Declining – if not falling. Part 2.

teaching personally

I think it was the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner who, some days ago, said something like, “Selective education does not promote social mobility and therefore it has no part in the British education system.” (my emphasis).

It could not be clearer: the Labour Party sees education primarily as a form of overt social engineering. But the Conservatives are saying exactly the same thing, though they couch it in terms of individual opportunity, of course.

I’m not going to disagree with people trying to optimise their time on this planet – but as the years have passed and education policy has blown this way and that, I have had a growing sense that the whole thing is utterly, profoundly mistaken in its approach. It is at risk of becoming little more than a huge waste of effort. This blog, and my (still unpublished) book were in part an effort to…

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What can we learn from Ontario?

Filling the pail

Since the advent of PISA, Canada and the Canadian province of Ontario in particular have been held up as something of an examplary education system. This is reasonable enough because Ontario has consistently performed above the average for OECD countries. On the PISA standardised scale that is intended to represent equivalent levels of performance over time, the OECD average hovers at or just below 500. The following chart maps Ontario’s performance since the first PISA assessments in 2000:

It would be easy to conclude that states that are not performing as well as Ontario should try to copy what Ontario is doing. There have certainly been efforts to study the Ontario system and disseminate the knowledge gained through this process. However, I think we need to be careful in making inferences in this way.

Firstly, mean PISA score differences between countries and states do not simply depend upon the quality of…

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The Problems With Traditional Education.

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Traditional education is problematic. If it was perfect then there would be no cogent arguments against it. As Dewey made clear, what he termed as progressive education was a reaction due to “discontent with traditional education.”  This discontent is based on important ideas. Dewey described traditional education being, “…in essence, one of imposition from above and from outside.” Even though: “…good teachers will use devices of art to cover up the imposition so as to relieve it of obviously brutal features.”

Crucially:

the very situation [of traditional education] forbids much active participation by pupils in the development of what is taught. Theirs is to do—and learn… Learning here means acquisition of what already is incorporated in books and in the heads of the elders. Moreover, that which is taught… is taught as a finished product, with little regard either to the ways in which it was originally built up or to changes…

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The Loneliness of the Literacy Coordinator

thinkingreadingwritings

Actually, most of the literacy co-ordinators I know are sensible, well-adjusted and have lots of friends! But there are some things about the role that make it much more challenging than it appears to an onlooker.

For one thing, literacy co-ordinators often have a very wide brief. They are often (but not always) meant to ensure that every class in every subject helps to build student’s reading and writing skills. Even with the most willing staff, this job is too much for one person with a teaching load. Inevitably, literacy co-ordinators have to choose which curriculum areas and year groups they prioritise.

Another challenge is to navigate the many possible options for initiatives and interventions. Should the focus be on building a reading culture? On increasing reading mileage? On developing inference, contextual knowledge, response to text or decoding? Or ensuring that students encounter challenging texts in classrooms? Or building subject-specific…

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Are you really teaching? Or are you just asking endless frustrating questions?

The Quirky Teacher

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, partly because Ben Newmark has been writing some excellent stuff on didactic teaching which has got me thinking about what concise-explanation-is-king teaching looks like in the primary classroom and partly because it was mentioned on twitter that most instruction in the primary classroom is, apparently, didactic.

I disagree.

I think that many teachers might be confusing all teacher talk with didactic teaching, instead inadvertently employing a version of discovery learning that requires the children to construct their own knowledge/understanding/skills in their heads and then share it with (and ‘teach’) the rest of the class. Just because they’re not at their tables working in groups, or using lots of manipulatives,  sugar paper, drama or iPads doesn’t mean that discovery learning is not taking place. Conversely, just because the children are sat on the carpet in front of you, doesn’t mean that explicit teaching…

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Five Teacher Fears – The Confident Teacher

Teachers share many of the same hopes and fears. As much as we all yearn for the long summer holiday, we all loath the inevitable onset of September. The nightmare …

Continued here:

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ResearchED Melbourne 2017 sparks witch hunt

Filling the pail

I have been loosely involved in researchED Australia over the last couple of years. For the first event in Sydney in 2015, I suggested a couple of speakers. It was me who recommended that Kevin Donnelly be invited to take part in a panel discussion. At that time, he and Ken Wiltshire had just completed a review of the Australian Curriculum commissioned by the federal government and so he seemed like a perfect fit for such a conference. What research evidence had informed their review? Others didn’t see it that way. Donnelly is a noted social conservative and so, rather than come along and challenge his views, a number of people stated that they would boycott the event.

Last year the storm was more muted and it mainly just involved people expressing surprise and annoyance that they had not been invited to speak. This year has seen the temperature rise again with…

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