Friday 12 September 2008

Brochs and things

Sean was telling us all about brochs and motte and bailey castles this morning at breakfast. He was telling us how brochs were built in Scotland and that they had no doors, with only the Scottish people who lived in the broch knowing how to remove the stones that concealed the entrance. In the motte and bailey castles, the lord and lady lived in a tower on top of the mound (the motte) and the peasants occupied the lower, flatter land (the bailey) within the walls. The peasants were paid nothing but received food and lodging for serving the lord and lady. Sometimes attackers shot flaming arrows into the compound and the palisades would catch fire. It was all very informative and it was good to see Sean concentrating hard to recollect what he had been learning at school, people and castles being one of his current topics. He was doing medieval castles yesterday, he said.

This rare insight into his day in the classroom (usual response to what did you do today is "I can't remember" or a vague description of literacy or maths or something he drew) was prompted by me attending an Open Night last night where I got to see his spacious classroom, talk to Mrs. Cameron-Mackintosh, his Dutch teacher, and see the types of work on the curriculum for this year. He's one of the best readers in his class (his recent test suggested a reading age of 9.4 years) and evidently doing well at maths too so it was reassuring to know that the more able children will be pushed to do more, moving on to more advanced texts and exercises once they are ready rather than progressing at the pace of the slowest learner. The facilities today have to be conducive to learning. The classroom has a laptop linked to a projector enabling much richer material to be displayed to the children. They are also able to access resources such as GridClub which the children see as games but which are actually helping them to learn. Undoubtedly our children will be digital natives or Generation Z or whatever social tag is designated to those for whom technology and the Internet have been ever-present in their lives.

I also popped into Finn's pre-school class. He did a fine painting of Sean (with teeth) that is on the wall and seems to have plenty of merit marks for good beahviour but we don't get the same sense of inclusion with the nursery as we did when Sean was based up at Fairmilehead church and we were taking him right into the hall. Finn seems to be enjoying it well enough and he is starting to take an interest in trying to write his letters and reading the odd word.

No comments: