Our blog reviewer this week is Debra Kidd, an author and former teacher. Here are her top picks from the education blogging world this week
Working collaboratively in the classroom
Group work has come in for a bit of a bashing in recent years and it’s easy to see why. We’ve all experienced the impact of poorly constructed and ill-conceived group activities and it can put new and inexperienced teachers off quite quickly (not to mention some pupils). But Tim Taylor is one of the most thoughtful and rigorous teachers of group inquiry and in this blog post he offers a useful and intelligent exploration of the importance of collaboration, as well as tackling some of the misconceptions surrounding the pedagogy of his book, Mantle of the Expert.
He takes us through the benefits of collaborative inquiry in the classroom and the life-long skills that children develop when they work in this way. It’s hard to see how anyone could argue about the importance of honing these vital interpersonal and critical thinking skills.
White knights and imaginary dragons
I was alarmed to read Tom Bennett’s article in The TES last week describing dyslexia and ADHD as “crypto-pathologies”. In this well-written post, Sue Gerrard deconstructs the argument, acknowledging many of Bennett’s concerns while outlining the difficulties in overstating his case. It’s a balanced and thoughtful response to a very provocative article.
It’s been a feisty few weeks on Twitter. I’ve found myself growing vegetables in an attempt to get away from the bickering. So Keziah Featherstone’s post is timely. She makes the case for us accepting that we all make mistakes, sharing a few of her own along the way. And she ends with a message that we all need to bear in mind – a plea for kindness.
SEND, parents and the word “SOME”
Meanwhile, @Claireyr123 reminds us of the importance of using language to include and not alienate parents of SEND children with the simple inclusion of the word “some”. She lists common statements she hears about parents that she feels drive a wedge between them and the professionals, when we should be working together with the child’s needs in mind. It reminds us that behind every SEND child is a family, battling to do their best for their child – and that the best outcomes are secured in a spirit of collaboration and co-operation.
Context is king
In this short but punchy blog, Tom Sherrington writes of the importance of context when applying sweeping generalisations to the school system. Looking back on how his own contexts have shaped his perceptions of possibilities and expectations, he urges caution on generalising and reminds us that some contexts are easier than others. In a week in which Ofsted has begun to acknowledge that it is harder to achieve high outcomes in areas of social deprivation (while paradoxically refusing to accept that expectations should be lowered), this is a timely blog post for us all.
Debra Kidd is standing in for Emma Hardy who is a candidate in the general election.