Power Approach – Nuclear family.

In “ The Learning Power ApproachGuy Claxton outlines the thinking and research behind Learning Power, highlighting how the approach links with and complements other contemporary approaches to learning. In this book, he defines the aim of Learning Power as  follows:

“The aim of the LPA is to develop all students as confident and capable learners – ready, willing and able to choose, design, research, pursue, troubleshoot, and evaluate learning for themselves, alone and with others, in school and out.”

It might be worth spending some time unpicking that aim –

  • Does it resonate with you?
  • Are there parts that don’t? Why/why not?
  • Do you think this is a noble aim?
  • Are you paying attention to these details in your classroom?

Defining the LPA in this way immediately opens up links to leading educationalists and approaches which Guy defines as “nuclear family” to the LPA – Practitioners, researchers and leading thinkers who are thinking about education in the same way and are aligned with the LPA’s values. In his series, “Habits of Mind”, Art Costa illustrates this alignment:

Diagram showing 2 types of  Organisational Alignment - here we are interested in the arrows which are facing in the same direction as the LPA
Diagram showing 2 types of Organisational Alignment – here we are interested in the arrows which are facing in the same direction as the LPA

This excites me! There are many approaches which align with the values of the LPA – Just looking at the forwards for each of the LPA books, written by Professor Carol Dweck, Ron Berger and John Hattie, shows how many thinkers are aligned with the values of the LPA and are striving for a new approach and heart to education. Ron Ritchhart describes this perfectly in the quote below:

Ron Ritchhart quote: "Dream a new vision for education. Tell the story over and over again until it becomes the very heart of our new vision."
Ron Ritchhart

So, in light of that, I am aiming here to connect the dots, highlight alignments and connections with the LPA. And recommend books and resources that will further deepen you LPA understanding and journey.

One blogpost on this would be huge, so I’m going to write my recommendations over several blogposts. This one will highlight books relating to Design Principle One, in chapter 3 of “Powering Up Children”, which focuses on making the classroom a safe and interesting place to be a learner. This Design Principle is an essential launchpad to developing every other element in the LPA. Build this as a firm foundation and it will pay off dividends for empowering your learners and co-creating learning experiences with them. The beginning of the year is a perfect time to delve into this Design Principle.

Making the classroom a safe and interesting place to learn.

Mary Myatt – Hopeful Schools

Mary Myatt, Hopeful Schools

I won this book for my flamingo outfit at the first Cambridge Ed Fest (not sure I’d win it now – I’ve seen some of the latest creations!!) and I am SO glad I did. It is a delight – it’s easy to read and full of positivity. It really helps get you in the mindset of creating a positive, challenging, nurturing classroom. It energised me, refocused me on my purpose, reconnected me with my children and it only took me a train journey to read – highly recommended!

Dame Alison Peacock et al – Creating Learning Without Limits.

Dame Alison Peacock et al - Creating Learning Without Limits

This book has been around for a while and it’s still as relevant today. This book is another page-turner. I love it because it describes the journey Alison and her colleagues took as a school to engage, motivate and inspire the children in their care. It’s full of wonderful, doable ideas. Not only does it focus on empowering children but also on taking the sometimes daunting step of moving to mixed attainment classrooms. Many teachers email me with questions on how to go about this. I have dedicated a page to this here. Dame Alison Peacock and her teams’ work on Learning Without Limits is also essential reading to support your transition to mixed attainment. Without mixed attainment you will find it very difficult to build learning power and self-belief in your students. Be brave, take the plunge!

Paul Dix – When the Adults Change Everything Changes.

Paul Dix - When the Adults change, everything changes.

Paul’s book is full of ideas for empowering and believing in children. It has a plethora of positive behaviour management strategies (or strategies for “Behaviour Empowerment” – see this blogpost), which empower children to learn from their mistakes, not be constantly punished for them. There are lots of ideas for small tweaks you can make to daily routines and practices to have a positive impact on student behaviours and mindsets. I also like to focus on consistency and tiny ways to build consistency in your classroom and school as a whole. Consistency enables children to feel safe, which is the launchpad for taking risks in learning. Very important reading.

Adrian Bethune – Wellbeing in the Primary Classroom

wellbeing in the primary classroom a practical guide to teaching happiness

My latest read! I love Adrian’s style of writing – very down-to-earth and accessible. The book is nicely set out into bitesize chunks (I don’t know about you, but I need this after a busy day’s teaching!). It’s full of practical ideas. I like the way Adrian has deepened my thinking about wellbeing and given me new perspectives. For example, he talks about creating “Tribal Classrooms” – not just a place where you belong, but that you feel “tribal” about – creating a deep sense of belonging and agency. This reminded me of the concept of “pack leaders”, which Julian Swindale, a stunning Early Years LPA practioner, describes in chapter 3 of “Powering Up Children”. He is explaining why he spends time at the end of each day, discussing with his class how they have contributed and what they have achieved:

“… It contributes to the message that school is an exciting place to learn where children are the players – where they can grow, find themselves, and feel part of a community with social learning at it’s epicentre. I often start the day with a review of the previous day’s successes as an awakening to set us all up for the day to come. The resultant learning is always better because of this. If I am one of the pack leaders in the classroom, I want to lead by heading in the right direction.”

Julian Swindale, EYFS LPA practitioner, from Guy Claxton and Becky Carlzon “Powering Up Children”

I couldn’t have put it better myself!

Julian is currently writing a #guestblog for LPK – watch this space!

N.B. If you haven’t watched it already, you must watch Jaz Ampaw-Farr’s TEDxtalk on Everyday Heroes (that’s you by the way!). It will refocus you on your purpose and priorities as a “Leader of Your Pack”.

Jaz-Ampaw Far’s TEDxTalk

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