What is Role Learning about?
RL is a pedagogical method based on the competencies that favour the critical thinking acquisition. We enable the autonomy, creativity and entrepreneurship of our students through Designed Educational Contexts (DEC). Students live different experiences that allow a limitless development of their abilities, needs and interests, always through the responsible execution of roles.
Role Learning: THE METHOD
This method designs artificial contexts (Designed Educational Contexts - DEC) in the school, always real and meaningful for the student. Taking different roles makes students able to live experiences and teaches them how to behave according to each given situation in life. It also helps them to have more empathy and predict other people's reactions and purposes (emotional intelligence). At the same time, the student experiences the acquisition of the goals, skills or knowledge that we, as teachers, set for them. We use symbolic play in a systematic and controlled way for students to acquire the required needs in order to solve challenges or problems. Learning happens while trying to solve those challenges.
The school becomes the perfect reproduction of part of our society, where classes are transformed into banks, enterprises, unions, laboratories, factories, sport centres, crop fields... and students experience a leading role together with their teachers and families, solving situations they are required to face in their everyday life. Those situations the students need to solve in order to cope with school life will depend on the context they live, the context that has been designed for them and that will be developed and changed over the years.
Students are the leaders of the process. Role Learning has been thought as a method to be carried out from kindergarten to the end of the school life. This method has been designed to develop and strengthen Howard Gardner's theory about multiple intelligences (Gardner, 2000) and it is adapted to every type of learner no matter the circumstances, as the role always suffers a process of personalization. Meanwhile, teachers share the learning process, lead students into previously prepared and designed situations and advise them on possible solutions. They are mediators. They also take a role in the Designed Educational Context (DEC) and they adjust their work and actions in the most realistic way, becoming CEOs, financial advisors, coaches, orchestra conductors, etc.
The school is the place where students take the roles that have been assigned to them (family members, employees in a company, scientists, sportspeople, traders, farmers, etc.). Nevertheless, the school cannot be seen only as the exclusive place where learning happens, since this method demolishes the old school's physical walls and turns the students' actual life into their real classroom. Students go to school but they learn beyond the school walls: at home, in the cinema, in the fields, etc. The school is also the place where the Designed Educational Context (DEC) is designed, by distributing the curriculum content to the different projects and allocating times and spaces. The school is in charge of offering a scenery and its resources; it is the link between the families, the social environment, the students and the school in itself, but, above all, the school is responsible of the student's evaluation.
This method strives to provide students with strategies, skills and tools to allow them to develop strategies in a competent way for the unknown future in which they will be required to learn on their own. And they will need to learn everything that has not been discovered yet, that cannot be taught at the moment. This method offers them experiences. It is all about living the experience. The student learns through those experiences, having in mind that life consists on, among other things, taking roles in a responsible way, always conscious that our behaviour will affect others in a positive or negative way.
The Role Learning Method develops all student's abilities, striving and paying special attention on those in which every person shines in a significative way. We firmly believe that every student is gifted in different areas and the true role of teachers consist on having a method which enables them to discover those abilities in their students, in order to serve as guides in their evolution and development. Apart from the academic abilities, Role Learning understands education from a humanistic point of view, very personal, making the child or teenager feel the school and teachers as a true extension of their families and closer environment and offering them an education in the moral values which is, without any doubt, the foundation for their future lives as professionals with principles and ethics. Therefore, this method teaches with care, understanding and affection but does not forget the importance of discipline and rigour.
Role Learning is characterised by the roles that children and teenagers take along their student lives, roles carefully assigned by the teacher to provide a living knowledge that contribute to the abilities, skills, strategies and competencies students will need for their future revolving around two axis: the familiar and the professional ones. In the personal axis (familiar) we provide students with an identity, with the experience of belonging to a group. At a professional level, we develop the professional abilities, skills and capacities of the students, encouraging their creativity, critical thinking, intelligent leadership, decision-taking, responsibility and constant self-improvement. Moreover, this method is nourished by the taste of culture and arts, a reading passion and a highly practical and experimental approach to formal subjects. The different learning styles are favoured by this method which result in a motivational and conciliatory perspective for the student.
Different studies have demonstrated that not only very talented or highly motivated students achieve excellence in the academic field, but also those who learn through the active and creative participation in their learning process. Those who apply different strategies which have been individualised and selected for them according to their learning styles have more possibilities to shine than those who have never had this opportunity. Role Learning guarantees the direct and explicit teaching of those strategies for the students to be able to boost the use of them, helping them to be more conscious and systematic about those which they are already putting into practice and also adding new strategies to their learning process. One of the main goals in RL is "to teach through roles" and therefore, we strive for our students to flourish in the best optimised way according to their personal characteristics, providing them with all the key competences that the European Model for Education sets as a requirement for our pupils to be prepared for life.
(Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning. (2006/962/EC).