Reasons to be cheerful about research

Evidence into Practice

The hard problems of education

Education is faced with many hard problems. Perhaps two of the biggest at the moment are: Which teaching methods lead to the greatest gains for our students? How do we overcome the link between low socio-economic status (of students and school communities) and poor educational outcomes?

Over my career as a teacher I’ve witnessed numerous ‘expert’ authorities claim to have solved some of these hard problems. Most of the suggested approaches were pseudoscience and wishful thinking: Brain Gym is the classic case; VAK, NLP and other neuro-myths are still highly prevalent examples.

We’ve had national strategies which took promising ideas like formative assessment and implemented it whole-scale with little attention paid to how bureaucratic or ineffective it was (e.g. APP).

We’ve had the schools regulator creating unhelpful orthodoxies regarding ‘good teaching’ (e.g. ‘talk-less teaching’), leading to school leaders implementing policies with a focus on mechanistic…

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