Inside out? collaborating introverts

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Michael Godsey claims that the growing emphasis in classrooms on interactive arrangements can be challenging for introverted students who tend to perform better when they are working independently and in more subdued environments.

The author argues that such students sometimes appear shy, depressed, or antisocial, when they actually “feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments.”

These are valid concerns, especially with government and business driving student-centred learning at full tilt. So, for the benefit of heads and teachers considering Cooperative Learning, I hope to address some of the points raised in the article.



First of all, as always here on, the term ‘Cooperative Learning’ denotes the structural approach which “consists of students in small hand-picked teams or pairs working in a number fixed “Cooperative Learning Interaction Patterns”, called CLIPs. These CLIPs define step-by-step how students interact with materials and each other and are void of content.” See for the full description.

These standalone CLIPs are deployed by teachers at specific points during lessons, to achieve specific aims. Teach SPaG, drill dates, assess writing, present knowledge, solve worksheet tasks, reflect on own learning: It is a precise tool, not vague “student engagement.” Cooperative Learning may even be used to support such quiet, supposedly introvert skills as reading and text comprehension. Examples are found below and are being made available on Cooperate Be Literate. I have outlined some examples how to facilitate rote learning and of the misuse of the term Cooperative Learning in my Note to Mr Peal.


Student-centred vs teacher-centred ratios

Any experienced educator knows continuous discussion may well be engaging, but also taxing. I therefore always warn teachers not to exceed 80% Cooperative Learning in any lesson. In a Cooperative Learning classroom, students passively receiving input from the board, or passively listening to an open class debate, is a relevant piece in a bigger puzzle.

Relevant because, as the teacher, you possess unique knowledge and you see the big picture, which needs to be fed to the class as a whole. Not only to set up tasks, but to steer the learning process through-out the lesson. That in itself should be ample argument for giving teacher input space. (The fact that your class input will be more relevant and precise if you have monitored during the preceding Cooperative Learning sequences is a sidenote here).

Then there is the issue of precision. What sort of relevant discussion will students have if they have not been presented with clearly delineated objectives, understand the context and, for most subjects, have certain hard knowledge in place? Unguided pupil discussions, not preceded by input or modelling, is often of a shockingly low level, especially in classes very used to teacher-centred learning styles. For interesting examples, see Andy Tharby’s “English teaching and the problem with knowledge” .


The introvert steps of Cooperative Learning interaction

The ratio aside, Cooperative Learning in itself does not have to entail excessively social or overstimulating mandates; it can easily involve quiet components that facilitate internal contemplation. Think-Pair-Share comes to mind, and we will use this classic Cooperative Learning Interaction Pattern as an example.

The Think-step may be 30 minutes of quiet, individual reading, followed by Pairs spending five minutes working out a summary of interesting or difficult points, presenting answers to comprehension questions, etc.

In the final step, Share, the pair then become responsible for presenting or arguing their case in front of another pair, who may hold entirely different views. This step may also last as little as five minutes, and interaction may be micromanaged to stress individual accountability or left as an open discussion at students’ discretion, permitting the more introverted students to lean back and let the partner do most of the talking. As a teacher, you always know best what is good for your students. Cooperative Learning will simply give the tools you need to make it happen.

For the last five minutes of this 45 minute lesson, the teacher rounds off and corrects key points he picked up while listening in or guiding individual groups, and answers any final questions.

And, obviously, he collects those note made through-out the three stages, giving clear, written evidence of the learning process. 30 minutes quiet reading, 10 minutes of group work, all in one Cooperative Learning interaction pattern.


Think time

Think-Pair-Share is not unique in affording an individual element as an integral step. In fact, I push for CLIPs to be preceded by “think time,” again preferably with note taking, which gives written evidence of learning. This will also continuously promote identifying key points, concise, precise language, and legible writing; every day, every lesson, with a practical purpose and instant consequence, as the individual accountability inherent in CLIPs often means notes may serve as materials for peers.

