Learning Dispositions at Knighton House
We think a great deal about how our pupils learn rather what they learn, at Knighton House, and so the summer term got underway, as in previous terms, with tasks to reflect on the learning disposition of optimism.
The first part of the morning was devoted to a task called ‘My Best Possible Self’, the idea being for girls to think to their future, imagining, in an ideal world, what they might be doing and the character strengths they would need to realise this best self. Girls worked from an example, but the range of their plans was a reminder of how deeply engaged they are with the world and how well they are beginning to understand their strengths.
‘I want to help people in hospitals by making versions of real organs to do the same job to keep people alive. The people won’t need to donate organs and more lives can be saved in this way because not everyone wants to donate organs. To do this job I will need to be resilient to keep going when things go wrong.’
‘In 15 years’ time I will be starting a riding club called MDRA (Mental Disabilities Riding Association). I will be helping people with mental disabilities to have a happier/easier life and give stress/anger relief. My future self will need many character strengths and abilities to succeed and I will need to push myself to believe that this will work, and people will benefit.’
‘In twenty years’ time I will lead an expedition to the wreckage of the R.M.S. Titanic. To make the expedition successful I will need determination in case the wreck is hard to find, optimism to be able to think positively about how deep down the wreck would be, perhaps up to 4km/2.5 miles, and resilience in case we come back time and time again with nothing.’
There were several other tasks to extend their understanding of this important disposition, but the central message of the day was all about practical optimism: dreaming, planning, and having the highest hopes of the future was what we all understood optimism to epitomise, but it was only by taking practical steps that our ambitions would ever be realised. In the words of a would-be Knighton House medic: ‘I will need to study very hard in Science and I will probably need a degree in Science too.