chapter  5
11 Pages

The Curriculum: Finding Opportunities to Attend to Children's Emotional and Social Realities in Support of their Learning

The examples given in Chapter 3 have shown how, regardless of a group's work setting, consideration of a specific case enabled the staff, across departments and hierarchies, to explore wider issues arising from it. The significance of seemingly baffling behaviour, the underlying needs that it may indicate, what responses might be appropriate and the need to understand one's own reaction to the needs expressed are examples of the issues which arose. We saw the considerable capital of latent skills and personal resources such explorations can tap in teachers and make available for use in the classroom. Teachers welcomed the chance of discovering and deciding for themselves how they might improve a pupil's situation. We saw how these processes developed and how their development in the core attenders of a staff support group (who chose to attend the group from first to last with a view to initiating other development groups, see Part III) benefited short-term members and newcomers who learned - from the questions which were being asked in the group - how to look for workable solutions. By extending their knowledge of the way in which situations and backgrounds can affect a specific child's learning, teachers were able to relax their hold on preconceived ideas about the child in question and their own ineffectiveness with him. The group helped them to look with fresh eyes at the situation, to see it also from the pupil's point of view, to respond more adequately to his needs, both through curricular interactions (their way of interacting with him and the rest of the class) and through increased awareness of the affective potential in curriculum content. We saw how teachers became more objective in 'attuning' their encouragement techniques (Hanko 1994) to their pupils' experiences and were more able to make demands on them in a way which made it possible for the pupils to meet these.