My Year 4 class are taking part from a small rural village in Norfolk, England. The school itself is an all through school- that is it takes pupils on two sites from age 4 to age 16. The children get taught by some specialist teachers from the High School. I feel it is important to try to encourage the children to look at different cultures and other peoples’ perspectives. The children were very excited to know that people from other countries were taking part.
I have just completed the first session with DIALLS and we looked at the film clip Ant. I had watched this a few times before the lesson to plan the lesson and decide how I would structure the questions. It was the second time that I watched it that I saw that the ant breaking the rules was actually making life quicker for the other ants and I wondered how the children would react. We expect them to follow rules, would they then question this? Where would the discussion lead? The children watched the film and were laughing and engaged. I asked them what they thought it was about. One child said it was about rules. I asked why we have rules and they said to keep us safe and under control. I then asked whether they thought it was right for the ant to break the rules. One child said it was to keep people in line. We then discussed whether the ant should have broken the rules and the class had a really engaging discussion. They were sensible and listened to each other. The answers started ‘you should follow rules as they are there to keep you safe’ and progressed to `the ant should have held a discussion and then gone to his boss and got the rules changed
We have made our own class rules at the start of term so we revisited them and I asked whether we could make them any better.
The children decided we should discuss each one and vote on them. Personally I was surprised at how the children discussed these issues and related them to our country choosing a Prime Minister and Brexit. These are year 4 children, nearly all 8 years old, and their discussion was really interesting.
Further to this lesson the students asked if they could make their own rules. I was a bit concerned when they asked if they could vote for the ones they liked best and then use them as a class. I thought we might have some rules that would be fun for the children but may not be sensible in the class.
We talked about the purpose of rules again and how in a democracy the rules that the majority of the class choose will be accepted. The children talked about their ideas to their partners and made a poster with their rules on. After this each child that wanted to take part, presented their poster to the class and explained why their rules should be adopted. The children then had a vote, completed in a ballot box. I was very surprised at the children’s ideas. Most centred on being kind to each other. One child had suggested that we should be able to choose if we had longer breaks. Surprisingly to me, the other children said that would be difficult as we all had to share the playing field so it would not be fair to other classes.
The vote was counted and the child with the most votes announced. I was expecting some children to complain but they seemed to appreciate that it was a vote, so it was fair. The child that gained the most votes was a quiet child, who although polite and friendly was not a child who necessarily would get votes from a group of friends, suggesting to me that the children did vote on merit of the rules rather than to support their friends.
We have enlarged the poster and after laminating it is now on display in the class.
In case you cannot read the rules they are:
Kind hands and kind feet
Indoor voices while working
Don’t speak when other people are speaking.
Don’t speak while Mrs Hinchliffe is doing the register.
Be kind to everyone and be honest.
Christine Hinchliffe, Primary teachers, UK