Sympathy is no substitute for effective teaching

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Why being sympathetic doesn’t cut it as a reading teacher

The first rule of effective teaching of reading is: they don’t need our sympathy. Quite the reverse. An attitude of sympathy for ‘poor Johnny’ or ‘poor Jemima’ makes them feel like a lesser person. It cements the messages of failure that they’ve internalised over years at school. Poor Johnny.  He just can’t. . .  He doesn’t need us to feel sorry for him. He needs us to teach him those basic skills, that no one else has managed.

Secondly, sympathy doesn’t change the situation. It’s a substitute for effective action. It means that we’re prepared to accept the status quo and satisfied with feeling sorry for the student. After all, if. the teaching is effective and the student is learning, there isn’t any reason for us to feel sorry for them.

This is NOT to say that empathy doesn’t matter…

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Of tragedy, irony and other epic failures of a classical nature…

teaching personally

“People without an internalised symbolic system can all too easily become captives of the media. They are easily manipulated by demagogues, pacified by entertainers and exploited by anyone who has something to sell.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Reading Fintan O’Toole’s recent book Heroic Failure – Brexit and the Politics of Pain, it is easy to see that Csikszentmihalyi is onto something. People who are not equipped with the ability rationally to understand and contextualise their own situations are all too vulnerable to the deceit of others. And it is this, perpetrated over many decades, that ultimately brought us Brexit.

This post is not about Brexit – though in my mind, it is almost impossible to separate that tortured issue from the matter of education in its widest sense. Had more of the British population been properly equipped with the thinking skills that effective education can provide, there might have been greater…

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If we don’t like the Ebacc, what should it be replaced with?

fish64

This is a summary of a talk given at BuffetEd on Feb 8th 2020.

There is a lot of opposition to the government’s Ebacc measure in the UK education world. Basically, there seem to be 3 main strands of opposition.

  1. It is a government initiative, not one that the education system itself proposed. As such, it should be opposed.
  2. It does not include the arts.
  3. We should not force a set of subjects (and thereby exams) on pupils.

The first strand of opposition can be dismissed as a tribal response which does not look at the issues. Simply rejecting an idea, because of who proposed it, does not stand up.

The second strand of opposition is more interesting. If I taught one of the arts subjects, I would probably be opposed to the Ebacc as well. As it happens, I am a firm believer in the arts as necessary to…

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Curriculum Development and Teacher Development – The Confident Teacher

“Curriculum development must rest on teacher development”  Lawrence Stenhouse, ‘An Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development’ Paying attention to the careful, skilled development of your…

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The Re-Education of Alison Rounce

thinkingreadingwritings

We have been privileged to have the enormously talented Alison Rounce (@ali_rounce) working with us in the north-east of England. We asked her to write about her journey, and this is the result:

Making a career change when you absolutely love your job . . . was not a headline I came across when exploring career options away from the classroom. I wasn’t ticking many of the career change boxes. Feeling unfulfilled? No. Hate getting up for work in the mornings? Nope. Wishing the minutes away until home time? Not that either. I am one (of so many of us) that finds teenagers a joy: vital, raw, challenging. Being trusted with their education is a privilege beyond measure. Yet, as my children started their education, I started to think of my job quite differently. I became far more conscious of how precious children’s time is. Far more conscious of the…

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What does English as an additional language really mean when it comes to Progress 8? – Education Datalab blog

Scores vary a lot by ethnicity and entry date into the school system in England

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Can observation pro formas be used well? – David Didau: The Learning Spy

Should observers waltz into lessons armed with a clipboard full of hoops they hope to see teachers jump through? No, probably not. Some years ago I wrote about my preference for how lessons should be…

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