The Importance of Novelty

One of the things I loved as a class teacher was getting out and about with my class and meeting people who did interesting things.  Having spent most of my life in school I found I needed it as much as the kids.  If we were making a documentary the friend of a friend starting a career as a documentary maker was someone we needed to speak to.  If we were setting up as a team of botanists a trip to the local park was critical for our early research.  We took notebooks and an open mind ready to be inspired, challenged and re-energised for our work back in school. 

Ellen Langer’s research into the mind’s natural determination to wander leads her to conclude that some behaviours identified as symptoms of ADHD are caused by a lack of novelty.  ‘If we see a rosebush along a railroad track, we sit up and take notice.  If we stare at the rosebush long enough eventually we would become habituated to it.’  Novel experiences retain our attention and interest.  They pique a child’s curiosity so that they stay focussed and engaged and in that way time is freed up for learning rather than for managing distracted behaviours. 

A great thing about being a primary school teacher is the flexibility you have around how the curriculum and timetable are organised.  Long term plans and progression documents are critical for ensuring that the National Curriculum is delivered systematically and rigorously, but beyond that there is the freedom to respond with originality to how and what you teach.  A unique group of children, a unique school and a unique moment in history are invitations for you to bring your creativity to the design of unique learning experiences that will keep you and your children deeply engaged.

If you’d like more on the theme of planning a novel curriculum have a look at this short workshop: ‘Finding good ideas without Twinkl‘.  And for more information about other training including the Enlivened Learning Full programme go to the Training page.