Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!

We are very pleased to feature a guest writer this evening. Freya, an experienced teacher, kindly sent us an article she has written about a book which was mentioned on previous threads. 

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! How do you encourage your children to think?

I have been lucky enough to have been taking part in an amazing teaching programme which really encourages us, as practitioners, to think about how we teach. Sounds simple, but it has really tested me and made me realise, what am I doing to encourage my children to think?

Yes I can teach them addition, how to count, write in beautiful handwriting, but what am I doing to ensure they are life long learners who will question and test everything they are ‘told’?

Being a lover of books, I was drawn to remember a wonderful book by Dr Seuss called Hooray for Diffendoofer Day. A quick synopsis of the story is the children are taught to think and they love learning. They are taught by wonderfully eccentric teachers, leading to all the children loving attending the school! When presented with the standardised test, the children don’t panic, they know they are equip with the skills to approach questions, even completely new ones, because they have been taught and encouraged to think, rather than the skill of taking a test.

With all this in mind, I have tried ensure I teach the children in my class to think and question. I will ask them questions which encourage them to think about the ordinary in an unusual way. For example (this has been my favourite so far), “what colour is Tuesday?” At first, the children answered ‘red ‘coz it’s in red writing Miss’, but once they were given time for thought and discussion the answers were MUCH better. One child answered, “I think Tuesday is a rose pink, lemon yellow and standing out green because I think Tuesday is a joyful day.” Other answers followed: ” I think Tuesday is orange because Monday is a sleepy day and by Tuesday everything is waking up”. Now it may not sound much, but for children who are always trying to give the ‘right’ answers and are scared of being wrong, I was blown away. This is something I now do on a weekly basis with my children and they are much more inquisitive and will happily argue and discuss their ideas. It has had a positive impact across the curriculum.

I actively encourage my children to think, rather than just be passive learners and I am very excited about having my new class in September to see how far I can push them, and how far they will push themselves, to ‘think’.