Girls’ school leaders are so concerned about their pupils’ reluctance to take risks in the classroom that they are encouraging staff to teach some subjects in a foreign language to encourage pupils to believe that making mistakes is acceptable. This is from the Sunday Times…
South Hampstead High School in north London is planning to teach 12-year-olds some humanities subjects in Spanish from September. At Oxford High School tutor groups are conducted in French and Mandarin. At Central Newcastle High School geography lessons are taught in foreign languages.
The hope is that the move will free girls up to take risks, be more confident and think more “outside the box” to solve problems.
The experts say that even though girls are outstripping boys in school and university, they are being overtaken in the workplace because of their fear of failure.
They also hope the initiative will help girls to be bolder in admission interviews for Oxford and Cambridge universities under tough questioning from dons.
Kevin Stannard, director of innovation and learning at the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), said: “The curse of the good girl is something we are thinking about a lot. There are a lot of girls who strive for perfection, who have a real fear of looking daft when answering questions and they are in danger of underselling themselves through a fear of failure. We are trying to undermine that in girls’ schools to get girls to take intellectual risks.”
Stannard said he was “really hopeful” that the languages initiative “will be a way of helping build girls’ confidence”. He added: “They can see the teacher, who is unfamiliar with the language, taking risks and so they are more prepared to take risks themselves. Along with increasing language confidence comes increasing confidence to take risks to solve problems.
“We want them not necessarily to aim for perfection but to aim for effectiveness.”
The initiatives follow others designed to boost girls’ confidence such as improvised comedy workshops at Putney High School and lessons in boasting at Wimbledon High School. The trust, which represents 24 schools and two academies, has also commissioned research by Cambridge University to identify the styles of teaching that girls thrive on.
Do you see genuine merit in this new approach from South Hampstead High or is it just a gimmick? Either way, are they right to try to encourage girls to be more prepared to take risks? Please share in the comments or on twitter…