Many course participants will remember the Simultaneous Write-Round here, where students individually contribute to a piece of creative writing, based on written input from others. After having jeopardized team performance a couple of times, and understanding the vital role they play as individuals, most students see the benefit of clear writing. This especially true if some time is dedicated to team building exercises.


Getting the introvert out there

We’ve demonstrated above that Cooperative Learning strategies aren’t irreconcilable with the needs of introverts. So in the following I’d like take a step further and point to some of the areas where Cooperative Learning may decidedly benefit introvert students – while bringing their deep thinking to bear on the class.

I have no doubt that introverts are not always “shy, depressed, or antisocial,” and that we should not conflate introversion with an inability to self-advocate. But, let us face it, chances in the real world are not hurt by the ability to present one’s knowledge coherently, argue one’s case, learn from others, negotiate with equally intelligent peers, or reframe one’s understanding to meet needs of very different temperaments and learning .



Similarly, extrovert, talkative students should benefit from, and appreciate, the more profound, worked-through solutions which I often find comes from so-called introverts. Learning to be quiet and simply listen is a crucial human skill, and where better to train it than with an introvert, struggling with every word? By engaging each other in the managed form of CL, both reap subject knowledge and get an opportunity to reflect on benefits and drawbacks of these personality types.

Godley concedes that the ideal, of course, would be to establish arrangements that facilitate differentiated instruction for varying personality types, but that “this might be difficult in large classes with students of diverse levels of proficiency and motivation.”

My claim here is that Cooperative Learning is uniquely suited to facilitate this full-spectrum differentiation: By securing both simultaneous interaction across the class and equal participation, Cooperative Learning will give introverts the time and space needed to present their capabilities in their own tempo, to the benefit of extrovert pupils. On a practical level, this might take the form of working out useful phrases, such as “Do you need any help getting started?” or, vice versa, “No thanks, give me a moment, I just need to phrase this right…”.


Signal to noise

Finally, Michael Godsey worries collaborative arrangements may “inherently enable noisy, distracting conditions that make learning particularly difficult for [introverts].”

It does not hurt to state the obvious: students in any collaborative class must be drilled, drilled, drilled, for everyone’s sake, to recognise appropriate volume. Short voices means that no one outside arm’s reach will hear a word; an all-round useful human skill, and transferable, too. Many so-called introverts don’t mind a quiet, thoughtful discussion. What they do mind is a shouting contest.

The author admits that group activities can serve a purpose in the teaching of introverts and refers to several recent studies that confirm the mountains of evidence that “students who engage in cooperative learning tend to outperform those immersed in traditional learning approaches—namely lectures.”

Here I want to point out that with CL it is never an either-or. Specifically on the subject of lectures, I am currently trialling a programme for a university interested in how Cooperative Learning may facilitate an effective, manageable move towards the student-centred environments required of 21st century tertiary education by the Bologna process.

A key element is CLIPs which organise input processing to provide context, aid retention, clear misunderstandings, share ideas. Dropped in at crucial points during standard klectures, such 2-5 minute interactions are a simple way to shuttle back and forth between very traditional lecturing and innovative student-centred learning.

The real problem is, for Mr Golly, how “…trends like “collaborative learning” and “project-based learning” and “flipped classrooms”—are applied often neglect the needs of introverts.”

Key word here is applied. I feel I have made my case for Cooperative Learning to be considered….







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Cooperate Be Literate

As mentioned in the previous post, a dream has come true for me. I am working with a highly experienced science teacher to discover how Cooperative Learning can further literacy skills in science from KS2 to University.

Given the routine assertions that Cooperative Learning denotes wet talking exercises, some science and maths teachers I have spoken to have raised concerns. During development of the courses to Norwich Primary Academy, fate has willed that the deputy head, Mr Ben Rogers, was point man. Before his tenure at NPA, Ben has taught science at secondary level for 18 years and sees what Cooperative Learning can actually do. Many will be familiar with Ben’s blog, ReadingforLearning, and his special focus on reading in Science as a very distinct and largely unexplored area.

