‘Learning menus’, a tool developed at the Forward! Academy in Luton, offer a quick and easy way to replicate consumer choice in the classroom.
Learning menus developer, Jerry Layton, explains, ‘It began when I gave the students a choice of starter activity. Then I thought, why not give them a choice of main course and pudding, too? Now I simply put menus on the desks and circulate taking orders.’
‘We are experimenting with the idea that children would have credits to spend on different items from the menu, with credits being earned for achievement and good behaviour. The cheaper items on the menu would obviously be the timewasting activities devoid of educational value, like word searches and gap fills. We expect that our lower ability students, who at present have relatively few credits, will purchase these items. The highest ability students, by contrast, can opt for the exquisite seven course tasting menu. We call this process ‘differentiation’.’
Sir Ian Munroe, CEO of the Capital Wealth Management Group, sponsor of the Forward! Academy, praised the introduction of learning menus. ‘What’s great is that this system replicates so accurately the conditions of consumer capitalism,’ says Sir Ian, ‘complete with a version of the poverty trap, an integral feature our exciting modern economy.’
Staff at the Forward! Academy have embraced the system. There is fierce competition among teachers for Michelin stars to display on their classroom doors, and the academy’s examinations officer has arranged for exams to be held as buffets in the gym.