I have been recently asked to summarise my learning and thinking about Mantle of the Expert in the context of completing the 18 month English NEU Mantle of the Expert course. Alongside this, our school has been designated a training school for Mantle of the Expert and so I am putting together information to help those who we train, including new staff members.
This requires thinking about how Mantle of the Expert fits into our school curriculum, which of course it does very much. But how do I go about explaining that thinking.
Our school values are: Love, Courage and Respect. We have spent three years working on embedding those values not only by referring to them on school documents or posters on the wall but living them, teaching them, exploring them and reflecting on them. I have come to believe that having a values driven school is extremely important. We actively love each member of our community and actively seek to champion and love those who may be harder to love than others – this includes colleagues, governors, neighbours, parents and of course, children (last in the list because they tend to be the easiest to love). We are tasked with courageous learning, living, leading and teaching. We want to take real risks with our curriculum because we want to make it real, important and valuable to our children – and our community. Finally, everything we do, we must do with respect for one another. You may disagree with me about the value of values in this sense but to me, they are vital for ethical and moral teaching and leading.
We have talked about learning behaviours throughout this year. The ones we have chosen are: Imagination, Independence, Resilience, Collaboration, Compassion, Inquisitiveness. They are not as embedded as our values but our learning journeys will reflect these throughout the next year. In the context of Mantle of the Expert it is easy to see how children can use all of those learning behaviours in their learning.
Community Justice Relationships Creation Stewardship Representation Empathy Migration Evolution Adaptation Diversity Democracy Civilisation Trade Power Legacy Change Truth.
These concepts sit above our curriculum and provide the cross curricular links. Having an understanding of these concepts and their differing subject specific definitions will help us to make curriculum links. They also provide a common language to explore big concepts that the world is struggling with. One cursory glance through our national newspapers will tell you that we struggle as a nation with many of these.
Mantle of the Expert
And so, to Mantle of the Expert. Our curriculum is informed by the above thinking and delivered using Mantle of the Expert. When planning contexts to explore, the above values, behaviours and concepts are useful. When acting as a team, what values are important to us? What is going to inform our decisions? What happens when we passionately disagree with each other? (see the blog post about the Martian criminal) How are we going to behave and, can we apply that learning in our own lives.
Mantle of the Expert allows for space in the curriculum to explore all of this is a safe, high stakes, low threat environment.