Review by Expert Contributor

16 Sep 2018, 5:00


Debra Kidd’s top blogs of the week September 2018

An argument for discovery learning in early years classrooms

 @Edscacredprofane – Peter Ford and @SwailesRuth – Ruth Swailes.

 In this well referenced blog post, Peter Ford and Ruth Swailes unpick some of the misconceptions around discovery learning and constructivism as presented by researchers such as Kirschner, Sweller and Clarke. Arguments made by these and other academics against modes of learning such as inquiry, problem solving, discovery and constructivism have been increasingly influential among teachers and policy makers, but their definitions of these terms are vague. This blog looks closely at what is really meant by discovery learning with the specific developmental needs of young children in mind.

Biologically primary and secondary knowledge?

@SuzyG001 – Sue Gerrard.

On a similar theme, Sue’s detailed and intelligent exploration of some of the assumptions on which the theory of “biologically primary and secondary knowledge” is based is a timely reminder for teachers not to jump on bandwagons of attractive simplicity. The idea of primary and secondary knowledge is used to argue the case for direct instruction on the basis that there are some things we just learn naturally and some (things we learn in school, conveniently) that we need to be taught. But as Sue points out, things are more complicated than that. It matters to us as teachers to understand these nuances and debates so that we remain resistant to myths and quick fixes (have we learned anything from the VAK fiasco, if we’re willing to simply jump onto another flawed theory?). Sue’s blog explains why we should always be wary of research that aims to make a model fit a theory rather than the evidence.

Five easy pieces

@MrEFinch – Ed Finch

This beautiful tribute to his wife, Diane, who passed away this summer, is a reminder to us all of the things that matter in our lives. Ed will be known to many through Twitter and for his work as a headteacher, blogger and for being the co-founder of #BrewEd – work he continued while caring for Diane throughout her debilitating illness. This heartbreaking but equally heartwarming reminder of the importance of love, of the appreciation of small things and of the power we all have to face our trials with dignity shows us how we must take the time to appreciate the things and the people we love and who make us happy. As we go back into the hurly-burly of a new academic year, let’s keep that in mind.

Children making writing that matters to them


This is a lovely blog post that reflects on Jonny’s own experiences of writing and applies it to the spurious notions of time and purpose we impose on children in our classrooms. He explores how we can think about this differently to give children an opportunity to craft their writing while learning to appreciate that craft, their wider learning and each other. Jonny writes in a warm and humorous way that leaves you wanting to be a better teacher without making you feel inadequate. It’s quite a skill and one that I expect comes in quite handy in the classroom.

Exploring nonsense stories through drama


Carl is a rare species – a drama specialist working across a primary school -and he’s keen to use that to develop and support children’s literacy as they go. In this blog, he draws on a scheme of work I shared with him some years ago and how he developed the ideas for Year 2. In the event of not being able to find the right poem, he wrote one for them himself, paying particular attention to heightening vocabulary and firing the imagination. It will be lovely to see how this fantasy story unfolds as he teaches it. Even if you don’t teach primary, the blog shows us how creativity and knowledge can be woven together to create wonderful contexts for learning.

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