Written by Jonathan Lear, The Monkey-Proof Box: Curriculum design for building knowledge, developing creative thinking and promoting independence is a manifesto on how to dismantle the curriculum we’re told to deliver and construct in its place the curriculum we need to deliver.
A group of monkeys. A box full of nuts. A lever. A chute. The monkeys excitedly poke at the box with rocks … nothing happens. Meanwhile, one monkey sits to the side, observing. Then, when the others wander off, he gets up and – with a curious push of his palm – presses the lever and the nuts tumble down the chute! Not believing his luck, he eats the nuts, presses the lever again and is rewarded with yet more nuts. He’s cracked the challenge of the monkey-proof box.
In their early years, children experience a world full of monkey-proof boxes – it’s a time of discovery, observation and experimentation, as they engage in the frustration and joy of learning how to release life’s nuts. Then, as they progress through school, learning becomes more formal, easier in many ways. The nuts are handed to them on a plate and something important is lost.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In this absorbing book, Jonathan sets out how primary school teachers can resist the ‘nuts on a plate’ approach and deliver a curriculum rich in authentic learning experiences that help children learn from one another and grow into empowered, knowledgeable and creative thinkers who are driven by insatiable curiosity.
In doing so, he inspires educators to unclutter their classrooms of the latest shiny initiatives and to foster a more refined pedagogical approach – incorporating elements of facilitated and concept-based learning – that simply improves pupils’ learning.
Suitable for teachers, middle leaders and head teachers in primary school settings.
Contents include: Part I: Curriculum. 1 – Slippers; 2 – Less is more; 3 – Skills; 4 – Tightrope walking; 5 – Planning; 6 – ‘Love and hugs, Dave C.’; 7 – Softly, softly, catchee monkey; 8 – Hitches and hiccups. Part II: Pedagogy. 9 – Monkey sex; 10 – Rapid and sustained nonsense; 11 – Nuts on a plate; 12 – Nuts scattered in a clearing; 13 – Across the curriculum; 14 – The awkward banana; 15 – Caveman Dave and the TARDIS; 16 – Mastery and independence; 17 – The monkey-proof box; 18 – A spanner in the works; 19 – Freedom.