Review by Andrew Old

20 Jan 2017, 5:00

Andrew Old’s top blogs of the week 16 January 2017

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

Teaching knowledge or teaching to the test?
By @daisychristo

Daisy Christodoulou writes about one of the topics discussed in her latest book, sketching out a rough explanation of why it is a mistake to assume that teaching knowledge is the same as teaching to the test.

She draws a distinction between students being tested on their knowledge, and students being taught knowledge of the test.


Will the educational sciences ever grow up?
By @P_A_Kirschner and @MirjamN

This international blog, with one author based in the Netherlands and the other in Ireland, often discusses research into the psychology of learning.

This post considers educational research as a whole and concludes that it is normal to ignore research and evidence in education. It highlights what the best research actually showed, and which facts in international studies have been ignored.


The trouble with SATs
By @iQuirky_Teacher

Here a primary teacher discusses recent complaints about SATs being unfair and distressing. She thinks that parents who find the tests a big concern are a privileged minority with the least to gain from monitoring standards in primary schools.

“My worry is that because the middle class is highly articulate and tend to dominate the media (including social media), there will be a dominance of ‘examples’ of mainly middle-class children allegedly not coping with SATs that may skew public opinion. If SATs are got rid of, then I fully believe that standards will drop and it will be disadvantaged children that will suffer most in this situation.”
Should students be overlearning?
By @LearningSpy

This post discusses one of the more established results from the psychology of learning. If we “overlearn” – that is, if we continue to practise beyond the point at which we think we have mastered something – then we retain that learning much better.

The results are discussed and the following conclusion reached: “… rather than continually raising the bar and expecting students to contend with ever more complex challenges, perhaps we should allow considerably more time for consolidation before moving on to more difficult material.”


No need to recruit headteachers with particular subject backgrounds
By @drbeckyallen

A recent report highlighted the different types of headteachers and the effects they had on their schools. This blog attempts to analyse available data to see which claims, if any, hold up – and it turns out that few do. The picture painted is one where little can be predicted about a headteacher’s effectiveness based on his or her background.


Teachers in England don’t value CPD
By @thefish64

This post discusses a recent claim by Andreas Schleicher, the head of PISA, that teachers in England are among those least likely to want to improve through professional development. The author discusses what types of CPD might actually be useful, and argues that what teachers can hope to gain from different types of CPD depends partly on how experienced they are as teachers.


Over-egging the exam pudding
By @steveadcock81

This short posts lists a number of indicators that a school has become too preoccupied with results at the expense of their students’ best interests. It’s an eye-opener if any of the items listed are happening in your school – and you hadn’t realised why.


Ofsted’s preferred science teaching style
By @greg_ashman

Some of Ofsted’s recent claims appear to undermine their inspectors’ commitment to having no preference for any particular style of teaching. Do they expect students to learn best through designing their own experiments and enquiries? The messages are, at the very least, mixed. The author observes that the evidence from the recent PISA survey suggests that it would not be a good idea to discourage teacher-led lessons in science.

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