EngineHeads and Grannies by Katy Milne

Posted by: Sally Rix July 2nd, 2014 19:55

Panel engineheads

The EngineHeads are a group of students from Greenfield Community School, one of the TED Prize labs, who take some responsibility for Room 13 (the SOLE) and help drive things forward.

The EngineHeads decided to contact Granny Catherine this week to interview her about her role and how the different groups have been responding. Read some of the interview here:

What made you decide to become a ‘Granny’?
“My sister was a ‘granny’ in India and I decided to get involved. I have worked with a school in Columbia and a school in India. I really enjoy working with you at Greenfield.”

Have you enjoyed working in Room 13?
“I love it! I’m not mad about the name ‘granny’ because I am already a granny for my grandchildren and I know what that means. I love doing the work with you.”

What would you like to be called?
“Just Catherine. Or maybe I could have nick name like ‘wiki Catherine’ or ‘Catherine question’. My grandchildren call me ‘Granny Wales’ because I’m from Wales.”

Do you prefer the teacher to ask a question or do you like asking the questions?
“I like picking the questions, it’s easier to get enthusiastic about the topic. Sometimes you get teachers who are not as used to SOLE and it helps I think if I ask the question then.”

What difference does it make when the teacher is in the room?
“It restricts what the children do. If any grown ups are there it can affect it. The children behave differently without the teacher. For the first 2-5 minutes it can be a bit ‘lord of the flies’ like and children can act a bit silly and use mobile phones for example but then they get over that very quickly. They seem to be more imaginative without the teacher there telling them the answers beforehand.”

Have you got any suggestions about how we could improve SOLEs here or get more teachers and students involved?
“You need to have the right ‘granny’s’ involved. Ideally you would call up a granny when you need one but that is not practical as we are not always around. I see the granny as another resource.”

Do you think the final outcome is better from students with or without teachers involved?
“The work is often more imaginative without a teacher. I’m not a total believer that you should work everything out on your own as that can take a long time but you do need to learn how to find things about for yourself. Once you have the skills to do this well and interrogate Google and have discussion without the teacher you can learn anything.”

Catherine asked the EngineHeads a few questions:

Have you all had a ‘granny’ session and what difference does it make?
“Yes, it makes a bit of difference- there’s always someone to rely on for a question” “Yes, it’s a bit awkward sometimes though cos you don’t know the person very well to talk to, but when one group has spoken it’s easier for the others to speak.” “Having a granny instead of teacher is helpful. Less restrictive, you can ask them things you might not ask a teacher.” “It would be interesting to have no teacher in the room at all at the beginning and end and just the granny.”

Finally Lucy M said:“Catherine, you said you were from Wales? Popty ping!!” (The group burst out laughing and brought a video up on the screen!)

Catherine:“Wow, yes that means microwave in Welsh.”

EngineHeads:“I know what we can call you, we can call you granny ping?!”

Catherine:“That is good. It is ‘mamgu ping’ in Welsh.”

EngineHeads:“There - it’s been decided.”

Thank you to the lovely Catherine (aka mamgu ping!) and to the wonderful EngineHeads for this interview.

Katy Milne is the co-ordinator of the 'School in the Cloud' at Greenfield Community College in Newton Aycliffe and 'Granny Catherine' is one of the School in the Cloud mediators who has been 'beamed in' to SOLE sessions there.

The EngineHeads had a meeting with Sugata Mitra when he visited Room 13. Watch the video they made that day:

To learn more about what happens in Room 13, check out their blog http://greenfieldarts.wordpress.com/ where this post was originally published.