Our delegation continued on its second full day of meetings and visitations in Dublin, Ireland, culminating in a visit today to the St Patrick Natural School , a Catholic Primary School, and Le Cheile Secondary School (A School with No Books) yesterday following a “Setting the Stage” meeting with the Minister of Education who shared the vision for education in Ireland focused on educating the “whole child” rather than the rigor of high stakes testing.
“…Students must be at the center of the educational experience , enabling them to actively participate in their communities and society, and to be resourceful and confident learners in all aspects and stages of their lives.”
This plan for students is wrapped around 8 Key Skills that establish the foundation for success for all students and teachers in the Teaching and Learning Process. Through processes that include continuous professional development (CPD), technology will ultimately be embedded in all curricular areas, and students will be able to access digital resources both during the school day as well as after school hours. It is believed that “books become crutches for teachers and stifle their creativity” according to the principal of Le Cheile Secondary School, ” and books are only one view of the syllabus”…therefore, all resources, to include Teacher or student created, will be readily available through the web, cloud, and Learning Management Systems.
We observed engaged learners utilizing iPads, laptops, interactive white boards, and android tablets in classrooms facilitated by energized teachers who were grateful for such tools as Kahoot, Google Drive, Scratch, Skype, to name a few. Collaboration, creation, active learning, problem solving are the norm despite the over arching challenges of lack of infrastructure capacity, technical support to keep devices working, updated equipment, and ongoing funding support for sustained Professional Development.
It is always a great day when we have the privilege of seeing and listening to the sounds of “active learning” !!