Review by Andrew Old

30 Sep 2016, 5:00

Andrew Old’s top blogs 26 September 2016

Guest reviewer Andrew Old takes us through this week’s best education blogs.

It’s not me, it’s them
By @nowMrsBeattie

In this post, a teacher discusses how the profession is often blamed for student behaviour that is beyond their control. She argues that students choose whether to behave or not on the basis of what the school allows them to get away with, not as a response to the quality of the lesson they happen to be in.


What causes the gender gap in education?
By @LearningSpy

David Didau discusses our habit of grasping at convenient explanations to explain data without considering other possibilities. He focuses on schools’ preoccupation with gender gaps, even where they can be explained by other factors. “The ‘pattern’ of boys’ underachievement is compelling because of the way we think about gender: girls are quiet, hard-working and sensible; boys are immature, unruly and easily bored. But ..these are stereotypes – a shorthand that saves us from having to think about reality.”


Education in Sweden: comparisons with England, conclusions, suggestions
By @HFletcherWood

In the conclusion to a series of posts, Harry Fletcher Wood looks at a number of explanations for Swedish educational decline and whether they might also affect England. He notes ideological trends that lower expectations for learning and behaviour, and suggests that Swedish decline shows why an organisation such as Ofsted can be necessary, and why it is important that changes in education be supported by the evidence.


We urgently need to raise expectations in MFL
By @thefish64

This blogger considers why students in this country fail to attain the proficiency with languages he’s seen from young people overseas. He suggests that we need clearer aims and more ambition in language teaching and recommends that schools provide more time for languages – and stick to teaching one language at a time.


How can supporters of grammar schools win the debate?
By @mfordhamhistory

Despite the title, the author of this post is against plans for more grammars schools. However, he wishes to consider the stronger arguments in favour of those plans, rather than the often anecdotal accounts of their benefits. He also identifies other arguments, such as the claim they provide choice, which he considers unpersuasive.


Engagement is a poor proxy for learning
By @greg_ashman

We should not judge the effectiveness of the lesson by the level of engagement, but by the learning, Greg Ashman says. “We can imagine students busily and enthusiastically doing stuff but learning little; or at least learning little of what is intended. For instance, a Macbeth diorama could engage students for hours without improving their ability to analyse the play.”


Why fads and gimmicks should be resisted in the classroom
By @C_Hendrick

This post argues that we should not be using Pokemon Go to teach history, or emoticons to teach Shakespeare just because we think children might be interested in those things.

“…Using fads and gimmicks to interest children reveals a more troubling belief that you somehow need to “trick” kids into being interested in things; that they couldn’t possibly be captivated by Shakespeare, Henry VIII or Newtonian physics without first having it go through the filter of their own immediate interests.”


Critical mass
By @HeatherBellaF

Heather Fearn discusses the appeal of grammar schools, arguing that people will support schools that provide a genuine academic ethos. She feels that such an ethos should be available to more than those who go to grammars, while fearing that it is currently rare in non-selective schools.

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