Allowing Our Pupils to Listen

The Traditional Teacher

Man_inserting_earplugsDavid Didau has been at it again, slaying educational sacred cows . . . he has argued that it is not beneficial to require pupils to follow along when reading out loud to them, because it overloads their working memory by asking them to do two things which they cannot in fact do simultaneously.

This is a great example of how Didau reexamines our common teaching practices from first principles. The first principles in this case are:

  1. Working memory is extremely limited.
  2. No-one can multitask.
  3. Reading means hearing, either mentally or out loud.

Didau’s argument is that when we read silently, as pupils must do if they are actually to be following along, we are actually ‘hearing’ the words in our thoughts. To hear them properly, we must block out the voice of the person who is reading aloud to us, because we can’t focus on both at once. So…

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Enemy of the People

teaching personally

“It’s all for the children”. In my experience, people enter teaching for a variety of reasons. Yet the single, most over-worked creed to which all teachers are expected to subscribe is this.

One might well ask how working with children can be for anything but their benefit. But the problem, as with so many things in education, is knowing what that ‘benefit’ actually is. What about educating children for the benefit of everyone else – so we don’t have antisocial little savages in our midst?

‘For the children’ seems to be uttered most often by those who favour child-centred approaches and by those who manage schools; in both cases it is appropriated both to justify certain orthodoxies and debunk others.

The former seem to believe that allowing children free rein to decide (or dictate?) their own learning is the most benign approach. The latter seem to think that children’s benefit…

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De volgende woorden zijn geen synoniemen voor leren

Blogcollectief Onderzoek Onderwijs

Vandaag geef ik de hele dag les over leren en bedacht net dat het even handig is om een overzicht te geven van woorden en concepten die niet synoniem zijn aan leren:

  • Welbevinden: Je kan je perfect goed voelen, de les zeer aangenaam vinden, maar niet noodzakelijk iets bijleren.
  • Betrokkenheid: Leerlingen kunnen zeer actief meewerken, maar ook dit betekent niet noodzakelijk dat ze aan het bijleren zijn.
  • Hard werken: Idem
  • Zeer diep nadenken: maar geen antwoord vinden?

Begrijp me niet verkeerd: het is fijn als leerlingen leren én het aangenaam vinden, als ze leren én betrokken zijn, hard werken en diep nadenken én leren,… De grootste fout die we echter kunnen maken is dat we denken dat het ene een bewijs is voor het andere.

Prof. Rob Coe maakte deze lijst van deze en andere slechte aanwijzingen voor leren, “poor proxies for learning”, je vindt ze oa in Improving Education.

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Be more Goose: a school shouldn’t rely on Mavericks

Othmar's Trombone

Reading, in Berkshire, is a typical British town. In fact, it was once considered by some to be the most typical town in the country. In the years following the Second World War, its typicality was of great use to a nation rebuilding itself: it was used as a sample to gauge the morale of Britons on the whole. How the people of Reading felt, it was assumed, was exactly how the country felt.

Town planners noted the town’s typicality and sought to utilise it further. Thus, whenever it came to introducing new traffic systems, the planners thought that Reading, as the most typical town, would be the best place to trial them. If the new systems worked there, they should be able to work in most places.

This, however, had an affect on the town that the planners hadn’t taken into consideration. Reading – with all of its new-fangled roundabouts, unique traffic lights…

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Still Working Away In Our Silos (Thank Goodness)


If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

–G. K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong With The World (1910)

Why are teachers beavering away in their individual silos, each one of us spending hours reinventing each pedagogic wheel, crafting schemes of work and resources for the new GCSEs?

Wouldn’t life be so much easier and better if we simply shared…?

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To which I say: NO!

To be honest, my favourite part of the job is designing, crafting and re-designing resources and teaching approaches. They’re not perfect, of course. I’m reminded of a line from the opening credits of South Park: “All celebrity voices are impersonated . . . poorly.” As Chesterton remarked, if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

But the point is, my approaches and resources are a lot less imperfect than they used to be. I…

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Studying with Distractions – The Learning Scientists Blog

We have previously written about studying while listening to music. As a brief reminder, it depends on the task and your personality whether background music will help, hinder, or not make a difference while studying. In this piece, we are again talking about studying with distractions, but this time we are covering a research article in which the background noise was speech instead of music.

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Levelling the playing field

We often talk about creating a level playing field for students taking their GCSEs, AS and A levels, regardless of which exam board they enter with. That’s our aim this summer, in both reformed and unreformed qualifications.

Source: Levelling the playing field

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