However there is a dire need, it seems. Ben has investigated the reading habits of one hundred scientist. One of the main conclusions from the survey is that professional scientists and engineers teach themselves to read subject texts, at least until college (only 10% of the professionals who responded to the survey were taught to read science texts at school, 84% said they taught themselves).

As a science teacher, Ben believes that technical texts require specific reading strategies. As a Cooperative Learning aficionado, I want to prove the role of Cooperative Learning in Science.

I do not mean just in relation to drilling the definitions, vocabulary and procedures associated with these subjects. I aim to facilitate transferable skills, such as contextualisation and higher level thinking,  through negotiation of meaning.

I hope to prove that the tight structuring afforded by Cooperative Learning will simultaneously provide classroom control, focus on objectives and effective assessment, while giving science students a sense of both freedom to investigate and accountability for their own learning.

Read Ben’s reflections on

Read the survey on educationinchemestry

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Welcome back – looking forward…

Another academic year has begun. A lot has happened since I staged my first Cooperative Learning event in March 2014, the Healing Fractures educator’s workshop investigating traditional teaching practises.

Since then, I have created specialised courses on Islam in Religious Education, presented tailored lessons to primary and secondary students directly, coached in MFL at the University of East Anglia, hosted  open CPD events to secondary teachers, spoken at a variety of events on Cooperative Learning in relation to community building, taught PGCE students at the IoE – to name a  few.

Precisely a year after that first event, Healing Fractures II drew in tertiary researchers, head teachers, private education companies, university outreach personnel, diversity experts and researchers from London, the Midlands, even Exeter.



And, more important than anything else, I am now working successfully with schools to deploy Cooperative Learning as a whole-school solution. The absolutely stunning achievements by Stalham Academy staff, with only six hours of CPD, shows what can be done. I can’t think of a single teacher of this small “low attainment area” school who would claim to be the PhD-toting Clark Kent of the classroom, yet they have managed in a few months to turn the school from special measures to “good”. And the effect of those few hours of CPD seems to have no end, as teachers have made Cooperative Learning their own. Three two hour twilight was enough.

Regardless of context, the power of Cooperative Learning is obvious to anyone who experiences it first hand. For schools, it strikes the balance between low cost, easy implementation, control, pupil buy-in and quick, measurable results. For business, community building and outreach work, the potential of Cooperative Learning has hardly been glimpsed.

What is next?

Before school started, this semesters first clients, Norwich Primary Academy, Apex Primary and Headstart have all done the first module of Skills & Mastery on dedicated INSET days, tailored to include lesson planning. Throwing in this extra hour is a wise choice from school leaders, as the dedicated time for teachers to take ownership in the session is invaluable.

From end of this month, the completely unique 21st century British Muslim tailored course will officially be part of the Association of Muslim Schools’ professional development package.

Aside from supporting academic results and behaviour through Cooperative Learning strategies, this flagship course gives a practical demonstration of how these strategies may successfully facilitate the Islamic component of the curriculum in relation to authentic identity formation in the context of “Fundamental British Values” and other requirements outlined in the Independent Schools Standards. Stay updated on twitter for more on this.

Also in the pipeline this semester, you will find a full scale roll-out to boost results and create a more realistic and engaging learning environment in a major university, as well as tailored workshops to facilitate parental engagement, and, hopefully, employability skills by working closely with local businesses.

Cooperate be Literate

Finally, a dream has come true for me. Given the routine assertions that Cooperative Learning denotes wet talking exercises, some science and maths teachers I have spoken to have raised concerns. During development of the courses to Norwich Primary Academy, fate has willed that the deputy head, Mr Ben Rogers, was point man. Before his tenure at NPA, Ben has taught science at secondary level for 18 years and sees what Cooperative Learning can actually do. Many will be familiar with Ben’s blog, ReadingforLearning, and his special focus on reading in Science as a very distinct and largely unexplored area.


I am very happy to have joined forces with Ben to create a series of lesson plans exploring how Cooperative Learning may facilitate literacy in Science. I cannot think of anyone I’d rather work with on this. The project will be tracked on a separate blog, cooperatebelitterate. First posts are up, we encourage all teachers with ideas, experience or insights to comment.

