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Transforming Learning Capacity - the art of the possible

Updated: Apr 25

by Rebecca Thomas




“The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take its aim at the development of these hidden possibilities.” - Maria Montessori


Armed with appropriate dispositions such as:


  • Openness to ideas

  • Questioning restlessness and humility

  • Inventiveness allowing for creativity

  • Persistence and professional courage

  • Emotional stability enabling risk taking

  • Generosity that welcomes difference and diversity

  • Empathy offering mutual supportiveness


It is possible to achieve the ability to lift limits on learning. These skills will serve us well as we enter the era and the conversation of learning loss and disparity.


Wrapped around these temperaments there are four principles that will help you create the climate of growth that may be needed as we put one foot in front of each other: Trust, co-agency, everybody, and unpredictability.


Unpack, discover, and define what these words mean to you in your kura to help calm the waters as we re-engage next term.


Everyone brings their own experiences with them when we share socially constructed definitions such as these. Below are ways you could define the principles that can help transform the limits (internal and external) we may place on learning.


Trust: Trust in colleagues’ capacity to learn and develop their practice in ways that will enhance learning capacity without being told what to do or think by:


- Active support and encouragement at leadership level

- Allowing them time and space to try new ideas

- Support and encouragement

- Permission to try new approaches and take risks


Co-agency: Acceptance of colleagues as active thinkers and learners in their own right:


- Exposure to others practice and thinking

- Co-planning

- Co-teaching

- Observations

- Sharing of ideas

- Self-evaluation

- Cooperative groups

- Thinking together

- Preparing presentations to share their learning


Everybody: Learning is at its most powerful when it is a social and collective experience in which everyone can take part and to which everyone contributes.


- Create groups where people can come together to share learning, ideas and practices

- Create learning communities through setting collaborative tasks

- Mutual support and sharing of ideas

- Position ourselves alongside (not in opposition) to find common ground by sharing concerns for learning, progress and wellbeing of children


Unpredictability: The power of the present to affect the future, awareness that the future is in the making in the present. Present success tells us something about the past, about prior experiences; it does not, and cannot predict the future.


- Find ways to oppose and lift limits that have hindered development thus far, and create learning conditions that are more enabling


Some of these ideas may be the tonic we need as we move forward into the future. Nurture these principles to create conditions where everyone has the right to continuously surprise us.


Thank you, Dame Alison Peacock, for your words of wisdom in my life.

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