The Columbus Principle

Do you let children discover things for themselves?

Teaching shouldn’t be about telling. Where is the fun in that?!

Children need to find out things out as they go and that is the essence of the Columbus Principle.

Self-discovery needs some nudges and a fair wind but the voyage isn’t something we should be taking charge of. Children have to take the wheel and make decisions. If they conclude that the world is flat then we can step into the learning and offer some pointers and different angles and perspectives.

How many of us leap into saying what’s what without letting children steer their own course? How many of us remove the rocks and red flag the shallow waters because we don’t want children to crash or run aground?

Children need to shipwreck. That’s learning.

The skill in teaching is knowing when to step into the learning process. You might decide to wait until children are all at sea and throw them a compass or you might wait until they are splashing about crying for help.

I’m a firm believer that we exercise the Columbus Principle in every lesson because children need to experience choppy waters and they need to justify their decisions and explain what it is they think they have found. Just telling them short-cuts the learning and makes life too easy.

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