The Dangers of a Personalised Curriculum



Trying to fit a personalised curriculum around the desires of a child is a dangerous idea. If we only ever follow the extreme individualisation where the child’s own innate tastes are paramount we might never move out of McDonalds.

The argument for personalisation goes hand in hand with the idea that much that is studied is of equal value. As long as they’re reading something it doesn’t matter what it is. Why not let a child pursue their own interests? Well, because sometimes those interests might not be in their own best interests. Great Art teaches us truths, just as much as science can. Just not the same ‘type’ of truth.

In a conversation with a science teacher about ‘why we teach Shakespeare’ I suggested it’s because his message is universal, a great expression of the human condition, and exactly the sort of thing that a great education should be…

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My little homily

I’m in a reflective mood today, in part due to two things. Firstly, there have been several insightful blogs on my twitter feed this week that have stimulated my thinking juices (such as this and this). Secondly, I’ve spent the last few days putting together some flat pack furniture and repainting my son’s bedroom, and I don’t know about you, but there is something about the rhythmic movement of the paint roller that makes my mind go wondering.

Source: My little homily

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Student Assessment of Learning in the Classroom

The Effortful Educator

In my AP Psychology classroom, most of my students are great at memorizing facts and regurgitating them on quizzes/tests.  I spend a considerable amount of time introducing learning strategies to my students and incorporating them into their studying/practicing habits.  I discuss this further here and here.  Under the umbrella of discussing learning strategies with my students falls the topic of assessment of learning.  Most of my students are ill-equipped at understanding what they know and what they don’t know.  I’ve found most of my students believe if they’ve heard the information, they know it or it has been committed to their long-term memory.  While this may be true for some students and certain information, a great portion of the material presented will be forgotten.  That isn’t really an unusual occurrence and is to be expected.  What is detrimental to my students is their overconfidence or incorrect beliefs of…

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Is ‘mental health’ the new ‘dumbing down’?

The Quirky Teacher

Recently, I read about school girls being encouraged to report their mood via a phone app in order to stop ‘contagious depression’ spreading. Is it just me or is it more than a coincidence that as schools increasingly switch to empowering disadvantaged children via knowledge-based curricula and orderly classrooms, giving them the chance to learn and achieve as much as any other advantaged child, a ‘mental health crisis’ threatens to mire them all in melancholy and stop them from moving on with their lives. Of course, the example I cited would affect advantaged girls, but concerns about mental health seem to be more pernicious when it comes to the education of disadvantaged children – in the past they couldn’t possibly be expected to achieve as highly as the advantaged child, now it seems they’re just not able to cope and we need to focus on helping them to pursue happiness…

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Outstanding Teacher Job Adverts – #rEDRugby 17 Part 3


In my previous post, I gave a brief comment on the changing usage of the term outstanding, noting how Google nGram Viewer reveals a shifting from its use as a term of economics to one of glorification.

In this post, I’d like to return to a favourite topic of mine which is the language of teacher job advertisements. I find these fascinating. I’m intrigued by what they may say about our profession in general, but also about the schools that write them. What version of a teacher is being promoted as ideal? What kind of school is being promoted as ideal?

Each of the advertisements below were selected from the TES Jobs website in or around June 2017. I have removed any references to the names of the schools, or academy chains.

The first that I’d like to look at is this one:


Deputy Headteacher – Curriculum…

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“Outstanding” My #rEDRugby 2017 Talk Part 2


Yeah, I know; it’s been ages since I wrote Part 1.

In this post, I want to give a brief account of observations I made about the use of the word “outstanding”. This was one of most mentioned words  in my survey of words that annoy on EduTwitter.

I admit that the methodology here wasn’t particularly academic! But it may serve as the beginning of an interesting analysis of the developing use of this word in educational discourse, amid discourse more generally.

I used the Google nGram viewer to compare the lexemes satisfactory and outstanding, identifying these two terms as being highly associated with Ofsted. The fist term has, of course, disappeared from the lexical set used by Ofsted. Perhaps this was in recognition of the feeling that satisfactory no longer meant satisfactory in its description of schools, having shifted to mean something akin to “not good enough”. I shan’t…

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Lightening the load – how to make big gains in learning by doing less.



There’s so much snake oil in education that when something with the potential to really help learners comes along, there’s a chance it’s overlooked; this mustn’t be the case with cognitive load theory. The evidence to support this theory is compelling and educators should take note. Like much research in education, cognitive load theory has been around quite a while, but has only recently come to the surface for many teachers like me. What strikes me most about the theory is the hard evidence that supports the common-sense idea this theory asserts, which is that often less is more when teaching.

The evidence to support cognitive load theory tells us that we often make two distinct errors in teaching. Firstly, we frequently stifle learning because we overload children’s cognitive processing capacity so that little of what we teach sticks. Secondly, we give children problem solving activities prematurely, before content or…

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