Changing the Narrative
Changing the Narrative: Writing our Own Story at Warwick School
“It is in the admission of ignorance and the admission of uncertainty that there is a hope for the continuous motion of human beings in some direction that doesn't get confined, permanently blocked, as it has so many times before in various periods in the history of man.” (Richard Feynnam)
The great physicist Richard Feynman was frequently asked if he was working on a theory that would explain the universe and he would rebuke the questioner with his riposte. He believed that the greatest minds lived with uncertainty and that the greatest enemy of curiosity was believing that you already knew the answer. It is a frequent criticism of the millennial generation that they are too steeped in the certainty of their beliefs to be able to hear other opinions. A brief glance at twitter seems to support this theory.
If you believe the papers then we should be worrying about this new generation more than ever: they are the ‘lost generation’ who will take decades to regain what they have lost. I believe the opposite. Let’s flip this: what have young people gained in this last year?
It is well-documented that routine is the enemy of creativity. We have tried very hard to keep the usual routines of school to make sure that boys feel secure and motivated but it is also true that, as Benedict Carey, author of the new book How We Learn says, our routines limit our brain’s ability to build skills and knowledge. It is evident that our staff and pupils have been inspired by the change in routine to approach their learning in a new way. Watching the creativity of the staff in thinking up science experiments that can be done in the home or seeing boys decide to write a play which can be performed on zoom has been an extraordinary testament to what can be achieved by looking afresh.
To truly know something then we need to find it out for ourselves. Before lockdown, we had already invested much thought into how to incorporate flipped learning into our curriculum so that boys were discovering for themselves in preparatory tasks and lessons could be about the teacher shaping and honing that knowledge. Aspects of our curriculum such as the extended essay projects in Year 9 and Year 12 work confirm our belief in this style of learning and lockdown has given us more opportunity to experiment with this style of approach.
In lockdown, boys have become even more adept at seamlessly moving between different systems- using Office products such as One Note, Sway and Forms alongside Teams for the majority of their learning but also using Google Classroom and other add-ons for where these platforms suit the subject matter. Their flexibility and resilience in learning new systems will prepare them well for working life.
Kindness and Community
The boys recognise the importance of their community more than ever, despite being physically apart. Whether this has been the many volunteer schemes that the school has organised or our boarding community donating PPE from China and Hong Kong during the worst of the first lockdown, the boys have recognised the need to be part of something bigger than themselves.
No one denies that the last year has been tough and we can’t wait to get them back but do so with optimism. They have lived with the greatest uncertainty, but this has given them strength. They are not a lost generation but a resilient, flexible and kind one.
Mrs Wyatt, Deputy Head Teaching and Learning, Warwick School