The Learning Rainforest
A deep dive into ‘The Learning Rainforest’
On Tuesday, 10 September 2019, we were privileged to host Tom Sherrington, the author of ‘The Learning Rainforest’. Tom’s work has been the focus of our collective study during our staff professional development session this year. He trained initially as a physics teacher and has worked as a teacher and head teacher in a wide range of school contexts in the UK and Indonesia. He now spends his time as an education consultant focusing on teacher development, school improvement, assessment and curriculum design.
Using the metaphor of a rainforest, he provides a blueprint for powerful learning - the kind which sets our students up for greater possibilities and exploration. His book captures different elements of our understanding and experience of the art and science of teaching.
Each tree in a forest has three interconnected components that are necessary for its existence:
• a root system tapping into a nutrient-rich soil providing the conditions for healthy growth; the nurturing environment in which each individual feels they belong and has their basic needs met.
• a solid trunk providing the structure that allows the tree to reach great heights before branching off; this represents knowledge in all its forms.
• a canopy of leaves spreading out in different directions, responding to the motivational stimulus of sunlight; the range of ambitions and learning possibilities.
It was wonderful to etch time out of our busy calendar for staff to engage with current educational research and Barak Rosenshine’s “Principles of Instruction”. These principles are widely recognised for their clarity and simplicity and their potential to support teachers engaging with cognitive science and the wider world of pedagogic theory.
Tom and Mr Lester Lalla then made their way down to Cape Town to present papers at the ResearchEd Conference, hosted by Bishops, where thought leaders in education presented new thinking about education and educational practice.