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:
- Meadows, S. A. C. (2010) The Child as Social Person. Abingdon: Routledge.
- Pollard, A. with Filer, A. (1996) The Social World of Children’s Learning, London: Cassell.
- Brooker, L. (2002) Starting School. Young Children Learning Cultures, Buckingham: Open University Press.
- Tizard, B. and Hughes, M. (1989) Young Children Learning, London: Fontana.
- Grant, D. (1989) Learning Relations, London: Routledge.
- Brice Heath, S. (1983). Ways With Words: Language, Life and Work in Communities and Classrooms. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- Lareau, A. (1989). Home Advantage. London, Falmer Press.
Gonzalez, N., & Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (Eds.). (2005). Funds of knowledge:
Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms, Mahwah, NJ:
There are many insightful books on the relationships between homes, schools and children’s learning.
- Crozier, G. (2000) Parents and Schools: Partners or Protagonists? Stoke‑on‑Trent: Trentham.
- Crozier, G. and Reay, D. (2005) Activating Participation: Parents and Teachers Working Towards Partnership, Stoke on Trent: Trentham.
- Quinn, J. (2011) Learning Communities and Imagined Social Capital. London: Bloomsbury.
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:
- Hampson, S.E. (1988) The Construction of Personality: An Introduction, London: Routledge.
- Wolff, S. (1989) Childhood and Human Nature: The Development of Personality, London: Routledge.
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.
- Hewitt, D. (2008) Understanding Effective Learning: Strategies for the Classroom, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
- Pritchard, A. (2005) Ways of Learning: Learning Theories and Learning Styles In the Classroom, London: David Fulton.
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:
- Dweck, C. S. (2006) Mindset. The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine. (Reading 2.6)
- Holt, J. (1967) How Children Learn, London: Penguin.
- Gilbert, I. (2002) Essential Motivation in the Classroom, London: RoutledgeFalmer.
- Covington, M.V. (1998) The Will to Learn: A Guide for Motivating Young people, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Dornyei, Z. and Ushioda, E. (2011) Teaching and Researching Motivation. Abingdon: Taylor and Francis.
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.
- Deackin Crick, R., Stringher, C. & Ren, K. (Eds) (2014) Learning to Learn: International perspectives from theory and practice. Abingdon: Routledge.
- Fisher, R. (2008) Teaching Thinking: Philosophical Enquiry in the Classroom. London: Continuum. (Reading 2.7)
- Lucas, B., Maker, J. and Cave, D. (2004) Thinking Skills and Problem-Solving - An Inclusive Approach, London: David Fulton.
- McGregor, D. (2007) Developing Thinking; Developing Learning: A Guide to Thinking Skills in Education, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
- Claxton, G. (2002) Building Learning Power: Helping Young People Become Better Learners. Bristol: The Learning Organisation (TLO). (Reading 2.9)
- Deakin Crick, R. (2006) Learning Power in Practice, London: Paul Chapman.
- Larkin, S. (2010) Metacognition in Young Children. Abingdon: Routledge.
- James, M., Black, P., Carmichael, P., Conner, C., Dudley, P., Fox, A., Frost, D., Honour, L., MacBeath, J., McCormick, R., Marshall, B., Pedder, D., Proctor, R., Swaffield, S. and Wiliam, D. (2006) Learning How to Learn: Tools For Schools. London: Routledge. (Reading 2.8)