Nurture, nature and agency

A great deal is known about the social and cultural factors which impact on children’s opportunity to learn in different contexts.

The influence of culture and language on children’s learning and also their relationship with the development of children’s learning disposition, or the ways in which children engage with learning, is fascinating. The importance of children’s home culture and approaches to learning that they bring with them to school is key:

There are many insightful books on the relationships between homes, schools and children’s learning.

Hampson provides a good introduction to personality, whilst Wolff offers an account of the development of personality drawing on the perspectives of children and parents:

Hewitt offers an evidence-based exploration of learning styles and strategies, and Pritchard explores the theories underpinning learning styles and how to plan opportunities for learning.

Interesting ideas about the role of motivation are offered by Dweck and Holt. Gilbert guides the reader through theories of learning and offering 'seven keys' to motivation. Covington argues against the idea that many students are not motivated and demonstrates how teachers can tune into children's desire to learn:

Once children start to attend school, and as they progress through their school years, the challenge to think and learn in more formal ways increases, necessitating a new degree of self-awareness of the processes and practices which enhance their capacity to learn. A body of research has developed which explores how to support children in learning how to become increasingly good at learning.  

For an overview of the much debated issues of ‘learning how to learn’ see Deackin Crick et al (Eds). Lucas et al offer a practical approach to discovering and developing thinking skills and problem solving, while McGregor suggests practical ways of developing thinking skills. Claxton and Deakin Crick concentrate on how to enable children to develop their 'learning power'. James et al have developed a great set of in-service resources, based on their research, for formative assessment, assessment for learning and classroom conditions for promoting learning how to learn.