Review by Andrew Old

2 Dec 2016, 5:00

Andrew Old’s top blogs of the week 28 November 2016

This week’s top education blogs by guest reviewer, Andrew Old.


Gary Whitehead and why I won’t differentiate for economic circumstance
By @bennewmark

This post is a remarkable reflection by a teacher about a successful school friend who came from a very difficult background. What did their school do to make a difference? “My school knew what it was doing. It neither made nor accepted excuse. I was treated, the child of two doctors, in exactly the same way Gary was…”.


Own your room
By @FurtherEdagogy

New teachers are given advice here on how to set up their classrooms effectively and, particularly, to improve behaviour. The priority should be establishing that the room is the territory of the teacher, not the students, and it should be set up as the teacher wants before the students arrive. The writer also gives general advice on classroom management, warning against letting students work in large groups and advising teachers to make a recap of prior knowledge a part of the class’s routine.


Lions led by donkeys?
By @thingsbehindsun

This teacher, now working in Australia, describes the narrative he has encountered in conference after conference. You know the one. Kids are being educated for jobs that don’t exist yet. Schools are outdated knowledge factories and kids are demotivated. Project-based learning and less transmission of knowledge will motivate students and prepare them for the future.The author explains why he finds this story unconvincing.


Reducing workload: the question of teacher autonomy
By @Mr_Bunker_edu

English teacher David Bunker raises some difficult questions about how free we should be to do what we want in our classrooms. For example, mobile phone policies. Where teachers have discretion over what happens when students use their phone, expectations become unclear and enforcement of rules becomes harder. A clear policy, to be followed by all, makes everyone’s life easier. Are there other areas where teachers should have their actions spelt out?


Blocked: Minecraft and the taboos in education
By @tombennett71

The best advice I can give to anyone facing a hostile backlash on Twitter is to write a full length blogpost describing what the backlash has been like, and explaining why the controversial opinion is right all along. Here, Tom Bennett, explains why he claimed getting students to use Minecraft in lessons is a gimmick and why no arguments against that position have changed his mind.


Groupwork: like life, but not in the way you think
By @iQuirky_Teacher

Getting kids to work in groups was once the most fashionable of pedagogies. Yet it never seemed to be particularly effective for many of us, even when demonstrated by the expert practitioners who told us we must use it. Now the tide is turning, but it is still often expected. This post tells us why we shouldn’t feel that we have to bother.


Leave it at the door: why soft skills have no place in my English lesson
By @andrewwarnerkms

The author of this post describes his argument as follows: “firstly, traditional academic subjects should be taught purely, acknowledging their own specific set of knowledge and skills; secondly, this can only be done by subject experts”. He adds to this by explaining that the teaching of workplace skills is not a good use of a subject expert’s time.


You are not Superman
By @Miss_Snuffy

A headteacher says that the best thing she can do for her students is to support her staff, and not to expect to be able to help every student. “It is the job of the teachers to be there for the kids. It is the job of the head to provide an environment where the teachers can do their jobs.”

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