Review by Andrew Old

6 Nov 2016, 10:00

Andrew Old’s top blogs 31 October 2016

This week’s top blogs of the week, with guest reviewer Andrew Old.

Religious education in a secular age
by @AndyLewis_RE

The author notes that the purpose of RE is often unclear, and emphasises the importance of knowledge about religion: “we should be desperately trying to teach our students as much as we can about religion as it still holds a huge cultural value, and is vital in the understanding of a significant percentage of the global population.”


Three tips for developing digital learners
by @greg_ashman

The teacher who wrote this post, who is studying for a PhD in the psychology of education, introduces evidence about what enables students to be able to find information from the internet. It turns out that practice with computers is not half as important as background knowledge about the topic being researched.


How to reduce a disadvantaged child’s chances of a leg up in life
by @iQuirky_Teacher

A primary teacher asks some searching questions about early years education. Why is there not more focus on how to behave, vocabulary or learning to concentrate?


Improving schools; it’s all about the teaching
by @MissDCox

This post describes the pointlessness of many of the practices intended to improve schools, such as: “learning to learn lessons, motivational speakers for students, gifted and talented programmes, revision sessions, elaborate marking policies, teacher tips, Mocksteds”. The author claims that, if behaviour is sorted, then the most important focus should be on teaching and whether it leads to learning. She claims that only two questions need to be asked about the success of lessons: “Did they all learn what you wanted them to learn? How do/will you know?”


The air traffic controller paradox: why teaching generic skills doesn’t work
by @C_Hendrick

This discussion of how the mind works, warns against expecting skills learnt doing one activity to be transferred to another. Air traffic controllers do not excel at all activities that involve keeping track of several things at once. We should be sceptical of claims that it is possible to teach generic skills, which can then be used in a multitude of ways.


The case against black history month – impact
by @teach_well

History is meant to be a form of scholarship, not indoctrination. This post challenges whether black history month is an example of the former or the latter. “If we are to understand the nation we live in we need to learn its history and not a deliberately conflated version of those of other nations that does little to enhance our understanding of the society that we live in, worse still introduces false ideas of the past which create barriers between different groups in the here and now.”


Sunbucks, Heimekem and the College of Teaching
by @JamesTheo

That’s not a spelling mistake; it does say “Heimekem”. The author is considering counterfeit products that resemble well-established brands. The point he is making is that the College Of Teaching should have a clear purpose of its own and not be seeking to copy the activities of existing organisations.


This much I know about…not publishing data targets to students and parents
by @johntomsett

Tomsett, a head in York, explains why he does not believe in giving target grades. “Publishing targets or minimum expected grades for individual students can have, in my experience, two dangerous consequences. Too many students reach their targets and stop trying, claiming that ‘a grade B will do. I don’t need better than that’; others get stressed by aiming for an aspirational target they perceive to
be beyond their reach and consequently give up.”

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