13th August 2019
Reflections on Mantle of the Expert by NEU Project teacher, Helen Nash
I started investigating Mantle of the Expert because of one particular class. They weren’t especially tricky – there were no extreme behaviours. They just…. weren’t with me. The large majority of them just wouldn’t try anything that wasn’t on their agenda; and this was particularly true of writing. Teaching children to write is one of my favourite things, but this class just didn’t want to despite my usual methods. I started researching Mantle of the Expert, gave them a client (King Brannagan) and a commission (to help him to re-build his kingdom) and they were off; almost immediately I had a group of children that wanted to write to the King, wanted to help the King and generally wanted to get involved.
Since then, I have learnt that Mantle is about much more than giving children a reason to write – but that is one of it’s most useful features when it comes to being a KS1 teacher.
There is a certain ‘feel’ to a Mantle of the Expert class – they approach things in a different way and take on projects/tasks at a different level. They ‘think outside of the box’ much more readily; they question and give their opinions. Generally, they are more aware that there is not a ‘right answer’ to be found, but a problem to be explored. During a mantle session there is a sense of purpose – beyond ‘achieve the learning objective’ – and children can be seen working together, discussing things, making things and generally being completely absorbed in what they are doing. Largely because of all of this, there is no going back for me. The more I’m discovering about Mantle of the Expert the more I know that I can’t return to my previous methods of teaching. It’s not that there was anything particularly wrong with them – it’s just that Mantle is teaching in an entirely different, engaging and meaningful.