Is ‘independence’ a sign of progress?
Twenty something years ago, as a new teacher, I was ‘sent’ on a course. To be honest, I wasn’t too bothered about what the course was going to be about. I was, however, really looking forward to an afternoon out of school – a bit of respite from the hectic life of a newly qualified teacher.
Little did I know that the course would be one of the most influential and useful in my career. It was about higher order thinking skills. It helped me to understand that depth of learning is the main factor in making progress – something that never worked well with national curriculum levels, whereby we were asked to race through the levels in the name of progress.
One thing that I learned on that afternoon was that ‘independent’ doesn’t mean without help. Instead it means thinking for ones-self. In other words, independent thinking rather than independent action. I learned that independent action could be thought of as ‘compliance’ whereas independent thinking could be thought of as ‘consideration’.
I have noticed that some schools that use the word independent as a measure of progress actually mean that pupils are acting without help rather than thinking without help. I wonder if these pupils are really making progress?