Teaching for Independence – inspired by David Didau

David Didau has just posted an interesting article on teaching for independence. I wonder if David realizes that this is just what we do in design & technology. The Nuffield D&T Project saw this in terms of two sorts of related task. The major task was called a capability task which involves pupils designing and making a product that meets the needs of a particular user or group of users. Such tasks are very challenging and take several weeks at two lessons a week to complete. If such tasks are not to be daunting and lead to failure it’s important that pupils have the opportunity to acquire knowledge, understanding and skills that are likely to be useful in tackling the capability task. This learning opportunity is provided by resource tasks. By introducing the capability task as an initial activity and then exploring with pupils the learning they need to be successful through resource tasks pupils are prepared to tackle a capability task independently. The role of the teacher changes as she/he moves from teaching resource tasks to teaching a capability task. In the former the teacher is almost in the role of instructor, in the latter in the role of consultant or guide with the emphasis on helping the pupil use what they have learned. As pupils tackle the resource tasks there are two key questions – a) what have you learned and b) how might this be useful when you are tackling the capability task. Of course there are opportunities to encourage independence in resource task learning but a requirement to demand it with appropriate support in capability task learning. In the capability task pupils both develop capability which requires independence and  reveal the extent of their capability i.e what they can do with what they have learned.  There’s lot’s more about this in the Nuffield Teacher Guide on this site as well as lots of capability tasks and resource tasks.


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