The headteacher column with Alex Reppold

Pocklington Community Junior School headteacher Alex Reppold.
Pocklington Community Junior School headteacher Alex Reppold.

This morning, on the way into work, I stumbled across a ‘pop-up’ radio station devoted entirely to playing Christmas music.

This must mean that there’s a market for this music in the middle of November.

This there really a demand for Christmas music in November?

This there really a demand for Christmas music in November?

There must be a good number of people who tune in regularly in order for that radio station to go to the expense of broadcasting the show or paying the royalties for the music, let alone all the other running costs a radio station must have.

Now, I am most definitely not in that bracket of people who are demanding such a service and I find it incredibly hard to imagine why anyone might be.

I’d go so far as to say that I would consider being forced to listen to Christmas music from the middle of November a form of torture.

However, considering that ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’, the same clearly applies to our music preferences.

So why, when we have 30 pupils in a class, do we sometimes wonder why children aren’t ‘into’ their learning?

I mean – come on! We’re learning about the Tudors here!

If I sat 30 adults down and told them I was going to teach them about the Tudors, I can’t imagine many cheers for joy.

Children do need to learn to do what’s asked of them – and in preparation for the real world, the thing you’re being asked to do won’t always be fun.

I’m not proposing we should throw out the curriculum in its entirely and allow children to decide what, when, how and if they’re going to learn, but if we’re trying to ensure children love learning, maybe it’s worth bearing in mind what they’re actually interested in.

As an adult, don’t you have some interests which are quite specific?

Maybe you’re a ‘Twitcher’, a philatelist, or a good old-fashioned trainspotter?

Have you ever been so lost in finding out something that you’ve lost track of time, or – heaven forbid – actually missed a meal?

And have you started talking – albeit passionately – about your particular interest only to realise that the other person is just about hanging onto consciousness because of the subject matter?

For most of us, our interests are something which get ‘boxed off’ for the weekend – however imagine how much we would do and learn if we could devote all our time to our passions!

You wouldn’t mind long days and hard work if it was something which you were passionate about. Unfortunately, it’s not often our passions will pay well enough for them to become our jobs!

Children, however, have plenty of passion.

They are interested and constantly ask questions and wonder about the world. Imagine if we could harness that power of curiosity and focus it into school!

Ask 30 children what they want to learn about and you’ll get 30 different answers.

However, igniting curiosity leads to passionate engagement; and aren’t schools meant to ignite curiosity and life-long learning anyway?

It’s hard to do that when schools simply tell you each day what you’re going to learn.