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Philosophy of Learning

Our thinking behind the philosophy of learning at St. John’s is always evolving as we (as teachers and leaders) are continuously learning. At the forefront of our minds when planning our curriculum and teaching and learning, at present are two metaphors:

St John’s is a ‘mind gym’

St John’s is a ‘learning rainforest’


The theory behind this thinking is explained below:

St John’s is a ‘mind gym’


This thinking comes from Professor Guy Claxton’s  ‘Learning Power Approach - teaching learners to teach themselves’. 


We agree that educators can explicitly teach not just content, knowledge and skills, but also the positive habits of mind that will better prepare students to flourish both in school and later in life. These habits of mind enable our children to flourish at St. John’s, in secondary school and beyond - they are habits of ‘lifelong learners’.


Guy Claxton’s thinking about the elements of the ‘Orchestra of Learning Powers’ is always evolving as he carries out new research. His current version, which we use as a basis of our planning, has eight sections, with several instruments in each:

Building Learning Power is an approach to helping young people to become better learners, both in school and out.


-Professor Guy Claxton

Learning Orchestera.jpg
The Learning Powered Classroom.jpg

Through thinking of these habits as ‘learning muscles’, we believe that, just as we build up our physical muscles with exercise, we can exercise our ‘learning muscles’ to develop their strength and stamina.  We believe by doing this, our pupils will be more curious, more willing to take risks and be more imaginative and creative, more thoughtful and able to learn with and from others. Our classrooms can then be considered as ‘mind gyms’, with topics within our curriculum seen as ‘exercise machines’ and teachers seen as ‘mind-coaches’. 


St John’s is a ‘learning rainforest’

This metaphor comes from Tom Sherrington’s thinking about establishing the right ‘conditions’ for learning in the foundations of the rainforest, building strong ‘trunks’ of knowledge, which can then be explored through a ‘canopy’ of learning experiences.

The Learning Rainforest.jpg
St JOHN's Pivotal Pillars.jpg

At St. John’s we establish our ‘conditions’ for learning through our ‘5 Pivotal Pillars’ which are rooted in our Christian Values. 


The Big Question

Every Tuesday in Collective Worship, the school joins together to share our thoughts and opinions on a chosen philosophical topic.  This gives an opportunity for children to develop not only their speaking and listening skills, but to structure their discussion and debating techniques using sentence openers such as:

From my point of view...

I would stay that...

I share your view...

I have come to the same conclusion...

Speaking personally...

In that case...

I disagree with...

I think otherwise...

In my opinion..

I think...

I agree wtih...

Big Question

BIG Q Archive

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