Headmaster urges pupils to ask the question, "What am I learning?"

At the beginning of a new academic year, it is important to emphasise that the most important thing that happens in any school is learning. We must also be mindful of that fact that, at RHS, learning is never restricted by the walls of a classroom.

I'd like to develop this theme a little further and suggest that to you, our pupils, it is fundamental for you to be constantly asking yourselves this question regularly What am I learning?

If this seems unnecessarily obvious to you, I recommend you ask yourself this question after every academic lesson, instrumental lesson, drama rehearsal or sports practice. What is it that you were meant to be learning during that period of time? I am sure there will be occasions when you cannot answer this question; if you find yourself in this situation; seek the clarification you need from your teacher, tutor or sports coach. I am sure our Director of Music, Mr. Saunders, would be able to draw the distinction between playing the piano and practising the piano. Similarly, there is a difference between doing practice papers for an exam and seeking to learn how to do the questions on a paper which one currently isnt able to do. There is a difference between running around with a rugby or hockey ball, and practising skills or planned moves for a team. Theres a difference between completing a leadership task or a Duke of Edinburgh expedition, and learning from it. In each case, focusing on and knowing the intended learning outcome is really important.

When pupils do a practice exam, paying special attention to the questions they cant do, looking up the answers and the method and practising lots of similar questions, their marks go up. If they simply complete lots of past papers without considering why, their marks may go up, but they wont go up by much.

A pupil who turns up for a rugby practice, simply to run around like a headless chicken, probably wont get much better. One who simply plays their way through pieces of music repeatedly, wont get much better either. Practice is repeating small segments of a piece that are found difficult; until they are played exactly as desired.

I am convinced that a large number of you see the learning activities of your school day as things to get through: lessons, sports practices, activities, drama and music rehearsals. Viewing such activities in this way deafens the participant to the learning that can and should be taking place. Instead, I urge you all to be alive to what teachers call, the intended learning outcome. I want all of you to accept that the habit of asking what am I learning? is one you can master and which might assist you making your school experiences more profitable.

In closing, make sure you are fully engaged in the learning process and commit yourself to a range of activities – both inside and outside the classroom – that stretch your talents and expand your horizons.