Birmingham & the community cohesion challenge

In other news, I am shifting my base of operations towards the Midlands to support my ongoing engagement with multicultural schools. While rural Norfolk schools may have problems, inter-ethnic and cross-cultural  tension is not the first one that springs to mind.

Cooperative Learning has been demonstrated to improve race relationships in schools. Working successfully with authentic identity formation and respectful negotiation of values in multicultural settings is one of the most interesting possibilities offered by this method. If Cooperative Learning is as effective in this as it is in teaching subject knowledge, the long-term impact on Britain may be reason enough for higher echelons to take a serious look at Cooperative Learning.

Though Ben and I are highly competent in our respective fields, we have opened social media to engage other teachers. Why? Because the days of a handful of authoritarian experts is over. I am convinced that the highly complex, global future belongs to cooperating crowds of unique individuals – in business, politics, education, medicine, research.

Britain led the industrial revolution. Why not lead the post-industrial one?

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New head, fresh eyes; a critical outsider’s look at Cooperative Learning

At the start of this term, Mr Glenn Russell was appointed permanent head of Stalham Academy by Rightforsuccess Trust. In the week before summer holidays, Mr Russell gave a critical and qualified appraisal of Cooperative Learning at Stalham Academy.

Please scroll to bottom of page to see a list of one-minute extracts or go straight to full Stalham video library.

Since the school converted to academy status after going into special measures in May 2014, deputy head Mr Andrew Howard had been acting headteacher. As followers of this blog are aware, Mr Howard’s first decision as leader was to adopt Cooperative Learning in accordance with Sutton Trust advice.

I was contacted by Mr Howard, and we decided the best path ahead was the Skills & Mastery course, which downplays  theory and social skills to focus on quick and easy tools to boost attainment & progress and to close achievement gaps.


“…national average for level fours combined for Pupil Premium is 67%. Well this year, we achieved 75% level fours…”

See video

Skills & Mastery comprises six hours of CPD, in Stalham’s case delivered in blocks of two hour twilights on September 24, December 3, and February 11. Each twilight presented three content-void CLIPs (Cooperative Learning Interaction Patterns), which define step by step how pupils interact with materials and peers.

The tight structure secures full teacher control and real-time assessment, along with the high individual accountability, positive interdependence and continuous  full class engagement that should be the hallmark of any good lesson.


Glenn Russell video

“…it’s their ability to get on socially, in unstructured time, to converse with adults, in clubs after school…”

 Though Skills & Mastery is nominally an off-the-shelf course, it should be seen only as a basis from which I tailor an experience unique to each school’s needs. In Stalham’s case, the ubiquitous Catch1Partner* and  Word-Round would provide a versatile, yet effective, base for class and team interaction, with the third CLIP being focused on the problematic area of reading with understanding.  All CLIPs are scalable, content-void and work across all subjects.

Impact on teaching & learning was almost instantaneous; no further coaching was needed by myself between sessions to achieve the results school leadership had been hoping for. In fact, a few hours of CPD with handouts combined with management support enabled the majority of teachers to tailor the CLIPs to their lesson plans, materials and individual learning styles. No further investments were made beyond the six hours of CPD, paid for with pupil premium money.

One of the greatest  challenges with CPD is the buy-in, as outlined by Ms Brosnan of the Teacher Development Trust. However, the combination of management support, simplicity, overall positive response from pupils and the cost/efficiency ratio in relation to teachers’ workload, ensured an overall smooth transition to Cooperative Learning as a dominant teaching style.

But one thing is a positive experience by those already invested and involved. The acid test is the objective assessment of a capable, critical outsider who is fully embedded in every level of a school’s day-to-day workings. No-one has more reason to be critical than the new headteacher, now accountable for the schools success or failure.

Enter Mr Russell.


New head, fresh eyes

From starting out as a PE teacher, Glenn Russell (NPQH) was put on a fast-track course run by National College for Teaching & Leadership, and was identified as one of the top 5 per cent in the country.  He has worked with high deprivation inner city schools, help set up  IES Breckland free school in Suffolk and been a leader in  Norfolk’s first four-school federation.

