Five morally dubious educational ideas

Filling the pail

You may disagree with the evidence I cite. You may disagree with my logic. But let me be clear about what I am trying to achieve: I want young people to grow into active citizens who understand the society around them and who are empowered to make a difference in that society. I want them to develop a passion, perhaps about an area of culture that they have been exposed to at school and would otherwise never have encountered. I want them to find the means to provide for themselves and their future families.

I believe, maybe wrongly, that the best way to do this is by explicitly teaching a curriculum full of powerful concepts that have endured over time. If you believe that I am wrong then you should feel free to say so. But to paint me as aspiring to a different goal to the one I have repeatedly stated…

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Is all practice effective?

Tabula Rasa

Back in my early years of teaching- in the high-pressure ‘Special Measures’ school where I cut my teeth- I spent hours planning lessons that aimed to get kids through the GCSE as quickly as possible. I think lots of teachers are in the same boat. The high stakes accountability system puts the pressure on, and in many cases this can warp the curriculum and the way that we teach.

In the mad rush to get pupils better at the skills required for the GCSE, we teach the skills required for the GCSE directly. In my subject, English, this might mean getting pupils to practise writing a paragraph every lesson with the longer term objective being to improve their paragraph writing skills- a skill they need to demonstrate in the exam.

But isn’t this a bit like suggesting that, in order to get better at marathon running, you should run more…

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Does Active Learning Work? A Good Question, But Not the Right One!

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner & Mirjam Neelen

It’s not easy to show that active learning works. However, a combination of active learning and other types of learning can contribute significantly to deep learning.

A while back, Paul delivered a keynote on Educational Urban Legends at Europlat17, the European Psychology Learning and Teaching Conference. Doug Bernstein, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois and Courtesy Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida delivered a fascinating keynote as well, which was titled ‘Does Active Learning Work? Good Question, But Not the Right One!’.

Bernstein came up with this question as it is analogous to a question asked in the 1950s when there were many debates around the use of psychotherapy, namely ‘Does Psychotherapy Work?’ However, this was also the wrong question as, according to Gordon Paul (1969) it should have been: Which therapies lead to a clinical meaningful progression…

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‘Nothing Ever Mattered More Than Not Doubting’ – A huge year for Scottish Education?

Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

On the first day of teaching practice in 1998, in the school at which I still teach, I entered the staff room nervously, eventually sitting down beside a kindly gentleman who greeted me warmly. We chatted for a while before he offered me some advice: get your jacket on and go and do something else. Teaching will ruin your life. Of course I was shocked and outraged; I looked upon what I assumed to be a cynical old fool and vowed that that would never happen to me. We went on to be friends over the next few years until he retired, but I never got over that first meeting, especially when I got to know this brilliant man who had been worn down by the education system.

Twenty years on and I can understand what he meant. Continuous change is exhausting and often demoralising. It often feels – like…

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They Were Skeptical But They Agreed to Try – Teach Like a Champion

Got an email from a colleague this morning who’s using TLAC techniques in his school. He’d recently come to our “Ratio” training, which focuses on how to make more classrooms where students do the cognitive work and was now doing training and support for teachers back at his school. (If you’ve come to our workshops you know we use the Train the Trainers model–our goal is to prepare you to lead aligned training that’s embedded in the culture and systems of your own school once you get home).


Source: They Were Skeptical But They Agreed to Try – Teach Like a Champion

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On Accountability.

Flying My Geek Flag

Last weekend I was privileged to be asked to be part of the panel debate at #BrewEdWake. Daryn asked me to present, and was kind enough to allow me to not have to stand in front of a crowd on my own. The questions were excellent, and the first one certainly had us all thinking about how to get collective ambition back into the teaching profession.

I can’t quite remember what prompted me to make the point that I did about accountability, but I explained about my three and a half years of teaching in Australia. For the first six months I was doing my probation period (similar to induction here in the UK). During that time I was observed a grand total of twice. I was not seen again teaching a lesson before I left Australia.

Last week, having taught for ten years in the UK, I was observed…

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The Timeless Wisdom of Sitting in Rows

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Originally posted on teacherhead:
Some of the strangest debates or memes about education that pop up now and then are about the idea of students sitting in rows.  You don’t have to look too far to find people aligning this…

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