Road to Joy

Highly-structured knowledge-rich teaching is sometimes accused of being joyless, and schools attempting to move in this direction ought to take this concern seriously. A hastily-introduced, top-down, Ofsted-inspired move to KR could easily result in sceptical teachers, unaligned with the approach and untrained in its nuance, delivering a poorly-designed, cobbled together mishmash of knowledge organisers, quizzes and tests. This would be bad for students and teachers, and could do lasting damage.

Source: Road to Joy

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A knowledge-rich curriculum: the challenges of change

To lay my curricular cards on the table, I believe that the promotion of a knowledge-rich approach to teaching is the best available option to us in order to bring about sustainable positive change.

For me, this means that we should:

  •         Write and implement clear, well-organised enacted, which specify and prioritise the teaching of knowledge to a greater degree than is currently typical
  •         Ensure that this increased knowledge-base is used meaningfully, to inform and enable domain-specific achievements in critical thinking, reasoning, increasing independence of thought etc

Source: A knowledge-rich curriculum: the challenges of change

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Elaboration: an effective strategy for learning | Bradford Research School at Dixons Academies

One of the most important things to know about memory is that whenever we learn new information, it tends to stick better if we can connect it to what we already know. Pieces of information are not isolated, rather they are held in schemas, complex architectures of knowledge stored in long-term memory. We make sense of new things by placing them somehow within these representations.

Source: Elaboration: an effective strategy for learning | Bradford Research School at Dixons Academies

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Are the words “progressive” and “traditional” biased against educational traditionalists? Part 1

Scenes From The Battleground

For over one hundred years, the standard words used for the two main camps in educational philosophy have been “progressive” and “traditionalist” (in recent years, these have often been shortened to “prog” and “trad” on Twitter). Descriptions of what they mean can be found here from John Dewey writing in the 30s, or here from Alfie Kohn writing ten years ago. In countries where progressive education is unchallenged, or has gone unchallenged for a long period, progressives often deny this history and resent the fact that language exists to describe a debate that they thought they had won forever. However, a more coherent objection to the terms comes from traditionalists. They argue that “progressive” is a positive word, suggesting progressives look to the future, are influenced by science and are politically on the left. “Traditionalist” by contrast sounds old fashioned, uninfluenced by contemporary science and politically right-wing. I wish to…

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Beliefs About “Understanding” in Math, Dept.

traditional math

Here are some of many beliefs about “understanding” in math. It was hard to choose from so many candidates, but feel free to add some of your own.

We shouldn’t be teaching kids algorithms before they have the conceptual understanding.

The belief is that standard algorithms for mathematical operations (like adding/subtracting multidigit numbers, multiplying and dividing multidigit numbers, multiplying/dividing fractions, etc) eclipse the conceptual underpinning. That is, why the algorithm works.

The standard way used to be taught first, and alternate ways later, after mastery of the standard algorithm. Now it’s other way around in the belief that std algorithms eclipse “understanding”.Side dishes now become the main course and students grow confused—sometimes profoundly so.

Problems are to be solved in more than one way, in the belief that doing so imparts and gives evidence of “understanding”.You have students being required to solve simple problems in multiple ways supposedly to enhance…

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This Is Going To Hurt: Medicalised Words in Education

‘“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

Through the Looking-Glass – Lewis Carroll

 

I’ve been wondering why there are so many medicalised and anatomised words in education.  It’s an itch that I love to scratch; it’s word pedantry eczema.  Some have been creeping in over the past few years, almost unnoticed, like rampant edu-chlamydia.  I wonder if it’s because there are things (symptoms?) in our profession that are seen as needing to be treated, and therefore it’s perceived to be more straightforward to name, classify and ‘treat’.  And I’m not arguing that there aren’t things that need treating/sorting/improving.  But why our educational lingua franca is so blotched with these ulcerated sores of words is odd, if not fascinating. 

Source: This Is Going To Hurt: Medicalised Words in Education

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Shut up, bloggers.

Filling the pail


Over at the blog of the British Educational Research Association, Dr Pam Jarvis has been blogging on the topic of, “In pursuit of a secure base? Education commentary in times of socio-political uncertainty.” I agree that it doesn’t sound promising but bear with me.

Jarvis’s thesis is that:

“…when nations experience socio-political uncertainty, the population becomes collectively anxious and the state responds by ‘behav[ing] like the parent of an avoidant child… and tries with increasing state power to quell expressions of discontent’.” [Reference omitted]

She then identifies Trump and Brexit as responses to the 2008 global financial crisis, alongside those in education who ‘seek monolithic control’ and who embrace a ‘quest for certainty’. That doesn’t sound good! Boo! Hiss!

Jarvis then lists three isolated quotes from the journalist Toby Young, and from education bloggers David Didau and Old Andrew. She suggests that these commentators do not understand education

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