The pupils in our schools currently are growing up in a fast-changing world. As they become adults, today’s students will be expected to navigate high levels of complexity, challenge and personal responsibility. As educators, it is our job to provide young people with the resources they need to thrive in such an environment. We need to help to build minds that are up to dealing with uncertainty and confusion and encourage young people to demonstrate transferable skills, able to be applied across contexts.

Physical muscles have to be exercised to develop strength and stamina and this contributes to your overall fitness. If muscles are not used through lack of opportunity they can wither and your health suffers. Neuroscience draws parallels with these ideas when considering how students learn.

The Department of Education, Sport ad Culture’s 6Rs (learning dispositions) can be thought of as being comprised of different learning muscles. Like physical muscles these can be developed if learners are given appropriate opportunities to exercise them as they learn. Pupils, therefore, need frequent and systematic opportunities to develop being empathetic, being logical, being curious etc.

The Department has not mandated the way such learning muscles should be described in schools. Schools may refer to these ‘learning to learn’ skills in a range of ways - what’s important is that pupils have a language with which to describe their own learning and that it is consistent across the school. In this way, pupils learn to understand and articulate how they learn and in doing so build their capacity for learning.

It is intended that as a result of experiencing the curriculum and the way it is delivered, young people will develop as individuals in all 6 dispositions over their learning journey.

What are the dispositions?


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For example, demonstrating;-
  • Confidence in themselves
  • A positive attitude towards setbacks
  • An ability to work alone and with others
  • An ability to take responsibility for aspects of their own learning
  • Skill in managing own emotions and feelings
  • Good concentration and focus
For example, demonstrating;-
  • an ability to work as a team member, towards commonly agreed goals
  • skills in collaboration, mediation and negotiation
  • understanding and respect for others
  • willingness to take inspiration from others
  • an acceptance of boundaries and ability to adapt behaviour to suit different roles and situations
  • empathy and understanding the role of others
For example, demonstrating;-
  • the ability to question and show curiosity to extend thinking
  • the ability to generate new ideas, be imaginative and explore possibilities
  • the ability to use initiative
  • self motivation
  • the ability to be intuitive and explore ideas, based on what is felt to be true
  • adaptability to new circumstances
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For example, demonstrating;-
  • the ability to solve problems
  • the capacity to persevere
  • an acceptance of constructive criticism
  • an ability to be adventurous and take risks
  • adaptability when circumstances change
  • flexibility, exploring issues from different perspectives
For example, demonstrating;-
  • the ability to recall
  • the ability to learn from experience
  • the confidence to transfer skills and strategies from one context to another
  • the capacity to connect their own and others’ ideas and experiences in inventive ways
  • the ability to interpret
  • the capability to apply reason, (compare/contrast; analyse information, judging its relevance; support conclusions; use reasoned arguments and evidence)
For example, demonstrating;-
  • sense of pride
  • the ability to plan, organising time and resources, prioritising actions and breaking down tasks into manageable steps
  • skills in observation and analysis
  • an ability to assess themselves and others, identifying opportunities and achievements
  • the capacity to reflect upon the implications of choices they have made
  • the capability to monitor, revise and adapt progress, acting on the outcomes
  • an appreciation of own learning processes

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What is E4L?

'Essentials for Learning' (E4L) is the Department of Education, Sport and Culture's curriculum statement. It provides broad parameters for schools to develop flexible, exciting and memorable learning experiences and positive learning dispositions. "E4L's…

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