#ImLearning: Celebrating children’s learning during Covid, by Dr Caroline Palmer and Kathryn Pratt

[This article was originally published on Age of Awareness which is Medium’s largest publication dedicated to education reform.]

Join the #Imlearning movement and showcase kids’ learning to squash the “covid gap” narrative

With the assumption that only measurable, National Curriculum-based learning is important, the government has identified, and publicised, a ‘covid gap’ in learning. To get to this conclusion, the government has, essentially, asked: ‘How much of the National Curriculum has been learned during COVID?’.

Even without data and statistics, it is clear that children and young people will have swallowed less of the National Curriculum set topics, designed to be delivered in school, simply because they haven’t been in school. Teachers and school staff continue to make a huge effort to rapidly set-up and deliver effective remote learning. With access to the digital world and parent time limited for many, maintaining National Curriculum attainment rates simply hasn’t been, and isn’t, possible.

In concluding that there has been a loss of National Curriculum learning, the government has assumed lost learning as a whole. Consequently, they are cementing plans to rapidly fill children’s reported ‘covid gap’ of lost learning with “catch-up” schemes, involving an education ‘Tsar’ and more time in school.

We think the government has asked the wrong question. We ask:

What are the children learning during COVID?

We want you to share what your children ARE learning, so that the government and the world can see the diversity of subjects and ways in which children learn. We want to shout about and celebrate children and young people’s learning achievements despite being in a pandemic.

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#ImLearning to mix colours, spot patterns in nature & express myself through art #Creativity. Photo credit: Caroline Palmer

We think that the break in National Curriculum, school-based learning may have provided an opportunity for children to learn and explore far beyond it. Released from the rigidity of the system, perhaps children of all age groups have explored, created and developed in ways the government hasn’t measured. Children have likely learned dynamically and diversely, in a way that has delightfully fosters the 21st century skills so desperately needed in our education system and beyond. Moreover, they may have had an opportunity to express and explore their unique interests, passions and talents, paving the way for generating a diversely-skilled future workforce and the foundation of innovation and creativity.

After likely the most challenging year of their, and our, lives, we want to celebrate the kids. Looking ahead, the kids need fun, play, community, connections, friends and family, creativity and exploration.

They need learning freedom and bucket loads of support. So let’s start.

Here’s what you can do:

Join the #ImLearning movement to showcase and celebrate our children’s learning, in all shapes and sizes.

The children have no doubt mastered Zoom (#technologicalliteracy, #socialskills), are able to troubleshoot internet connection issues (#problemsolving), find entertainment in the cupboard under the stairs (#creativity), and navigate the massive upheaval in their life with immense grit and understanding (#emotionalliteracy, #communication). They may have learned to look after their needs a little better while you were on work calls (#Initiative #independence).

On social media, write a post about what your child has learned or is learning and use #ImLearning.

Also hashtag # 21st Century skills e.g.

Critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, information literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity and social skills.

Use these Twitter hashtags and @ to increase the visibility of your post:

#ImLearning @BorisJohnson #21stCenturySkills #EdReform #beyondNatCurric @educationgovuk @GavinWilliamson #education

You can also tag us on twitter @cvppalmer and @kathsoweni so we can help amplify and celebrate your child’s learning.

We encourage you to ask your child’s permission to share their learning nugget and photos. We suggest you consider sharing photos only if your child’s face is not visible or easily identifiable.

Kathryn Pratt is an educator, parent and founder of Soweni (Soweni.com), a social enterprise project which reimagines education.

Caroline Palmer is a freelance writer, editor (www.flourishlife.co.uk), scientist and parent.

Read the first part of three articles encouraging a different approach to learning and calling for education reform: Challenging the damaging ‘Covid gap’ narrative