When you set an activity, or tell a story, or show a video to help a child learn one of the inevitable consequences is that they will devote some of their thinking to extraneous matters. Some of these are difficult to avoid. Feeling hungry. The argument you had with your mate. The fact that the room is too cold or too hot.
The other ‘unwanted’ diversions can come from the task itself. Recently Twitter was ablaze with postergate. Whether posters were sometimes a distraction or a device to essentially keep children busy rather than to help them learn. Of course any technique can be used for good or bad in terms of supporting of distracting from learning. I have my own view, supported by observing poster-lessons in a number of schools. It is very easy to set the task of creating a poster and have children spend a great deal of time and thought on aspects that are not related to the content of the poster.
A poster is essentially a display device whose job is to attract so that the ‘reader’ can be informed. The problem is that the attractiveness can take over so very easily. Children know that attractive posters matter. They are right. It is an important feature of a poster. But while they are thinking about how to make a poster that does attract attention they are not also spending that time thinking about the information on the poster. Presumably, the information is that which is to be learned and so needs to have the maximum thinking allocated to it.
That for me is the point missed by those who tweeted their ire about the fact that creating a posters *could* be a valuable learning device. True but how easy is it to get children to focus on the intended learning when they are also trying to create an attractive poster?
The form of the work that children are asked to put their work into; A poem, a poster, a display or whatever has its own challenges. If a child is utterly familiar with making a poster then they can spend more time thinking about the learning. If they struggle to create a poem is that struggle to do with what is to be learned or to do with the construction of the poem?
Struggle with learning is fine if it causes deeper thinking about the learning NOT if it is a struggle with the format.
For the above poster how much learning is gained by the production of the poster compared to, say, deciding on what information to include without then creating the poster?
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