Learning to Learn

All students have the potential to learn. To do their best, however, they must also ‘learn how to learn’.

At Haileybury, our unique education programs set students up to be independent learners who can make the most of the information and tasks they are given.

Our Explicit Teaching Model ensures that Junior School students retain and make the most of knowledge and skills acquired in class. Our Parallel Education Model, which sees older boys and girls take most classes separately, encourages independent learning with minimal distractions.

In a recent Educational Leadership article, The Learning Agency’s Ulrich Boser says many teens today lack effective learning skills, which they need more than ever. Mr Boser and his colleagues have found several strategies helpful to Middle and Senior School students.

These include clear explanations, promoting the importance of staying focused, ensuring material makes sense, looking beyond the obvious, embracing feedback, awareness of feelings and self-reflection.

Good explanations involve testing oneself or explaining material, so that it makes sense to another person. Classroom quizzes can help reinforce memories and identify problem areas.

Focusing is not always easy for teens, but it is important for them to avoid technological distractions while studying. Teachers should also encourage students to ask themselves whether material makes sense, as they can tend to be overconfident and may lack the self-awareness to do this.

Looking beyond the obvious involves seeking exploring concepts, connections, and underlying structure. Comparing and contrasting can help.

Feedback is always important, so teenagers, who can be reluctant, should be encouraged to seek it from peers and adults. They should also be aware of how hormonal changes can affect them and how simple acts such as meditation, counting to 10 before acting and taking short breaks during intense work can help.

Finally, self-reflection is a useful tool that students can use to achieve and improve.

In another article, the University of Virginia’s Carol Ann Tomlinson describes adolescents as both cocky and terrified. She says teenagers may think they know everything and crave adult privileges, but they really don’t know a lot yet and still yearn for their parents’ protection.

Drawing on the work of education research leader Max van Manen, Ms Tomlinson says adults need to embrace their teenagers, know them and respect who they are and might become.

She says teens need classrooms where they feel seen, known, appreciated, challenged and supported. They also need leadership modelled and trust developed.

As well as guiding them academically, teachers must help students to see the poetry and drama of their lives and guide them to explore the evolving world around them.

All of this is increasingly important amid growing concern about a 20-year decline in Australian 15-year-olds’ Literacy and Numeracy performance.

CEO | Principal Mr Derek Scott says Haileybury students have defied this trend and perform incredibly well in national testing, placing the School in the top few nationally at Junior and Middle School level.

Mr Scott says schools must constantly reinforce the importance of hard work, which Haileybury does through its leading education programs. “The phrase ‘I can succeed if I try very hard’ is one that needs to be reinforced at every opportunity both at school and at home,” he says.


Learning to Learn: Tips for Teens and Their Teachers by Ulrich Boser in Educational Leadership, May 2019 (Vol. 76, #8, p. 70-73, 78), https://bit.ly/2JwWzjp

Being a Guiding Light Teens Need by Carol Ann Tomlinson in Educational Leadership, May 2019 (Vol. 76, #8, p. 88-89), https://bit.ly/2w8aKTs