Andrew Old’s top blogs 8 June 2015

Dialogue during observations – what new torture is this?
By @Bigkid4

A maths teacher discusses the latest idea encountered online: observations in which the observer gives advice to the teacher during the lesson. The writer explains that advice from observations is often not helpful, and would be particularly unwelcome in the classroom as it would fail to recognise the teacher’s knowledge of their class and their subject.

Character ruck
By @SurrealAnarchy

Teacher Martin Robinson reacts to a recent suggestion that rugby may provide the answer to teaching character in schools. He is somewhat bemused, given that his own experiences of rugby did not convince him that playing rugby led people to a life of virtue. “You can imagine the ministerial conversation: ‘the working-class kids don’t have character, we do… Why??? Hmmm… I know! It was because one did rugger at school! Let’s get rugby players into rough schools to ruck, maul and scrum the kids into being good characters!’”

The Semmelweis reflex: why does education ignore important research?
By @C_Hendrick

The head of learning and research at Wellington College discusses the way in which research, even when it gives useful insights and provides a high standard of evidence, is often ignored. He looks at The Semmelweis reflex, a psychological phenomena defined as “the reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs or paradigms”.

The Hydra
By @HeatherBellaF

One might assume that if a piece of education research is widely cited, then it must be of a certain quality. This post demonstrates that tiny studies, contradicted by much larger ones, can be cited thousands of times if they happen to chime with the sympathies of educationists.

Teaching with epilepsy
By @calamityteacher

A teacher describes living with a medical condition that can, in his or her case, be triggered by reading. The author explains how they cope, and what they’ve done to raise awareness of epilepsy in their school. Currently on a break to study, they say: “I will go back to teaching, I am sure of it. And I hope that I am surrounded by staff as accepting and kind as those were at my last school.”

Deconstructing my own bad ideas
By @kennypieper

Kenny Pieper has been blogging for several years about teaching English – long enough for him to look back at old posts and decide that, actually, some of his old ideas haven’t worked out. “Writing a blog can be embarrassing at times; you necessarily have to write about vulnerabilities if is to be of any use, I think. However, I realise how fortunate I am to have a written record of my thinking over the past four years. It has made me better than yesterday, for the most part.”

Empathy, behaviour, excuses and reasons
By @SeekingSir

This powerful post is from a teacher who has spent much of his career working with students with behavioural problems. He reflects on how he feels about whether such students benefit from teachers being flexible with the rules to accommodate their difficulties.

Floating voters week: a bonus post
By @Miss_Snuffy

As editor of the Labour Teachers blog, I have a vested interest in this one. However, I cannot resist pointing out that as part of a week of posts dedicated to asking floating voters to explain what would make them vote Labour, there was a contribution from Katharine Birbalsingh, head of Michaela Community School. Once described in the press as a “Tory teacher”, she explains how Labour could still win her back, although it doesn’t seem that it will be an easy task.