Review by Andrew Old

Teacher and blogger

1 Jul 2018, 5:00


Andrew Old’s top blogs of the week 25 June 2018

Our reviewer of the week is Andrew Old, a teacher and blogger


The stench of failure and the sweet aroma of success


The author of this post argues that we talk about teaching as if it isn’t natural for everyone to make mistakes. He calls this “the perfection problem” and identifies mistakes as the main thing we should be talking about in conversations about teaching, particularly with NQTs.

“To make us better, we need to be less personal and less emotional about mistakes and take ownership and control of things in the classroom. And, probably talk about them. After all, that’s what we do in the classroom,” he writes.




Professor Rob Coe looks at how schools often gather data that tells them nothing through assessments that are not really assessments. He looks at what is required for genuine assessment and argues that without proper assessment underlying it, there is no point to collecting data.


Dyslexie font, coloured overlays and Irlen Syndrome

@spelfabet ‏

This post deals with some of the myths around dyslexia. For instance, coloured overlays and special fonts, such as “Dyslexie” are not effective, and Irlen Syndrome does not exist. While there are those who make money out of ineffective treatments for dyslexia, a lot of incorrect information is shared with good intentions.

“If we all give information based on scientific evidence to well-meaning people inadvertently promoting ineffective and cost-ineffective interventions, I’m pretty sure they’ll mostly stop,” the author explains.


Teachers as critical consumers of PD


Blake Harvard, a teacher in the US, makes an argument for the importance of evidence in professional development (PD). As with CPD in this country, some teachers have their time wasted with ideas that are not supported by the evidence, or relevant to their practice. He particularly wants to see myths, like learning styles, challenged before they reach the classroom.


Smartphones: Just say NO


As somebody who is completely addicted to my smartphone, I welcomed Katharine Birbalsingh’s message about helping children develop self-control by expecting them to resist their phones at school.

“Self-control is hard to learn at the best of times, let alone as a child in the 21st century. At Michaela we believe it is our duty to help our pupils break free of the control of the smartphone so that they should be in charge of their own destinies,” she writes.


All the time in the world


This post is about the awkward time of the year when teachers start realising they have more to cover before exams than they’d realise. The author calls this “Teach like a roadrunner”. In a panic, teachers realise that every lost lesson in the preceding year now counts, and try to use every available minute to catch up. It is suggested that trying to embed learning earlier might help schools avoid this situation.


7 ways to help the bottom third


This post looks at the various ways schools may have failed those students who achieve poorly at GCSE. Often assumptions are made about what students are capable of, and no effective interventions are made to help those who are struggling. It is suggested that a proper effort should be made to assess whether students are having problems with reading that might result poor academic performance.


Is it dangerous to teach little children new knowledge?


The author considers the argument that young children will not be able to engage with being taught plenty of new knowledge. The author shares a number of examples of books aimed at children from the 19th century and earlier, to make the point that the belief that children must be protected from too much knowledge reflects a contemporary fashion, and not an inevitable fact about child development.



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