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Brian Hinchco: Middle schooling philosophy

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Brian Hinchco, President of NZAIMS, discusses the philosophy of middle schooling – young people being agents of their own learning and engaged, authentically, in that learning.

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.

In this interview, Brian Hinchco states that:

"We would hope and trust that what defines middle schooling in NZ is:

  • a passion for inquiry learning
  • a passion for education outside of the classroom
  • activities that engage young people in meaningful service with the community."

Consider this statement in your own school context. As a school, where are you at now? How could you get to a place where your school environment was effectively supporting middle school learners? 

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A range of factors impact on how well students relate to and are engaged by what they are learning at school. This resource has relevant research, discussion questions, tools, and school stories that address the engagement of middle school students.

Transcript

I'm Brian Hinchco, the president of NZAIMS, which is the NZ Association of Intermediate and Middle Schooling.

So as we have developed from being an association of intermediate schools (years 7 and 8) into an association that supports middle schooling, we have had to support a change in philosophy and a change in direction. In particular, we are looking at any school structure that engages, authentically, young people in years 7-10. We are looking for a belief in the young people being agents of their own learning and being engaged in that learning. So it has required us to do quite a degree of research into what engages and holds the interest of young people. We would hope and trust that what defines middle schooling in NZ is:

  • a passion for inquiry learning
  • a passion for education outside of the classroom
  • activities that engage young people in meaningful service with the community.

We are not ignoring the importance of academic achievement and literacy/numeracy but we are also very conscious that it is a little too easy to disengage from schooling if you, as a young learner, don't believe you have a student's voice or a sense of ownership of the learning you are doing.

So as an association we have been supporting the gathering of research around that. We have been working with our members through conferences and workshops. We have been inviting guests out to speak with us from America and England around the themes of 'what makes authentic middle schooling happen that engages young people in developing an understanding of themselves as citizens and as being democratically involved in the processes of education'.

This is quite fundamentally different from say middle schooling being a label that is put onto a building or a sense that by putting all year 7-10 students together somehow middle schooling will magically occur. It's about changing pedagogy. It's about changing timetables. It's about changing school structures that allow young people to take on social issues that they believe are important, have real ownership of their learning and, from that, develop the skills, attributes and dispositions they need to become well connected learners as the NZC asks.


Published on: 31 Aug 2010


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