The Learning Objective …
… has got to be simple – simple-enough through which to deliver so that it can be understood, and simple-enough for the pupil to know how to work it and take the learning of it as far as s/he can. What ‘it’ is, is the Learning Objective. The Learning Objective is what it says it is: the objective to be learnt – of the great Sea of All Knowable Things in Existence, the Learning Objective is the particular one selected for this particular lesson. As such it is what is to be achieved, it is the window through which learning will take place, and therefore it needs to remain just the window. An open window.
It must not have any cognitive qualifiers …
Cognitive qualifiers (such as ‘know’, ‘understand’ or ‘discuss’, ‘appreciate’, ‘be aware of’) have presumed what the pupil will do with it, they have closed down what could be done with it. Once something is just ‘known’ there is no point in going on to understanding it, once it is just ‘understood’ there is no point going on to evaluate it. If the Learning Objective contains the qualifier ‘evaluate’ only, this will automatically put it out of reach of the lower ability pupil (or, worse still, it will seem to empower a pupil to evaluate something without understanding what it is); if it contains the qualifier ‘know’ only, it will ‘ceiling’ the attainment of the higher ability pupil. The Learning Objective needs to be ‘open’ in the sense that it merely indicates what is to be explored, not how it is to be explored. Any cognitive qualifier would preclude exploration. In fact, even the word ‘objective’ feels too preclusive, and should only be used to specify what is to be understood. Perhaps thereafter ‘Learning Horizon’ should be used for the evaluative part of the lesson – that once the ‘objective’ as been reached all that is left is to see what can be done with it … over to you, pupil, see what you can do with it.
Learning Horizons provide a view …
For a view to be functional it needs perspective – the contrast between here and there. ‘Here’ is where you are, what you know, what you are; ‘there’ is where it is possible to go, what is possible to know, how it is possible to grow. The contrast between here and there provides the impact of the view – the better the contrast the more the impact because the experience has shown how much more there is (possible) than just here. It makes you want to go and obtain it from where you currently are.
Learning Objectives (as have been used) access a view alright, but restrict the impact because you have to pay 20p for a minute’s view (and you usually don’t have the exact money anyway), a Title for the work spotlights a feature of the view but provides no perspective, a Starter to the lesson might just focus on the ground, or it might just look at the horizon, but not both, and certainly not the chasm in between. But put all three working together you have an inspiring view: the impact of here to there (an open Learning Objective), a destination (the Title) and a desire to get there (starter – stimulus – questioning).
So, you have the ground underneath you, you have spied a pathway to it (or maybe a helpful tourist has showed you a map – yes, we teachers are but fellow helpful travellers!!!), off you go!