Fake news about Cognitive Load Theory

Filling the pail

There is a common myth that we do not need to know anything any more because we can just Google information when we need it. It is a myth because without knowledge it is difficult to know what to search for and it is difficult to process what we find. In addition, we can thinkwith dynamic knowledge in long-term memory in a way that we cannot think with inert knowledge on the internet and this overcomes the limitations of working memory.

Although we cannot substitute the internet for our brains, it is very useful for checking things. When I read the following in an article in the Times Educational Supplement (TES), my initial reaction was that it could not possibly be true:

“Dame Alison Peacock has said Ofsted’s definition of learning in its new inspection framework is based on cognitive load theory, which has been tested on university students…

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Permanent Exclusion – is it becoming the only way to support vulnerable young people?

Essex Calling

This may well be the first of a few on this topic so don’t feel that you need to read on!

I know that I bang on about inclusion and why I think it is important. I don’t apologise for that in anyway; it should be the norm and schools must be incentivised to be so and not rewarded if they aren’t. Now that’s over with I’ll get to the point.

As a school that’s had significantly over 50 EHCPs for most of my headship the challenge of continuing to find £6000 of ‘notional’ (non-existent) funding is increasingly impossible and damaging to the whole school. However, that is not the biggest issue I have at the moment.

The consistent lack of funding for SEND has reached an unsustainable level. Of course it is not unsustainable for those making decisions about what funding we need. I doubt if any of the…

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Avoiding ‘lethal mutations’ – Institute for Teaching

“Lithium: After a moment it blazed as hellfire, a passionate retort which sent it cavorting across the waters like a crazed insect.

Sodium: It dazzled and fumed like a dawning sun swathed in the haze of belching factories. 

Potassium: The regal spark hissed and spat ferociously before declining into a grumbling, sizzling ember.”

Good ideas – even when they are well-rooted in evidence-based research – can be implemented in ways which render them no longer effective, or even counter-productive; becoming examples of what Dylan Wiliam (2011) and others have dubbed ‘lethal mutations’.

Source: Avoiding ‘lethal mutations’ – Institute for Teaching

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Merry Christmas, Fellow Bloggers

Pocket Quintilian

Another Australian teaching year has ended.

For yours truly, this has meant seeing another lovely HSC group through to the finish line, leading some hesitant Year 7s through their first steps in a second language, pushing for subject numbers in Years 9 and 11 as always, getting involved in the usual co-curricular activities (including the OzCLO competition – we’re gearing up for another solid crack in 2019), making new staff members and praccies feel welcome in the staffroom…and many other things.

But it’s also been a special year for me, in that I took the fateful decision to start an education blog early in the year.

60-odd posts later, I think I’m getting into the rhythm of it, and I fully intend to continue in 2019. Other education bloggers and teacher friends on Twitter have been highly encouraging throughout, and they all deserve my warm thanks.

There are still plenty…

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On Changing Minds – The Effortful Educator

It’s a bit like hiking through a cool, shaded forest on a crisp autumn morning.  It’s quite cold as I wander down the trail, enjoying the occasional beams that find its way through the canopy to my frigid body.  The trek seems never ending. Am I lost? Will I ever feel the enduring warmth of the sun again?

Source: On Changing Minds – The Effortful Educator

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In what has been described as the most watched TED talk of all time, Sir Ken Robinson famously suggests that we are “educated out” of creativity. This view has certainly not gone uncontested. Julian Astle does a nice job of commenting upon Robinson’s arguments, pointing to TEDx talk by Astle’s colleague Tim Leunig in which Leunig argues that “real creativity is based on knowledge”.

There is an on-going thread in the #EduTwitter discourse that positions ‘creativity’ as being of fundamental value, above even literacy and numeracy, perhaps, and certainly more important than merely memorising facts by rote. And ‘creativity’ is described as being vital in the 21st Century; it is essential for employment in the economy of the future. Of course, purveyors of this view seem not to have noticed that we are two decades into the 21stCentury, and they aren’t able to offer any kind…

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A momentous day (to bury good news).

teaching personally

I’ve now run two evening classes for a small group of local adults in my home, where we are covering the rudiments of Critical Thinking. The experience is doing me a lot of good: it has brought back some confidence that not only can I still teach, but do it well enough to enthuse and inform my ‘pupils’. (Yesterday, by word-of-mouth my class voluntarily grew in size). Two years on, it is starting to reassemble something from the debris of my professional self-esteem.

I make no apology for continuing to document my mental health experiences. My wish is to do what I can to communicate the severe impact that stress and overload can have on teachers, and people generally, in the hope that it will be both a support and a warning. Some of my posts have been re-used by those raising the profile of the issue more widely. Perhaps…

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