High Performance Learning - How Great Learners Behave - ‘Being Agile’

Curiosity is what gets people interested in learning and children are born with a great deal of it. But children also need to learn to think independently and develop their own views while remaining open-minded enough to hear those of others. They need to be smart in the way they learn things and know not to rely on the same techniques. So your children and teenagers need to be able to multitask with differing approaches to learning where necessary. And they need to learn how to take considered risks in their learning and decision-making or they will find it hard to make the leap to high performance.

There is a set of four attitudes in learning that relate to being intellectually agile. Being agile is about a desire to learn and an ability to use multiple approaches to achieve good outcomes. They are characteristics that enable a young person to become a more independent learner, and to contribute well in school and in life. 

They consist of being: 

  •   enquiring
  •   creative and enterprising 
  •   open-minded 
  •   risk-taking 
  1. Enquiring 

This is the ability to be: 

  •   curious 
  •   proactive 
  •   keen to learn 
  •   willing to work alone 
  •   enterprising and independent of thought 
  •   challenging of assumptions and requiring evidence for assertions
  •   able actively to control your own learning. 

The child or teenager who has an enquiring mind is going to be good at learning. Curiosity is at the heart of all learning and is a key motivator to learning success. 

Being willing to work alone matters. It’s important to be able to learn how to concentrate and focus on any work you do, and working alone can be a great way of learning how to do that. It also means you are responsible for the outcomes of whatever you do, which is important to the advanced learner. Being proactive in learning is a desire to learn more – the child who is keen to learn and enterprising around how they do that. 

High performers are independent of thought, they don’t just follow the crowd and believe what the people around them believe. 

  1. Creative and enterprising 

This is the ability to: 

  •   be open-minded and flexible in your thought processes 
  •   demonstrate a willingness to innovate and invent new and multiple solutions to a problem 
  •   adapt your approach according to need
  •   surprise and show originality in your work and so develop a personal style
  •   be resourceful when presented with challenging tasks and problems, using your initiative to find solutions. 

Creative and enterprising works when you: 

  •   encourage your children and teens to experiment with things that interest them 
  •   encourage your children to think of different ways to tackle problems
  •   encourage them to have an open mind. 
  1. Open-minded 

This is the ability to: 

  •   take an objective view of different ideas and beliefs
  •   become more receptive to other ideas and beliefs based on the arguments of others
  •   change ideas should there be compelling evidence to do so. 

Open-mindedness works when: 

  •   different points of view and belief are debated equally
  •   you listen in detail to the views of others
  •   you weigh up whether there is enough evidence to convert to that view. 
  1. Risk-taking 

This is the ability to: 

  •   demonstrate confidence in what you learn and do
  •   experiment with novel ideas and effects
  •   speculate willingly
  •   work in unfamiliar contexts
  •   avoid coming to premature conclusions
  •   tolerate uncertainty. 

Intellectual risk-taking is a higher learning skill. Risk-taking works when children and young people: 

  •   are intellectually confident 
  •   think decision-making through
  •   have enough information to take a considered view. 

‘Great Minds and How to Grow Them’ (Berliner & Eyre) 

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