Entrevista a Richard Gerver: “Real learning has never happened in books”

Richard Gerver (Londres 1969) fue asesor de política educativa de Tony Blair y Premio Nacional de Enseñanza en su país. Es uno de los más influyentes profesores a nivel mundial. Cuando era director de colegio, convirtió la Grange Primary School, una de las peores de Reino Unido, en un ejemplo de innovación. Gerver ha tenido la deferencia de hablar para nuestro Instituto de la Educación.

What are the benefits of video games for social networks for children?

Many in society tell us that children lack resilience and communication skills yet I would argue that they show extraordinary resilience whilst playing computer games. In my opinion that is because they find the games compulsive, if we design learning so that it has some of the same qualities, our children will show greater levels of resilience. As far as social networks are concerned, they are THE form of communication young people use to stay in touch and collaborate with not only their friends but people all over the world. Our children are natural communicators and collaborators but not necessarily in the forms we would recognise. I often wonder if the generation of parents who witnessed the first telephones said the same thing about their kids! Social networks, used well, have extraordinary potential; just look at the Arab Spring!

Why is homework not useful?

Because most of it is just practice of what children have already studied; it’s boring, repetitive, time consuming and has little about it that lifts the spirit or stimulates interest. It seems to me that most homework is set for the parents benefit not for children’s. Used to keep kids occupied when they get home or to show parents what they are studying at school. There is no evidence I have ever seen that shows that homework has any significant impact on a child’s development; they are even considering banning it in China!

Is the Spanish teaching model too rigid?

It is like many systems; too traditional and still based on the industrial model of routine cognitive development (remembering information and repeating it) rather than the development of interpersonal skills, problem solving, collaboration and entrepreneurship which are the premium skills now seen as desirable by most employers. Education should not be about control but empowerment.

How did you get Grange Primary School to become an example of innovation?

I can’t answer that question quickly, please read my book; Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today. The entire process was about focusing on the development of our students as people and creating learning that was rich in context and experience. Our focus was on developing aspirations and a sense of value, not in just preparing children to take exams.

What are the benefits of education without books?

Real learning has never happened in books; books can be a great source of information and catalyst of ideas but to learn you have to experience. It is the only way you convert information into knowledge.

How can we foster entrepreneurship in young people?

Set them free; encourage them to take risks, fail and learn from their mistakes. Make learning open ended and project based. Allow them to think for themselves.

How can we assess children without exams?

You can’t assess human development in an exam; you do it through observation and interaction. I do believe exams have a place, I wouldn’t ban them altogether, but they should just be one small part of the way we assess student development. Sadly they are seen as the ultimate model and that leads to limited schooling, designed to get children to pass exams not to live successful lives!


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