Young People Shout Out

Posted in Blog, News by EE Team with No Comments

Feb2012 21

A recent study by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University has raised the question of whether ‘shouting out’ in class may help students to learn. The CEM study, where 12,000 students were observed in 556 schools across the UK, found that students who blurted out answers were more likely to achieve higher test results in Maths and English.

These results have sparked curiosity, since they appear to contradict the typical portrait of an ‘ideal’ student, who works quietly and assiduously at the desk. The CEM report also challenges the assumed connection between ‘loud’ students, disruptive behaviour and poor educational attainment. Surprise, surprise – being loud may actually be beneficial in the classroom.

So how should we interpret this evidence? The connection between ‘blurting’ and better grades is not difficult to deduce. ‘Blurting’ is usually a characteristic of excitable and energetic students. When directed towards classroom learning, this energy can engage and focus the mind, boost determination and perhaps facilitate a deeper understanding of the subject area.

Although the conclusion ‘engaged students are successful students’ may seem self-evident, this report may have much wider implications, especially when the focus is diverted away from individual characteristics towards the mode of communication itself. As a form of spontaneous vocalisation, the activity of ‘blurting out’ may in fact create a more stimulated and engaged mind-set, which could provide a natural boost to learning. Could vocalisation be used to develop more productive teaching methods and benefit a wider range of students? In answer to this question, CEM’s Director of Research and Development, Ms Merrell, has already expressed an interest in researching how ‘shouting out’ could be formally integrated into the classroom.

Some may balk at the idea of encouraging students to shout out in class. Surely this is a recipe for chaos? Evidently, more research is needed before the impact of ‘vocalised’ learning can be fully assessed, let alone effectively implemented in schools. Nonetheless, the CEM report is a promising step, especially for educational innovators who wish to harness the potential of interactive learning environments.

So what benefits lie in the active process of vocalising ideas, which cannot be attained in the more passive process of reading silently from a textbook? Vocalisation brings an idea into our own sphere, enabling us to participate directly in the knowledge being imparted to us. Voicing an idea requires us to take initiative and ownership in the process of learning. Through speech, we create something new, which is directly relevant to us. The idea becomes ours, since we have translated it into our own language. When something belongs to you, you are reluctant to let it go. Perhaps the same is also true for education.

After attending a ‘Day in Politics’ at Draper’s Academy in Essex, I started to appreciate the importance of using your voice. At Enabling Enterprise, we embrace a ‘learning by doing’ approach by developing innovative educational programmes, based on project work and enterprise, which provide young people with the skills, experiences and aspirations to succeed. ‘A Day in Politics’, designed by EE’s Edventuring team, was designed to teach students about politics by allowing them to participate in the democratic process. After a morning of debate and discussion, the students formed their very own political parties, ready to compete in a hotly contested hustings.

The day was buzzing with energy from start to finish. I enjoyed seeing how much the students engaged with the activities and the rewards they gained from these new experiences. The day gave them a platform to discuss issues of interest and share their personal views within an educational framework. In other words, they used their own voices, which is what democracy is all about after all! One teacher commented on how fantastic it was to see his Year 7s communicate and gain confidence in their own voices. Even students who were not used to speaking openly in class were now stepping up to express themselves.

Although the public frequently complains about political apathy amongst young people, a ‘Day in Politics’ proved otherwise. Young people have views, but they cannot vocalise, develop and claim ownership of them in environments which are silent and closed to discussion.

Let’s make some noise!

Written by Beth Price

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