If your classroom doesn’t have any ragamuffins in it then go directly to jail, do not pass go and do not collect your pension.
So what’s all this about?
Polish-British mathematician Jacob Bronowski in The Ascent of Man says,
It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot, irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.
What every classroom needs is not compliance but challenge. Pupils have to ask more questions about what they are being told and they have to ask more questions of themselves.
We often talk about some teachers as mavericks but we need more maverick thinking from our students. It is often said that learning is not a spectator sport and it isn’t.
Learning is all about participating and being in the thick of the action and that means questioning and probing like a Columbo.
We are not asking students to be rebellious but to do what they should be doing and that is joining in and thinking for themselves.
Learning is a dirty business and that means getting muddy and not just when learning outside. Classroom learning needs children to get caked in mental mud too.
Bronowski is basically encouraging children to treat their learning as a barefoot walk through different terrains so they experience different textures. Those terrains can be inside or outside – either way, it means rolling your sleeves up, taking your shoes and socks off and going for it.
Clearly that means along the way you are going to get not just your feet dirty but the rest of you as well. Ragamuffins work hard and play hard.