Small steps – but in which direction?

teaching personally

One or two opportunities have come up in recent days that precipitated the writing of letters of application. My wife, who is much-experienced in recruitment, took one look at my first effort and told me (gently) that I might as well not bother. The letter was too esoteric; I needed to write it to a tight and precise template, that allowed the recruiters to tick all the boxes on their job description before I would even get a look-in.

A second line of enquiry elicited an email response from an educational organisation promoting itself of the quality its individual support. It was little more than a template that began “Dear Student…” even though I had provided a name, before providing a large amount of extraneous promotional material, and ending with one line of partial answer to my query. Strange kind of personal service.

I have many years’ experience as a…

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The Progressive Curriculum. Curriculum Series Number Four.

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All curricula involve the teaching of knowledge which is why some people baulk at the idea of a ‘knowledge-based curriculum’. ‘We all teach knowledge’ they point out, as if there is no difference between anyone teaching a progressive curriculum and those teaching a more traditional academic one.

As soon as one gets into the argument it is easy to find that there are important, ideological differences. “Whose knowledge?” might be the refrain or comments about the teacher as an authoritarian figure, these arguments get to the nub as to the differences offered by a more progressive curriculum.

In answer to the question ‘whose knowledge?’ a progressive curriculum might answer, the knowledge a pupil most wants to learn; a progressive curriculum will tend to be more child-centred than knowledge centred. I will explore this distinction in more detail in later posts, neither is ‘bad’, and though they are very different ideologically…

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11 Years Of Blogging

Scenes From The Battleground


Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of my first blogpost.

I haven’t done very much blogging this year, although I’ve started again recently. I’ve tended to spend more time on Twitter as that reaches a wider audience and there has been good reason to keep active there, as it has become more hostile to anyone opposed to progressive education.

In fact most of my news for the year would have to be about the social media fightback by progressives. After years of losing ground, there seems to have been a major change of tactics among progressives. Instead of claiming to be the authorities who are being ignored by upstarts, they have rebranded themselves as victims of oppression by evil right-wing traditionalists who must be opposed by public shaming and abuse.

When in December, an Australian educationalist argued that criticism of learning styles was a racist attack on the poor, I dismissed…

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Vapid and VAKuous: the zombie myth that refuses to die, even in our universities

Birmingham Teacher

“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”

The White Queen, Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

Now let me begin my getting something straight: I am no expert on higher education, and nor do I pretend to be.  I don’t have a doctorate, and, other than guiding oh-so-diligent undergraduates through some of the intricacies of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, and Benjamin Britten’s opera of the same name as a Leeds MA English Lit student, I haven’t actually taught in a university.  But when I did, kind of, teach my tiny group of super-keen undergrads, I certainly didn’t get them to understand James’s narrative by hula hooping the chapters, or approach the portrayal of the Governess by getting them to sketch a picture of her, or, you know, mime the appearance of Miss Jessel by the lake (although, in hindsight, I might have…

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Applying cognitive science to my first mini-scheme of work

This half term, as well as getting a well earned rest, I have spent time developing a mini-scheme of work for the lessons I plan to teach the year 7s on my return. In doing so, I had two main objectives:

  1. Ensure both disciplinary and substantive knowledge is taught for long term memory, putting into practice the cognitive psychology approach I discussed in this previous blog.
  2. Planning simple lessons that will assist me to manage behaviour effectively (as discussed in this blog).

Applying cognitive science to my first mini-scheme of work

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Reach 2017

Reading all the Books

On Monday 23rd October, the first day of the October half term, hundreds of keen educators made their way to Feltham for Reach’s annual conference. The standard is always high, but I felt this year was a particular cracker.

NYC after No Excuses: Taylor Delhagen and Mark Lehain

There were two ‘no excuses’ sessions in the first slot: one from Peter Jones, the head of Paddington Academy, on how employing no excuses discipline turned behaviour around in his school, and the other from Delhagen on how he turned his back on no excuses towards a more restorative approach. My overwhelming take away from this was Lehain’s respectful challenge to some of Delhagen’s remarks. Delhagen was a Teach for America whiz kid who was made a Head early on, but grew disenchanted with ‘no excuses’ after seeing the number of children ‘lost’ by that system. Delhagen is a man with a…

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The same homework for 3 years – how and why

missdcoxblog

We have a 3 year key stage 4. Students that opt for GCSE Religious Studies have 3 different homeworks that carry through every year. I have blogged previously about some of these (see links in headers) but not as our key stage 4 homework programme as a whole.

  1. Learning keywords

Students are given mini booklets of keywords that they need to know to understand the key beliefs and teachings of the religions studied. They are given these before they have studied their context. The idea is that they learn these ‘off by heart’ and then when we cover them in lesson their meaning and application to the religion becomes clear.

All keyword sheets are available in our classrooms and are always attached on ShowMyHomework when set.

We also have made Quizlet quizzes on all the words here. We also give students index cards to create their own testing set.

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The…

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