In this string of short videos, Mr Russell describes his reflections of arriving to what was, in effect, the first full Cooperative Learning school in the UK.


 Glenn Russell on…

…first impressions of Cooperative Learning at Stalham Academy

“…A wonderful surprise…”

… the cost-effectiveness of Cooperative Learning

how much is a good school ethos worth?

…and differentiation

“…this is something no worksheet will give you….”

…and teachers’ workload

“…seeing some of the teachers’ plans, it’s really trimmed down.” 

… Cooperative Learning in relation to pupil premium and SAT results

“…national average for level fours combined for Pupil Premium is 67%. Well this year, we achieved 75% level fours…”

…. management and the new Ofsted framework

“Because the Ofsted framework is about the leadership’s effect on the other areas, [Cooperative Learning] makes a big impact on the new framework.”

* For practical examples of Catch1Partner in relation to rote learning, please see Scenario Two; why drill when you can frack? in Deconstructing the Progressive-Traditional Dichotomy; a note to Mr Peal.
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The International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education

During the 1970s, the work of many pioneering educational researchers centered on what we know today as cooperative learning and led to the creation of the IASCE (International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education).

Researchers and practitioners convened in 1979 from Australia, the Netherlands, and Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, England, the United States and Israel, committed to the democratization of schools and the schools’ evolution into learning communities that fostered better student learning, critical thinking, conflict resolution and student self-esteem.

Through careful experimental research, these researchers were gathering momentum on the positive effects of cooperation in group work in order to credibly disseminate pedagogical practices that could transform classroom and school environments.

According to the IASCE “Cooperative learning (CL) is much more than a single classroom practice. It encompasses theories, philosophies, and approaches to teaching and learning that facilitate small-group work and peer-mediated learning so that everyone can participate in and contribute to attaining a group’s goal. The same theories and philosophies have also shaped democratic practices among all participants in a learning organization, including teachers and administrators. They have cultivated practices that support pro-social learning and conflict resolution throughout school settings—including playgrounds, parent-teacher relationships, and staff development.”

Read more on the IASCE homepage, which boasts a host of articles and resources.


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Engaging staff effectively with their CPD; A CL gloss

Without her mentioning Cooperative Learning once, Ms Jessica Brosnan, of the Teacher Development Trust, has unwittingly written a better article on why Cooperative Learning should be adopted as a whole school ethos than I could. 

Ms Brosnan’s original text is italicised.

(…) Many school leaders struggle to create a CPD programme that is relevant and engaging for all staff, while also ensuring it has a strong pupil-focus – lots of excellent ideas have limited impact without staff engagement. (…)

As I pointed out to one potential client, who thought it all sounded a bit too good to be true, I am not interested in wasting my own or other peoples time; no matter how you twist it, the onus is on me, the consultant, to get the results, and more than anything, this means making sure the teachers get a damn good answer to “So, what is in it for me?”

The following slide, always shown within the first 10 minutes of every course, seems like a good start:

CL does not require....

More on this issue in Why Cooperative Learning? What it will do for you and what you don’t need to do…


Ms Brosnan continues:

(…) CPD is still all too often viewed as gathering all staff into the hall and delivering sessions during INSET days, and the idea of CPD as something to be “done to” rather than “done with” is still typical for many schools. 

Cooperative Learning can only be taught one way – that is through Cooperative Learning, where the teachers get an empathic experience of how a child struggles to take on-board new knowledge, often partially outside their frame of reference and easily misunderstood due to incorrect assumptions or connections made to correct assumptions. In CPD using Cooperative Learning, nothing is being “done” to you, you are the “doer” constructing knowledge relevant to you in a discreetly guided, yet simple, organic process.

These one-off lectures and activities often have little or no follow-up, and staff may come away with new knowledge, but none that is particularly relevant to them, or the pupils’ they teach. Research suggests that this is the most common training experienced by staff and yet also the least effective at improving practice. 

