Guest reviewer Andrew Old shares his top picks from the edu-blogosphere this week
CPD: goodbye and good riddance (part one)
Mark Enser describes the INSET he has experienced in his career and observes how money spent on outside speakers and training was often wasted.
Some CPD was utter nonsense; some was just unlikely to have any effect. He concludes: “I find it hard to mourn the cutting of CPD budgets. I hope . . . we will focus on effective and efficient means of professional development, which are meaningful for us and improve our teaching and learning.”
Although Chris Curtis usually blogs from the perspective of a secondary English teacher, this is written as a parent. He describes seeing one of his two children rewarded with a “pen licence” at their primary school and explains the effect of this particular reward system has had. It is reminder to teachers that they should be rewarding the choices and effort of their students, not the natural abilities of the majority at the expense of the minority.
Five things I wish I knew when I started teaching
Carl Hendrick discusses the misconceptions about teaching and learning that plagued him early in his career. He is particularly concerned about activities that seem important and require considerable time or effort, but don’t actually aid learning.
No, don’t forget everything we know about memory
Researcher Nick Rose blogs only occasionally these days, but when he does he is a
great debunker of pseudoscience and education hype. In this post he takes aim at a claim that recent research in neuroscience invalidates decades of studies into how memory works. He explains the difference between neuroscience and cognitive psychology, and the provisional nature of results in science.
Student feedback do’s and don’ts
University tutor Russ Mayne analyses the research behind the practice of judging teaching on the basis of student feedback, something that is common in universities and colleges and occasionally fashionable in schools. However, the evidence seems to suggest that the wrong things are rewarded, such as being a man or good-looking.
Against ‘pupil-friendly’ language
Sarah Barker, an English teacher and head of department, challenges the common practice of using “child-friendly” written language in teaching. She argues that this is incompatible with the important task of developing a student’s academic vocabulary. “By simplifying language, we’re lessening each child’s opportunity to do well. The phrase ‘dumbing-down’ actually applies more to the impact on the pupils, rather than the language itself.”
An anti-anti-SATs rant
This post confronts the negativity around key stage 2 SATs. It argues that “at the end of the day, SATs are a proxy for ensuring children are able to read, write and add up such that they’re able to get the most out of their secondary schooling and therefore life”. The author has little time for those who argue that primary school should be more focused on fun than study, saying they are complacent about children arriving at secondary school without those basic skills.
Another one bites the dust
I don’t know how people last for decades as full-time classroom teachers. One who did has written this post. Unfortunately that makes it even sadder as eventually the environment at work made him ill and he writes this as he leaves the profession. “In the end it was the ‘friendly’ fire that did for me, from a system that would apparently rather have no teachers at all, than ones that know their own minds and who adhere to their own sincere and justifiable principles”.