Monday, March 19, 2012
Stabilisers vs. balance bike...
When my son was about three, rather than getting him a bike with stabilisers we bought him a balance bike. How much fun did he have on that? And the speed he got up to! And the independence! And the freedom... for him and us. It was brilliant. Rough surfaces he scooted over with ease. Slopes were walked up and were simple. And it was quiet. We could go walks with the children and they would whizz ahead on their bikes, scooping up the space ahead of them with gusto. Co-incidentally, one of our friends had also bought my son a balance bike for his birthday, so we had two - which meant one each for the children and my daughter discovered how much fun riding could be as well.
One day, when he was four, we were walking around a lake with him on his scoot bike and my daughter, by now aged 6 and riding a 'proper' bike. Out of curiosity I said to my son, 'do you fancy having a go on her bike?'. 'Yes', he said. And we swapped the children over. I held the saddle, he sat on it. And started to pedal... and that was it. He rode the rest of the way, pedalling happily and never ever fell off once.
My thought this morning was about the way people learn and how it relates to those two different approaches to supporting their learning. The first, provided a rigid scaffold which is then removed. The second, a far more authentic experience of bike riding - attain balance and experience, then move to pedals later. Stabilisers present the bike as a given, and then add on the metal struts and wheels to support it. A balance bike strips back the experience of learning a bike to the most important bits - getting your balance and feeling the freedom of riding.
I'm wondering whether scaffolding students' learning is the wrong approach.
I'm wondering whether we're approaching things by saying 'this is the whole and I want you to get there... I'll support you en route' rather than 'this is how it truly feels to be competent in this area, I'm going to light that fire of enjoyment which gets you to take it further'.
This really is just half a thought. I just wanted to record it before it slipped away. Does any of what I've written strike a chord with anyone? Or even vaguely make sense?