Nevertheless, many school leaders try and pack out their INSET days and twilights with endless seminars and workshops and deliver too many ideas in too little time with insufficient chance to practise, reflect, and collaborate.

This is why I have been advocating CPD in 2 hour block twilights with limited scope, and why there should be a 6-8 week gap between blocks. Plenty of time for trail and error, to be dealt with realistically in the following session.

It is worth noting that studies suggest that, on average, it takes teachers more than 30 hours of planning, teaching, collaborating, reflecting, enquiring, discussing, learning and thinking to create a sustained, effective change in teacher practice in a single area.

The collaborating, enquiring, discussing, (in fact all of the above, given thinking is also enlightened by sharing), is best afforded by using the same CLIPs in the staff room; if its good enough for the pupils, it’s good enough for us as teachers, isn’t it? And my experience is that Cooperative Learning is just as engaging for adults. You don’t grow out of loving to hear your own voice.

Ultimately for staff to buy into the CPD processes within their school, it needs to be relevant to their needs, have an impact on the pupils they teach, and they need to be given appropriate time to embed any changes to their practice.

This is why in each CPD session, the subject knowledge of Cooperative Learning as a tool, is interlaced with collaborative negotiation of its impact in specific subjects, specific students and classes, with specific materials. Recently at Rashidun, a London supplementary school, a full unit was committed to actual lesson planning.


Many schools we visit claim to have CPD that is pupil-focused, driven by the learning and development needs of pupils. (…) Although many schools include a performance management target related broadly to student outcomes, the link between staff’s own professional development and the pupils they teach, is often not explicit. (…)

In some of the most successful schools, participation in some form of collaborative enquiry has been explicitly linked to appraisal, ensuring a professional development target with a clear pupil-focus. As teachers, we are driven to meet the needs of our pupils, and where CPD is closely linked, it will be more engaging.

Leadership culture & Teacher enquiry

Teachers and learning support assistants have regular, dedicated and uninterrupted time during term to carry out collaborative and reflective development; conversations about pedagogy and evidence are common. Staff collaborate to decide a few key whole-school professional development areas for the year and these inform the school development plan and performance management processes. A specific member of the governing body is responsible for monitoring CPD processes. 

This really needs no further comment relation to the CPD I am already providing. However, an interesting CPD session would be how to use Cooperative Learning to stage a staging staff-room, rather than classroom, enquiry. Maybe an add-on to Skills&Mastery and the other strictly CL courses?  (see Stalham Academy post for more on this).

“After only two hours of CPD, our teachers have successfully managed to implement Cooperative Learning in their classes with measurable results. We are very much looking forward to our next session.”

Andrew Howard, Head, Stalham Academy, after session #1 of the CL Skills & Mastery course, 2014

As Ms Brosnan points out:

All the research around what makes effective professional development points towards teacher enquiry processes, where teachers get to collaboratively explore and improve their own practice. This has been shown to have much more impact on student outcomes than sending teachers on one-off courses or bringing in speakers to conduct after-school lectures.

Interestingly for me, the author then discusses Lesson Study (?) as a possible solution. I always claim that the structural approach to Cooperative Learning fuses with any other didactic method, from Doug Lemov to MoE, but it is always interesting to find corroborating evidence: In Lesson Study, imagine using Think-Pair-Share with multiple triad members, who would then feed back to home teams using Puzzle?

Might be financially shooting myself in the foot here, but schools might not even need an add-on package: If students can “learn how to learn” – to paraphrase Ms Gillespie – using Cooperative Learning, why not teachers? That would be a real collaborative school ethos, when students knocking on staff room door in the break catch their teachers doing Catch-1-Partner to debrief!

More on Catch-1-Partner, including staging, in this post. For an oldish detailed handout, see last year’s newsletter eCL #1: The Dance Floor is made of Lava + eCL #1 bonus: Mindmap in jpg for easy reference

For Catch-1-Partners relation to CELTA classics such as “Carousel” and “Ladders”a full CL lesson, see Norwich High School for Girls; A tailored workshop lesson plan.

