Attaining academic results is a significant part of this, but so too is promoting the personal qualities that underpin good learning – and living – habits. Harvard University’s website asks the following of would-be applicants:
“… what choices have you made for yourself and why, what about your maturity, warmth, sense of humour, energy, concern for others, grace under pressure, will you stand up to the pressures and freedoms of college life, would other students want to share a room with you, share a meal, be in a seminar together, be teammates, collaborate on a tightly knit project?”
The answers to these questions do not really concern exam results or “grade point averages”. Rather they point to the habits of mind, and the actions and behaviours to which these lead, that make someone a success in life, a joy to be around and a pleasure to work with.
The ICHK Approaches to Learning, on which we report specifically twice a year, give students feedback in respect to some of these habits of mind: their attitude to challenge, resilience and motivation, attitude to feedback and advice, organization, initiative and decision-making, ability to work independently and with others, self-regulation and contribution to class.
In assessing Approaches to Learning, we always remind ourselves that students’ performances are closely tied to their sense of confidence and energy, which is why ongoing, honest conversations about personal welfare and motivation are central to individual success. The link between emotional wellbeing and academic achievement is becoming increasingly clear, which is why it guides so much of what we do as a school.