Read Ms Brosnans full article.

More videos with Ms Gillespie et al.

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Enquiry & Immersion: Why enquire? A message from the course leader

Raising the standard above the bog-of-superstition: Why faith communities should be delivering high class, high impact learning experiences to schools.

As we have discussed in multiple posts, RE presents a unique opportunity for students to work realistically and experientially with toxic issues and questions of opinion, meaning, argumentation, and multiple truth(s) needed in the ever more complex 21st century.

For a host of reasons most faith communities have a wish to stay relevant in relation to the wider society. All to often, schools pack multiple places of worship into a single tour to cut costs. While this does secure ticking the relevant boxes, this type of surfing is all too close to the speed-entertainment/consumption our children are accustomed to.

This would hardly be acceptable if the school invested in a visit to the Harry Potter Museum in London. So how can it be acceptable when visiting a faith community and experiencing an off-world point of view that relates to billions of real people, affect politics, start riots and wars and yet seems to have a magnetic influence on everyone, including atheists fighting their corner?

To be taken seriously, places of worship should start by taking themselves seriously, and understand they can, and should, add real value to pupils’ education, far beyond the A-C band of GCSEs.

Faith communities might want to start by looking at their values in relation to the surrounding society and ask themselves two questions:

  1. What do we actually want the children to take away from a visit?
  2. How can we deliver this effectively?

Using Enquiry & Immersion in Ihsan Mosque as a model: To facilitate the aims of the Muslim community in Norwich, the morning session is structured as a student-centred enquiry exercise, making students inter-dependent and yet individually accountable at every stage of their own learning.

Ms D Ridgeon, Avenue Junior

Video feedback from the deputy head of Avenue Junior School, following the Primary pilot.

First of all this helps negate potential concerns about “indoctrination” from parents and media (see post) by virtually removing the teacher from the initial picture.

Secondly, student-centred learning is the only way to fuse the (dare we say 21st century?) skill sets of higher level thinking, negotiation of meaning, exploration of personal values with relevant subject knowledge. We have discussed the nihilistic vacuum of social constructivism without footing in Deconstructing the Progressive-Traditional Dichotomy and elsewhere.

The pitch

The following is from a drafted addition to the Secondary invitations:

Schools should invest in Enquiry & Immersion because RS/ Philosophy/Ethics students will

Students will hunt information across a vast body of differentiated materials; corresponding to Ofsted’s “Learning about religion” and will collaborate to and correlate a wide variety of differentiated GCSE-relevant materials on Islam. The mental framework created will be transferable to later studies of Islam and perhaps hopefully give cause to reflect on other religions and atheism in a new light.

The LO’s include a grasp of the specific areas of worship, history and development of Islamic law, scholarly traditions in the face of reform, intellectual heritage, political and sectarian issues, as well as sufism and its relation to other religions.

In relation to the moral and spiritual aspect of SMSC, students will then use this understanding to reflect on moral dilemmas from an “Islamic” viewpoint, corresponding to Ofsted’s “Learning from religion.” The historical insight gathered through working with materials will lead into a discussion of current issues, including the actions of Isis and domestic terrorists.

To achieve all these simultaneous aims, Cooperative Learning classroom management strategies will micro-manage every step of the lesson while giving students an experience of freedom and self-directiveness.

Forearmed by the the enquiry session, your students will question their reflections over lunch in the Mosque with Enquiry & Immersion staff and random members of the Muslim community. Lunch is fully gender segregated, and we have found that, especially for the girls, this creates a very different dynamic to the discussion of gender roles in Islam.

We hope this may serve as an inspiration to churches, synagogues and temples as well as other mosques, to become more than a faith version of Argos, and empower themselves to speak with their true voice. Schools and communities will be better of.

A final note. After her class had partaken Enquiry & Immersion visit, an RE coordinator mentioned a parent phoning the school. In normal circumstances, that would not be good news. However, this mother wanted to share how her daughter had been going on and on about how brilliant the trip had been, and wanted to share it.

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